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David Ellefson on Megadeth ouster: “You find out who your friends are… pretty f**king quick when the s**t hits the fan”

David Ellefson
(Image credit: David Wolff -Patrick / Getty)

David Ellefson has been discussing the ups and downs of his career, following the leak of intimate images and messages between the bassist and a fan that led to him parting ways with Megadeth last May. 

Speaking to the podcast Real Music with Gary Stuckey (opens in new tab), the thrash musician and Megadeth founding member responded to a question about his new song with Dieth, In The Hall of the Hanging Serpents.

“The serpents are the hanger-on-ers,” says Ellefson. “The ones who want to come and suck your blood…”

Screenshot of David Ellefson at the close of Dieth’s Hall Of The Hanging Serpents video

David Ellefson sends a message at the close of Dieth’s Hall Of The Hanging Serpents video (Image credit: Dieth / YouTube)

At the end of the video for the song, Ellefson flips over his bass to reveal a taped-on message displaying a middle finger and the words ‘Fuck you’. Asked if it was intended for “the serpents trying to bite you”, Ellefson responds in the affirmative.

“It sure was,” he replies. “You find out who your friends are and you find out who your friends aren't pretty fucking quick when the shit hits the fan. Because everybody wants to be around you when you’re picking up your Grammy. But you're never on top all the time. 

“Your life ebbs and flows, your career ebbs and flows – all of that. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a career musician and I've had to go with the ebbs and flows of the good, the bad and the otherwise, sometimes from within, sometimes from without.”

The controversy that led to Ellefson’s Megadeth departure is not explicitly addressed in the conversation, but the bass player – who is keeping busy with various projects, including performing Megadeth albums with Jeff Young – appears to be philosophical about his successes and failures, likening his life to a ride on a rocket ship. 

“I’ve been in a bunch of different groups. A couple of them have been pretty successful and a lot of them are just for a moment or two and that's all they're meant to be,” says Ellefson. 

“I’ve had my big trip to the to the moon and back. You know, I’m always happy to go to moon – and get to the moon again – but you know if it just means going up out of the atmosphere for a little while and coming back down to earth. I’m cool with that, too. As long as you get on the rock and roll rocket ship, you're still in the game.”

Listen to the full conversation in the video above. For his part, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine said back in June that he forgives Ellefson, but firing him was “a hard decision that had to be made.” 

Earlier today, Megadeth shared new single, Soldier On!, which is the third track shared ahead of the release of new studio album The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.