As leading providers of creative industries education, learning by doing is at the core of ACM’s ethos. ACM was therefore thrilled to offer its Guildford students a masterclass with real-world professional and bass master, David Ellefson of metal giants Megadeth.

Consisting of performances, industry tips and his personal journey through the music business, students, Kosta Kolarov and Martin Kirilov of ACM band BLOODRUSH even had the opportunity to perform alongside the bass legend. David said: “I like to come here to learn too quite honestly when I do these. There’s just an unbelievable amount of things that they ask, and random things, and it’s good for me because it keeps my chops up and keeps my game up as well coming to a school like this.”

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Presented by ACM’s Director of Creative Industry Development and the guitarist in Skunk Anansie, Ace, the class kicked off with an introduction to his career. Talking about the early days of Megadeth, David spoke about how they rehearsed a lot as a band, and how it was the first time that punk rock and metal had joined together. When discussing musical inspiration, David sited Steve Harris of Iron Maiden as a hero of his, but mentioned he also got really into Jazz music as “Jazz is where really good bass players are.”

After a fantastic introduction, students were blown away by David’s first performance of the masterclass, ‘Holy Wars’. Ace then went on to discuss the setup of a Megadeth live show. David explained that their entire show is done to a click to ensure sync when shooting live videos. Speaking about timing, David noted how much he admires musicians that can really get in the pocket. Speaking about his own instrument the bass, David said how it was the glue and how the guitar and drums are the foundation of a metal band.

The class then moved on to the subject of songwriting. Revealing that Dave Mustaine was the chief writer in the band, David spoke about how ‘Countdown to Extinction’ and ‘Euthanasia’ were records which had a more collaborative approach. David urged students to think about the instruments that they were writing for as even a different guitar brand can have a whole new sound on the same part.

On the topic of touring, David warned that jetlag can really catch up with you. To combat this, he goes to the gym, has lots of naps and always takes a shower before a show. When prepping for a performance, David told students that he likes to do vocal warm-ups in the hotel and explained that the band always run the riff from ‘My Darkest Hour’ to sound check with drums first and then they add the bass.

Ace then made way for an open Q&A ahead of a final performance with BLOODRUSH and David. After delivering a killer performance, David then invited another student up for an impromptu performance of ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath. After the class, David made sure to stay back and speak to the students, ensuring every question was answered.

The students left inspired and eager to put what they’d learnt into practice within their own careers.

If you want to learn from industry professionals that live and breathe the creative industries every single day, learn more about our music courses at an ACM Open Day now.

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