METAL PULP AND PAPER: David, thank you for taking the time to speak to us here at Metal Pulp And Paper today, we appreciate it. You are a very busy man lately. Your coffee shop just recently opened in your hometown of Jackson, Minnesota. How has that gone so far?
DAVID ELLEFSON: Yes, it’s certainly a season of my life for expansion, and the coffee shop in Jackson is one of them. We just announced it and are in the process of the transition of the shop. That includes decoration, rebranding, memorabilia and getting the supplies in order.
MPAP: What got you into starting Ellefson Coffee Co.?
DAVID: Coffee has always been a passion of mine. I was introduced to Parliament Coffee Roasters earlier this year which started the wheels in motion to actually launch the company. From there we began the branding, naming the roasts and launching the company as a web based mail order operation.
MPAP: Inside your coffee shop, it also has a 'Museum of Deth' that displays memorabilia from you and other artists. What kind of things can one expect to find in it?
DAVID: There will be guitars, gold and platinum album awards, books, shirts, drum sticks, stage clothes and other unique offerings for the patrons to take a trip down memory lane while sipping a good cup of Joe. My plan is to constantly be changing out the memorabilia so it stays fresh. I want this to be a great rock n roll go-to destination for fans to really feel a part of rock history.
MPAP: In October 2015, you launched your own record label and production company called Ellefson Music Productions, also known as EMP Label Group. Back in July of 2016, Metal Pulp And Paper, caught up with Megan Herring of the Phoenix-based all-girl Pop-Punk band Dollskin, and she had this to say about you, "We were together for a year before he picked us up. He took us under his wing and opened up a whole world of opportunities for us as a group. He’s helped us get to where we are in numerous ways. We’re always grateful." Did you start EMP by any chance to help new bands out that might get overlooked by the big music corporations only looking to help the already big named bands?
DAVID: That’s exactly why I started it! And, EMP really carved a unique niche in the industry with being able to help a number of artists access the onramp of the record business. And from there, we are now moving up into the next tier of taking great internationally recognized artists and giving them a home for their current and catalog of works. It really is a case of 'build it and they will come' because we are doing this in a new way that is very artist friendly.
MPAP: The EMP Artist roster is starting to fill up fast with some great bands like Semblant, Cage9, Even The Dead Love A Parade, just to name a few. Looks like business is doing well?
DAVID: Yes, it really is. These are great artists who are starting out and may have a tough time getting onto the larger indie or major labels. However, with EMP they now have a portal to be on a real label and to start to lay the groundwork for their career. Sometimes all it takes is to have someone to believe and from there an artist is ready to put in the time and work toward their goals. That has been a rewarding business model for both us as a company, and our artists.
MPAP: In between the music gear and equipment you’re involved with, your Ellefson Coffee Co., the record label and production company EMP Label Group, what is something that you do in your spare time that most people don’t know about?
DAVID: Most of my life, and my endeavors, is quite public, which is ok by me. I always wanted to have a lifestyle in and around music, which is exactly what I’ve been able to create. When I’m just laying low, it’s usually things like working out, hanging with my family and going to sports events.
MPAP: You joined Megadeth when you were 19 years old. Did you ever imagine you’d be where you’re at now? Did you ever imagine being one of the pioneers of the Thrash Metal genre, touring all over the world, being nominated for Grammy’s, or having three albums hit #1 on the Billboard charts?
DAVID: I was actually only 18 years old when I moved to LA in 1983 and met Dave (Mustaine). It was a perfect time in both of our lives personally and musically, and yes it did feel like what we were creating with the formation of Megadeth would indeed be very successful. But, I also knew it was going to be hard work and take time. While opportunity was in front of us, there would be no easy way up the mountain and it would require absolute total sacrifice and commitment of anything else in life. I was certainly right about that! But, I also realized that the only sure way to fail is to quit. If you stay in the game you least you have a shot of something panning out for you.
MPAP:Megadeth’s career spans over 30 years with 15 studio albums. Is it hard to pick a set list before the tour begins when there is so much of a Megadeth catalog to choose from?
DAVID: I think we have plenty of great songs to choose from and it’s more just a matter of playing an even number from the early days, coupled with the more recent songs. The last tour saw us getting up to seven or eight songs just from Dystopia alone!
MPAP: What has been the longest amount of time you have been out on the road during a tour? DAVID: Probably 18 months for tours like Peace Sells…, Rust In Peace and even Cryptic Writings. With that said, the Dystopia tour will be close to two years long so this will be one of the real marathon tours, for sure.
MPAP: Have you been able to sample the new Megadeth beer A Tout La Monde?
DAVID: I’m a non-drinker so I have not tried. But, I’m told it’s very tasty by everyone who’s tried it.
MPAP: What’s something you want to accomplish with yourself as a musician and as a person? What inspires you to keep doing this every day?
DAVID: When I come off tour I’m usually in a catatonic state musically. Touring requires such physical demands and note perfect execution night after night that it often just sort of numbs me out creatively with new musical ideas. However, after a few weeks of just debriefing from the mission, I start to get inspired to write, which is the phase I’m in now. Frank Bello and I reconvened in LA end of November to resume our Altitudes & Attitudes follow up LP and that really helped me get my creative juices flowing again. Now I feel like I’m in a pretty healthy flow of new ideas, which is rewarding and fun in our break from the Dystopia tour. While I often contemplate new musical endeavors and missions, I find it best to just let them flow as they develop. I think that produces the most honest and heart felt work.
MPAP: All good things must come to an end, but before you go, I would like you to say the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the 1980’s and these following things: Your vice then, your vice now?
DAVID: Then-The party never stopped. Now-taking care of business.
MPAP: Backstage then, backstage now?
DAVID: Then- Anything and everything! Now- chiropractor, coffee and good friends.
MPAP: Tour riders then, tour riders now?
DAVID: Then- My bottle of Absolute Vodka. Now- My bag of whole bean coffee.
MPAP: Before the show, then, before the show now?
DAVID: Then- Finding some small corner to warm up. Now- An elaborate room for the entire band to rehearse.
MPAP: Writing a studio album then, writing a studio album now?
DAVID: Then- Months on end writing in a room as a band, then recording for six months. Now- Ideas float around on email and then we record and mix in two months.
MPAP: Fans then, fans now?
DAVID: Then- Insane. It was all about the discovery of a life-changing genre for us all. Now- Just as insane, just more of them!
MPAP: One last final thing, Megadeth's Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?, has been regarded as a milestone of the thrash metal movement, along with Metallica's Master of Puppets, and Slayer's Reign in Blood, which were all released in 1986. Can you describe in one word summarizing that year in music?
MPAP: David, once again, thank you for taking the time to answer a few things for Metal Pulp And Paper.