David Ellefson Names Two Bands Who Should Be Part of Thrash’s ‘Big 6’
The comments came at the end of a recent interview with Yes! You CAN Play Guitar! where Ellefson, who has started up a couple of new bands over the last year (The Lucid, Dieth), was asked which thrash group would occupy the fifth slot after Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax.
"Well, I think if you opened that gate at all, it'd have to be 'Big 6', because you'd let in Exodus and then you'd probably let in Overkill. 'Cause you'd have to get a West Coast [band] and an East Coast [act], 'cause I think it starts to go like that," the bassist said (transcription via Blabbermouth).
While he was mindful enough to maintain balance and get more east coast representation beyond Anthrax, the noteworthy German thrash scene and the 'Teutonic 4' — Kreator, Sodom, Destruction and Tankard — remained absent from from the conversation.
It's Exodus that Ellefson really sang the praises of in particular as they're often regarded as the pioneers of the style that was popularized in the famous Bay Area scene in the early '80s.
"If there was a 'Big 5', it would be Exodus, for sure, because, look, from them came [Metallica guitarist] Kirk Hammett. They were staples of the scene up there. I remember [Slayer guitarist] Kerry King telling me, '[Exodus drummer] Tom Hunting's the shit, man. Tom Hunting's the guy.'"
Looking back at the brief, brief spell where King was a guitarist in Megadeth in 1984, Ellefson continued, "It's my opinion that after Kerry played with us, he met the Exodus guys, he saw Exodus play, he learned how Tom Hunting played, he went home and made [Slayer drummer] Dave Lombardo play like Tom Hunting. [Laughs] That's why Slayer got so fast."
"Those five shows Kerry did with us that brought us to the Bay Area opened his eyes to, like, 'Wow. This is how it's done.' And then he went back to L.A. and he carried on away from Megadeth and he carried on with Slayer," the bassist recalled, "But he whipped Slayer into shape, 'cause he had seen… 'Thine eyes had seen the glory' of what thrash metal really was from the Bay Area, and that helped Slayer become Slayer."
Regarding how fast the early thrash bands played, Ellefson also recently revealed that it was a fan letter written to Megadeth expressing hope that Dave Mustaine's then new band would be faster than Metallica. He said that prior to receiving this letter, Megadeth's songs were played at a slower tempo, but all god got kicked up as a result of that one fan's desires.
This October, Ellefson will play a small series of shows under the moniker Kings of Thrash with former Megadeth guitarist Jeff Young as well as special guest Chris Poland, another erstwhile Megadeth axeman. Drummer Fred Aching and vocalist/guitarist Chaz Leon will round out the lineup that will perform Megadeth's Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! and So Far, So Good... So What! album in their entirey.
See those upcoming dates here.