MEGADETH's DAVID ELLEFSON Says ''Risk'-Like Moments' Kept Coming Into His Head During Making Of 'Super Collider'
September 6, 2020
During an appearance on the August 26 edition of the "Aftershocks Tremors Live" podcast, David Ellefson was asked how he reacts to fans sometimes not responding to certain MEGADETH albums as favorably as they do to others, specifically such critically panned releases "Risk" (1999) and "Super Collider" (2013). The bassist responded (see video below): "When we were doing the 'Super Collider' record, there were 'Risk'-like moments that kept coming into my head. And I was just going, 'I don't know. I think I've seen this movie before.' And I just had to kind of go with it, because those weren't really my songs, and I'm there as a member of the band and a member amongst members, so we go as the team goes. So there are these moments.
"I think no matter what it is, you can tell pretty much right away — especially right when something comes out — you know right away, 'Okay, is this getting thumbs up or is this getting kind of an 'Eh'?' And lukewarm is better than thumbs down, but, boy, it can be a long journey when you put something out and people are kind of like, 'Eh. Not what we expected,' and they move on. Because it's hard to get people back.
"Some things, there's enough of a history that it's easier to kind of bounce back from," he continued. "Sometimes you put some things out and they just don't respond very well, and sometimes you've gotta just sort of cut bait and move on from it and leave your emotion out of it."
Asked if there are MEGADETH albums where he feels fans were "just straight-up wrong on," Ellefson said: "Well, fans are never wrong, because they are the ones that are buying it. I'm not talking about just the cash consumer transaction; I'm talking about as a fan listening to it. And I speak as a fan myself. When I bought my KISS records or VAN HALEN records or JUDAS PRIEST or whoever that I bought over the years, I'd pretty much know right away when something comes roaring out of the speakers and I'm, like, 'Yes! Awesome.' Or when it takes me a while to get kind of into it. I remember as a BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE fan, as a kid, that 'Not Fragile' record was just amazing — top to bottom, just amazing. And then the next record, 'Four Wheel Drive', pretty much the same thing. And then the one after that, 'Head On', and I was, like, 'What the hell is this? This is hit and miss.' And then the one after that, I was, like, 'All right, now you lost me.' So I know as a fan. CHEAP TRICK records — same thing. There was kind of three in a row — 'In Color', 'Heaven Tonight' and 'Dream Police' — that could do no wrong; they were just amazing. So I get it. And then maybe the next record, they get a little exploratory. Or maybe what happens is the world changes too.
"When you're an artist making records, you have a sound, and what fans like about your sound is that it's unwavering and it really doesn't change," he added. "And suddenly either you change, which fans aren't usually that big on, or maybe around you stuff happens. By the mid-'90s, Seattle music came in, nu metal came in — the landscape around us was changing. So there's now young, new music listeners coming in; they're buying new records."
Last year, Ellefson admitted in an interview with "The Robbcast Podcast" that some of the "Super Collider" material didn't translate well live.
"I remember we made the 'Super Collider' record, and we'd never played those songs together," he said. "And we got out on stage and we went, 'Oh my God! These songs are not working live.' 'Kingmaker' has worked well — that was good — and also 'Dance In The Rain', especially on Gigantour, when David Draiman was out there with his band, DEVICE, 'cause then we'd have him come up and sing the song. 'Cause he sang on the record, and it was awesome to have him come up every night and sing live with us. But some of the other tunes, they didn't translate [live]. And they're great on the record — they sound fine — but there's just a thing…"
In a separate 2019 interview with "The Metal Sucks Podcast", Ellefson said that "the setup and the launch" of "Super Collider" is "what really polarized that album with the fans." He explained: "Had we led with kind of the traditional format, which is you come out with a heavy track and then you move to the single — if we had come out with 'Kingmaker' and then moved to 'Super Collider', that record would have been received completely different. Because first impressions are lasting impressions.
"There was this big wait — MEGADETH were doing the 'Big Four'; we did all this big stuff, SLAYER, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX tours again; we're back on top as this real thrash band; and then, all of a sudden, the next song people hear from us is the 'Super Collider' track," he continued. "It was, like, 'Woah! What the hell happened?' And 'Super Collider' is a perfectly fine song, if it was the second song you heard. But to come out of the gate swinging with something like 'Kingmaker' would have set an entirely different precedent. So it's amazing how you can skew public opinion by what you see and hear first."
Back in 2013, MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine told Ultimate Guitar that fans who didn't like "Super Collider" are "people that wanna hear 'Black Friday' the rest of their lives. And I feel for them, man. I know the first time I heard AC/DC versus what they put out now, it's a different time. I think that's the whole thing about if you're really a fan of the band, you grow with them or you stop being a fan. I always loved early AC/DC and I totally respect older AC/DC, but I was weaned on Bon Scott."
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