DAVID ELLEFSON says he and JEFF YOUNG are “creating a new sound” with KINGS OF THRASH
Former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson has told Metal Wani‘s Jessie David that KINGS OF THRASH, his collaborative project with another former MEGADETH member, guitarist Jeff Young, will enter the studio next week to work on “some new material.” He went on to say that it’s “stuff that we’ve already written, so we’re gonna just get in the studio and cut the tracks.”
As for a possible release date for the first original music from KINGS OF THRASH, David said: “As we look it now, they’re probably gonna be one-off singles rather than a full-length album. And that, of course, could change, depending on how it goes in the studio. The studio has a mind of its own. So we’ll know more in a couple of weeks.”
Asked if the KINGS OF THRASH songs will be in the “old-school thrash” vein, Ellefson said: “It’s interesting. Because Jeff and I… He’s a VAN HALEN fan, as am I. He’s a Randy Rhoads fan, as am I. A lot of my writing, even in MEGADETH, [from the] ‘So Far, So Good… So What!’ [album] into the ’90s, was a lot of my participation, some of this stuff kind of swings into those areas, which I like. I think it’s pretty cool. I think Jeff and I are creating something — we’re creating a new sound. It doesn’t have to be four songs of blistering assault. It can be musical.
“It’s interesting connecting with Jeff all these years later, ’cause he’s had his own experiences musically and in life; I’ve had mine,” he continued. “And now we intersect all these years later. It’s like a family reunion — it’s, like, ‘Tell me about your life. Where have you been? What have you done? Who have you seen?’ So I think that’s the musical intersection that we’re having as well right now.”
During its recently completed “Thrashin’ USA” tour, KINGS OF THRASH played a new original song called “Bridges Burned”.
According to Young, the seeds for the KINGS OF THRASH original music were planted almost a year and a half ago when he and Ellefson took part in the filming of the upcoming documentary on late MEGADETH drummer Nick Menza. “We had dinner [at the Rainbow in West Hollywood] the night before the Menza documentary filming,” Jeff recalled to “Brews & Tunes” podcast. “We were getting up to leave, and something hit me… It must have been ’89. We were demoing a couple of tunes for what became ‘Rust In Peace’. There was invitations to contribute to the writing, so David and I were demoing some stuff up on cassette. Unfortunately, I did not save those; I don’t know what happened. But two of the riffs really stuck in my head. And I sang ’em in [Ellefson‘s] ear as we were paying the bill. He was, like, ‘Dude, I totally remember those riffs. That’s killer. We’ve gotta get in a room and work that stuff up.’ So flash forward a couple of months later, he was back in L.A. I had another song idea that I actually started with a drum beat I had of Nick Menza‘s, and then I blew it out from there. He and I took those two riffs, demoed them. And a couple of more months went by, he was back out in L.A. again. We got together. And he had a couple of skeletons. And the cool thing about it is we never really had the opportunity to write together — it was so fast and furious back in the day — but now it was like we were finishing each other’s sentences. We’re more seasoned; we’re better musicians; we’re better songwriters. We’re calmed and there’s no ego in the room; there’s no toxicity in the room — wink, wink… And we walked out of two writing sessions with four songs.”
Last October, Young told Ghost Cult magazine that KINGS OF THRASH‘s first original song was being recorded at a North Hollywood studio previously used by legendary producer Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix). As for the musical direction of KINGS OF THRASH‘s original material, Jeff said: “It’s got the vibe of MEGADETH — it’s on that playing field, but it’s got all of its own stuff and all of our influences and some SOUNDGARDEN/TOOL vibes in maybe the music and melodies.”
KINGS OF THRASH released a live CD/DVD package called “Best Of The West…Live At The Whisky A Go Go” on March 24 via Cleopatra Records. The 17-song set, featuring performances of MEGADETH‘s classic albums “Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!” and “So Far, So Good… So What!”, was recorded and filmed live at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California on October 15, 2022 and includes an appearance by another former MEGADETH member, Chris Poland (guitar). The DVD was directed by Michael Sarna for Inmotion Entertainment.
