MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine says that he didn't know if he needed to find a new bassist for the band while David Ellefson was busy recording the debut album from his METAL ALLEGIANCE all-star project.
MEGADETH spent most of 2014 off the road while the band was sorting out its business affairs and dealing with some personal issues, including the passing of Mustaine's mother-in-law. MEGADETH eventually regrouped in early 2015 and began recording its fifteenth album, "Dystopia", which came out last Friday (January 22).
Speaking about the songwriting process for "Dystopia" — MEGADETH's first album to feature Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro, best known for his work with ANGRA, and LAMB OF GOD drummer Chris Adler — Mustaine told Full Metal Jackie (hear audio below): "It was really bizarre the way this went down, because the writing of these riffs actually started back in around 2013. And we had, you know, that really abysmal year [in] 2014 and then started piecing everything together towards the later part of the year when [my family and I] moved out to Nashville. And then when 2015 came around, everything kind of started to congeal."
He added: "You know, at the beginning of 2015, I didn't even have a full band, but I had a vision, and I was determined. And now that it was, basically, me by myself — 'cause I didn't know what was up with Ellefson; he was off doing his METAL ALLEGIANCE stuff, and, you know, so I figured, 'Maybe I need to look for a new bass player now too.' So when the songwriting process got to the point where we were ready to start tracking, I'd had ten songs done. And Chris came out, and we picked two cover tracks. And then, when Kiko showed up, we had done two more songs that he had been involved in. And the very last song was, actually, 'Poisonous Shadows' that was written."
METAL ALLEGIANCE is an all-star metal band consisting of a rotating cast of musicians, including members of MEGADETH, TESTAMENT and DEATH ANGEL.
METAL ALLEGIANCE's self-titled debut album was released on September 18, 2015 via Nuclear Blast Entertainment.
Speaking about how his involvement in METAL ALLEGIANCE benefits MEGADETH, Ellefson told California Rock News: "Look, I'm in MEGADETH; make no mistake, MEGADETH is my band. But when I do go off and play some shows or cut a record or something with some other people, in today's world, and even in today's record business, that's much more understood, accepted and just kind of part of the culture we live in now, in this day and age. A lot of people are doing a lot more other things outside of just their band, and, to some degree, fans really… they like it. They don't look at it as, 'Oh, there's problems at home. Why is he out playing on something else?' It's kind of, like, hey, you know… MEGADETH is a very iconic band now and…"
Ellefson added: "I'm very selective about what I do. Trust me, I get asked to do a lot of things, and I say no to most of them — partly out of time, partly out of schedule, and partly because, for me, it's important that they're things that my fans would be engaged in. And I think METAL ALLEGIANCE is definitely one of these that runs really concurrent with the MEGADETH fan base and the audience. And, again, it's understood that I'm very much in MEGADETH…
The bassist went on to say: "I never grew up wanting to be a solo artist; I always grew up wanting to be part of a band. So, to me, to be in MEGADETH is very much… That's where my heart feels where I should be. And I think that makes METAL ALLEGIANCE and all these other things work really well. And I get to come back to MEGADETH with some new musical experiences, which, I'd like to think, my experiences that actually helps my, sort of, musical pedigree within MEGADETH."