DAVID ELLEFSON And JEFF YOUNG Are Preparing To Record First KINGS OF THRASH Original Song
October 17, 2022
KINGS OF THRASH, the new band featuring former MEGADETH members David Ellefson (bass) and Jeff Young (guitar), is preparing to enter the studio to begin recording the first of four original songs. The group, which also includes drummer Fred Aching as well as guitarist/vocalist Chaz Leon, along with the occasional guest appearance by another former MEGADETH member, Chris Poland (guitar), just completed a four-date West Coast tour which culminated in a sold-out gig at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California. All four shows saw KINGS OF THRASH performing MEGADETH's classic albums "Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!" and "So Far, So Good… So What!" in their entirety.
Speaking to Ghost Cult magazine, Young stated about KINGS OF THRASH's recording plans (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We're going in the studio Thursday to lay down the rhythm guitar one and drums to the first original. And we're doing it to two-inch tape analog-style, live in a room like real men, they used to do… They're just demos right now with my guitar and bass and a click track. Soon they'll have drums and it'll be a real version of the first song. But people we've let hear it are really digging it. It's got the vibe of MEGADETH — it's on that playing field, but it's got all of its own stuff and all of our influences and some SOUNDGARDEN/TOOL vibes in maybe the music and melodies."
According to Jeff, the studio where KINGS OF THRASH is recording its first music "has a really cool back story. It's a mom-and-pop operation nestled in a residential area in North Hollywood," he explained. "[Legendary producer] Eddie Kramer, who's done a few up-and-comers over his career — THE BEATLES, THE [ROLLING] STONES, all the posthumous Jimi Hendrix recordings and albums have been mixed at this studio. So the great news is that the engineer who we're using is his protégé; he's been mentoring and apprenticing with Eddie Kramer. So for a fraction of the price, my friends, you're gonna get the Eddie Kramer tones and analog two-inch, like in the good old days, for the first KINGS OF THRASH release."
Jeff was also full of praise for Aching and Leon, saying: "We really feel in a way how Ozzy [Osbourne] must have felt introducing Randy Rhoads to the world with these young two guys we have, both half our age and both so composed and mature musically for their age. And we've just been having a blast. And it's great that they're fans of the music and they've really studied it. Chaz, the singer/guitar player, plays in a MEGADETH tribute and fronts a SOUNDGARDEN tribute. So he has some of that Chris Cornell huskiness… So it's really cool to hear him sing these songs with a bit more huskiness and that young exuberance that he has. I think the kids are gonna love him 'cause he has that Dimebag Darrell kind of likability."
In a recent interview with Thomas S. Orwat, Jr. of the Rock Interview Series, Young was asked if he, Ellefson and Poland have gotten any reaction to the tour — either in the form of a blessing or an angry rebuke — from MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine. Jeff responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We're really not concerned. I don't pay attention. I haven't really paid attention or followed MEGADETH since, I think, I heard the 'Rust In Peace' album a couple of times, and then what you might hear on the radio or in the press.
"For us, this isn't about any spite or retaliation; it's a celebration of the music that we were all a part of, that we helped create," he explained. "And it's fun for us to do this.
"People said, 'You should do this.' And we said, 'Hey, yeah, you're right. We should do this.' It's a win-win — it's a win for us, and it's a win for [Mustaine], because any performance royalties, anything… If we did include live tracks, he would make money off that. It's promoting albums that hopefully fans will go back and buy, which is putting money right in his pocket. Especially 'Killing Is My Business', I think a lot of people are gonna go back and wanna rediscover that album after this tour.
"For us, it's all about positivity," Young added. "We're all in this moment — we're living in the moment, and we're not looking beyond. We're not reading any of the comments on Blabbermouth or any of the stuff. Because we know what our intent is, and intent is everything. And our intent's positive. We like playing together. We know we're crafting original music. We're not relying on this; we don't need to ride the coattails of this. This is just something that the fans wanted, and you wanna give fans what they want."
In a separate interview with Yes! You CAN Play Guitar!, Ellefson stated about how KINGS OF THRASH came together: "[Jeff] and I got along well. We roomed together a lot, 'cause back on the 'So Far, So Good… So What!' tour, band and crew was always shacking up, sharing rooms together. So he and I had spent a lot of time together. I did a lot of guitar playing with him; I learned a lot of stuff from him, which was fun. So now to connect with him all these years later… We connected through the [making of the upcoming] Nick Menza movie [about the late MEGADETH drummer], quite honestly. And I'd stayed in touched with him. We even jammed together once at a Ronnie Montrose tribute thing at NAMM a few years ago. So we've not been completely estranged from each other."
