MEGADETH’s DAVID ELLEFSON: Coming Up With Fresh-Sounding Material Is ‘One Of The Hardest Challenges’

The Age Of Metal conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson at this year’s NAMM show, which was held January 22-24 in Anaheim, California. You can now watch the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On MEGADETH’s new album, “Dystopia”:

Ellefson: “It’s got great riffs. When I first met Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH frontman], right away, he has a very… he’s just got a very keen sense of writing a riff. Sometimes he’ll write it, and you go, ‘I could have come up with that.’ But that’s part of the charisma of his music — that there’s a simple relatability to it. And it’s also a very progressive album. And I think [drummer] Chris Adler’s abilities to be able to play the music the way it needs to be played is good. Chris Adler is not Chris from LAMB OF GOD playing on a MEGADETH record. He’s Chris Adler, a very skilled drummer, playing how MEGADETH needs a drummer to play. So there’s a big difference in that. And that was kind of really part of the discussion when we were cutting the record. Chris would sometimes ask me, ‘Should I do a little of this? Should I add some of my things?’ I said, ‘Dave will let you know when you’re in there.’ So it was great. And Dave, really, in my opinion, basically produced the record. He spent a lot of time [last] year learning Pro Tools and his way around the studio in a way that I think was needed. So spending time one-on-one with each of us as we were in there recording, it was nice to have that one-on-one connection. Yeah, it was very, very cool. And it’s interesting, ‘cause Dave and I sat there together. I recorded bass to the click track. I didn’t play with a band; I played right with the click. And then we built the drums, and then we built Kiko’s [Loureiro] guitars and then Dave’s guitars around it. So it was a very unusual method even for MEGADETH, but I think it shows that there’s a great musical connection that Dave and I have, because we [have worked together for so many] years, back from the beginning. And then for Chris to sort of build upon the bass, to know that that was gonna be the foundational instrument. I don’t think there’s ever been a record in the history of recorded music that was recorded with a bass to a click first. So I think we may have started a… We’ve cut a new cloth here, you know.”

On MEGADETH doing its best to not repeat itself when coming up with ideas for each album:

Ellefson: “Honestly, that’s probably one of the hardest challenges. You know, coming up with new material is never hard. We seem to be very prolific. The music flows, the lyric ideas are there. But it’s obvious if you write something, and [you think], ‘It sounds just like ‘502’,’ or, ‘That’s too close to ‘Holy Wars’.’ Some things are obvious. And there’s other, little, tiny pieces that only we would know, ‘cause we played it. We go, ‘Ehhh, we used that little hammer-on, pull-off part in another song,’ so we try to stay away from those little bits. Or even a lyric thing. We’ll go, ‘Ehhh, something like that, we used that on ‘Cryptic Writings’. Let’s move away from that.’ And that really becomes part of the art now — to take a similar thought, write it in a little bit different skew, but yet have it have the same impact. It’s a good problem to have — to be fifteen albums into your career and have to keep raising the bar like that for yourself.”

“Dystopia” debuted at No. 3 on The Billboard 200, having shifted 49,000 equivalent album units in the week ending January 28.

The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA).

In terms of pure album sales, “Dystopia” opened with 48,000 copies, marking MEGADETH’s highest-charting album since 1992’s “Countdown To Extinction” debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the chart dated August 1 of that year. “Dystopia” also logs the group’s best sales week since 2007, when “United Abominations” landed at No. 8 with first-week sales of 54,000.

Source: Blabbermouth

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