It seems Mustaine and Ellefson caught up at NAMM (funny, I saw them both separately at NAMM and thought "Man, if Mustaine sees Ellefson there's gonna be a fight") and it went from there.
Noisecreep: What triggered your decision to ask him to rejoin?
Mustaine: We were at the NAMM show, and Dean [guitars] had a party and asked if I would play, and I never do those things. So I said, "Well, I'll think about it," and then I went home, because I wanted to surprise them by coming back later. But everybody thought I wasn't gonna play, so they all kind of ****ed off. And once I did say, "Oh, yeah, I'm playing," they were scrambling around going, "Oh, my God, what are we gonna do now?" So I kind of shot myself in the foot with that one.
We couldn't find James or [guitarist] Chris [Broderick], and we were trying to find a bass player. James finally showed up, but my guitar tech approached David Ellefson, and he said yeah, he would love to do it. So that really opened the door. And since I had still looked at Dave with respect and appreciation for what he'd done for me and MEGADETH and our fans all around the world, and I still had tremendous respect for his talent, it made the decision pretty easy.
So a couple days ago I asked him to come back. Now, I know a lot of haters are gonna say, "How could [Ellefson] do that?" But anybody that really sees how hard I'm trying to live my life differently right now — and I'm really trying hard — this is just another one of the little things that you get. It's a perk for me to have one of my best friends back.
Noisecreep: Was James Lomenzo getting ready to leave MEGADETH when you asked Ellefson to join?
Mustaine: James had given us several years of faithful quality service in the bass and backup vocal position, and when this presented itself, it was hard to make the decision to tell him that we were going to do what was right for all of us, because I care so much about James. From a business point of view, Dave's my bassist. Always has been, always will be. Everybody that's been in the bass position for me, they've been brothers and I love them for it, but it's Dave's gig.
With James, he's a super-talented guy, he's a wonderful person and I know he's gonna do great at whatever he does next. He's played with some of the greatest players in the world — excluding me. You look at his repertoire with Ozzy and Zakk Wylde, and what he did with David Lee Roth and WHITE LION. Those guys were enormous back in the day. So James has had a very illustrious career, and I don't think by any means the world has seen the last of James. And frankly, if I have any side projects coming up in the future, I want to be able to call up James and say, "You know what, dude? I need killer bass player with a great sense of humor to come do a couple of bass parts for me. Are you game?" And have him not say, "**** you."