During a recent conversation with The Metal Voice, Megadeth bassist David Ellefson was asked if there was any talk about him joining Metallica when Jason Newsted left the band in January 2001.
The audition took place in early 2003, about a year after Megadeth had disbanded due to Dave Mustaine’s nerve damage and about a year before Ellefson had sued Mustaine for $18.5 million, alleging that the frontman short-changed him on profits including tour merchandise and publishing royalties. The bassist ultimately returned to Megadeth in 2010.
Back to the interview, David replied :
“They didn’t call me. I know that there was a conversation about considering me. I know Lars [Ulrich] and Dave [Mustaine] had chatted, ’cause [Metallica] were putting their short list together. And, to be honest with you…
“I mean, look, Metallica are great, and I’m a fan of theirs and friends with them, and I would be there to be of service with them in whatever way, but they, I think, made their decision right around the time when Megadeth had disbanded in 2002.”
Ellefson also talked about the differences in the musical approach of Metallica and Megadeth, saying:
“It’s very interesting. [Metallica’s] music, as much as we come from the same family tree, their songs, as they developed over the years, are very different than Megadeth stuff. I actually sat down for the first time…
“‘Cause I never sat down with a bass and played along to Metallica songs. As much as I’ve been a fan of theirs, especially kind of up through the ‘Black Album,’ I never sat down and really dug into their songs as a player.
“And I did one day, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ These songs are so different than Megadeth. Their riffs and where James puts the phrasing of his vocals over top of his riffs is so different from how we do it in Megadeth.
“And I found it kind of fascinating, because, here we are, the two bands, and, obviously, Dave [Mustaine] having played in Metallica in their early years, how their sound really developed and transitioned over the years and how Megadeth’s sound largely, obviously, developed, but there was a thing about it…
“Like when I go back and I listen to… maybe not ‘Mechanix’ and ‘Jump in the Fire’, but maybe things like… I don’t know… ‘Metal Militia,’ or other things that Dave had written on the ‘Kill ‘Em All’ era, now I hear it.
“I go back and I hear things… Like the other day, I heard ‘The Call Of Ktulu’ playing in the background somewhere, and as soon as I heard it, I went, ‘God, that sounds like Dave.’ And it’s a song that he wrote that they ended up using on ‘Ride the Lightning.’
“Obviously, Dave didn’t play on it, but I could just hear the picking pattern of how Dave plays. Even in the distance, barely audible, I could hear that it was a Dave composition as played by Metallica.”