In a new interview with the YouTube channel of Brazilian music journalist Igor Miranda, acclaimed hard rock singer Jeff Scott Soto was asked if he thinks Dave Mustaine “overreacted” when he fired David Ellefson from MEGADETH in May 2021, just days after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist were posted on Twitter. Soto, who is involved with Ellefson in a project called ELLEFSON-SOTO, responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “My personal opinion… I don’t like to get into replying for somebody else in those kinds of things, because there’s so many sites out there that will watch what we’re talking about here and make a headline out of it. My personal opinion is I think there was already trouble in the water, I think there was already something happening, and maybe he was looking for a reason or an excuse to end it. And that’s just my own personal feeling. But without getting too into it, because I don’t wanna be in the headlines: ‘Jeff Scott Soto blasts Dave Mustaine.’ I don’t wany any of that shit in my life; it’s not necessary. So I’m gonna leave it at I think there was already something for years that was… he was looking for a reason to move on and use that one. That’s pretty much it. I think anyway; that’s what I’m assuming.”
Shortly before Ellefson was fired from MEGADETH, he released a statement on Instagram denying all social media chatter that he “groomed” an underage fan. He also filed a report with the police department in Scottsdale, Arizona alleging unlawful distribution of sexually explicit images of him by unknown offenders. In the report, Ellefson admitted that he had been exchanging sexual text messages with a Dutch teenager, who captured a video of several of their virtual “masturbating encounters” without his consent and shared them with friends. (According to Ellefson, the woman was 19 at the time of their first virtual sexual encounter.) Ellefson, who lives in Scottsdale, first became aware of the video on May 9, 2021, when the claim “David Ellefson of MEGADETH is a pedophile” appeared on Instagram. Ellefson told police he was notified on May 14 by MEGADETH that the band would be parting ways with him. Three days later, he was fired.
In October 2021, Ellefson spoke to SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” about the circumstances that led to his exit from MEGADETH. He said: “I ran toward the bullets and dealt with it right away. The night [the messages and video were leaked online], a couple of people said, ‘Hey, don’t say anything.’ In particular, the MEGADETH camp didn’t want me to say anything. But my legal [advisers] said, ‘Hey, I think you should say something. I think some people have done some really shitty things here and made some false allegations about you, and you have every right to defend yourself.’ And I did. Ultimately, that led to my dismissal from MEGADETH. But I have every right, as anyone does, to defend yourself, especially when somebody is making false allegations about you like that. So I dealt with it that night, and quite honestly, that was it — it was over, and it was really kind of done. But then, as the MEGADETH camp in particular jumped in and had addressed it — and not that they shouldn’t, but they did. That pretty quickly led to them making the decision to part ways with me and to move away from it.
“We had originally talked about doing a joint statement of sorts, and, of course, that was not what happened,” David continued. “So I was disappointed in probably the way it went down.
“Ironically, things are fine between [me and MEGADETH]. We parted ways, and they took their road. And there’s not ill will between us, believe it or not. And I think any fights and those things, that was 20 years go — lawsuits and all that crap.
“Look, they moved forward [with ‘The Metal Tour Of The Year’],” Ellefson added. “I wished them well in my [original] statement to them, and I mean it. It’s a group I helped form almost 40 years coming up here for the band. And the songs that are on the radio that I see come up are songs that I had a participation in, and we built a big legacy. I still consider them family, and my DNA is all over that. I don’t think you build something of that size together and then suddenly you’re just out and that’s it.”
Ellefson also talked about the statement Mustaine — who formed MEGADETH with Ellefson in 1983 — released on May 24, 2021 announcing the bassist’s departure from the band. In the statement, Dave said: “We do not take this decision lightly. While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward.” Asked if he was aware of any tension between him and Mustaine and whether he “felt like the ice was getting ready to break again,” Ellefson said: “I did not. I think one of the things — and this probably started 20 years ago, when MEGADETH was disbanded in 2002 and then put back together in 2004, it was very clear in 2004 that it was gonna be reframed around Dave unilaterally, one hundred percent being the boss and running the show. Gone were the days of the partnership, the ’90s, where it was me, Nick [Menza], Marty [Friedman], Dave — kind of ‘the four horsemen ride again’ kind of mentality… That day was done; it was not gonna be that anymore. And that’s where we fell apart in 2004 and I wasn’t with the group through those years. Coming back to it in 2010, now we’re a few years older, [with] a little more maturity in the situation, realizing that we’re better together, that even though it’s not, on paper, a partnership, there’s a kind of visual partnership — the optics of it are kind of, like, ‘Yeah, this looks better as MEGADETH with me and Dave together. We’re one of those bands that, although Dave is the quarterback and the quarterback still plays, the overall feeling and likability and I think everything about it just feels better when it’s Dave and Dave together, because we’ve been together from the beginning for so many years. And I think that worked really well for the last decade. At the same time, Dave and I are grown men, and we have opinions. It’s not the thing where it’s just Dave and three side guys when it’s me and the band. And apparently, they didn’t want that anymore — they wanted it to not be that. And I can’t speak for them, ’cause I don’t know. I’m not trying to put words in anybody’s mouth about that. But it just seemed like ‘there’s just too much history here, and let’s just part ways now and let MEGADETH move forward on a new day with kind of a new marching order.’ So rather than fight it, which is what happened 20 years ago, ’cause we were dissolving a partnership at that point, we’re not dissolving a partnership [this time]. It’s, like, ‘Hey, we don’t want you here. There’s the door. Don’t come to work on Monday.’ So, it’s, like, ‘Okay. Fine.’ And that’s just how I viewed it, and that’s how I view it today. I don’t have any sour grapes over it, and I’m not bitter about it.”
Two days after Mustaine announced Ellefson‘s latest departure from MEGADETH, the bassist released a follow-up statement in which he vowed to file a “defamation lawsuit” against the person who “illegally posted a very private video” of the bassist and made “false allegations” against him. He also said he was working with the police in Scottsdale “in their investigation into charges regarding revenge pornography to be filed against the person who posted the video. This person will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Ellefson wrote. He went on to say that he was “taking this time to be with my family” and wished his “bandmates” the best with their tour.
Ellefson was in MEGADETH from the band’s inception in 1983 to 2002, and again from 2010 until his latest exit.
ELLEFSON-SOTO released a full-length album, “Vacation In The Underworld”, in October 2022 via Rat Pak Records. Ellefson and Soto are joined in the project by Andy Martongelli on guitar and keyboards and Paulo Caridi on drums.