MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson spoke to the "Talk Toomey" podcast about the fact that he became a salaried employee upon his return to the band in 2010, something he shared with the world in his latest book, "More Life With Deth".
Six years earlier, Ellefson declined to rejoin MEGADETH upon the band's reformation, citing concerns with the business structure he had in place with band leader Dave Mustaine.
"Certainly once Dave put the thing back together with 'The System Has Failed', he told me on the phone, he goes, 'We're gonna put it back together and it's gonna be like it was when I was in charge,'" Ellefson explained. "He made that very clear. And then right at that moment was when we had our disagreements and we did not come back together. And most of that was about, quite honestly, financially.
"I knew I could continue to fight or… There's two ways to win in a tug of war: you yank the guy over the line, or you let go of the rope and someone falls on their ass — both of you or whatever," he continued. "And in that case, you're able to walk away, 'cause you have to let go. And I realized that in 2005, 2006, whatever that was, I had to just let go. It's, like, 'Let Dave have his thing. Let him do what he wants to do.'"
When Ellefson eventually rejoined MEGADETH nine years ago, he was no longer as involved in the band's composing process and business affairs like he was prior to the group's breakup.
"People all day today have been, 'How have you survived in MEGADETH all these years?'" Ellefson said. "And I think the truth of it is I know my place. I was there in the room when we cast the vision. None of the other guys along the journey were — none of 'em, except for my friend Greg Handevidt, and, of course, he was only in MEGADETH for about two months. But unless you were in that room at that moment when we cast the vision and we sort of dreamt the whole thing up, you're kind of just coming into a part of a story that's already been told. Kiko [Loureiro, current MEGADETH guitarist] is very aware of that — especially from a composing point of view. He really understands Dave as a composer. Kiko himself is a composer. As he said, he goes, 'Me and Dave both play the same instrument, so it's easier for me to communicate with him, because I'm a guitar player too, so we can speak a common language there.'
"When I came back, particularly I was referring to the 'Thirteen' album that we were writing, and I realized it was not gonna be a collaborative process. Which was very different for me, because everything that I did away from MEGADETH for those seven, eight years was collaborative."
Ellefson was in MEGADETH from the band's inception in 1983 to 2002, when the group briefly broke up because Mustaine suffered severe nerve damage that left him unable to play. After Mustaine reformed MEGADETH with an all-new lineup in 2004, Ellefson sued his former bandmate for $18.5 million, alleging that Mustaine still owed him substantial merchandise and publishing royalties. In January 2005, the case was dismissed in court, and five years later, Ellefson rejoined MEGADETH.