Q&A

Megadeth's Dave Ellefson: "Why I'm Trying to Become a Pastor"

You gotta hand it to American thrash metalheads Megadeth. For as rocky as their successful road has been, the band has done great job at keeping things surprising. Just last week, guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine made headlines by announcing his endorsement of far-right presidential candidate Rick "Please Don't Google My Last Name" Santorum, then backing off, stating to our sister blog, Seattle Weekly's Reverb, that he wasn't necessarily voting for Santorum, though he does oppose gay marriage. "I'm a Christian," Mustaine clarified.

He's not the only guy repping Jesus in the band: Bassist and founder Dave Ellefson is studying to become a pastor. More than 20 years ago, Ellefson shrugged off some of the elements of the rock star lifestyle and reconnected with his faith. He ended up at Shepherd of the Desert Lutheran Church in Scottsdale, where he started a contemporary worship service -- think Old Testament lyrics -- used as a springboard for praise and worship songs soft rock songs. He also started MEGA Life, a music ministry at the church that helps those new to Christianity or those seeking a new church home a dynamic center for developing faith. And don't think the road keeps him from progressing. Though he's currently on the Gigantour, alongside Motörhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil, Ellefson focuses on online studies at Concordia's Specific Ministry Pastor Program, where he takes such classes as "Preaching I & II" and "Scripture and Faith" from his tour bus.

We spoke with Ellefson about the role of heavy metal in religion (and the other way around), Mustaine's "hexing" past, and Alice Cooper as a role model. We didn't get to ask how he felt about the bullshit fact that the band has been nominated for a Grammy 10 times (including this year), and still hasn't brought a golden gramophone home. Maybe next time.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise