David Ellefson Interview - A Rock House Blog Exclusive Part 3

This is the 3rd and final installment of the interview with metal bassist extraordinaire David Ellefson. If you need to catch up. You can click here for part 1 and here for part 2.

David, how have you’ve seen metal music progress over the years?

I think the fundamentals of metal music are the same now as they were years ago. As I look back at what has happened and, again I’ll reference Judas Priest since they were such a huge influence to me. You know initially they were this kind of huge blues roots based British rock band. At some point they fine tuned their writing where it really became more about the riff but it became a little less blues based and they really started to carve out their own niche. I think that in metal music no matter what, it’s really about the guitar riff and the drumming. Those are the 2 components of metal music that haven’t changed too much and those are the things that define what a metal tune is. So, for me as a bass player my job is to show up and take the song to another level. Sometimes that means playing really simple to support the riff and the song, other times it means that I can jump in and go head to head with the guitar players and we can work out some really intricate lines. Sometimes I will play the roots other times I will pick up part of the riffs. Those are things that are exciting about heavy metal. I like that it doesn’t have to be as refined as other music so you don’t have to apply all the rules. I might add that there are a lot less rules to metal music so I think that’s why young people are moved toward it. I think when you don’t have all the rules you can be a lot more creative.

David on Rock House

So what’s going on with Rock House?

A lot of super secret stuff that Joe P swore me not to talk about. But I can tell you that it is going to not only be awesome but it’s very unique. It will take the whole lesson concept to another level.

I will tell you that back in the 80’s there was a movement of instructional videos that for the era of production weren’t too bad. They kind of fell to the way side after a while though. Rock House came along and had the idea of really ramping up what an instructional program should be. So, I went into production with them on the idea of producing a metal bass guitar level 1 and 2 DVD. I wanted to make it in a way that a beginner could learn the basics and then actually feel that they could end up with the tools to start going to another level with their playing. The actual production was similar to cutting a record. John (McCarthy) helped lay out the lesson plan and was good at getting exactly what was needed on film to help the student understand what was being taught. He even sat through the whole thing with me.

Bass Player Magazine

You’re pretty heavily involved with bass player magazine. What’s going on there?

Well, they’re really the Grand Pulbah of bass player magazines. Their publications are on news stands all around the world. As a fan of the bass guitar I have read their magazines over the years. I started to get invited into their campus to participate. My initial participation was writing a column for them called “The Real Deal” which was right around the time that I was writing my book. Jim Roberts was the editor at that time and I actually pitched my book and manuscript to him which he accepted and they actually ended up publishing my book. So we really had a cool relationship right from the beginning. That led to them inviting me in to write a ton of things, like writing a cover story for Cliff Burton (Metallica) about 2 or 3 years ago. It was real honor to do that. They also started doing the BASS Player Live events on an annual basis so they have invited me to be a part of those. This last year I went to them and said rather than do a clinic let me put together a forum where I can interview other bass players. So that’s what I did, those interviews are actually up on you tube or you can check then out on my website on my space, www.myspace.com/davidellefson.com But the bass player community is great. We get together in our own forum and talk about bass music, gear and learning. It’s sort of our own corner of the world.

Any Advice?

What advice could you offer to people learning to play or wanting to develop their style?

My main advice, and this really comes from my own experience, is to learn as much as you can. Play with as many people as you can and try and be out playing as often as you can.

Much thanks to David Ellefson for giving what I hope you found to be a little different insight and twist to the typical interview you read.

I again encourage you to check out Davids web sites www.myspace/davidellefson.com and www.davidellefson.com. Don’t forget about his band F5 at http://www.myspace.com/f5thebandaz and you can check out his metal bass instructional DVDs at http://www.rockhousemethod.com/products/bass.aspx?i=379


Stormy Maverick said...

For me, this was one of the best series of posts on the Rock House blog yet. Great job with the interview, getting it in print and arranging it to flow. I hope to see more like this from other bass players!

sarge1875 said...

Thanks Stormy. You will be seeing a lot more interviews on a weekly basis. Coming up I have slated a new comer Tony Smotherman, Rusty Cooley, Kiko Loureiro and Rob Turner from EMG pick ups. It will be a continuing series here on the blog with musicians who play all kinds of instruments and people involved in the business.