I tried to hit as many things as I could in this short interview: new album, tour, reissues, and David's autobiography. This was one of those deals where the person who connects you says you have 15 minutes, and then it's a race against the clock. You can even hear the call-waiting interrupting us as he was answering my last question.
In the end, you couldn't ask to talk to a nicer guy than David Ellefson, and I look forward to reading his forthcoming autobiography, My Life With Deth. Check out the complete audio and some text highlights from the interview below.
On Super Collider and the reaction of fans: There's good variety on it. I think overall people are happy with what they hear. Super Collider is a very different kind of track. Some tracks you hear them and right off the plate, man, they hit you. And then other tracks take a second or third, and sometimes those tracks are the ones that end up staying with you the longest, and I think Super Collider might be one of those tracks for some people, which is cool. So I've got kind of a mixed view. Some people right away: 'Man, I love the track. Heard it.' And other people are like, 'Huh. I don't know. It was something different. I wasn't really expecting that from Megadeth. And sometimes when we get those kind of responses, those songs tend to grow people and even end up lasting in the setlist for many, many years.
Summer tour with Iron Maiden: We have announced a string of dates that we're going to do in September with Iron Maiden, which is cool because Maiden and us have had a long history together, and we're a good lineup together. Our two bands are different from each other. We come from different genres, yet we're both very progressive bands that kind of beat to our drum. We've sort of created our own mainstream rather than going into the mainstream. Even musically speaking, we obviously write songs that are melodic and all that, but we're also bands that go off and get progressive. and I think that attracts a different type of music listener as well. So it gets much broader than just only having to put out the latest, greatest single, and your career sinks or dies based on that.
Choosing a setlist after all these years: It's funny, there's close to 20 songs that we have now that just kind of seem to be the staples, you know. In fact, at times, we even try to get away from them, because you're like, 'Oh geez, did we play this last time we were here in this city', or 'Gosh, what did we do last time we were here so we can make sure that we change it up so that fans aren't just paying for the same show over and over again?', but for whatever reason, these songs are, right, wrong, or indifferent, they're just some of the best of the Megadeth songs. We kind of have two phases to what we do right now, which is a lot of fun and is creative for us. Number one, of course, we release a new album, and fortunately we're a band that can still write compelling, interesting new songs, and so that's how we always launch a tour. But at some point during that tour cycle, if you will, we are able now to go back into our catalog of work and pull forward a record that's maybe at a 20 or 25-year anniversary mark. And that's something that's really fun for the fans, and it's something that I think helps really keep the fans invigorated. Not just the current fans, but in a lot of ways it helps introduce the 2nd and 3rd generation of Megadeth fans to some records in the live show that, heck, some of them may not have even been born when those albums came out. So it's kind of cool to see teenagers in the audience with their Megadeth shirt getting their first taste of the Megadeth experience.
Reconnecting to old songs through the reissues: Well, yeah. Certainly Rust in Peace was one of those records. The staples in the live show became 'Holy Wars' and 'Hangar 18' for sure, and then we would also play 'Tornado of Souls', 'Lucretia', and sometimes 'Dawn Patrol'. By and large, the other half of the record we didn't really touch since the record came out. The same could be said with Countdown to Extinction. Between 'Symphony of Destruction', 'Sweating Bullets', 'Foreclosure of a Dream', 'Skin O' My Teeth', those kind of things - those became staples in the setlist for the last 20 years, but the rest of the record we really didn't do much with it. And that's why I think doing the Rust in Peace and the Countdown to Extinction 20th Anniversary album tours was a way to go back and revisit those songs. It's interesting how 20 years ago, Rust in Peace inspired Countdown to Extinction, and in 2011, Rust in Peace anniversary tour spawned the Thirteen album, which got a lot of direct comparison to Countdown to Extinction. So it's interesting here now we just came off the Countdown to Extinction tour, and of course 20 years ago that spawned Youthanasia, and now here we are, moving from Countdown, just a few months ago when we performed that, going into Super Collider, and Super Collider, while I don't think it mirrors Youthanasia, it did maybe in a way open our minds to trying some new things. Maybe in some ways that's what people are hearing when they listen to Super Collider is they're hearing a band that was willing to stretch out a little bit and try some things. And I guess the good news is rest assured there is the stuff that Megadeth fans are going to want on the Super Collider album as well.
On trying new things: Look, we're Megadeth, and we don't want a record to suck - we want it to be great. But we're also not afraid either to step out and try a couple of new things as well. I think the thing we learned is that you can't make a whole record of experiments. It has to be a Megadeth record, but it's okay to take a song or two and step out and try a couple of new things. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
David's forthcoming autobiography: The release is going to be at the end of October. It's called My Life with Deth. It's kind of a play on words because I've obviously gone through a lot of transitions in my life, from addictions and old lifestyles, so that's kind of the play on words, Life with Deth. Even religiously, to go from, as the scripture says, 'The wages of sin is death', to go from that to a life of life rather than just a life of death. So it was kind of fun creating the title and working with that. I thought it was great that Dave did his book. I think the Megadeth story, it was good that he told it first, because that's such a big part of his life for sure. And my book, first of all, it's a personal story, but Megadeth is in and part of that because it's been such a huge part of my life. There's a lot of pretty cool things in there that I've experienced in my life that I think the fans will be excited to read about. So I'm very much looking forward to when it comes out, and I think people are going to like it, especially the fans.