Megadeth is of course one of those iconic bands in the metal scene and the name of founding member David Ellefson should be instantly recognisable to any rock or metal fan. There is of course much more to Ellefson than being the bass player for Megadeth. With his business partners he owns a record company, a film company and a coffee company and over the past few years he has been part of the bands Altitudes & Attitude and Metal Allegiance. Earlier this year he published his second book “More Life With Deth” and an accompanying album called “Sleeping Giants”. Ellefson brings his solo tour to Europe in November. The first of those gigs is a special show in Wolverhampton on 3rd November that features KK Downing, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and others.

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to chat with David via Skype on 8th October prior to him joining Megadeth of the inaugural ‘Megacruise’ on 13th October. We discussed the upcoming European tour and the show in Wolverhampton, his new book and album, working with Frank Bello in Altitudes & Attitude, the Metal Allegiance albums and of course Megadeth.

The interview was first broadcast on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 11th October alongside an interview with Magnus Karlsson. It was then repeated on 25th October along with some more supporting tracks. Those Shows are available from the On Demand Player – (uploaded 10th Oct and 25th Oct) and from our MixCloud page -





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NI ROCKS – Hi David. Thanks for taking some time to chat with Rock Radio NI. You’re currently in the midst of your Basstory Tour to promote the latest book and the “Sleeping Giants” album. The tour is marketed as More Live With Deth for the upcoming European shows in November. Are the European Shows essentially the same format as the American shows? And how would you describe that experience for the fans?

DAVID – It will be pretty similar to the US dates that we’ve just did. I’ll have a different band. I have a group out of Italy who will be backing me. Andy Martongelli is the guitar player. I actually met him through Kiko – he’s a friend of Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth guitarist) – and he had played guitar with me and Frank Bello when we did our Altitudes and Attitude dates earlier in the year in Europe. And there’s one big speciality show as part of this; which is the show up at KK’s Steel Mill in Wolverhampton featuring KK Downing and myself, Kes Binks, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and our friend AJ Mills (from British band Hostile) is going to be joining us on guitar as well my singer and business partner Thom Hazaert. So that one is going to be pretty big. It’s kinda funny because it really just started because I hit KK up to see if he had availability to do a book signing at his venue. It went from a book signing to a jam session to basically a full blown concert (laughs); which is great because it is truly a labour of love. We’re having a lot of fun putting it together. We’re also doing the Underworld in Camden and that will be just the stand alone show similar to the Basstory shows we did over here. But we wanted to brand it a little different over there because I’ve done some Basstory shows across Europe before and they were often master classes, sometimes I had a few backing musicians with me. This one is very much going to be a band with a singer – with Thom singing – and we wanted to bill this one a little differently across Europe so that people know it’s going to be a different experience.

NI ROCKS – You mentioned the Wolverhampton show which I was going to ask about. I notice that the VIP tickets for that show have already sold out. Have you finalised a set list for the Show yet and what might fans expect?

DAVID – We do, we actually have a set-list. Blaze Bayley is going to be opening the show, then I’ll be doing a “Sleeping Giants” set and then we’ll come out and do the big grand hoorah with all of us. The set-list is good. I think it has a pretty good cross section of a lot of vintage Priest, some of the big MTV era and some stuff with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. I don’t want to spoil the surprise by listing the songs but I think it’s a really good cross section. It’s been fun and kinda challenging to learn some of the tunes because I’m a fan of so much of the Judas Priest catalogue, but bass in hand and sitting down and digging into it I’ve got to know Ian Hill a lot better through this process (laughs). I love Ian, he’s been a total gentleman to me and we’ve always enjoyed hanging out. I’m probably Ian’s biggest fan as a bass player; I just absolutely love how he plays and his contributions to the songs. Now really digging in and understanding it, it’s amazing how similar Judas Priest and Megadeth are – our chord shapes, our movements of how our hands work on the finger board – there are a lot of similarities. Yet there are some things, as I’ve been working with KK on a couple of things, it’s amazing how he and Glenn would have played things very different than how me and Dave would have done it. So it’s always fun when you get to work with different people and dig in and learn their styles and nuances of what they do. It’s been a lot of fun.


