MEGADETH’s DAVID ELLEFSON: I Was On METALLICA’s Short List When JASON NEWSTED Quit

David Ellefson

MEGADETH‘s David Ellefson says that he was considered for the bassist position in METALLICA after Jason Newsted left the band nearly 18 years ago.

Newsted exited METALLICA in January 2001, after he clashed with James Hetfield over the release of an album by ECHOBRAINJason‘s side project. He was replaced by producer Bob Rock in the studio, for the recording of 2003’s “St. Anger” album, and then permanently by former OZZY OSBOURNE bassist Robert Trujillo.

In a new interview with The Metal VoiceEllefson was asked if there was any talk about him playing with METALLICA once it was announced that Newsted had split with the group. “They didn’t call me,” David said (hear audio below). “I know that there was a conversation about considering me. I know Lars [UlrichMETALLICA drummer] and Dave [MustaineMEGADETHmainman] had chatted, ’cause [METALLICA] were putting their short list together. And, to be honest with you… I mean, look, METALLICA are great, and I’m a fan of theirs and friends with them, and I would be there to be of service with them in whatever way, but they, I think, made their decision right around the time when MEGADETH had disbanded in 2002.”

Ellefson also discussed the differences in the musical approach of METALLICA and MEGADETH, especially as the two bands progressed and eventually became two of the biggest metal bands in the world.

“It’s very interesting,” he said. “[METALLICA‘s] music, as much as we come from the same family tree, their songs, as they developed over the years, are very different than MEGADETHstuff. I actually sat down for the first time… ‘Cause I never sat down with a bass and played along to METALLICA songs. As much as I’ve been a fan of theirs, especially kind of up through the ‘Black’ album, I never sat down and really dug into their songs as a player. And I did one day, and I was, like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ These songs are so different than MEGADETH. Their riffs and where James puts the phrasing of his vocals over top of his riffs is so different from how we do it in MEGADETH. And I found it kind of fascinating, because, here we are, the two bands, and, obviously, Dave [Mustaine] having played in METALLICA in their early years, how their sound really developed and transitioned over the years and how MEGADETH‘s sound largely, obviously, developed, but there was a thing about it… Like when I go back and I listen to… maybe not ‘Mechanix’ and ‘Jump In The Fire’, but maybe things like… I don’t know… ‘Metal Militia’, or other things that Dave had written on the ‘Kill ‘Em All’ era, now I hear it. I go back and I hear things… Like the other day, I heard ‘The Call Of Ktulu’ [from METALLICA‘s ‘Ride The Lightning’ album] playing in the background somewhere, and as soon as I heard it, I went, ‘God, that sounds like Dave.’ And it’s a song that he wrote that they ended up using on ‘Ride The Lightning’. Obviously, Dave didn’t play on it, but I could just hear the picking pattern of how Dave plays. Even in the distance, barely audible, I could hear that it was a Dave composition as played by METALLICA.”

When asked about his side project with Frank Bello of ANTHRAX, called ALTITUDES AND ATTITUDE and their new album, David responded: “This side project is an addition to MEGADETH and I think that is why the fans like it and embrace it. I have played on a lot of records so fans are used to hearing different sides to me.

“For Frank Bello, what is cool for him is that he is the singer on this project, so you really get to hear a different side to Frank. Musically it is very different it is not a thrash metal record, it’s got some powerful hard rock drive to it but it also an emotional side. The album has sensibilities to it, it is not just a freight train Heavy Metal by any stretch.”