“This half of my life has been the best part of my life. With that, certainly there have been a lot of ups and downs, because part of what you do when you walk away from an addiction is, you first have to unlearn a bunch of bad stuff you learned.”
As co-founder of Megadeth – one of metal’s ‘Big Four’ – bass player Dave Ellefson has seen and done all there is to see and do in rock over three decades, and he’s bringing his spoken word show, My Life With Deth, to the Civic Hotel on Tuesday, March 24. SHANE PINNEGAR finds out what to expect.
Having published his autobiography, My Life With Deth, in the middle of last year, Dave Ellefson started thinking about how he could translate his life experiences from the page to the stage.
“You know, really it was born out of my book,” the chatty Ellefson says. “Late last year we started talking about it. It just seemed fitting to roll into the new year and do it here in March, which is pretty cool. So I’m looking forward to coming down and doing the very first one ever, actually, in Australia.”
The bassist admits it’s a little nerve-wracking. “I guess if I sit around and think about it too much, yeah, it does make me a little anxious. But the truth of it is, to me it’s an evening with David Ellefson and the fans and friends of Megadeth. And to be honest with you, we’ve all been hanging out together for the last 30 years anyway.
“To me, I think certainly the book gives a basis to do spoken word,” he continues. “Then there’s a lot of other things to talk about: there’s Megadeth, obviously. There’s music, there’s faith, there’s transitions of life, there’s music and business, there’s all kinds of things that I’ve been open about, that I’ve written books about, that I’ve talked about. I mean, bass clinics, playing in bands – and you know, I think a lot of Megadeth fans are also musicians, as well.
“I’m excited because I think every one of these shows is going to be different. When you have a band, you walk out with a pretty tight repertoire. You just go do that show night after night. I think with this type of thing there’s certainly a repertoire, but it leaves room for improvisation, it leaves room for some spontaneity of the moment to happen.”
Ellefson says he’s braced himself and is ready to tackle all comers in a Q&A section of the shows.
“I’m pretty good at lecturing, standing in front of crowds, narrating, talking, discussing, orating. And again, I think because of the Megadeth history, so many things always are just only a few degrees of separation away from Megadeth. So, I think that’s the common bond through all of this. You know, with my most recent book, My Life With Deth, I knew as I was writing it that the Megadeth thread is the one thing that’s consistent throughout most of my life story.”
Aside from all the success that being a part of probably the second biggest heavy metal band of modern times, selling upwards of 50 million records and touring the world, Ellefson’s life has had its share of disastrous lows as well – none worse than a serious addiction to heroin which lasted for years. Was it emotional to have to relive those experiences first for his book, then again to prepare the spoken word tour?
He takes a slow, deep breath. “For me, that whole thing changed for me when I was 25 years-old. Ironically I just turned 50 back in November, so half my life ago. So this half of my life has been the best part of my life. With that, certainly there have been a lot of ups and downs, because part of what you do when you walk away from an addiction is, you first have to unlearn a bunch of bad stuff you learned. At the same time you start learning some new things to replace the bad stuff with, and that’s a life-long process.
“My approach, quite honestly, with the My Life With Deth Spoken Word Tour, to just be able to share, warts and all. And from there, kind of let the outcome be what it is. That’s why I think every night it’ll probably have its own really special, unique dynamic. I’m so lucky, because what Megadeth songs have created is a community, and that community has gone global. So we live in this really cool, global, heavy metal village, all of us together. So, as big as it is, it’s actually kind of just a cool, quaint little community between all of us.”