With the debut of Altitudes & Attitude’s new EP, David Ellefson of Megadeth launches into another busy year of creativity. He kindly took time out to speak with the Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor about his new band, maintaining creativity, seminary, and pretty much everything else.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: You have a lot going on. In just over six months, Megadeth released “Super Collider”, “My Life with Deth” was released, you’ve toured the world, and now you have a new band, Altitudes & Attitude. How do you feel in light of all of this? Are you excited or tired or something else?
These are exciting times indeed, and I love to write, record, and play whenever great opportunities come my way. For me, all of these things you mentioned are the result of the phone ringing and me simply saying simply “yes” to them.
We’ve worked really hard with Megadeth these past few years and are on a much deserved eight week break before we start up touring again for 2014, the next stop being the Sound Wave Festival in Australia. So, the Altitude’s and Attitude release is perfect to pop out right now on this down time, especially leading up to METAL MASTER 5 and WNAMM in Anaheim, CA next week.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: How do you maintain so many artistic endeavors and still feel like your giving everything your best? Some artists stretch themselves too thin, but you don’t seem to be doing that.
For me, it’s a matter of focus and being intentional with each endeavor so that they all have their place. For instance, the book was something I was able to compile amongst touring and album work, knowing that once it’s published, it is out there for readers forever. With Altitudes and Attitude, it started with the intent of compiling music to use in Frank Bello & my clinics and METAL MASTERS performances.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: Megadeth has two openly professed Christians, you and Dave Mustaine. We have no idea about the religious backgrounds of your new band members, Frank Bello (Anthrax) and Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle). Do you ever get a chance to talk about your convictions with Frank and Jeff? If so, what are those interactions like?
As the saying goes, “Stay away from Politics and Religion”, especially in the work place. Sure, the topic comes up, but we aren’t there to be religious but to play music together. Again, being intentional on our time together.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: Rolling Stone called Altitudes & Attitude a “Supergroup”. How do you feel about the title? Is it humbling? Ridiculous? Does it put more pressure on you as an artist and a band?
It’s flattering for sure. But, I think it’s clear that we all have our ‘day jobs’ in our respective bands so regardless of what anyone calls, it’s fun to have an outlet like this for what it’s purposes was intended.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: How much guitar did you play with Altitudes & Attitude? Is that an instrument you would like to play more in studio or in concert?
I played all the rhythm guitar on “Here Again” as that is my pocket for guitar work. I’m not a great lead guitarist, but playing heavy riffs is right up my alley. For something like A&A, it’s cool that we could pick up any instrument in the studio and start recording it. I think that was the real joy, to have an outlet where we can just be musicians first, and let the outcome be what it will be.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: What do you think the future is for Altitudes & Attitudes? Is this a one-off project or one you hope to see grow with a full-length album and tour?
With the tremendous response we’ve gotten, I’d like to think we can keep recording and releasing a couple songs at a time now moving forward. Instead of taking on the demands of an 11 or 12 song full length, the EP concept works well with our schedules. Plus, it sets the stage to release more songs as they may come to us moving forward.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: Megadeth has been nominated for a Best Metal Grammy many times. Were you disappointed this year when you guys weren’t nominated? Out of this year’s nominees (Anthrax - "T.N.T.", Black Sabbath - "God Is Dead?", Dream Theater - "The Enemy Inside", Killswitch Engage - "In Due Time", Volbeat - "Room 24" featuring King Diamond) who would you choose and why?
I’m not disappointed because these are some great albums out there this year. My prediction is Black Sabbath will clean up because of the success they’ve had. After all their history, they still managed to crank out a great record for their fans, and the industry is buzzing about it big time.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: You are presently taking seminary courses. Seminary is always challenging. How are your studies going, and what classes are you particularly enjoying right now?
I’ve completed a year of seminary and am currently on hiatus with it. It is VERY demanding and to do it while touring the world was quite a challenge. The door is open to continue it, but I felt other endeavors and callings in my life at this particular time, so I think it comes down to prioritizing first things first.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: Share with the readers something that you have learned in seminary that you have enjoyed or were even surprised by?
The first year was all theology, which I think was fantastic. As much as I grew up in Lutheran background, I didn’t fully grasp the Bible and theology like I do now having taking the courses. Studying Creation, Law & Gospel, Old Adam & New Adam have been very helpful to me in my everyday life now.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: How do you hope to use your seminary education once you are done? Do you ever see a time when you would leave music to pursue ministry full-time?
I think I’m able to apply it extensively even at this point in my life. Having the understanding of the keys to the office put some real perspective in my life. There could be a time to go into it full time, but I think I also came to understand that music, and all the other creative things that come with it, is the first calling for my vocation.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Editor: And finally, what do you think the future is for Megadeth this year?
We have our year of touring lined out and of course the phone keeps ringing with new ops as well. We are also setting our sights on some writing this year as well.
Fredericksburg Evangelical Examiner: Thanks so much, David.
If you would like to pick up David’s latest efforts, you can find them in the link below: