Contributor’s Note: In this interview with Madness To Creation, David Ellefson of Megadeth discusses the School’s Out Initiative, which features current and former members of Megadeth, Five Finger Death Punch, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Anthrax, Black Star Riders, Alice Cooper, Sevendust and so much more to kids during Covid-19 restrictions.
The video sessions will be held by top Rock and Metal artists including David Ellefson (Megadeth), Dirk Verbeuren (Megadeth), Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth), Frank Bello (Anthrax), Jimmy Degrasso (Ex-Megadeth, Alice Cooper), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Sons of Apollo, Ex-Guns N’ Roses), Chris Kael (Five Finger Death Punch), Chad Szeliga (Black Star Riders, Walking with Lions), Phil Demmel (Ex-Machine Head), Dave McClain (Sacred Reich, Ex-Machine Head), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper), Brandan Schieppatti (Bleeding Through), Thom Hazaert (Ellefson), Alex Snowden (Doll Skin), Sydney Dolezal (Doll Skin), Ra Diaz (Suicidal Tendencies), Shani Kimelman (Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque Du Soleil), Marc Rizzo (Soulfly), Jeff Duncan (Armored Saint), Rusty Cooley, and more to be announced.
In addition, the DEYMF will build a database of instructional videos, including playthroughs, lessons, and more, from participating artists, that will be made available for free from the website. The Foundation has partnered with videoconferencing/technology giant CISCO, to implement their WEBEX platform for the lessons, as well as audio giant DOLBY, who will provide additional audio/video capture and streaming support via their DOLBY NOW app. Additional instructional content will be provided by leading online instructor ROCK HOUSE METHOD. Additional sponsors include Jackson Guitars, Hartke Amps, and Samson Electronics.
The DEYMF has also partnered with the GRAMMY MUSIC EDUCATION COALITION to offer special “SCHOOL’S OUT” sessions to partner school districts within the GMEC network, including Philadelphia and Nashville, with the GMEC providing additional promotional and logistical support.
Says Foundation co-chair Thom Hazaert, also Ellefson’s partner, and vocalist in his eponymous solo band, “David and I were brainstorming on ways to give back during the COVID epidemic, and put some positivity out in a time of some pretty unparalleled crisis and uncertainty. The mission of our foundation is to try and help keep music in schools, but what happens when kids can’t go to school? As I’m sitting home with my 2 restless kids, in basically forced exile, it kinda hit me.” He adds, “We started talking about David doing a few online lessons with kids, via the foundation, and then got around to the idea of recruiting some of our other friends as well. Then we talked to our friends at the GRAMMY MUSIC EDUCATION COALITION, and it really took on a whole new life, and became a massive initiative.”
Adds Ellefson, “”When one person suffers, we all suffer, and this is an unprecedented moment in history when all of us around the world are united for a common cause. Music and the arts have always been some of our greatest healers in a way none other can. As we reach into each other’s souls with resounding hope, I’m forever thankful to our friends in the creative community who have kindly offered their expertise to put a smile on the faces of so many people in need right now. Let this be a time when we can all unite under the banner of Music and let our creativity lead the way. “
Anyone of High School age or below can apply.
Dave: How are you buddy? Good to catch up with you again.
Mark: I’m good. What about you? How are you doing?
Dave: I’m doing okay, man.
Mark: It’s a very difficult time for everybody.
Dave: Yeah, it sure is. I mean, I’m just staying home right now and fortunately I’ve been super busy here with the Youth Foundation and writing and even recording remotely some materials. So actually, it’s been a pretty productive couple of weeks for me actually.
Mark: I’m just wondering if times like this challenge the strength of your own faith at difficult times like this?
Dave: You know, I guess I’m really glad that I’ve been well-steeped in faith for so many years because when these things come along, it’s… Look, I think anytime is a good time to gain some faith, but better to be a little more rooted in something when before the storm hits. You know? And I think, look, to have sort of a hope… To have hope period is super important because it’s what gets us through these moments.
Mark: Indeed it is.Last time we chatted, I think it was last October, you were just about to hit the UK for a couple of special shows including the one at the Steel Mill. Just wonder how those went briefly.
