David Ellefson Names Hardest Megadeth Songs to Play on Bass
David Ellefson played bass for Megadeth throughout a majority of the band's existence, so he certainly has a ton of experience playing their songs. During an interview with Monsters, Madness and Magic, the rocker named which of the band's songs are the hardest for him to play on the bass.
"They're all hard if you play 'em right, is the truth, because they're fast. There's a lot of muscular intensity. You can't just sort of phone it in. You've really gotta warm up. And you've kind of gotta be warmed up and have a lot of your endurance in place. You can't have just been on vacation and pick your bass up and rip through the tunes. It requires dexterity and everything," Ellefson explained.
The bassist then cited the Rust in Peace track "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" as one that was particularly difficult for him to play, unless they performed it toward the end of their set after he'd had a chance to warm up for a while.
"When we used to come out and start with it, back in the '90s, like with the 'Rust in Peace' or something, I think we started with it at the time, and it was, like, 'Oh my God. This is a fucking killer to come out of the gate with this one.' You were kind of waiting for the little break where Marty [Friedman] does the flamenco thing, so you can go, 'Ah,' and shake it off. 'Cause if you tense up, you get the Popeye arm," he recalled.
Ellefson further added that songs such as "My Last Words" aren't as difficult because they have a pentatonic pattern.
"So sometimes things you think would be harder aren't and some of the more notey complexities would be 'Tornado [of Souls],' because of the downpicking on 'Tornado,' could be a thing. And I would change it sometimes depending on who the drummer was," he said.
"When Nick [Menza] was in the band, he would always push everything. Everything was always at the front edge of the beat, so you're hanging on for dear life. 'C'mon — pull it back a little bit, dude.' So sometimes the drummer made all the difference."
Watch the full discussion below.
Ellefson co-founded Megadeth and played bass in the band from 1983 until 2002, and then again from 2010 until 2021. In May of last year, Megadeth announced that they were parting ways with Ellefson after he was involved in an online sex scandal. Now, he's focused on his new band The Lucid, which released its first album several months after his departure from Megadeth.