In a brand new interview with Australia’s The Rockpit, MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson was asked if he has a favorite time in his life that he looks back on particularly fondly. “Fortunately, we as humans are wired to forget pain [laughs] and to remember the good times more than the bad,” he responded. “I think somehow the good Lord sort of wired that default setting in us at the factory. But with that being said, I have fond memories of different periods of the early days. They were not always a lot of fun because we were so poor and I did not grow up poor, so to just immediately leave the nest of my home and jump right into the vagabond musician lifestyle of Hollywood, California was a challenge, but I did it because I knew that’s the only way to get to the top — you have to start at the bottom. So I did it, and that’s why you and me are having this conversation today — because I paid those dues and made those sacrifices 35 years ago in my life. Yet, at the same time, probably some of my most fond memories in MEGADETH were probably in 1992 to 1994, 1996, 1998, somewhere in the ’90s. We weren’t so poor anymore, so it kind of at least alleviated some of that financial desperation yet keeping the band on track, that very precarious ledge we walked — kind of a razor’s edge, if you will, at all times, and it’s probably what kept things exciting, both in the music as well as the fans interest in the band. Then moving past that, there’s a period when I wasn’t in MEGADETH. In 2002, the band ended, it was gone, it was over, and talk about a freakout. At that point, my whole life, my identity, my income, who people knew me as, as the guy in MEGADETH, and when that ended, I’m not going to lie, I freaked out like, ‘Woah! What the hell!’ Yet fortunately, I was sober, I had a sober lifestyle, I had friends, I had a sort of design for living that I knew I could rely on that would get through that.”
He continued: “It was interesting because in that period from 2002 until 2010 was a period of my life that really taught me how to grow up, and I was in my mid-30s, so I mean growing up like learning how to be a man on my own two feet away from the reliance of the cocoon of being in a big rock band with managers and accountants and handlers and all the people that sort of buffer you from the realities of life. I went to college, I took a consulting position with Peavey Electronics, I really got networked into the music business on a much bigger level than just being the bass player. I started to perform with other groups, I put records and bands together myself and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. I mean, that was probably some of my most fun years as an adult and in fact just today, I had the same thought that I’m so thankful that my life is about being so much more than just being a bass player, because I’ve seen people that have been in groups for long periods of time and I feel bad for them, because it’s almost like success can almost be like golden handcuffs. As much as it comforts and the adoration and the fan worry and all that is fun, it can also limit how you are able to really evolve and grow as a human, and I found that sometimes the more difficult periods of my life have actually helped me grow the most, more than when the wind was falling my way.”
Ellefson was in MEGADETH from the band’s inception in 1983 to 2002, when the group briefly broke up because guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine suffered severe nerve damage that left him unable to play. After Mustaine reformed MEGADETH with an all-new lineup in 2004, Ellefson sued his former bandmate for $18.5 million, alleging that Mustaine still owed him substantial merchandise and publishing royalties. In January 2005, the case was dismissed in court, and five years later, Ellefson rejoined MEGADETH.
In addition to Mustaine and Ellefson, MEGADETH‘s current lineup includes former SOILWORK drummer Dirk Verbeuren and Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro, who was previously best known for his work with ANGRA.
MEGADETH‘s latest album, “Dystopia”, was released in January 2016.