As the world continues to recover from the Coronavirus, we're all finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory given the subsequent lockdown that is keeping us off of stages and confined to our homes. Luckily, there's comfort in the fact that we're all in this together, and that there are still many outlets for us musicians to keep us active and sane throughout this quarantine. We're checking in with bass players from all over the world to see what they're doing to stay entertained, healthy, productive, and safe during this trying time.
Bassist: David Ellefson
Bands and Artists: Megadeth, Ellefson (solo band)
Home: Scottsdale, Arizona
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
We’ve launched the #schoolsout initiative as part of my David Ellefson Youth Music Foundation, whereby me and my rocker friends are giving free online music lessons and mentorship to students 18-and-under, all around the world during the pandemic shutdown of public schools. My Ellefson solo band has released the song “Simple Truth” on Bandcamp.com and across all digital platforms—check out the Ellefson page on Spotify. We are donating all proceeds to the Italian Red Cross Covid-19 relief fund. We’ve just released a re-imaged version of Post Malone’s song, “Over Now” [Below]. It’s currently on radio across the U.S., and available on all digital platforms. And we now have the “Oh Say Can You Stream” and “More Nights with DE/TH” live streams as part of the David Ellefson Youth Music Foundation. We are also part of the Grammy Music Education Coalition with those endeavors.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’m always composing and working on bass lines for my songs and for friends who hit me up to track some bass for them. Additionally, I’m recording a new Ellefson solo album, due out in October 2020, as well as the new Megadeth album, which is now underway. It will be our sixteenth record. I’ve broken out some songbooks and began woodshedding. I have Bop Chops: Advanced Jazz Reading, and Read That Funky Music, both by Berklee’s Jim Stinnett, and Progressive Blues Bass Licks by Stephen Richter. I find, just like reading any other book, sightreading gets my mind thinking academically and helps tremendously when recording and writing charts for sessions. I also do regular vocal exercises to keep my voice in good shape for singing and talking, which I’m doing a lot these days on the live streams. I find that a strong voice aids me in pitch recognition and makes me a better “play by ear” bassist. At the end of the day, in most genres, the audience is listening to the vocalist and if I can join in there, it makes me a better composer and more melodic bassist, too.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I always return to my roots—it’s like going back home and eating mom’s comfort food. So, for me it’s Kiss’s Destroyer, Sweet’s Desolation Boulevard, Van Halen’s first self-titled album, and anything by Angel, Starz, and the Ramones.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
For home recording I use the IK Multimedia AXE I/O into Logic, on my Mac laptop. It’s portable and easy to use. I like the warmth and tone of Logic for low end and ease of use, too.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I’m getting my Netflix binges going, bigtime! I finally finished Mad Men and I’m now catching up on House of Cards and a few others. Garth Brooks: The Road I’m On is quite good, too. As for books, I always have two Jack Reacher novels goingm and a John Grisham book called Rooster Bar.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Our “The Metal Tour of the Year,” with Megadeth, Lamb Of God, Truvium, and In Flames will resume as soon as we are able to hit the road. Additionally, my Ellefson solo band will resume our rescheduled dates in Japan and Australia as soon as February or March 2021. I may try and do some other smaller Ellefson solo dates later this year, pandemic restrictions permitting.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I’ve always found alone time is the best time to make big strides in my musical growth. We need the quiet to practice, focus, and gather our thoughts for composing. I see these months as some of the best for being productive and turning inward to create, instead of running off to the next gig, appointment, or life endeavor. Embrace the change and this moment for growth and creativity!
Read all 180+ Bass Magazine Check-in Features: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi