DAVID ELLEFSON Says MEGADETH's Early Music Was Written To Be Played In Small Venues

February 7, 2023

In a new interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station, David Ellefson was asked if he misses playing bigger venues now that he is no longer in MEGADETH and his main focus at the moment is KINGS OF THRASH, which also features another ex-MEGADETH member, guitarist Jeff Young. The bassist responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "There's a place for all of 'em. [Playing the ShipRocked cruise in January as part of THE STOWAWAYS] was big, man. That was like playing a midsized arena out on the deck, 'cause people were piled up three tiers high; that was a real gig. And then we go and we play these clubs [with KINGS OF THRASH].

"I saw a review of [KINGS OF THRASH's] Phoenix show that I think the guy really hit it on the head and said to see me and Jeff and to hear these [early MEGADETH] songs performed in, say, a five-hundred-seat club, he put the connection together that these songs were written back in that day when that's the size of how big MEGADETH was; these songs were written to be played in those-size venues. And as the group got more popular and we started playing bigger venues, the thrash stuff didn't translate as well, and that's why we started to slow some of the tempos in the '90s, like with 'Countdown To Extinction' and 'Youthanasia' and 'Cryptic Writings', the songs started to change a little bit to accommodate the venues we were playing and, of course, radio…

"'Cryptic Writings' was a huge era for us," Ellefson continued. "It was a deciding factor: Are we gonna continue just doing thrash metal and that or are we gonna kind of reform the sound a little bit to stay competitive in the mix of what was happening? We talked to IRON MAIDEN's manager about managing us at that point. Obviously, what he did with MAIDEN worked well, because they just kept the band on the road — tour, tour, tour — and that's how he built and sustained MAIDEN. But for us, being an American band, we knew we had a whole other audience here in America that to just be on tour outside of the U.S. would be to leave this whole territory unattended to. So we took a different approach; we actually got Bud Prager, and he had managed FOREIGNER back in the day, and so had sort of an understanding of that kind of music. And his partner Mike Renault managed CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, and they were on the 'Youthanasia' tour with us. So we made the decision to keep our base here in America.

"So 'Cryptic' was a record that really helped us stay tuned in to an American audience," David added. "And it did well around the world; Japan loved it, and South America. So it was definitely the right move. 'Cause, as you know, the '90s were a bit of a challenge, once Seattle showed up and NIRVANA. 'The anti-rock star killed the rock star' kind of thing, that was a challenge. We were one of the bands that survived it and made it through to the other side."

KINGS OF THRASH recently signed a worldwide deal with Cleopatra Records. The group will release a live CD/DVD package called "Best Of The West…Live At The Whisky A Go Go" on March 24. The 17-song set was recorded and filmed live at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, CA on October 15, 2022 and also features performances with another former MEGADETH member, Chris Poland (guitar). The DVD was directed by Michael Sarna for Inmotion Entertainment.

Last month, KINGS OF THRASH announced the first leg of a planned 2023 world tour, commencing February 16 in Joliet, Illinois. The "Thrashin' USA" trek will cross the Midwest, East Coast, and southeastern part of the USA through March 15. As with the band's 2022 warm-up shows, the group, which also includes drummer Fred Aching as well as guitarist/vocalist Chaz Leon, will be performing MEGADETH's classic albums "Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!" and "So Far, So Good… So What!" in their entirety.

Ellefson was fired from MEGADETH nearly 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 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.

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