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Ellefson's side projects helped him 'grow up'

Megadeth bassist says time away from band was an important step in his musical development

Megadeth bassist David Ellefson says spending time out of Megadeth helped him "grow up."

He left in 2002 when mainman Dave Mustaine dissolved the band and was welcomed back into the fold in 2010. 

And he says he sensed that guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover, who quit Megadeth last year, were interested in taking on a new musical venture – a move he says he can relate to because of his eight-years out of the band.

Ellefson tells Maximum Volume: “I did sense that a change was coming, especially when they both did it together. It was sort of like, 'Okay, they're obviously musically on to something else. And sometimes people do need to walk away and move into a different chapter of their lives in order to be clear and focused and give a new endeavour their 100% attention.

"I went through a similar thing like that back in 2002 when Megadeth disbanded. I was sort of forced into it. Fortunately, I had about eight years until I came back in 2010, where that process being in different groups and writing songs with people in a lot of different endeavours definitely helped me grow up and I appreciate having done that outside of Megadeth."

And while he believes it's healthy for accomplished musicians to take on projects outside of their main band, he thinks younger people should stay faithful to one group in order to establish themselves.

He continues: “I think when we were much younger, it's important to stay 100% focused on your band and don't do side projects or solo records. But Megadeth is in a much different position now. Our legacy is definitely secure. 

"If I step out and do another endeavour, people know I haven't quit the group. I think people enjoy hearing some things that we do outside of our main bands from time to time. And I think it's also a way that you can exercise a little bit of your creative liberties outside of the band, because if you don't do that, you tend to exercise that into the band." 

He adds: "We've learned over the years, when people buy a Megadeth record, it needs to sound like Megadeth. It can't be like, 'Well, here's some other songs that I really wanted to play and I didn't have anywhere else to do it.' I think we're very clear on that. 'Okay, great songs, but save it for your solo project.'”

Megadeth are currently writing their 15th studio album, which Ellefson says will decide the new lineup. He has also promised “very cool things" from supergroup Metal Allegiance.

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