MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson says that the band's previously announced North American tour with LAMB OF GOD, TRIVIUM and IN FLAMES is still scheduled to take place this summer.
As of right now, the 55-date trek is slated to be split into two legs. The first leg of the tour kicks off June 12 at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia, and wraps August 1 at the Concord Pavilion in Concord, California. The second run launches October 2 at iTHINK Financial Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Florida, and goes through November 13 at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada.
Speaking to SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation" on Friday (April 3), Ellefson said that he has not yet been informed of any plans to cancel the trek as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the globe.
"Right now, the MEGADETH-LAMB OF GOD tour, scheduled to start in June/July, and then the second leg in October/November, currently it's in motion, as planned," he said. "But I think every day, it's something different. And I think weekly you have to be prepared to change your strategy and make some contingencies. Especially for the concert business. As if the record business didn't take a big enough hit over the recent years, now the one source of bread and butter for not just artists, but crew and staff, venues and promoters. Who knows? That could be six months, 12 months — who knows what the state of this is? So we just take it a day at a time."
According to Ellefson, whether or not to postpone or cancel the tour is "not entirely" MEGADETH's decision. "The promoters, the venues, the buildings — we're at the beck and call of that," he said. "Look, I have a solo tour that I was gonna do with [former MEGADETH guitarist] Chris Poland in Australia and Japan in May. And we got word from the promoter last week that Australia is not issuing any work visas until at least June 14th, so that immediately means a reschedule of that, so we're pushing that back probably into 2021. Same, of course, with Japan. So I watched my whole May go away — something that I was just gonna do personally."
Ellefson went on to say that the coronavirus crisis has even affected MEGADETH's plans to work on the follow-up to 2016's "Dystopia" album.
"We had a nice little 10-day window for me and Dirk [Verbeuren, drums] and Dave [Mustaine, guitar/vocals] to be [in Nashville in late March] and to be working and tracking," he said. "And the other thing was Kiko [Loureiro, guitar] being up in Finland with his family. Finnair has shut down all flights… So Kiko couldn't get to Nashville to record a MEGADETH album if we wanted him to. He is literally landlocked over there. So, these are some real realities of even just getting together to make a record right now."
As a result of the delay in the recording process for MEGADETH's new album, Ellefson said that he expects some of the ideas for the disc to be revisited before they are officially put down on tape.
"Dave and I always had a thing, and this was back in the '80s: 'Nothing is final until it's vinyl.' Meaning, until it's pressed into vinyl," he explained. "Vinyl or a cassette, I guess, or 8-track back in the day. It's not final until it comes out. So everything is subject to change. Even through the recording process, things change. And, of course, with digital editing, we can have even more luxury of that.
David said that the reason MEGADETH booked late March as the start date for the new album is that he and his bandmates "work best when we've got deadlines and we've got our backs against the wall — we just do.
"I remember when we were making the 'Youthanasia' record [in 1994]," he continued. "And [producer] Max Norman… We were out here in Phoenix — the whole band had relocated out here to make the record. Max had built the studio, and one day he told me, he goes, in his British accent, 'Man, we've gotta get this record done. We're running out of money and we're running out of time.' And I said, 'What is the budget? What is the schedule?' And he goes, 'As much money as you have, it gets spent. And as much time as you have, you use it.' And I was, like, 'Fair enough.' And I think there is a real lesson from that. You keep kicking it down the road until there's a dealine. And that was one of the reasons we wanted to deadline — 'Okay, now it's time to get going.' And, of course, look, we had some plans and strategies about dropping singles around the tour coming up this year, and, of course, all of that changes. You figure everybody at Universal Music, our record company, they're all probably working from home. Even the studios in Nashville, to what degree they're mandating employees to work from home and not even be in the studio… The whole industry, everything just locked down. So, again, even if we wanted to go record some music, it just may not be available to us."
Mustaine spent most of 2019 receiving treatment for throat cancer with which he was diagnosed last May.
The early sessions for MEGADETH's upcoming 16th studio album took place last year in Franklin, Tennessee with co-producer Chris Rakestraw, who previously worked on "Dystopia".
MEGADETH's next LP will be the first to feature drummer Verbeuren, who joined the band almost four years ago.