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Exclusive: MEGADETH's Dave Ellefson Talks About The Benefit Concert For The Boot Campaign

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 @ 7:53 AM

Dave Ellefson and All-Star Line-Up Unites to Benefit the Boot Campaign at the Legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, CA on April 24, 2013

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MEGADETH's Dave Ellefson is one of several musicians who have contributed to the soundtrack for Battlefield of the Mind, a powerful documentary based on the devastating effect Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has had on Armed Services veterans in the United States. The musicians who collaborated on the soundtrack will be performing a benefit concert at the Whisky a Go Go on April 24th, with proceeds going to the Boot Campaign (www.bootcampaign.com) in support of veterans. Performing at the Whisky concert along with Ellefson are Troy McLawhorn (EVANESCENCE), Sal G (STAIND), Pete Murray (LO-PRO), Neil Godfrey (LO-PRO). EYE EMPIRE, a band featuring members of STUCK MOJO, SWITCHED, TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION, and SUBMERSED, will be headlining.

Written and produced by renowned photographer/videographer Fran Strine and co-produced by Aaron Lewis (STAIND), Battlefield of the Mind identifies the problems veterans suffer in very graphic terms, and more importantly, points to practical solutions. Ellefson, who narrates the documentary, movingly shares his passion for the project:

"Initially the project had a different title, Shame on America. It could be a little harsh, given the topic. It was sort of a call to action of 'America, wake up. Let's not leave warriors who were on the frontline. Let's not forget about them once they come home.' So I think that was the thrust of it."

"When Fran was making the movie--and he and I have been friends for many years--he said he was basically tripping over homeless guys in San Francisco when he relocated up there a couple years ago. He started asking them what was going on he realized a lot of these were homeless veterans, they were suffering from PTSD, and so that's why he started to do the film. He called me right away and said, 'Look, I'd love to have you narrate it.' I said, 'Man, I'm in, because you're my buddy and this sounds like a great cause.' Things started to develop and he asked me if I'd play bass on a couple of tracks for him, which I did. And that was really how the whole thing happened; musicians who worked on the soundtrack--everybody just really pitched in."

"Over the years with MEGADETH, we have a lot of fans who serve in the Armed Forces all around the world, not just the United States--from a lot of different countries. You're putting everything on the line. You know, when you're constantly on the move and you're out there, you kind of lose your land legs. I can't even imagine. You take that lifestyle times a hundred when you're on enemy lines and you've literally put your life on the line for your country back home. And then to come home and maybe not get the glory and have suffered through the things you seen, watching friends be wounded and be killed in action and to come home--I don't think there's anybody that can really fully understand what that is, unless we served in the Armed Forces ourselves. So I think, first and foremost, to come home and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and to go anywhere possible to try to get the aid for it, certainly as America we need to do whatever we can for them. And I think that's what this film brings to light, is it is a call to action. It isn't just, 'Oh, let's bring a subject to light and feel sorry for 'em.' Let's step up and do something. And I think that's the first step in anything is to look at: Number one: there's a problem. Two: bring awareness to it. Three: what's the solution?"

"The fact that we're on the phone like this and you get to have your job and I get to have my job as a musician, and we can talk about it with open airwaves and the Internet and all these freedoms that we have--someone paid that forward to us. At some point. Those freedoms need to continually be defended. With MEGADETH, we do a lot of stuff with meet and greets, where we'll meet wounded warriors from various organizations and boy, I tell you what, it really puts an impact--here are young people who have stepped up first, very young in their life, at the time when I was moving to California to go pursue a dream of being a musician. These men and women are being deployed to the front lines. A lot of them, if they don't lose their lives, they come back severely injured, handicapped, really, for the rest of their lives. To try to start a life over in your early twenties, at a time when most of us are getting going with careers or graduating college, we've got the whole world ahead of us. And these young men and women have essentially given everything already, and now they start their whole life all over again, with those kind of handicaps. That has really made a huge impression on me, as I've seen that happen. My hope is that this film, Battlefield of the Mind, it'll be something that really speaks to our generation, and because of the people involved with some good tunes on the soundtrack, it's something that speaks well to the rock and roll community. Because it's not something that we're normally faced with as we're all having a good time with rock and roll music, so my hope is that rock and roll has hopefully paid one forward on this issue of people. Rock and roll bands, if they're so inspired and they're so inclined, they can step up and do something with it, especially with the Boot Campaign and the various people that are involved in the film. It's one thing to make a movie that tells a sad story, but I think the good thing about the film is that it tells that story but it also points toward solutions. And it gives the viewer some very clear directions on things that they can do to try to help and move forward."

"If you go to chill.com you can purchase the movie there. I know Fran had submitted it to take it up to some film festivals and do some other things with it to help give it a bigger awareness. It's a documentary-type film, and there's not only warriors in the film who are telling their story. I found that the mothers who have lost their sons in action, they're the ones who have really stepped up with the cause, and it's so inspiring to see these mothers, who, this is now their new life's mission. I guess, fortunately, through even though some lost their lives, there are people who are taking that and using that for so much good. There's an incredible amount of good will that portrayed in the film. I think that, just as much as anything, is why people should check it out and watch it."

The event will open at 7:00pm with filmmaker and participant interaction, exclusive look at the documentary, and Q&A. At 8:30pm the doors will re-open for the all-star jam and performance from EYE EMPIRE.

Tickets are $20 for full access, $15 for performance only.

To purchase tickets and RSVP visit: http://battlefieldofthemindlive.eventbrite.com/
VIP tickets (which include early access to soundcheck) are made available at www.chill.com/botm.

The Boot Campaign helps you show your appreciation for American troops, raise awareness of the challenges they face when they return home, and raises money to support their transition home. Learn more at: http://www.bootcampaign.com/

Dave Ellefson Photo Courtesy Of Charlie Steffens

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