NI ROCKS – Your latest book “More Life With Deth” was released in July and it follows “My Life With Deth” that was released back in 2013. What influenced you to release the latest book at this point in time?

DAVID – Last year, Thom and I were doing what we call the Mid-West Coffee Tour going through Minnesota and the area that I grew up in. Doing some autograph signings at record stores and promoting our Ellefson Coffee brand. Thom had mentioned that he thought it was time to write another book. Both when Thom recommended it and when Joel McIvor recommended that I write my first memoir, “My Life With Deth”, my first question was like ‘what...really?’ is there enough to write about. It’s funny; as much as I live my life sometimes it takes someone else to kick me on the side of the head and say come on dummy pay attention – look at all we’ve been doing. Sometimes I stop and look around  and think you’re right there’s been quite a little empire built here! That was the impetus for this for this book; and as we started to write it I was on a handful of airplane flights around March and April of 2018 and I literally wrote it in about a week. It just sort of fell right out of me. That really set the template for the book. It was great to get people contributing. Quite honestly, getting K.K. Downing, he was so kind, to offer some words. We have the audio book coming out here later this month and I got KK, Dan Donegan (from Disturbed), Mark Slaughter and a lot of the people who kindly contributed to the book, actually read the audio, so it is really going to be a frickin awesome audio book. You’re going to hear it direct from the horse’s mouth, of the people who contributed to the book. A lot of really great friendships got reconnected through the process of writing the book and that for me is the ultimate, personal payoff.

NI ROCKS – I take it fans will get a chance to buy the book during your shows here?

DAVID – Yes, I will have books available at all the shows and as well, we’ll have some “Sleeping Giants” songs that we’re going to play in the set, and we’ll have the CD available there as well.

NI ROCKS – You mentioned the album there. The book was accompanied by the release of the album “Sleeping Giants” which features some new tracks as well as some old demos from F5. What made you decide to release those demos now?

DAVID – We were doing a ‘Basstory’ tour in Florida back in December 2018 and Thom and I are partnered in a recording studio called MasterSound down in Tampa. Thom said why don’t we go to the studio tonight and write a song after the ‘Basstory’ show and we did. I usually write on guitar and I picked up a guitar and that song “Vultures” just fell right out. I wrote all the music and we had our band there so we recorded it that night. Thom wrote and recorded the lyrics and the vocals the next day. Literally, within two days we had the song done. Our initial thought was that we’d have a digital download as part of the book, like some sort of free song. I said to Thom that it had been fun to collaborate on something musically, we do so much business together, but Thom’s also a good producer, and good writer. So I threw him over “Sleeping Giants” and “Hammer Comes Down” which I had the title of and music for, but had never finished the lyrics for. I let him just run with it and suddenly we had three songs. Thom said I know you’ve got some other songs from over the years that have never been released; I think this is the time. “Sleeping Giants” is the perfect title because you’ve all these tracks sitting in the vault, lets pull them put and put them out there. That’s how it happened and it’s kinda fun because as much as there is three new songs, the other tracks that are on there, as you say the F5 demos, there is a spirit about those demos that I really liked. Even though we re-recorded a lot of them into album format when we released a couple of records with that band. Sometimes there is a spirit about the demo, there’s just something about it that you can never recapture. It’s a musical performance, so that performance can never be replicated even if you re-record something you’ll never  re-record that exact moment in time. So, I thought there was something about the moment in time with these demos for them to be released.

NI ROCKS – The first track released from the “Sleeping Giants” album was actually a new track called “Hammer (Comes Down)” that features former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland as well as Mark Tremonti. We’ll play that track now. What can you tell us about it?

