It’s a fairly safe bet that wherever your interests in life lie, David Ellefson has some sort of side hustle in that world.
When he’s not traversing the world with his main project (a little known metal act called Megadeth) you could find him writing books, doing speaking tours, producing films, producing records for other artists or even roasting coffee beans under the Roast In Peace moniker (named after Megadeth’s groundbreaking Rust In Peace LP).
“The thing is, if I’m passionate about something then I’ll do it, but I’ll make sure that I have people around me that can help me meet the vision,” he says when we ask how in the hell he maintains his schedule.
“For example, this week I’m going to be picking up and testing some coffee, and then working with my business partner Thom Hazaert on the next Ellefson solo stuff, because we were meant to have a new record out soon, but all of that involves actually coordinating teams of people to roast beans, getting different musicians to send me their own ideas; there’s a lot of outsourcing that happens!”
It’s certainly a Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson styled work ethic that he has, and the worldwide shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going to come close to stopping him.
Instead of sitting back and taking stock of his crazy life, the man went and enlisted the who’s who of heavy metal to contribute to his new covers album No Covers, recorded under the Ellefson name and featuring members of Machine Head, Kublai Khan, Anthrax, Twisted Sister and, well, you get the point.
“With the new Ellefson record, we got some seriously world-class musicians to contribute, particularly in the drummer department”, he notes.
“I had Dave McClain (ex-Machine Head, Sacred Reich) play on a track, Charlie Benante is on one of them, Megadeth’s own Dirk Verbeuren – the stuff he did is just insane. I’ll be able to message him and be like ‘I want you to lay down this Judas Priest song’, and then the next day I’ll have the files in my inbox.
“I don’t wanna call up Roger Taylor from Queen or Glenn Tipton from [Judas] Priest and be like ‘Hey, listen to this cover of your own song’ if it’s totally shit.”
“The thing was, I really wanted this Ellefson record to be world class. With my last LP Sleeping Giants I was able to really raise the bar, but that’s way more important to me on a cover record, because I’m friends with these people that I’m covering!
“I don’t wanna call up Roger Taylor from Queen or Glenn Tipton from [Judas] Priest and be like ‘Hey, listen to this cover of your own song’ if it’s totally shit. Those guys are my contemporaries, I wanna be able to make them proud!”
Of course, underpinning all of his ventures is his work with Megadeth, a turbulent stay in one of metal’s definitive bands that has seen him and founder Dave Mustaine go from bandmates to legal foes and back to the stage together again.
It’s a story arc that rivals most movies, but judging by Megadeth’s most recent work, the newfound chemistry of Dave squared couldn’t be any better, something that we are assured carries over into their yet-to-be-announced forthcoming LP.
“With Megadeth, the goal is always to just be pushing further what we can do. Everything that we do in that band is very sharp, very polished, and it has to be that way, because the expectation around us sounding like that is what has gotten us to where we are today,” says Dave.
“When I first started with ‘deth I was super young and sitting in the studio trying to record Countdown to Extinction and just thinking: ‘Holy shit, how do I play these songs?’
“Well, I can play those tunes in my sleep now, but with this new stuff we have coming out, and also the stuff that we wrote for Dystopia, our last record, there was that similar sense of holding on and trying to keep up as a musician. That’s what makes you a better player, because you have to be.”
Given the consistent quality of all things he’s turned his mind to, a combination of Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson on a new Megadeth record is just what we need to get us through 2020 – but until then, at least we have some damn good coffee beans inspired by one of thrash metal’s greatest albums.