In an interview with Jaime Poulos of Metal Express Radio, former MEGADETH guitarist Jeff Young revealed that he has formed “a whole original band” with fellow ex-MEGADETH member David Ellefson (bass) and Fred Aching (drums),all three of whom are also playing together in KINGS OF THRASH.
“Everyone’s saying KINGS OF THRASH is coming out with an original album, and it’s not KINGS OF THRASH,” Jeff clarified (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “Chaz (Leon) is our singer for that, for doing the MEGADETH stuff (with KINGS OF THRASH), but for the original stuff, Ellefson and I have been writing for over a year; we’ve been working on some songs. We’re using this guy from Brazil that’s gonna blow you guys away. He sounds kind of like (Ronnie James) Dio meets Chris Cornell meets Rob Halford. He’s got perfect pitch, so he never hits a bad note. It’s crazy.”
Asked what it’s like to play with Ellefson again after so many years, Jeff said: “It’s super cool. We didn’t really get a chance to know each other back in the day because I think (MEGADETH leader) Dave Mustaine was like the toxic thorn in the middle. But now that that’s out of there, we’re not only seeing… ’cause we probably lived ten different lives since then. We’re different people. We’re more mature and we’re getting to know each in a whole different time and space. So it’s like nostalgia plus it’s brand new.”
KINGS OF THRASH recently completed a couple of tours during which it performed MEGADETH‘s classic albums “Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!” and “So Far, So Good… So What!” A live CD/DVD package called “Best Of The West…Live At The Whisky A Go Go” was recorded and filmed live at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California on October 15, 2022 and was released this past March via Cleopatra Records. The DVD, which was directed by Michael Sarna for Inmotion Entertainment, includes an appearance by another former MEGADETH member, Chris Poland (guitar).
In some recent interviews, Ellefson suggested that the upcoming original material from him and Young may not be released under the KINGS OF THRASH moniker. “Because, look, it doesn’t have to be thrash,” he told KNAC.COM. “It doesn’t even have to be from a MEGADETH origin, really. Even though that was kind of the origin story, it doesn’t have to sound like that. It should be us, who we are now today, I think. So, we’ve decided KINGS OF THRASH, for sure, is this (touring project) playing the music of yesterday. And then we’re just deciding now, okay, this new music, to fit within that, should it be Jeff Young and David Ellefson doing something together? You know — ELLEFSON-YOUNG.”
Last month, Young told Metal Edge about KINGS OF THRASH: “Let me put it this way: What’s happening now is a win for all of us — Dave (Mustaine) included. He gets to make money off the publishing from the MEGADETH songs we play. Dave knows that, so he’s very aware of us.”
Young continued: “He hates what KINGS OF THRASH is doing. But it doesn’t matter because, eventually, we’ll delete a lot of the MEGADETH from our set, and we’ll keep writing new stuff. But Dave is feeling the heat because we’re getting attention, and the KINGS OF THRASH album will be better than anything MEGADETH has done recently. And we’re playing all the MEGADETH songs better than he has in years. It’s not just me saying that — read the reviews.”
This past January, Young told Ultimate Guitar that he and Ellefson had not received any feedback from Mustaine about their new band or their recent live shows. “We couldn’t care less… and it’s a win-win for him,” Jeff said. “Because all the publishing, for example, on the ‘Best Of The West’, he’s getting all that money. We’re making him money and he doesn’t have to do anything. So, we’re performing the songs because they’re part of our history and the fans want to hear them and we will benefit from that, and so will he, so it’s a win-win. How much cooler can anything be than that? So, if he has something to say about it… I wouldn’t imagine it would be very objective… not that anything he’s ever said has been objective.”
Jeff‘s recent comments were similar to those he made last year when he told Thomas S. Orwat, Jr. of the Rock Interview Series that he and Ellefson were “really not concerned” about Mustaine‘s reaction to KINGS OF THRASH. “I don’t pay attention,” he said. “I haven’t really paid attention or followed MEGADETH since, I think, I heard the ‘Rust In Peace’ album a couple of times, and then what you might hear on the radio or in the press.
“For us, this isn’t about any spite or retaliation; it’s a celebration of the music that we were all a part of, that we helped create,” he explained. “And it’s fun for us to do this.
“People said, ‘You should do this.’ And we said, ‘Hey, yeah, you’re right. We should do this.’ It’s a win-win — it’s a win for us, and it’s a win for (Mustaine), because any performance royalties, anything… If we did include live tracks, he would make money off that. It’s promoting albums that hopefully fans will go back and buy, which is putting money right in his pocket. Especially ‘Killing Is My Business’, I think a lot of people are gonna go back and wanna rediscover that album after this tour.
“For us, it’s all about positivity,” Young added. “We’re all in this moment — we’re living in the moment, and we’re not looking beyond. We’re not reading any of the comments on Blabbermouth or any of the stuff. Because we know what our intent is, and intent is everything. And our intent’s positive. We like playing together. We know we’re crafting original music. We’re not relying on this; we don’t need to ride the coattails of this. This is just something that the fans wanted, and you wanna give fans what they want.”
Ellefson told Yes! You CAN Play Guitar! that the intention behind KINGS OF THRASH is not to stick it to his former bandmates. “This is a celebration, not a retaliation,” he explained. “This is a good moment. This is a happy moment, to celebrate these songs and these tracks and these records. So we go at it with just fun… It’s, like, ‘Wow. Wouldn’t it be fun if we went out and played these records?’ And we’re doing it. So it’s meant to be this celebration and bringing people together. And honestly, that was kind of always my role in MEGADETH. Dave (Mustaine) always called me ‘The Ambassador’, and I was always that guy, and I am that guy. So it’s, like, let me just continue that role in our community and have one of good will.”
Ellefson was fired from MEGADETH more than two years ago after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist were posted on Twitter.
David was in MEGADETH from the band’s inception in 1983 to 2002, and again from 2010 until his latest exit.
In 2004, Ellefson filed an $18.5-million lawsuit against Mustaine, alleging the MEGADETH leader shortchanged him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth Inc. over to him when the band broke up in 2002. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed and Ellefson rejoined MEGADETH in 2010.
Young‘s entire career with MEGADETH was spent recording and touring in support of the band’s 1988 platinum-selling album “So Far, So Good…So What!”
Jeff made headlines in December 2009 for accusing Mustaine of, among other things, “dissing, exaggerating and just plain lying on some level about nearly every talented musician that has passed through his dysfunctional little ensemble.” He also disputed Mustaine‘s claim in an interview that Young‘s drug problem led to MEGADETH‘s 1988 Australian tour being called off and the group being “banned” from performing in the country.