Megadeth's Dave Ellefson: "Why I'm Trying to Become a Pastor"

Categories: Q&A, Show Preview

You gotta hand it to American thrash metalheads Megadeth. For as rocky as their successful road has been, the band has done great job at keeping things surprising. Just last week, guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine made headlines by announcing his endorsement of far-right presidential candidate Rick "Please Don't Google My Last Name" Santorum, then backing off, stating to our sister blog, Seattle Weekly's Reverb, that he wasn't necessarily voting for Santorum, though he does oppose gay marriage. "I'm a Christian," Mustaine clarified.

He's not the only guy repping Jesus in the band: Bassist and founder Dave Ellefson is studying to become a pastor. More than 20 years ago, Ellefson shrugged off some of the elements of the rock star lifestyle and reconnected with his faith. He ended up at Shepherd of the Desert Lutheran Church in Scottsdale, where he started a contemporary worship service -- think Old Testament lyrics -- used as a springboard for praise and worship songs soft rock songs. He also started MEGA Life, a music ministry at the church that helps those new to Christianity or those seeking a new church home a dynamic center for developing faith. And don't think the road keeps him from progressing. Though he's currently on the Gigantour, alongside Motörhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil, Ellefson focuses on online studies at Concordia's Specific Ministry Pastor Program, where he takes such classes as "Preaching I & II" and "Scripture and Faith" from his tour bus.

We spoke with Ellefson about the role of heavy metal in religion (and the other way around), Mustaine's "hexing" past, and Alice Cooper as a role model. We didn't get to ask how he felt about the bullshit fact that the band has been nominated for a Grammy 10 times (including this year), and still hasn't brought a golden gramophone home. Maybe next time.

Up On The Sun: How has touring become more comfortable today than when you started in the '80s?

Dave Ellefson: Well, when you start you just get there however you can get there. There was no money, and one thing I've found about tour budgets, is no matter how it looks on paper you always come home spending more than you intended. Our first tours were basically strung together with eating beef stew and a couple hundred books. Now, it's nice to be the headliner and have our own great tour package like this.

Congrats on your MEGA Life organization in Scottsdale. It seems like a unique way to introduce the concept of faith and religion to your fan base. I was wondering if you see any musical collaborations or charity festivals (like Christmas Pudding) in your future with Alice Cooper, since you're both in the Valley and have the same directions with these Valley organizations?

It's funny, you know, my pastor really urged's usually the people on the outside of your realm that actually see an opportunity or a spark of a gift there. He's been a great mentor to me to help me develop that. I've been pretty active with various faith walks during the last couple of decades especially, helping people who are down on their luck and getting off drugs. Usually when you've been through those things yourself you have a real testimony and you can share your experience with people. And I think that goes a lot farther than just reading out of a textbook. You can take your darkest days and parlay those into good for other people. As far as a collaboration, MEGA Life is just one of many seeds that will be planted. I think in this modern day, especially in rock 'n' roll circles, people of my generation and my genre [have] got a way of mistrusting of the church. I think modern day music in church is cool. There's a whole different presentation of it and it's much more cultural relevant today than it ever has been. It doesn't have to be from the Reformation and it doesn't have to be something ancient. We can present it as 2012 faith. And that gets me excited.

In the past and nowadays, heavy metal gets a bad rap in religious circles. So for you being connected with heavy metal for years, has there ever been anything where you found a connection between heavy metal and God? How would you describe that to somebody?

You know it's funny, even in older songs, there was always kind of an almost religious overtone to [to the songs]. To the degree that sometimes when you are questioning something you write about it. That's the thing about music. It doesn't have to be boxed into anything and lyrically you can draw upon anything. I used to think the Bible was this goody two-shoes book where people did all these wonderful things. But now that I've read it a few times, I realize that these people are some of the worst in history. [Laughs] ...[The book features] some of the most heinous events against the Lord. And you read how he just continuously forgave. He was probably hitting himself in the forehead like, "Oh my God, what was I thinking with these humans? The dinosaurs were easier than this." For me, it is a great story and a narrative of how God gives us second chances. That to me is a cool thing. A lot of times when you write music and lyrics...Megadeth has written political things, social things, and personal things. When you dig deep into your soul and pull your own life into the lyrics, that kinda goes into the story of all human beings. The rise, the fall, the resurrection, the rebirth, and hopefully a second chance.

I read an old interview with Dave Mustaine where he said he put hexes on people in the past, and it has taken decades for him to get that satanic energy off of him. Do you have an opinion of that? Do you guys discuss you religion or do Bible studies?

Sure, absolutely. Dave has been real open about that, about early songs on records that he wrote that talked about those situations or referenced that. I mean, we don't even play those songs anymore because of that. I think they're great songs, but Dave is the one who has to sing them, and he doesn't' feel comfortable singing them. So I stand by my brother and...and, [help] him move on to new frontiers. But yeah, it's cool that -- the thing with rock bands -- [is that] you need to grow together and go together. It's cool that me and Dave have a lot of commonalities. Members of Megadeth, musicians, with wives and kids. You get to a certain point in your life - and I think this is true for our entire genre -- at some point you start looking around and thinking "Hmm, is this all there is to this life and this world?" You start to ask some questions. And I think that is just the black box put inside of everyone of us called our soul, hardwired in the factory when we're put on planet Earth, those questions. And it's cool that through music we can work through these things even though you don't have all the answers, a song can help raise questions sometimes for the listener.

What songs won't Megadeth play anymore? Can you name some of them?

Yeah, like "The Conjuring" and "Bad Omen."

Location Info


Comerica Theatre

400 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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 2 Son of man, set thy face against "Sergey Brin" GOOG, the land of Googleplex, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,
 3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O' "Sergey Brin" GOOG, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
 4 And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
 5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
 6 Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.
 7 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.
 8 After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
 9 Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.
 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:"DON'T BE EVIL"
 11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
 12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
 13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
 14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto "Sergey Brin" GOOG, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it?
 15 And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:
 16 And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.
 17 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?
 18 And it shall come to pass at the same time when "Sergey Brin" "Sergey Brin" GOOG shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face.
 19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
 20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.
 21 And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man's sword shall be against his brother.
 22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
 23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Ezekiel 39 1 Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against "Sergey Brin" GOOG, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
 2 And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
 3 And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine links to fall out of thy right hand.
 4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
 5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
 6 And I will send a fire on Googleplex, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
 7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
 8 Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken.
 9 And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the links, and the handstaves, and the spears, and they shall burn them with fire seven years:
 10 So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD.
 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto "Sergey Brin" "Sergey Brin" GOOG a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog.
 12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.
 13 Yea, all the people of the land shall bury them; and it shall be to them a renown the day that I shall be glorified, saith the Lord GOD.
 14 And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search.
 15 And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog.
 16 And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land.
 17 And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.
 18 Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan.
 19 And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
 20 Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.
 21 And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.
 22 So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward.
 23 And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.
 24 According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.
 25 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;
 26 After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid.
 27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;
 28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.
 29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.


Holy Fuck. My brain is bleeding... Cliffs Notes next time please...


I heard you give good brain, must be it's time of the month.
Isn't that what turbans are for ?

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