DAVID – It’s music that I had written quite a few years ago and it sat as an instrumental and as Thom and I began to put lyrics around it there was a little bit of an arrangement change. My first call was to Eric AK from Flotsam and Jetsam to have a nice clean vocal to juxtapose against Thom’s more growling kind of vocal. From there we thought lets hit up Mark Tremonti, he has been a dear friend and big Megadeth fan over the years who contributed to the book. Then we got Chris Poland involved. Chris has largely been off the radar since Nick Menza had passed away that night on stage when Chris was playing with OHM. It was nice, as a friend of Chris, to get him back out into the spotlight again. He is a fantastic guitar player and I thought this is a good way to do it – reach a helping hand over to my friend Chris and get him back up and going. Now he’s rockin!

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NI ROCKS – On the American Basstory shows you often had bands from your own EMP Label on the tour with you. Will you be able to do something similar on the European shows?

DAVID – Possibly. I’m doing a little bit of that down in South America, beginning in Mexico City where I have the band White Dream are performing the show with me. Across Europe we don’t have any other EMP artists on those shows, but it has been, as part of the business plan for ‘Basstory’, something that we like to do. We’ve built a nice little family business here and it’s nice to keep the members of our family employed and keep everybody under one roof.

NI ROCKS – You’ve some great artists on the EMP Label and the “Sleeping Giants” CD actually comes with a bonus disc featuring some of those artists. How much personal input do you have as far as signing artists and the high level stuff as opposed to the day to day?

DAVID – Thom really runs the label. He’s great at that; he’s really good at it. I just set down a few mandates right when we started it. One was that I always wanted our deals and everything we do to be as artist friendly as we can. Obviously we can’t compromise our business as a label and there are things that have to fall into a certain method with that. I said that I’m an artist first and foremost and if my label can’t be artist friendly, as best we can without compromising our own business model, then I don’t really want to have a label. At that point I’ll just save it for when I produce something and put a record out; at least I’d know I have a channel to put my own productions out. But Thom has run labels before and he grew up on that side of the business back in the 90’s and though the 2000’s. He has a much better feel for it. I’ll hear something that I like and we’ll sit down and we’ll talk about the things that work and don’t work about it; and we’ll make a decision accordingly because it is still a record label and we have to be working artists who we can have a real partnership with. That’s big because the way we do our deals it really is a partnership. The days of just sitting back and waiting for the record label to write the big cheque and do all that; that happens in pop and hip-hop and R’n’B and things like that, but rock ‘n’ roll these days it’s very much a DIY business where you have to be willing to put in the work yourself.

NI ROCKS – If you don’t mind I’d also like to chat briefly about the recent albums from Altitudes & Attitude and Metal Allegiance. The Altitudes & Attitude album “Get It Out” was released in January and is the result of collaboration with Anthrax’s Frank Bello going back almost ten years. How would you describe that musical relationship and do you think there might be another album sometime in the future?

DAVID – It’s funny, that was a very unexpected moment. Frank and I, we’ve been acquaintances, but we weren’t really friends. Our bands had always been around each other. It’s funny the friendships that you can develop when you’ve a guitar in your hand and you’re sitting down with someone getting into their life. Especially with Frank because the lyrics that Frank wrote on his songs were very self revealing; and revealed a whole other side to Frank. The Frank Bello we normally see is the big smile, mouth open, hands in the air, rockin the big stage with Anthrax. He’s the optimistic warrior up there. The Frank Bello that I got to know doing Altitudes & Attitude had a very dark, moody, pensive side to him with a life journey that I would never known had I not got to know Frank. Some deep things in his own family with his father and his brother and some things that really caused him some deep hurts. Things that he put out through these songs. You hear these songs and they’re happy with a nice bouncy chorus; and I’d ask Frank what’s that song about and he would reveal the source of it and I’d be like holy smoke, that’s a dark topic. It was really great with Frank, but we’re always busy with Megadeth and Anthrax so our time is very limited and making full length albums is very difficult because of the workload involved with it, but I certainly think maybe one off songs here and there is certainly possible for me and Frank to continue because we have a lot of fun doing it. We have a great time, being together and doing that gig.

NI ROCKS – It’d be good to hear some more stuff. We’ll play a track from that album later in the Show. Do you want to pick a track from the album?

