DAVID ELLEFSON Says It Was 'A Good Idea' For MARTY FRIEDMAN To Perform With MEGADETH Again

October 17, 2023

In a new interview with the Mike Nelson Show, former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson was asked if he was surprised to see ex-MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman rejoining his former band onstage a couple of times this year — first at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan in February, and then at the Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany in August. David responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I stayed in touch with Marty [after his exit from MEGADETH]. We're friends. Look, for Marty, I think it was a good idea because he went off to the far East [to live and work in Japan] for so many years and that is a very… like you're way off, you're off the grid, man. And I know as Marty has tried to kind of come back into the Western world, if you will, to sort of got to get his career restarted here — just 'cause you're big in Japan doesn't connect at all to the Western world; it just doesn't. So I think Marty needed a big look and a kickstart for that. And, look, he's the favored son, right? Nick [Menza, former MEGADETH drummer] and Marty were the favored sons of the [MEGADETH] legacy. So for him to come back out and step on stage again and do it… 'Cause he quit because he didn't wanna do it anymore. He didn't wanna play those songs. He didn't wanna play that music anymore. He wanted to go off and do his own thing. So the fact that he's coming back to it, I admire him. I think it's cool. It's been good for him. It's been good for MEGADETH. So, when I see it, I go… It kind of tickles me a little bit. I'm, like, 'Yeah, it's cool.' Those are songs we were all part of putting together. Those were very pressure-cooker years for us. The pressure was on, we needed to step up, we and we did. Together, as a team, we wrote and created some music that'll live — it'll outlive us. So I think it's all good."

Asked if he ever thinks about the fact that he never got to be part of a reunited "Rust In Peace" lineup of MEGADETH in the years after Nick and Marty left the band, David said: "No, because we tried [to put it back together]. I knew it wasn't gonna work. I just had a feeling Nick was not… It hit me, especially 'cause we're putting Nick's movie [documentary about Menza's life] together now; we're in the final editing of it to try to get it out next year. And it hit me that Nick became a very different person after MEGADETH. He went through his hardships and his transitions, but he ended well. And to me, I don't find it sad that he died on stage [in 2016] playing his drums. I think it's the ultimate victory. Like, what better place to check out. Especially for Nick. That's what he lived for. I think it's awesome. It's, like, 'You know what? I'm out. Done.' Obviously, I wish he was still alive so that we could hang out and do all that, but if he's gonna go, what a great way to go… When he came back to try to put this whole 'Rust In Peace' thing back together in 2015 and, of course, there was managers who were trying to put it together in 2004, and it wasn't meant to be, man. And I knew Marty wasn't in the headspace to do it."

Ellefson continued: "I've gotta say Marty, I think, talking to Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH leader], he helped change and reshape what [MEGADETH's 2016 album] 'Dystopia' became. 'Cause Dave and Marty kind of became friends during that time. And Marty was, like, 'Look, man, you guys need a drummer who's gonna really fucking kick ass.' Marty was, like, 'Look, I use these young drummers. They're killer.' And he was right. Metal requires healthy, young, driven vital players. And Chris Adler [of LAMB OF GOD] coming in to record 'Dystopia' was a good look. He was a little bit younger. He's obviously known for his own amazing style of drumming. And then getting Dirk [Verbeuren] in the band — again, another young powerhouse drummer. So, Marty really got in Dave's ear and helped change what MEGADETH became. So Marty was kind of a friend from the sidelines without having to be in the band. And I could tell he wasn't ready to come back and to participate. He was on a different path And Nick just wasn't the MEGADETH guy anymore. And it's fine. He was playing with [former MEGADETH guitarist] Chris Poland. He was doing other stuff.

"To go back and play this stuff, man… I mean, you've gotta remember, we were all 25, 26, 27 years old playing this shit — super athletic, high-octane, very demanding performances on the stage, demanding lifestyles, being on the road for 18 months, just really having to just commit your life," David added. "Your bodies change as you get older, your health, the things that are important to you, the things you're willing to sacrifice later in life, your priorities shift, and that's just what life is. So to go back and try to be this ferocious metal band from the '90s… I think we did a great job of it when I went back to the band in 2010. I think that was my benchmark. It's, like, look, if bringing Marty and Nick back isn't going to be better than what we did with [Shawn] Drover and [Chris] Broderick, then we are not gonna go near this again. Let's just leave it in its infamy and just leave it alone and stop trying to go back to that."

Ellefson was fired from MEGADETH more than two years 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 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.

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