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In Words: F5

- F5 - Jan. 2009 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

F5 band photo
© F5

F5 - January, 26th 2009

When David Elleson presented his first album with F5 everybody was interested in his new music, but for many it didn't matter, if it was a solo album or a band. Now Jimmy deGrasso joined and so another well known musician joined. But still David is on the focus of most people. The new album The Reckoning is out now and I had some questions to everybody in the band. It's fantastic that everyone of F5 joined in for the interview and it shows they are a band! Thank you, F5!

The Reckoning was released last August in the US. Now about 5 months later it get in stores on Europe. Why the delay?

David Ellefson: Because it is on an independent label here in the USA it took longer than expected to get the release secured for the other territories of the world.

Did you somehow felt more pressure working on The Reckoning?

Steve Conley: yes we had to write about 40% of the record without a drummer because of the departure of our former drummer dave small so there was some pressure to make sure that the songs came out good since we were unable to play and work on them in a rehesal setting before entering the studio.

After Dave Small left the band, Jimmy DeGrasso replaced him. Was he your first choice? Or have you been looking for a new drummer and it just happened to be him?

Steve Conley: Yes, Jimmy was our first choice, I asked Dave to call him as soon as Dave Small departed from the band.

Even if many don't think so, a drummer has a huge influence on the sound of a band. Do you think that Jimmy's style gave the F5 sound a different edge?

John Davis: Absolutely, Jimmy's style lends itself perfectly to the way F5 naturally writes. Not to mention his technical ability pretty much opens you up to do anything you want to do.

Please tell us a bit about the artwork! Who had the idea for it? And who did it?

David Ellefson: An artist by the name of Pride Smith did it. He also does much of out T-shirt artwork now as well. He really gets metal records and how important the artwork is to tell the story of they lyrics and vision of the music.
In the case of The Reckoning it is really about the torment and fighting of good and evil which is in each and every one of us.

Do you think that F5 kind built a bridge between modern and traditional metal as well as between heaviness and melodies? Something I find in Evergrey's Monday Morning Apocalypse too... And at certain parts Dale reminds me a bit of Tom S. Englund...

John Davis: Maybe, in a way. It certainly wasn't on purpose. In F5 we are all influenced from a wide range of rock and metal. I think it all creeps in somewhere.

Do you think its an advantage for F5 to have members who have a wider musical background then 'just' metal?

John Davis: Yes, being well rounded is important to any band. It opens you up to sounds and ideas that may not come about if your focus was one directional. Having said that, if your in a metal band your main influences or reason for playing should probably stem from that style.

If someone hasn't heard F5 before, which song of The Reckoning gives the best idea about the band?

Dale Steele: To me the title track has all the elements of a great F5 song... Strong melody, great riff.

You now started Live with F5, what more can we expect?

David Ellefson: We posted our first segment last week from a special VIP show we did in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a pre-production show we hosted as a warm up for the WNAMM event we just played at Sabian Live in Anaheim, California. There are other video clips in the works now as well, which we will continue to post on as well as

You played with quite different bands so far, e.g. George Lynch and Stained. Do you feel kinda freed from genre limitations with F5?

David Ellefson: Yes, I feel F5 has a broad scope which allows us to play with other genres of music besides just thrash metal. However, F5 is very much a metal band and our desires are to stay within the genre when possible.

Any chance the force of five will tour in 2009? Europe too?

David Ellefson: We are really focusing on that now, especially with such strong response on the new album. We've done shows here in the USA to support the record, but our real focus now is countries outside North America.

If you would get a tour with Megadeth offered, would you go on tour with them? I guess, many fans would be really happy to see you again - and many would expect that you join them on stage for a song or two...

David Ellefson: I'm not sure about that one. I think you are right that the fans would be happy to see me, but I'm not so sure, if that would be the appropriate setting for me to be playing bass without also being the guy onstage playing bass in that band, too.

Dale, Steve & John, most fans won't know much about you. So please tell us a bit about the way you started playing? The bands you were in...

Dale Steel: I have been singing every since I can remember...I cut my teeth in the Minneapolis and Los Angeles band G.I.V.E. I also had a brief stint in the Atlanta-based band Sickspeed (with Rich Ward of Stuck Mojo).

Is it somehow strange for you to be in the shadow of Dave, coz he's F5 for most metal fans?

Dale Steel: I think, it is to be expected for people to view it that way considering he was in Megadeth and he's the guy everyone can identify with.

Jimmy, does F5 is your new musical home? Or just another stop?

Jimmy Degrasso: I would like to do it as long as possible depending on my schedule.

Last year you helped out Alice Cooper and played a couple of shows with him. How was it to be back playing with the master of horror?

Jimmy Degrasso: Alice and I have been friends for about 20 years now so it was very easy and I had a very enjoyable time. I just did a few more shows with him recently so it's always fun to go back and play gigs with him. I really like the rest of the band as well.

You are still working as a session drummer... How important is it to play different genres?

Jimmy Degrasso: I do sessions some times as well as live work and clinics. The more styles of music you are versed in the more well rounded your playing is. The ability to play many different styles is what keeps today's top musicians working.

Last fall you did a drum clinic tour and in the past you played Modern Drummer Festival and Ultinmate Drummers Weekend. Do you like doing that kind of stuff? Or is it part of the business?

Jimmy Degrasso: At first I found them somewhat nerve racking, but now I have done so many, that I really enjoy them. It's fun to meet todays new drummers.

The music scene changed dramatically since the days you started... I think its harder these days, even if recording a demo and promotion via internet makes things easier. What do you think it the key to make it these days?

