“We were preparing to do some of that last year, and things turned into the 30th anniversary of Rust In Peace. This record has been simmering, and the sauce is getting pretty tasty. [Laughs]. It’s an important record, and it really needed that time as a follow-up to [2016’s] Dystopia. We went into this one, being pretty hard on ourselves. With MEGADETH, we do not want to repeat ourselves. We don’t sound like anyone else, and we are pretty tough on ourselves not to repeat a lyric, a riff, a melodic line, or structure from our past.
“That is where we get very critical to keep raising the bar on ourselves. We are 16 albums in, and there are only 12 notes on the scale. [Laughs]. We have sung a lot of words on a lot of topics. The first thing I’m sure people wanted to write is a COVID or a pandemic song, which is so obvious that I’m sure we will see a ton of records about that next year. The biggest thing now for us is touring this summer; we are told it will happen. As the tour happens, that unlocks the process of releasing new songs for the next record.”
He also discussed the additional pressure on MEGADETH to deliver on the new album with its current lineup. “Dave [Mustaine, guitar/vocals], Kiko [Loureiro, guitar] and I have made a record before, but Dirk Verbeuren is new on drums,” he said. “Dirk was a weapon in the arsenal that we really wanted to maximize. The drumming in MEGADETH has been held to a very high standard, with Gar Samuelson, Nick Menza, Jimmy DeGrasso and Chris Adler, as we have had some of the best in the business.
“Dirk is a guy who is a great writer who writes riffs and drum parts, and it was fun to push him to do things that were almost insanely impossible to play but were easy for him,” Ellefson continued. “It’s great to have guys in the band that you can put anything in from of them, and they can play. That takes things to another level. We listened to all the tracks and were blown away. We could have released it as an instrumental CD, and it would be an amazing prog-metal record. It was enjoyable to listen to. I have learned a lot from making our MEGADETH records over the years as it’s always this building process.
“It was a laborious and painstaking process in the beginning of writing songs, with the exception of Peace Sells. Those songs didn’t write themselves sitting in a room with everybody jamming. It was always built with bits and pieces, like putting the blocks in place to build a wall that would eventually would become a house. This band works differently than four guys getting into a room and jamming during a couple of afternoons to complete a record.”