Dave: You know, it was a really great… That whole thing was a great tour. The Steel Mill and London shows obviously were incredible. Going down to Italy right after that, it’s really what quite honestly spawned a new single that we have called Simple Truth. Because we actually wrote it on our first day of rehearsal in Milan, right after we did the show at KK’s place. We got together to rehearse for the tour down there with the all Italian band. And that first day we got together and my singer Thom Hazaert, he says, “Why don’t we write a new song today?” And I started chugging out a bass riff, which is the opening line of Simple Truth. And I just kind of went from this kind of raw Dead Kennedy’s kind of punk rock baseline and out came the song. So it’s kind of ironic, the other day as we were launching our initiatives for big David Ellefson Youth Music Foundation-
It hit me, I called Thomas and “Listen, you know we’ve been wanting to put this song Simple Truth out.” I said, “You know at times like these people aren’t focusing so much on new music to buy as much as they are just kind of trying to figure out the path forward.” He said, “Why don’t we put the song up and donate all the proceeds from it and we’ll get it to be Italian Red Cross as part of the Covid-19 Pandemic Relief Fund?” And especially since our band is from Italy and since they’re all safe and sound, I said, “This I think would be a perfect time to try to give something back to Italy,” which is exactly what we’re doing with that song.
Mark: Yeah. Of course the reason we’re chatting here is in relation to your Youth Music Foundation. Just wondered, first of all, how did that start up? How long has that been going?
Dave: Well, we launched in 2018 in my little hometown in Jackson, Minnesota. The mayor issued a proclamation on October 9th as the official David Ellefson Day, forever and always now and in the Charter of the County. And when we launched, you know, when they did that, I said, “Listen, I’d really like to do something that would be able to be a way to give back and be a legacy memorial.” So that’s how we launched the foundation. Then moving into 2020, where it’s funny, Tom and I were actually talking about really paying some attention to the foundation this year to really get the things really bolstered this year.
And then ironically, I mean literally I’ve seen within this last month this whole pandemic hit and Tom called me, he said, “Listen, why don’t you start giving some free online bass lessons to some kids that are in their shutdown right now from school?” And I said, “Well look, let me call a bunch of my buddies and why don’t get a bunch of us doing it because everybody’s going to be at home now for the next couple of months.”
That’s how this whole School’s Out Initiative started with us giving free music lessons and mentorship to the students 18 years and under who are now at home on lockdown and their schools are closed during this pandemic.
Check out Bumblefoot offering a tutorial of the riff for “God of the Sun” by Sons of Apollo below:
Mark: So how do the kids get involved in this? Do they contact you directly? Do they have to apply?Is there some sort of selection process,how does it all work?
Dave: Yeah, all the information is over at the www.ellefsonyouthmusicfoundation.org, that’s the website to go to. There’s a signup form for students to register there. We have a little, we’re doing a fundraiser, an online fundraiser so there’s a little donate button right there if anybody’s inclined to even give a dollar or two, a sterling pound or two, we’d be happy to, you know, we’re grateful for anything. Because it allows us to keep the music program going because we want the lessons to be free for the students.
So as long as we can keep the foundation functioning and even employ a few of our instructors to make sure that we’ve got a nice staff of people there to keep this thing moving forward is just vital right now.
Check out Dave Ellefson doing a tutorial for his bass playing on “Trust” by Megadeth:
Mark: Is this something that’s going to be ongoing then after this current situation goes away?Will it be something that will continue in the future?
Dave: I think it is. It’s funny how a month ago it seemed like it might be something we just do it for a couple of months while kids are home. Then as we got it up and running and it’s member partners like Cisco came to us to use their Webex technology platform and Dolby and the Grammy Music Education Coalition came on board. All of a sudden we realised we probably are living in a time where things aren’t just going to go back to normal, the way they were. And normal, there’s going to be a new normal, which will obviously at some point include us being able to congregate and hang out together again.
But I think this new digital technology of being able to do music lessons and do these things moving forward is just going to also be a part of our world now, the same way the concert business isn’t going to just be people getting together in a room and watching show anymore. You know, there will hopefully always be that when things sort of reset a little bit back to normal, but I think there’s going to be a component now that which is going to be live streaming and people performing online and I think that’s just going to be a part of our world now moving forward.
Check out Shani Kimelman(Michael Jackson’s One Cirque Du Soleil) two-handed tapping lesson:
Mark: Just then you have mentioned there that you’ve been busy, you have the Youth Music Foundation, things that we’ve talked about. You got your new song, with your own band. What’s actually happening at the moment in terms of new material from Megadeth? “Dystopia” the last Megadeth album seems to have been released quite some time ago.I think what how many years ago? Quite a few it seems now. Just wondered do you have songs ready for its follow up?Obviously I fully recognize that Dave’s(Mustaine) cancer had a significant impact on the bands schedule.