DAVID – Sure! It’s may be me being a little self-serving from that one, but play “Levianthan” ; it’s an instrumental track and I think what is kinda fun about it is that it tells another side to that journey with me and Frank. As much as we write and do most of the stuff as guitar players in that band there are moments when obviously the bass gets to be revealed; but we also got to have our friend from Steel Panther join in and play guitar for us! Getting to expand the community is also part of what we get to do with Altitudes & Attitude, so I’d say play “Levianthan”.

NI ROCKS – The second Metal Allegiance album was released just over a year ago. I read somewhere that there was already some movement in regard to a third album. Scheduling must be difficult, particularly for yourself and drummer Mike Portnoy.  Is there anything you can tell us about progress with a new album?

DAVID – Yeah, we’ve begun the conversations. There is always writing going on. I know that Mark and Blitz (Bobby Ellworth) have been working on a handful of things. I think it was debated whether that would be Metal Allegiance or it might be moved to do something else; which is fine. That’s part of the thing we get to do when we have these collaborations; that we get to explore other musical friendships that branch out from the different experience we get to have. With Metal Allegiance, there is a third album that we are moving forward, but no real deadline of when that is going to be recorded or released yet. A work in progress!

NI ROCKS - We’ll play another track now. This time I’ll let you decide which one you want to play and tell us something about it.

DAVID – I’d say let’s do “Power Drunk Majesty”. It’s the title track. It’s funny how when Alex  (Skolnick), (Mark) Menghi and (Mike) Portnoy got together and did the first round of writing and sent some tracks back to me to hear what they had worked on over the course of a few days; right away I heard that song and I just opened up my laptop and I typed out those lyrics. It was very cool that it became the title track because I thought that in the various political landscapes that we live in today, that it was a very fitting title and topic. It just poured right out of me onto the page.



NI ROCKS – Megadeth are due to perform on the Megacruise in the Pacific next week. That will be the band’s first performance since Dave Mustaine’s announcement in June.  He posted an update a few weeks ago. Is there anything you can tell us about Dave’s progress and that cruise?

DAVID – Well Dave is still undergoing his recovery so the actual performances are definitely going to be modified on the cruise for sure. I think the real downbeat of Megadeth performances will be in 2020 when we’re doing the Five Finger Death Punch, Megadeth and Bad Wolves tour. That is really going to be the downbeat of it. The cruise, no pun intended, the ship has already sailed, the proverbial ship. There’s a lot of people coming on it and of course there’s a lot of bands; it’s more of a festival setting so it didn’t make any sense to cancel it. It made sense to just keep it moving and I think it’s going to be great and a lot of fun despite Dave’s unfortunate health setback. He is in his recovery and him taking the time to properly recover is absolutely of most importance. Most importantly for his own health and that has to come first above everything else.

NI ROCKS – Work on the new Megadeth album was obviously stalled somewhat this year as well. Are we likely to see something being released next year?

DAVID – Yeah, that’s the goal. Again, I think everything is now on the calendar of Dave’s recovery. However that progresses, that’s going to dictate our workload and our schedule. While we have a tentative timeline laid out for next year, it is all subject to change due to health measures. In the perfect world we’d get the record wrapped up and get something out next year and that starts the new cycle.

NI ROCKS – You mentioned that you return to Europe early next year with Megadeth for the Five Finger Death Punch tour. Do you still enjoy playing those big arena venues just as much as the smaller venues that you play with your own gigs?

DAVID – I do, I do, I love them a lot. With Megadeth, it’s fun to do those big gigs; we’ve worked really hard over the years to build the band to that position so we’d like to keep it there. Once in a while we’ll do some little fanclub show where we’ll play a song in a bar (laughs), and they’re fun for the fifteen or twenty minutes that we do it, but I like to think we’ve grown past that. Me personally to go into those smaller settings and the rock clubs; it’s a lot of fun because the whole goal for when I do these Basstory solo shows is that it is meant to be very engaging and very disarming and something that really connects well, directly with the fans. That’s the whole goal. I’m thankful that I get to do both, quite honestly.

NI ROCKS – Coming back to “Sleeping Giants”. That can be seen as your first solo album really. Would you be keen to do another album like that, but focusing purely on new material and working with a number of guest musicians?

