David Ellefson ‘Optimistic’ About Dave Mustaine’s Cancer
Megadeth bassist David Ellefson said the band was “optimistic” about frontman Dave Mustaine’s throat cancer diagnosis, and that the illness hadn’t progressed “beyond a point of repair.”
Mustaine said yesterday that, as a result of having begun treatment, the band was canceling all but one of its live commitments, though work on its new album would continue.
Asked about the possibility of throat damage permanently affecting the band’s future, Ellefson told The Classic Metal Show (via Blabbermouth), "At this point, we're optimistic about the treatments. Other cases have shown that … throat cancer is treatable. It's at a place where it's certainly, I don't think, beyond a point of repair. So I think it's good, and that's why I think shutting down right now, at least the touring side of it, is good, because I think if we tried to continue to go out and force Dave to sing and perform, yeah, that may not have such a good outcome.”
Ellefson compared the situation to three years ago, when he broke his foot on tour. “I was going, 'Dave, I'll play the next three shows,'" he recalled. "And he was, 'No. You're going home. We're going home right now.' He goes, 'If that doesn't heal right right now, you can have lifelong problems. So we've gotta shut down and you've gotta go home.' And we did. And I know some fans, obviously, were upset and disappointed, as you would expect. I would be too, if I was a fan in the audience. But it was real, and we had to do it. So I was thinking about that same thing today with Dave, that the best thing we can do for him, certainly as a singer and as a member of our group, but also as a human. … Let's just shut down. Let's take the pressure off of him.”
The bassist said there was a “beautiful” result of the cancer news in that Mustaine, who in the past has been known for being a dominating leader, had “taken the hand off a couple of things” to let his colleagues take some of the strain. “The studio, the house that we have is right next door to Dave's property," he explained.
"Literally, he can drive his little ATV over there; it's that close. So it's easy enough to be able to check in on stuff. And the days when Dave's feeling good, great. If there's days he's not, hey, no worries. The good Lord has set up a pretty workable scenario that it's not like we're in some situation where we're way behind the eight ball on an album or way in debt. … I think we're in a good position now to be able to have this break. And you never know when creativity hits. Sometimes creativity hits in some of your darkest moments.”
He cited the example of their most recent album, 2016's Dystopia. “We’d been through a management change, a lineup change," Ellefson noted. "I mean, we were down to just me and Dave. Everything was completely just in shambles, and out of that, we made a Grammy Award-winning album. Dave's a warrior, he's a fighter, and he's got pretty good sensibilities about when to hit the gas and when to hit the brake. So it's what it needs to be right at this exact time.”
Meanwhile, Mustaine’s daughter Electra tweeted her support for her dad. “I would do and give anything for this man," she wrote. "Dad, I love you so so much. You‘ve taught me what love should look like, taught me reliability, perseverance, commitment .... and mostly, strength. On days when you can’t, I will give you mine.”
Evan Rubinson, CEO of Dean Guitars, said in a statement that "we rally behind Dave and his family at this time of need and offer any and all support. One of our Dean family is dealing with something that is close to home for me, and we wish, with all our hearts, healing for our brother."