MEGADETH Bassist DAVID ELLEFSON - “Brokenness Is Often A Theme In Megadeth Lyrics And A Lot Of Heavy Metal Lyrics... It's Something That Fans Relate To”
December 3, 2015, 5 years ago
In a new interview with Greg Prato for Songfacts, Megadeth’s David Ellefson discusses writing with band leader Dave Mustaine. An excerpt follows:
Q: There have been songs over the years in Megadeth that listed you as a lyric writer along with Dave Mustaine. How does that work? Do you collaborate, or do you come in with lyrics and try to fit them together?
A: “Well, let's take a couple of examples. "Foreclosure Of A Dream," for instance, was a title that we saw back in 1986 when Dave and I went back to my mom and dad's farm in Minnesota after the record [Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?] was completed and we were on our way to New York to have discussions with management and major labels - which would ultimately become Capitol Records - and transition off of Combat Records. And we saw on TV, there was a title that said "Foreclosure Of A Dream" or "Foreclosure Of The Dream" - something like that.
“It was speaking specifically about the hardships that the farmers were having, that started when I left home in 1983 when I went to California. So it was a three-year time when we saw Farm Aid and really the implosion of the farming community that was largely based on Ronald Reagan's policies. It was the Cold War during the Ronald Reagan era - I believe there were sanctions against Russia where we stopped shipping grain over to Russia, which caused this surplus, which of course caused prices to crash and farmland to decrease in value, etcetera, etcetera.
“Fast-forward to 1991, we're writing what would become Countdown To Extinction, and Dave says, "Let's use that title." In fact, we had already started working on that while we were out on the Clash Of The Titans tour, I think in 1991.
“So I started writing the lyrics to that. Dave wrote the music and I wrote the bulk - if not all - of the lyrics, and Dave helped guide me, because he was singing it. He worked with me on the phrasing. So that was mostly me writing the actual words, but collaborating together on how to make those lyrics fit into the song.
“The same could be said with "High Speed Dirt," which was about skydiving. Dave and I talked about buzzwords and the lingo used in and around the skydiving community [You don't want to experience "high speed dirt" firsthand - it means something went wrong with your parachute and you'll be hitting the ground at high velocity]. So he was throwing some ideas to me and then I would go home and pen the lyric, and bring it back in for him.
“And then there's other opportunities. On the last record, Super Collider, there was a lyric and Dave was like, "If you've got something that would fit in with this idea that I'm working on..." So I brought forth some ideas and words and lines to help finish an idea that he had - I think that was probably 90% finished. It can go any number of ways.”
Read the complete interview at this location.
Megadeth’s anxiously-awaited fifteenth studio album, Dystopia, is due out on January 22nd via Univeral Music Enterprises. The album’s title track is now streaming below (limited to certain territories), or at megadeth.com.
Exclusive hand-signed bundles for the upcoming Dystopia album are now available for pre-order in the official Megadeth store.
Place your order at this location.
Dystopia was produced by Mustaine and Toby Wright (Alice In Chains, Korn). Megadeth’s new lineup features founding members Dave Mustaine (guitar, vocals) and David Ellefson (bass) along with Lamb Of God drummer Chris Adler and Brazilian-born Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro.
“Death From Within”
“Conquer... Or Die!”
“Lying In State”
“Me Hate You”
“The Emperor's New Clothes”
“Bullet To The Brain”
“Last Dying Wish”
“Post American World”
“Look Who's Talking”
“The Threat Is Real”
“Melt The Ice Away” (Budgie cover)
“Foreign Policy” (Fear cover)
"The Threat Is Real":