DAVID – I think so yeah. Again, this was a kinda random, weird year because the book was originally scheduled to come out during the very tail-end of the Ozzy Osbourne – Megadeth tour that we were supposed to do this summer, then Ozzy had to postpone the tour. Then of course there was Dave’s issue and there were a number of radical right, left turns came down this summer. By having the Basstory platform in place that we created last year, it allowed for me to have a fairly seamless year with moving things forward with the book and this album. What started out as just a companion to the book, quite honestly turned out to be more of a companion solo album of sorts, because it’s all stuff that I have worked on and had a hand in either writing, playing etc. I think probably the next time I would do some singing, because live I sing a couple of the tracks and I really enjoy it. People are always going wow, I had no idea that you had an actual lead vocal voice. As a kid I always sang lead vocals in my bands growing up and then I met Dave. Dave wasn’t even going to be the singer of Megadeth (laughs), there were some other guys we were looking at, but the moment came and Dave sang I said guess what dude, you’re the singer. Who knows, I think probably for me to step up and maybe take reign on the microphone a bit more as a lead singer is probably something that I would like to do more of moving forward.

NI ROCKS – That would be great. That is all the questions that we have time for, but we’ll finish by playing another track from the “Sleeping Giants” album. Do you want to pick a track and tell us something about it?

DAVID – There’s one track that I really like and live I sing it because I’m the defacto guy. It’s a track that I wrote with my friend Pat Schunk back in 1993. Pat was a writer who wrote some stuff for Stevie Nicks, Bret Michaels and a handful of different things, and got into jingle work a little later. But he and I had a really great collaboration in 1993 and wrote a ton of material together. One that we wrote and had our friend John Bush come over and sing is the song “If You Were God”. It’s a timeless song and still holds up today.

NI ROCKS – Thanks David for taking the time to talk to us. It is really very much appreciated.


Playlist 11th October

PRETTY MAIDS – Serpentine

THE FERRYMEN – No Matter How Hard We Fall

Interview with MAGNUS KARLSSON Part 1 (5 min)


Interview with MAGNUS KARLSSON Part 2 (7 min)

THE FERRYMEN – Bring Me Home

Interview with MAGNUS KARLSSON Part 1 (6 min)

THE FERRYMEN – Don’t Stand In My Way

MEGADETH – The Threat Is Real

Interview with DAVID ELLEFSON Part 1 (10 min)

ELLEFSON – Hammer (Comes Down)

Interview with DAVID ELLEFSON Part 2 (8 min)

METAL ALLEGIANCE – Power Drunk Majesty Pt1

Interview with DAVID ELLEFSON Part 3 (6 min)

ELLEFSON – If You Were God



SIFTING – Enough

SONS OF APOLLO – Diary of a Madman

A LITTLE BITTER – Further I Crawl

KISKE / SOMERVILLE – City of Heroes



PAT MCMANUS – Runaway Dreams


Playlist 25th October

MEGADETH – Peace Sells

JUDAS PRIEST – Nostradamus

IRON MAIDEN – Futureal


ELLEFSON - Vultures

Interview with DAVID ELLEFSON Part 1 (10 min)

ELLEFSON – Hammer (Comes Down)

Interview with DAVID ELLEFSON Part 2 (8 min)

METAL ALLEGIANCE – Power Drunk Majesty Pt1

Interview with DAVID ELLEFSON Part 3 (6 min)

ELLEFSON – If You Were God



CO-OP – Howl (ft Joe Perry)


MEGADETH – Cold Sweat

DEAD BY WEDNESDAY – Symphony of Destruction

METAL ALLEGIANCE – Life in the Fast Lane (ft Alissa White-Gluz)

AIRBOURNE – She Gives Me Hell

Promo Interview with AIRBOURNE Pt1 (ft Boneshaker)

Promo Interview with AIRBOURNE Pt2 (ft Backseat Boogie)





EDENBRIDGE – The Memory Hunter

TURBOKILL – Pulse of the Swarm



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Last Updated (Saturday, 26 October 2019 06:43)