DAVID ELLEFSON: 'I Feel A Newfound Liberty' After My Latest Exit From MEGADETH
November 18, 2023
In a new interview with Tulsa Music Stream, David Ellefson elaborated on his recent comment that he can finally wear his METALLICA shirts again, after exiting MEGADETH in 2021. Referencing the fact that MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine has had an acrimonious relationship with METALLICA in the decades after he was kicked out of the latter band, Ellefson said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Listen, I said that just kind of as a joke. In the other band I was in, you would not show up at soundcheck with a METALLICA shirt on. I mean, trust me. And anyone who's been even close to that would understand — certainly every band member would go, 'Oh, yeah. No, there's no fucking way you'd be wearing a METALLICA shirt.'"
Asked if he feels like there's a new sense of freedom with the latest post-MEGADETH phase of his career, Ellefson said: "Totally. A hundred percent. And again, I don't wanna go back into all that, but for sure. I feel really a newfound liberty.
"Look, life moves in its various waves and tides and ebbs and flows," he explained. "And I've been here before, not playing in MEGADETH. I use these seasons of life as a way to really spread my wings and fly, man. I mean, look, who I was in MEGADETH, I was that because that's who I am. It's not like I was playing just a role of somebody that I'm not, and now I take the cape off and suddenly I'm Clark Kent outside of MEGADETH. For those who are old enough to know Superman, that would be the Superman reference. So I'm not here to talk bad about it at all. But when you do move into a new season — and I say season with that, because that was most of my adult life, as a member of that group. But now, and at this age, I guess, there's new horizons, there's new things to do. And I think one of the fears is what am I gonna do? Where am I gonna go? And honestly, I didn't have that this time [after my latest exit from MEGADETH]. 20 years ago I did, in 2002 when the group broke up, it was, like, 'Oh, shit. Now what am I gonna do?' But now at this point, having done the 'Big Four' [shows with METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX], won the Grammy, I did all these big things, the legacy is secure, it's cemented, my participation in that is forever emboldened into the flames of heavy metal, if you will. So now it's kind of just sort of enjoying life. I mean, I don't even play music every day. It's hard for me to just go to the beach and goof off for too long, but I'm starting to just kind of relax into that. There's other things I can do that don't always have to be musically related either. And I say that as I was just practicing some songs, playing bass before the interview. So, this is who I am, right? I mean, it's not like there's some other guy in the other room. What you see is what you get."
Ellefson was fired from MEGADETH in May 2021, days after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist were posted on Twitter.
Shortly before Ellefson was dismissed from MEGADETH, he released a statement on Instagram denying all social media chatter that he "groomed" an underage fan. He also filed a report with the police department in Scottsdale, Arizona alleging unlawful distribution of sexually explicit images of him by unknown offenders.
Mustaine — who formed MEGADETH with Ellefson in 1983 — released a statement on May 24, 2021 announcing the bassist's departure from the band. In the statement, Dave said: "We do not take this decision lightly. While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward."
This past June, Ellefson told Andrew McKaysmith of the "Scars And Guitars" podcast that he was prepared for his latest exit from MEGADETH.
"When my departure from MEGADETH happened, a lot of people were hitting me [up and saying], 'Oh my God. It's so terrible. It's so terrible,'" he recalled. "[And I said], 'Yeah, believe me, it's not.' [Laughs] It really isn't. I was ready for it. I didn't think it was gonna go down that way; I didn't see that coming. But the fact that it happened, I was not sad about it. I was okay with it. Because I knew there's another journey ahead, and that journey wasn't gonna start until I was out of the old one.
"When you're in a group, you're in a setting, you've gotta play company man and you kind of go along with the narrative that's been set forth.
"There was a lot of things, a lot of the narrative in that band that I never agreed with," Ellefson admitted. "A lot of that band was started on a grudge and a hardship of the firing [of Mustaine] from METALLICA. That was never my story. I was always a METALLICA fan and I became friends with those guys. I have nothing but gratitude for that group and those gentlemen for what they've done for all of us, and I think they deserve the biggest applause. So it was hard to be in a band that always had this saltiness around that whole narrative, because it was never my narrative. So I went along to get along, but now I don't have to do that. And now I can be on my own path. These are my words; it's my story now. And maybe the events that happened a couple of years ago, I needed to have my own story to tell. 'Cause when you quit a band, everyone's pissed at you; they hate you: 'Oh, fuck you. You quit. You quit my favorite band.' But when you get tossed out… And I'm not looking for the sympathy card. You don't have to feel sorry for me; you don't have to do any of that. But it's interesting that, I guess the way it happened… it went down in a way that it was certainly visible enough and on a level that… It was sort of, like, okay, well, what's gonna happen next? And I just tried to be faithful to just following my heart, following the path."
In 2004, Ellefson filed an $18.5-million lawsuit against Mustaine, alleging the frontman 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.
In February 2024, Ellefson will embark on his inaugural "Bass Warrior Tour". Accompanying him on the European trek is Italian guitarist and musical director Andy Martongelli, a longtime friend and collaborator who has been by Ellefson's side during his solo ventures, "Basstory", ELLEFSON-SOTO and ALTITUDES & ATTITUDE tours across Europe. On drums will be Roberto Pirami (Michael Angelo Batio, Rowan Robertson, Gus G.),on vocals Titta Tani (EHFAR, ex-drummer of Claudio Simonetti's GOBLIN),and on rhythm guitar Walter Cianciusi (Geoff Tate band).
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