Asked in an interview with Ultimate Guitar if he and Ellefson have received any feedback from MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine about their new band or their recent live shows, tour, Young said: “Nah, we couldn’t care less… and it’s a win-win for him. Because all the publishing, for example, on the ‘Best Of The West’, he’s getting all that money. We’re making him money and he doesn’t have to do anything. So, we’re performing the songs because they’re part of our history and the fans want to hear them and we will benefit from that, and so will he, so it’s a win-win. How much cooler can anything be than that? So, if he has something to say about it… I wouldn’t imagine it would be very objective… not that anything he’s ever said has been objective.”
Jeff‘s latest comments echo those he made last year when he told Thomas S. Orwat, Jr. of the Rock Interview Series, Young that he and Ellefson were “really not concerned” about Mustaine‘s reaction to KINGS OF THRASH. “I don’t pay attention,” he said. “I haven’t really paid attention or followed MEGADETH since, I think, I heard the ‘Rust In Peace’ album a couple of times, and then what you might hear on the radio or in the press.
“For us, this isn’t about any spite or retaliation; it’s a celebration of the music that we were all a part of, that we helped create,” he explained. “And it’s fun for us to do this.
“People said, ‘You should do this.’ And we said, ‘Hey, yeah, you’re right. We should do this.’ It’s a win-win — it’s a win for us, and it’s a win for [Mustaine], because any performance royalties, anything… If we did include live tracks, he would make money off that. It’s promoting albums that hopefully fans will go back and buy, which is putting money right in his pocket. Especially ‘Killing Is My Business’, I think a lot of people are gonna go back and wanna rediscover that album after this tour.
“For us, it’s all about positivity,” Young added. “We’re all in this moment — we’re living in the moment, and we’re not looking beyond. We’re not reading any of the comments on Blabbermouth or any of the stuff. Because we know what our intent is, and intent is everything. And our intent’s positive. We like playing together. We know we’re crafting original music. We’re not relying on this; we don’t need to ride the coattails of this. This is just something that the fans wanted, and you wanna give fans what they want.”
Ellefson told Yes! You CAN Play Guitar! that the intention behind KINGS OF THRASH is not to stick it to his former bandmates. “This is a celebration, not a retaliation,” he explained. “This is a good moment. This is a happy moment, to celebrate these songs and these tracks and these records. So we go at it with just fun… It’s, like, ‘Wow. Wouldn’t it be fun if we went out and played these records?’ And we’re doing it. So it’s meant to be this celebration and bringing people together. And honestly, that was kind of always my role in MEGADETH. Dave [Mustaine] always called me ‘The Ambassador’, and I was always that guy, and I am that guy. So it’s, like, let me just continue that role in our community and have one of good will.”
Ellefson was fired from MEGADETH two years ago after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist were posted on Twitter.
David was in MEGADETH from the band’s inception in 1983 to 2002, and again from 2010 until his latest exit.
In 2004, Ellefson filed an $18.5-million lawsuit against Dave Mustaine, alleging the MEGADETH leader shortchanged him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth Inc. over to him when the band broke up in 2002. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed and Ellefson rejoined MEGADETH in 2010.
Young‘s entire career with MEGADETH was spent recording and touring in support of the band’s 1988 platinum-selling album “So Far, So Good…So What!”
Jeff made headlines in December 2009 for accusing Mustaine of, among other things, “dissing, exaggerating and just plain lying on some level about nearly every talented musician that has passed through his dysfunctional little ensemble.” He also disputed Mustaine‘s claim in an interview that Young‘s drug problem led to MEGADETH‘s 1988 Australian tour being called off and the group being “banned” from performing in the country.
Jeff was full of praise for Aching and Leon, telling Ghost Cult: “We really feel in a way how Ozzy [Osbourne] must have felt introducing Randy Rhoads to the world with these young two guys we have, both half our age and both so composed and mature musically for their age. And we’ve just been having a blast. And it’s great that they’re fans of the music and they’ve really studied it. Chaz, the singer/guitar player, plays in a MEGADETH tribute and fronts a SOUNDGARDEN tribute. So he has some of that Chris Cornell huskiness… So it’s really cool to hear him sing these songs with a bit more huskiness and that young exuberance that he has. I think the kids are gonna love him ’cause he has that Dimebag Darrell kind of likability.”