DAVID ELLEFSON Names Most Difficult MEGADETH Song To Play On His Instrument
April 11, 2022
In an interview with Monsters, Madness And Magic, former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson was asked to name the most difficult song in his catalog for him to perform live. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "There's songs… They're all hard if you play 'em right, is the truth, because they're fast. There's a lot of muscular intensity. You can't just sort of phone it in. You've really gotta warm up. And you've kind of gotta be warmed up and have a lot of your endurance in place; you can't have just been on vacation and pick your bass up and rip through the tunes. It requires dexterity and everything. So 'Holy Wars' can be difficult to play. When we had it at the end of the set, it was easier to play 'cause you're warmed up for an hour and a half; it's a lot easier. When we used to come out and start with it, back in the '90s, like with the 'Rust In Peace' or something, I think we started with it at the time, and it was, like, 'Oh my God. This is a fucking killer to come out of the gate with this one.' You were kind of waiting for the little break where Marty [Friedman, former MEGADETH guitarist] does the flamenco thing, so you can go, 'Ah…' and shake it off. 'Cause if you tense up, you get the Popeye arm. The funny thing is something like 'My Last Words' which has that really ripping pentatonic pattern, that actually is not that hard to play 'cause it's a pattern — it's a pentatonic pattern. So sometimes things you think would be harder aren't and some of the more notey complexities would be… 'Tornado [Of Souls]', 'cause of the downpicking on 'Tornado', could be a thing. And I would change it sometimes depending on who the drummer was. When Shawn Drover played in the band, he'd play very much behind the beat like Chuck Behler. He had a really relaxed feel — very comfortable to play with, Shawn, actually. And when Nick [Menza] was in the band, he would always push everything — everything was always at the front edge of the beat, so you're hanging on for dear life. [It's, like,] 'C'mon — pull it back a little bit, dude.' So sometimes the drummer made all the difference."
Ellefson was born and raised in in the small Minnesota town of Jackson, located near the Iowa border, just under three hours southwest of St. Paul. After leaving Jackson in the early '80s to move to Los Angeles, he met former METALLICA guitarist Dave Mustaine, and the pair co-founded multi-platinum, Grammy-winning hard rock act MEGADETH, going on to become one of the "Big Four" of thrash metal. Ellefson's smalltown Jackson roots have been immortalized in MEGADETH lore as the subject of classic songs including the smash hit "Foreclosure Of A Dream" and the underground classic "Mary Jane".
Ellefson, who has lived in Scottsdale, Arizona since 1994, was dismissed from MEGADETH last May, just days after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist were posted on Twitter.
David, a Christian who launched the Mega Life Ministries worship group in 2007, studied for a year at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis a decade ago.
Last October, Ellefson told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" that there is a perception that people of faith must set a higher standard of how they live with and treat others. "It's almost like you're this entity that's floating up toward the heavens: 'Oh, he's such a wonderful man. He's a man of faith. He's got his family. And then this happens.' It's, like, 'What the hell is this?'" he said.
"I mean, look, admittedly I've sort of trained the public to think that I'm one of the more well-behaved rock stars out there, and for the most part I have been," he continued. "But at the same time, and this isn't to claim anything other than just, oops, shit happens. That is what it is."
Ellefson was in MEGADETH from the band's inception in 1983 to 2002, and again from 2010 until his latest exit.