Dave: Yeah we do. We do. We’ve got the songs written, they’re ready to be recorded. Actually our drummer Dirk and I were scheduled to be in Nashville last week recording, but once everything shut down here in America with the pandemic, we decided it would be good judgement to just sort of kick that down the road a little bit. So we’re just waiting until it’s healthy for us all to be traveling and be congregating back together again. And then we’ll kick off the recording of the album.
Mark: What about Dave? How’s he doing? Obviously had to cancel some dates with his health. How is the man now? Is he in recovery?
Dave: Yeah, no, Dave is doing wonderful. You know, we did that big tour across the UK and Europe back in January and February. That got us all back on stage again and got us performing. And Dave is through his throat cancer treatments. But it’s all the more reason why we do have to be very delicate with the health issues, and not be rushing into anything that could worsen anybody’s health. So, at this point in time, to be diligent with it is a top priority to make sure everybody stays healthy.
Mark: Yeah. Okay. That’s great. David, what it was just a brief chat as to say, just to catch up with more or less what you’ve been up to. Thank you very much for chatting to me.
Dave: Yeah. I appreciate it. You’re welcome. Good to chat again with you Mark.
And there you have it! Fans can find Megadeth at the following locations:
Providing this Covid-19 pandemic is over(or at least under control) Megadeth and Lamb of God with special guests Trivium and In Flames will be out on a massive tour. Check out the tour dates below:
Fri. 6/12- Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia
Sat. 6/13- PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, North Carolina
Sun. 6/14- Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, North Carolina
Tue. 6/16- Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Wed. 6/17- Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York
Thu. 6/18- BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey
Sat. 6/20- PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey
Sun. 6/21- Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts
Tue. 6/23- St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview in Syracuse, New York
Wed. 6/24- Bold Point Park in East Providence, Rhode Island
Fri. 6/26- Live Nation Concerts at Darien Lake Amphitheater in Darien Center, New York
Sun. 6/28- S&T Bank Music Park in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania
Mon. 6/29- Budweiser Stage in Toronto, Canada
Wed. 7/1- DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston, Michigan
Fri. 7/3- Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana
Sun. 7/5- Ameris Bank Amphitheater in Alpharetta, Georgia
Tue. 7/7- PNC Pavilion in Cincinnati, Ohio
Wed. 7/8- Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica in Cleveland, Ohio
Fri. 7/10- Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park, Illinois
Sat. 7/11- Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Missouri
Sun. 7/12- Metro Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee
Tue. 7/14- Walmart Amp in Rogers, Arkansas
Thu. 7/16- Germania Insurance Amphitheater in Austin, Texas
Fri. 7/17- Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, Texas
Sat. 7/18- The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas
Mon. 7/20- Isleta Amphitheater in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Tue. 7/21- Arizona Federal Theater in Phoenix, Arizona
Thu. 7/23- FivePoint Amphitheater in Irvine, California
Sat. 7/25- White River Amphitheater in Auburn, Washington
Sun. 7/26- Moda Center at the Rose Quarter in Portland, Oregon
Wed. 7/29- USANA Amphitheater in Salt Lake City, Utah
Sat. 8/1- Concord Pavilion in Concord, California
Fri. 10/2- iThink Financial Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Florida
Tue. 10/6- Oak Mountain Amphitheater in Pelham, Alabama
Wed. 10/7- UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana
Fri. 10/9- American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas
Sun. 10/11- UTEP Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas
Wed. 10/14- JQH Arena in Springfield, Missouri
Fri. 10/16- Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri
Wed. 10/21- Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio
Fri. 10/23- Mountain Health Arena in Huntington, West Virginia
Sat. 10/24- Wind Creek Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Tue. 10/27- Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Canada
Wed. 10/28- Place Bell in Laval, Canada
Fri. 10/30- The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sat. 10/31- Resch Complex in Green Bay, Wisconsin
Mon. 11/2- Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska
Tue. 11/3- Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Thu. 11/5- Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado
Sat. 11/7- Mandalay Bay Resorts & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
Tue. 11/10- Spokane Arena in Spokane, Washington
Wed. 11/11- Ford Idaho Center in Nampa, Idaho
Fri. 11/13- Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada
For tickets and further information on any of the shows listed above, click here.
Fans can find Mark Dean at the following locations: