MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson spoke to SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” about the progress of the recording sessions for the band’s follow-up to 2016’s “Dystopia” album. He said: “[MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine] is in vocal land now. And guitars are being put down. Dirk [Verbeuren, drums] and I did our stuff back in May and June, and then Dave and Kiko [Loureiro, guitar] were laying guitars down, and then over to vocals, and et cetera, et cetera. So it’s moving along well, actually.
“We were originally planning to be in Nashville in March, so we had only a couple of months of a setback,” he continued. “We were itching to go, and I know Dave was itching to get us down to Nashville. And quite honestly, I was ready to go. By the end of May, I was, like, ‘Let’s get going.’ So we masked up and went and did it and got it going.
“As much as we had [looked forward to doing] the big ‘Metal Tour Of The Year’ this year [with LAMB OF GOD], in a way, that it got pushed back to next year [due to the coronavirus pandemic] was helpful for getting the record done — to just focus on that now. So, whatever 2021 holds, as far as touring and all that, I’d like to think that we’ll probably see some new MEGADETH music [released]. It is a full-length album — it’s not a couple of singles — so there’s always a strategy of how you start popping out the singles and dropping a full-length record around touring. So my hunch is keeping an eye on how the touring goes will dictate the date and time that the new record drops as well.”
Asked if Mustaine has had any issues with singing in the studio following his nearly six-month battle with throat cancer last year, Ellefson said: “No, that’s not come up. It’s interesting. We were on the Megacruise exactly a year ago. Dave was not able to be on that cruise, because his treatments were finished up, and he just needed to rest and obviously not be around a lot of people at that time. But then we turned the corner into 2020, and we went over and we did the FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH / MEGADETH / BAD WOLVES tour, which was a big sports arena tour all across Europe. Dave took it easy at rehearsal in Nashville for the first week, and then we got on the stage up in Helsinki and moved across Europe and the U.K. and did the shows. And every show got a little better, a little stronger as far as his voice and him wanting to be a little more adventurous to trying different songs. And I think that really helped. I think it naturally helped him kind of open his voice up and be comfortable with it. He had to take it easy and not push it too hard.
“MEGADETH is one of these bands where we can go out and we can thrash with the hardest and the fastest of ’em, yet we also have this other era of the ’90s where there’s sort of this midtempo, dare I call it radio rock heavy metal — ‘Trust’, ‘Symphony Of Destruction’, ‘Angry Again’, that stuff. And that really helped. And that tour called for a bit more of that, that we can do some of that material. And we pulled a few things out we haven’t played. This lineup had never played ‘Angry Again’. Dave and I hadn’t played the song ‘Dread And The Figitive Mind’ in almost 20 years. So it was fun to dip back into the catalog and pull a few gems out that we probably hadn’t considered in a long time.”
In October, Mustaine told “The Five Count” radio show that MEGADETH‘s new LP will “probably” be “one of the most ferocious records we’ve done since ‘Rust In Peace’. David Ellefson, he’s a pretty good barometer of things, and when he did his bass parts, he [went], ‘Man, my arm is killing me. I can’t believe this.'”
In a separate interview with SiriusXM, Mustaine said that the upcoming MEGADETH album will be “up there with ‘Countdown [To Extinction]’, ‘Rust In Peace’ and probably ‘Peace Sells’ and ‘Dystopia’.”
The early sessions for the LP took place last year with co-producer Chris Rakestraw, who previously worked on “Dystopia”.
Loureiro made his recording debut with MEGADETH on “Dystopia”, whose title track was honored in the “Best Metal Performance” category at the 2017 Grammy Awards.