Jimmy Degrasso: It certainly has. It keeps everything in the proper perspective and I don't sweat the small stuff anymore. I really appreciate the fact that I get to play music for a living. I also don't have any time for people with a lot of drama surrounding them.

Dave, with Hail! you will play some shows in Chile. What can metal fans expect from Hail!?

David Ellefson: It is really a new concept to have players from several eras and genres of metal and offer a sort of 'greatest hits' concert, along with some of the classic songs we all grew up with that inspired us, too. The shows we have played so far have been fantastic and I think the thing that makes it cool is that it really is appreciated by the fans in countries and cities that don’t get a lot of tours in their towns. Some cities become jaded, because they see everything, but others are still very excited when something like this comes to their town. Personally, I love to travel to foreign lands and to play songs with musicians of other genres is exciting and good for your morale.
From what I've seen so far, its really a cool way for us to give back to the fans and do it in a small setting so we can be up close and personal, do meet n greets to sign autographs so the fans really feel like it was a personal experience in addition to the music.

And enlighten us about your participation in Northern Light Orchestra!?

David Ellefson: Yes, I was asked by my drummer friend Ken Mary to be involved with it. I met Ken back in 1986 on the Alice Cooper Constrictor tour, where he was the drummer. He now lives by me in Arizona and has become primarily a Christian music producer and even runs a Christian record label for EMI. I played bass on a handful of songs for the record and there are a bunch of really good hard rock / metal players and singers on it as well. I haven’t heard the final product yet, but I’m assuming it will be cool.

It seems to me that these days you have more freedom to work with other bands and musicians. Is that something you would have like to do in the past, but couldn't?

David Ellefson: In the past I really had no strong desire to step out and do other musical projects. I did some writing and producing but probably writing my book Making Music Your Business was a sort of side project that was really unique, especially for a musician to do such a thing.
At this point in my life I do enjoy working with many other artists and musicians. In 2002 I was a bit scared to step out and do this but as time has gone on I find that I'm really quite good at it. It requires certain 'people skill's' as well as the musical flexibility to play with many people. I think being cool to people and being well rounded as a musician and person really helps you be able to work with many other musicians more easily.

You started your own business Ellefson Music Productions and I guess you are now benefit from this business experience... As far as I know this somehow even led to the founding of F5 as Dave Small hooked you up with Steve for a different reason, is that right?

David Ellefson: Yes, that is correct. Those producing sessions did lead to the formation of F5. What I found in 2003 was that after a year of producing and writing I really enjoyed being in a band with a bass in my hand much more than being a full time producer. I think for me all of my experiences combined with playing, writing, management, producing, touring, etc. have shaped me well to have not only my own band like F5 but also to step into many other situations and really bring something positive to better each of those groups.

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? That this was meant to be?

David Ellefson: Yes, actually I do. I think my move to California in 1983 at age 18 was destiny. To have spent my teen years honing my music chops, then to meet Dave Mustaine after his Metallica departure looks like a destiny to me.
I've come to believe that sometimes we are in people's lives for a certain period of time for certain reasons then life moves us on to new situations with new people. I've learned to flow with that now and not fight the natural rhythms of life.

The music scene changed dramatically since the days you started... I think its harder these days, even if recording a demo and promotion via internet makes things easier. What do you think it the key to make it these days?

David Ellefson: On the one hand it is easier to self promote and market yourself and your music with things like Myspace and YouTube, but that also has diminished the value of music and content at the same time. Sometimes you have to now work much harder for a smaller return.

You got back to college and completed your studies. When you left home at age 18 to play in a band, did you ever thought you will get back to 'school' one day?

David Ellefson: I had no plans to go to college. I thought 'why should I do that? All I want to do is play music and I'm already doing that!' But after accomplishing so much with my music I started to desire to develop other parts of my life and even how I think about the world. I'm lucky, because I've spent most of my life since I was age 18 traveling the world playing music and those travels became very educational for me to see how cultures, business and life itself really work. I'm glad I had the real life experiences first and then did college later.

Does being a father changed your point of view about your 'job'? About life? And do you find it difficult to live so different lifes?

David Ellefson: Yes, in some ways it makes being on the road a bit more difficult and even influences your decisions on certain types of work, because you tend to view things a bit more through adult eyes of the rewards of your work. However, for me I try to stay a fan of music first so my passion is always alive for it. Sometimes the rewards in this business are not so much about money as they are the reward of doing a job well and having so many people appreciate that. That is something that as a father I try to instill in my kids, to try many things until you find your passion and from there go pursue those passions.

Somewhere I read that you see yourself as an artist who is also a Christian. Does your believes influence you nowadays more then in the past?

David Ellefson: Like most people in this world, I was raised in household where we had standard religious practices on Sunday... nothing fanatical, just church, etc. As an adult I've somewhat carried on those traditions with my family and kids.
For my music I don't think it has so much to do with influence in my musical tastes as it does in helping me avoid gettingg involved in things that don't fit my beliefs as a person.

Last, but not least... What else can we expect from you and from F5 in 2009!

Dale Steele: As far as F5 goes a lot more live playing. Taking F5 to the next level is always a main focus. Personally I am always trying to better my skills as a musician, which will continue, hopefully to make the writing in F5 ever more insane.

Thanks to everybody for spending time to answer my questions and I'm now even more curious to see F5 live! It really is band and it's good to know that there are plans to play not just North America, so chances are good to catch them on the road! I'm really looking forward and hope to get then a chance for a little chit-chat... And to learn more about F5!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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