Megadeth bassist David Ellefson has praised the raw talent of his bandmate, Dave Mustaine, in a new interview where he detailed the band’s collaborative process when deciding what tracks will make it onto an album.
Speaking on ToddCast Podcast, the rocker was asked how Megadeth decide what makes the cut when it comes to picking tracks they’ve written for inclusion on a record.
“I think certainly you can hear, and you see it in the writing credits, the collaborative eras, especially Countdown To Extinction, Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings,” he began. “And that’s because that lineup was together for a few records, and we started to figure out how to work together. And that’s a big part of it — being able to work together as a group.
Ellefson continued, “Everybody has strengths, everybody has weaknesses, and I think if you sort of tap everybody’s strengths, you hear the best of the best, and that’s always what you wanna try to get in any team setting, and certainly in a band,” he continued.
“Quite honestly, with Megadeth, Dave [Mustaine, guitar/vocals] writes amazing riffs. We don’t need three riff writers. Dave writes some of the best riffs in the world. I write good riffs too, but if they sound like Dave… Dave and I always had a saying: If we both agree on everything, then one of us is unnecessary,” he laughed.
“Sometimes you need the conflict because it presents a different way to look at something.”
He added, “I try to bring things into Megadeth that the other guys wouldn’t do, I guess is what I’m saying here, long story short.”
“I’ll bring in some kind of clean guitar, arpeggiated thing, I’ll bring in maybe a vocal idea, I’ll bring in a lyric. And so I try to bring things in that traditionally aren’t things maybe Dave or Kiko [Loureiro, guitar] would come up with, or Dirk [Verbeuren, drums], in this case now.”
“Because that’s a piece that Megadeth doesn’t have without me. And I think when we stay in our lane — we always say that over here in Team Ellefson: stay in your lane, do what you do and be great at what you do in your lane — then you help the group sound better by you being there.”
It comes following Ellefson’s recent admission that he’s had a “happy life” since going to rehab in the ’80s, where he got clean from drugs and alcohol.
“I remember just kind of going, ‘God, my fingers hurt, my body hurts, coming off of all the drugs. And I don’t even know if I still wanna play the bass anymore.’ And this moment just followed right after where I thought, ‘Wait a minute. You started playing music for fun when you were just a kid at 11 years old. Sex and drugs just got in the way of the rock and roll. Get that out of the way, and you’ll be good.’”
“And that’s what happened. And quite honestly, since 1990, since I got clean back then, it’s been a wonderful and blessed life — a happy life. The powers that be just seem to kind of put stuff in my path. And I’d like to think my life is just a mirror of following that good orderly direction.”