I was fortunate enough to get a phone call from none other than David Ellefson recently. Why? Because we were set to discuss the new album he and Frank Bello (ANTHRAX) released with their band ALTITUDES & ATTITUDE. When you put two giants of Heavy Metal together in one band, the results are nothing short of spectacular. The record is called Get It Out, and quite frankly it’s one of my favorites of 2019. Once we got past my initial fangirling (come on, he plays in MEGADETH!!) we chatted about that and some other things as well. Have a look:
Amps: This record Get It Out has some really killer stuff on it!
David: Thank you man, thank you. I appreciate it.
Amps: So who does what as far as instruments and singing?
David: Frank does all the vocals on it, and plays guitar on pretty much all of it. I play guitar and bass, and we both write.
Amps: I didn’t hear the first EP, but I’m glad you included the three tracks at the end of this one. To me they are three of the best songs on this album.
Dave: Well, thank you. We contemplated how to do it and we felt it was important to include them. Especially since so much time has passed since we put them out. To me, they’re part of the story, and at the same time we didn’t wanna cheat anybody who purchased them the first time. So remixing them was good, that way they sound cohesive with the rest of the record.
Amps: I never knew Frank had this kind of singing in him. I know he does backing vocals in ANTHRAX, but it was cool to hear him singing lead.
David: Well my original thought was that Frank and I would write some backing tracks for our bass clinics. Then Frank brought in “Booze and Cigarettes” and “Tell the World” and I had that song “Here Again”, which I had the music for, and most of the lyrics for, then we collaborated on the final concept for it. We realized that we work really well together, in that we each have our own sound we bring in, yet we can blend our individual sounds to make something cohesive, unique, and original. And we had so much fun doing the EP, which was a labor of love, that we did everything we could to get back together again with Jay Ruston to continue recording what became this full length. Frank’s got a great voice, and he’s a great storyteller with these songs.
Amps: Putting two heavyweights like you guys together, then getting something we never expected to hear is just so amazing. Wow!!
David: (Laughs) I appreciate it! We felt the same way, and it’s been pretty nice to almost unanimously hear the same response of, “Wow, we never saw this coming”, or “We never expected this”, and “To hear something like this come from two guys in heavy, thrashing bands is so cool!” We are thrilled to death with the responses.
Amps: I’m surprised you got it done since both of your bands are so busy.
David: Well, that’s why it took so long to put this album out. We were actually hoping to release in 2018 but then Frank got busy with the SLAYER tour, and we got busy writing the new MEGADETH album. We spent a year working on the A & A artwork, shooting a video, and taking care of all that was needed to put this thing together.
Amps: On the MEGADETH front, Dystopia is a monster record, and one I still spin continuously.
David: Thank you so much!
Amps: Are you still managing DOLL SKIN?
David: Yep, and they’re doing great. They just signed to Hopeless Records this last year, so they’re in L.A. working on a new album.
Amps: I love those kids, they’re great! I got to see them in summer of 2017, and their show is so high-energy and fun.
David: Thank you. I think they’re great, and I love them. They are deserving of every opportunity that comes their way, and they work hard for it. They realize that nothing comes free and easy in this world and I love it when artists work hard. It brings a certain value to their artistic efforts, because you find that every step of the journey requires us to step up to another level.
Amps: And to have that work ethic they do at such a young age.
David: Yep. A manager once told me years ago, “I’m not willing to work any harder than my band is” and I always remembered that.
I’ve always worked hard in my own career, and I’m working harder now than ever these past 15-16 years. And quite honestly I’ve had such a passion for creative endeavors that get me excited to get out of bed and work on ’em every day.
Amps: Why do you think it is that bands like MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, OVERKILL, and EXODUS are doing some of their best work in this so-called second half of your careers?
David: Well, I think we’ve been through a lot of the challenges. We stumbled onto something early on in our careers that people really liked and it took us to new levels and places we probably didn’t know we could reach. Sometimes some of your biggest setbacks aren’t your failures, they’re your successes. And I think all of us have had big success in the mainstream, and sometimes when you reach those pinnacles the challenge is to really thread the needle on what the next step is. Because sometimes those mainstream successes can divert you from who you were when you started. And I think with all the bands you mentioned, you’re finding us going back to our original form,. And when we can tap into that it brings back the excitement of why we started these bands in the first place.
Amps: By the way, I saw the last MEGADETH tour four friggin’ times, which is something I don’t normally do. But every time you hit the Philly area I was like, “Fuck yeah, let’s go!”
David: Thank you, I appreciate your support. MEGADETH is a real rock band. We’ve been through a lot and we try to put hose experiences more and more into our music. As the lyric from “Skin O’ My Teeth” says, “That which doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger.”
Amps: Now that the album is out, what do you hope John Q. Listener takes away from it?
David: You know, I think your initial enthusiasm on this phone call is exactly what we hope for. Certainly we want people to continually play these songs for years to come. But the short-term thing is that Frank and I are so elated that people are so responsive to this record.
Amps: What do you want to say to all your fans out there in the world?
David: I say thank you so much for 35 years of MEGADETH and supporting us. As a result of that I get to make friends with guys like Frank Bello in my journeys, and we get to have a musical interaction like we do with ALTITUDES & ATTITUDE, so I’m thankful for all of the opportunities that the bands have provided for us. And Damian, I love your enthusiasm, thank you so much for your support!
There you have it. David Ellefson, one half of the creative partnership that IS ALTITUDES & ATTITUDE. Seriously, if you don’t have Get It Out already, you’re pretty much beyond hope. Unless…you go and rectify that TODAY.