According to Ellefson, the idea for KINGS OF THRASH materialized after he and Young reunited on stage on May 10 at Ultimate Jam Night, the long-running community-oriented show in residency at the famed Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California, as part of a special tribute to the so-called "Big Four" of 1980s thrash metal — METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX. The event marked the first time David and Jeff had played MEGADETH songs together on stage since the U.K.'s Monsters Of Rock festival on August 20, 1988. "That spawned, basically, the KINGS OF THRASH," he said. "It was, like, 'Wow! That was frickin' cool, and that was a lot of fun.'"
David went on to say that he started thinking about a way to perform some of MEGADETH's classic material last year. "This idea had come to me — and it came to me last fall," he explained. "I was at an autograph show on the East Coast, and people were bringing me 'Killing Is My Business' records left and right. And it just reminded me, this record needs to be played; it needs to be performed. Same as 'So Far, So Good… So What!' To me, those are kind of these two really special records that — they never went unnoticed, but they didn't get the big fanfare like 'Peace Sells' and 'Rust In Peace' and all this stuff. So, to me, I made it my mission. I was, like, 'You know what? Let's unearth these things and let's bring these up on the stage and play them.'
"[Jeff] told me, he said, after MEGADETH, I think he said he intentionally forgot how to play MEGADETH songs; he just wanted to move on," Ellefson continued. "'Cause when you come into the band, it is a deep dive and it is a heavy compression. You really have to live that music in and out, day in, day out, all the time in order to really grasp what it is. And he did that. And then when the gig ended for him, he moved on.
David clarified that the intention behind KINGS OF THRASH is not to stick it to his former bandmates.
"This is a celebration, not a retaliation," he explained. "This is a good moment. This is a happy moment, to celebrate these songs and these tracks and these records. So we go at it with just fun… It's, like, 'Wow. Wouldn't it be fun if we went out and played these records?' And we're doing it. So it's meant to be this celebration and bringing people together. And honestly, that was kind of always my role in MEGADETH. Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH leader] always called me 'The Ambassador', and I was always that guy, and I am that guy. So it's, like, let me just continue that role in our community and have one of good will."
As for KINGS OF THRASH's approach to performing material that was originally written and recorded more than three decades ago, Ellefson said: "I've gotta say, man, 'Killing Is My Business', there is a lot of deep stuff on that record, but because of the tempos and because of the speed, a lot of that kind of gets a bit glossed over, because the production of the record wasn't super great, because we didn't have a lot of money to do it at the time. Now live, going into it, there are some rhythmic figures and some grooves that I think are coming out in a live setting that are so hip. There's this almost funk, kind of R&B vibe to some of the rhythms that are so cool.
"When we wrote those songs, especially 'The Skull Beneath The Skin' and even 'Looking Down The Cross', these songs were written very slow; the original tempos were [much slower]," he revealed. "So they were really cool. So one of the things we're focusing on is bringing out the sleazy, slinky, greasy groove that's in there — because it really is in there. And I think our drummer Fred is helping a lot with that. I think people are gonna really enjoy what they're gonna hear."
Ellefson was fired from MEGADETH nearly a year and a half ago after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist were posted on Twitter.
David was in MEGADETH from the band's inception in 1983 to 2002, and again from 2010 until his latest exit.
In 2004, Ellefson filed an $18.5-million lawsuit against Dave Mustaine, alleging the MEGADETH leader shortchanged him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth Inc. over to him when the band broke up in 2002. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed and Ellefson rejoined MEGADETH in 2010.
Young's entire career with MEGADETH was spent recording and touring in support of the band's 1988 platinum-selling album "So Far, So Good...So What!"
Jeff made headlines in December 2009 for accusing Mustaine of, among other things, "dissing, exaggerating and just plain lying on some level about nearly every talented musician that has passed through his dysfunctional little ensemble." He also disputed Mustaine's claim in an interview that Young's drug problem led to MEGADETH's 1988 Australian tour being called off and the group being "banned" from performing in the country.
Poland was a member of MEGADETH from 1984 to 1987, during which time he performed on the band's classic albums "Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!" and "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?" He is also a featured soloist on the group's 2004 album, "The System Has Failed".
Back in 2004, Poland and/or his management and attorney filed a lawsuit against Mustaine regarding the use of the three "Rust In Peace" demos on the album's reissue without Chris's permission. Chris eventually settled for $9,500 and thereby ended a professional relationship with Dave and MEGADETH.
For the past couple of decades, Poland's main musical focus has been the fusion band OHM:, which has released several full-length studio albums to date.
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