David Ellefson and Frank Bello are both legends in their own right. As the bassists of iconic Big 4 Metal powerhouses Megadeth and Anthrax, respectively, it’s safe to to assume, musicially, they have nothing to prove. Regardless, on GET IT OUT, the upcoming debut LP from Altitudes and Attitudes, their modern Rock side project, born from tandem bass clinics for amp manufacturer HARTKE, Frank and David show a side most fans have never seen, pummeling melodic Hard Rock, steeped in the classic progressive 70’s radio rock, Cheap Trick, KISS, etc, that they grew up on.
While Frank’s position as one of the writers in Anthrax is instantly apparent, GET IT OUT in stores January 18th, takes the listener on a totally different trip, straight into the mind and heart of vocalist/guitarist Bello, one of Heavy Metal’s unsung heroes, and hits like an emotional jackhammer on tracks like, “Out Here”, “Part of Me”, and “Late” which features KISS guitarist Ace Frehley. Produced by Jay Ruston (Stone Sour), with drummer Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle), and guests including Stone Sour guitarist Christian Martucci, and Alice Cooper shredder Nita Strauss.
A+A will play some warmup shows in the US in January, before heading out on ShipRocked Cruise, and over to Europe to support Slash and Myles Kennedy.
Thom Hazaert sat down with Ellefson and Bello to discuss all things A&A.
Thom: Tell me about A+A and how it came to be.
Ellefson: Frank and I had done some clinics together for our amp manufacturer Hartke, and we talked about writing some songs so we’d have something to play at the clinics. Eventually it turned into a full project, and we released our first 3 song EP on Megaforce Records in 2014, did That Metal Show, it totally took on a life of its own.
Bello: We thought it was just gonna be jamming some background stuff when we were playing our clinics, and lo and behold, it became real songs, with choruses, and catchy stuff, it just turned out that way. I’m really glad it did because it was just, organic, and it just really worked. It was easy, it was fun, everything you want in a writing environment. And thankfully when people started hearing the songs, they really liked them.
Then we got Jay Ruston on board, who was another bass player, and that’s when it really took off, as far as us “going for it”. Thankfully, from the start, the stuff we’ve laid out so far, with not only the EP, but now “Out Here” coming out, as you know, there’s been such great feedback on it. It’s exciting to see where it goes next.
Ellefson: Jay is an amazing producer, and got in with me and Frank, and Jeff (Friedl) and really helped take the songs to the next level. He was like the 5th Beatle, and it really all just started coming together, and became this great cohesive record. Frank is an amazing singer, and his lyrics are extremely powerful, and that really comes across in these songs.
Thom: The album GET IT OUT comes out in January, on Megaforce in North America and Europe, and on EMP/Universal in Japan, and you guys announced some big touring, including some dates that just got announced with Slash. How’d that come about?
Ellefson: I played Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding with Slash, and gave him a CD of the EP,
and he really liked it, and it just built from there. Eventually we saw they were touring in Europe, and we just really got our people to throw our hat in the ring, so to speak.
Bello: I remember looking and reading who was touring and stuff like that, we were going to do some European dates, and I saw that Slash was touring at the same time. So I texted David, and I said we should try to hook something up. Coincidentally, David had played with Slash last year and given him the EP, and talked to him about it a little. So Slash listened to it, and really liked the stuff, and management asked for the new stuff we had from Get It Out, and next thing you know, we’re being asked to play shows with Slash and Myles Kennedy in Europe.
Thom: I saw you both were being inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History at NAMM, so I assume you’re going to be making an appearance? How do you guys manage with your crazy schedules in Anthrax and Megadeth?
Ellefson: Yes, it’s a huge honor to be inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History! I actually inducted Nick Menza last year, and they were talking about inducting me this year, and then we got the call it was gonna happen. And then they were asking about inducting Frank too, so it all worked out. But we’re actually only going to be at NAMM for one day, then we have to fly to Texas for ShipRocked. The A&A record really just kinda happened organically and somehow just worked out in between our Megadeth and Anthrax schedules. We’d have a little bit of downtime, head in and get it done. Now it’s getting a little trickier as both Anthrax and Megadeth are in various stages of work on a new album.
Bello: I have a writing session with Anthrax the second week of January, then Dave and I fly in, we actually have a day of signings for EMG, and some of our sponsors at NAMM, and then we’re flying straight out to do ShipRocked, which is insane. We come home after ShipRocked, I can see my family, hopefully say hello for a few days, and then immediately we start the Altitudes and Attitude tour in Europe and the UK.
Thom: A&A, the two of you, are on the cover of the latest issue of BASS PLAYER, and the singles have started blowing up at radio, it seems the record has been really well received so far.
Ellefson: Yes, our friend Joel McIver, who actually co-wrote my first book MY LIFE WITH DETH, is the editor of Bass Player, and has always been amazingly supportive of the project. It’s another huge honor to be on the cover, and so cool that we’re on there together. But it also says MEGADETH and ANTHRAX, which I think says it all. We’re both Team Megadeth and Anthrax, but it’s great to have these other avenues artistically to be able to do things we can’t necessarily do in our main bands.
Thom: It’s a really emotional record Frank, lyrically, with some pretty heavy, personal themes. Where does all of that come from?
Bello: It’s just therapy. It’s therapeutic, but really it’s about a lot of abandonment issues I’ve always had in my life, and talking through that. I find with this stuff, Get it Out, that’s the name of the record, but being able to get this out, and into songs, it’s very cathartic. It’s a release. And I find it helps just in day to day life. There’s a lot more to these songs than just Rock songs. A lot of deep-rooted stuff going on. Even Dave, Dave’s got some great big issues that we touched on. And I find that very freeing.
And look, at the end of the day, the way I look at songs, I’m a fan of music, I’ve always liked the songs that like, made me feel better about things. If I can write one word, or one line, that can help someone in their life move on to the next day and feel better about things. That’s the best thing you can possibly do. As a singer-songwriter, anything. I just wanna make people feel better about things. And this makes me feel better, so hopefully that carries on.