As far as metal feuds go, the one-sided animus between Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and his former bandmates in Metallica endures like an underground coal fire. It’s always there and if you get close you’re reminded of the heat that’s been building for decades. As a result, you will be hard pressed to find any members of Megadeth rocking any shirts from the other team.
So now that David Ellefson has been out of the band for two years, he’s recently had some interactions with Metallica’s universe that’s had people taking notice. Earlier this year he posted on social media about his time attending one of Metallica’s M72 shows.
During a recent interview with the Mike Nelson Show. Ellefson said he was excited to feel a level of openness with his love for metal now that he’s no longer part of Megadeth.
“I almost wore my Metallica shirt today. It’s cycled up to the bottom of my — you know the black t-shirt pile we all have? Just cycle down, and you go through the shirts. ‘Oh, there’s a Metallica shirt. Maybe I should wear this one today.’ I’m not in Megadeth. I can finally wear my Metallica shirts again.
“Hey, man, I’m a Metallica fan. I mean, talk about gold standards. They’re the one for metal. They have gone on to do the impossible. I mean, really, when you think about it in the touring business, there’s Taylor Swift, there’s Metallica, maybe Beyonce, Gunds N’ Roses. And thank God, man, they’re at the top. We need them to be at the top, because if they’re at the top, that means all boats rise to that level. So we want Metallica to be fucking Apple computer; we need ’em to be for our genre.
“Look, I thought their show… I think the tour now, the show now, this is the best they’ve been since the Black Album. I think they sound great, they play great, the song selection is great. So, I’m proud of our boys. I’m happy for ’em, and I think it’s great that they’re out doing it on the level that they’re doing. It’s one thing to get to that level, it’s a whole other thing to maintain that level, which they’ve been able to do, which is just fucking awesome.”
Now, while it’s assumed that Ellefson hadn’t seen Metallica play in his 30 years with Megadeth, the bassist was quick to clarify that wasn’t the case.
“No, I’ve always gone to see Metallica. I remember going with Dave [Mustaine] to see them when they played with — the ‘Kill ‘Em All For One’ [tour] with Raven. And they came through and they played the Country Club in L.A. where we lived at the time and seeing them play. I’m going, ‘Fuck. Okay. So this is it.’ ‘Cause my first introduction was [the] ‘No Life ‘Til Leather’ [demo]. And then I remember when the ‘Kill ‘Em All’ album showed up, and me and [early Megadeth member] Greg Handevidt and Dave sat in the apartment in sheer silence while the record played and Dave listened to it — studied it and just listened to it. It’s, like, ‘Yeah, I’m just gonna shut up and sit here and listen.’ And I liked it.
“It was interesting how they slowed things down. In fact, I remember when Doc McGhee managed us for a short period at the in 1988. In one of our early meetings with Doc, he said he had an observation, he said, ‘You know, Metallica aren’t really that fast. They just give the illusion that they’re fast.’ I thought, ‘That’s a good way to put it.’ They slowed the tempos down so that it would work in the big arenas, which we eventually did in the ’90s as we got up in the big arenas and played that — our tempos slowed down our songwriting style adjusted a bit as well. And the other thing he said, he goes, ‘The name Metallica is actually bigger than the band.’ It’s kind of like the name transcends. And we see it now — we see actresses wearing Ramones t shirts and even Megadeth t-shirts. They probably don’t even have a fucking clue who we are, but they wear a t-shirt anyway, because the t-shirt and the logo is iconic.
“So, look, [Metallica] broke down the barriers, they led the way. I remember when we were recording Countdown To Extinction, I went down to go see Metallica, I think it was, like, five nights at the Forum in L.A. And I went down to go see ’em. And I remember coming back [to the studio] the next day and [producer] Max Norman was, like, [adopts British accent] ‘So how was it, mate?’ And I said, ‘You know what? I’m not gonna lie. It was fucking awesome.’
“What I couldn’t figure out is I looked around this arena… Megadeth could fill this arena, and then we would then, on Countdown, we’d put that many people in a venue. And I’m going, ‘How is it that Metallica have five times as many of these people as we do? What’s the connection?’ ‘Cause it’s the same [audience] — it’s you and me, right? With our black t-shirts; we’re rockers and we’re metalheads, right? ‘So where are all these fucking fans that go see Metallica? How come they don’t come and see us?’ And I remember I was kind of shy about letting Dave know that I went down to go see Metallica. And I remember Max was, like, ‘You should tell him the truth, mate. You should tell them they’re fucking amazing. Like, let’s fucking go. Let’s be as great as Metallica,’ you know? And I was, like, ‘Well, you don’t have to be in a band every day. You’re just making a record with us.’”
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