Megadeth bandleader Dave Mustaine said he's willing to forgive the heavy metal act's former bass player, David Ellefson. But he's unwilling to play music with him again.

That's how Mustaine laid it out to Metal Hammer in a candid interview on Friday (June 24).

Megadeth's new single, "We'll Be Back," arrived the day before. The band's 16th studio albumThe Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! comes out in September. Last year, Ellefson was let go from the group amid a sex scandal. Bassist James LoMenzo replaced him last monthTestament's Steve Di Giorgio stepped in to record bass on the album.

"I have made mistakes myself and so I know what it feels like to have people gunning for you," Mustaine tells Metal Hammer. "But what we had to remember is that Megadeth has a lot of moving parts to it. …  I've made decisions in the past that were detrimental to the security of the band, and I know what harm that caused."

He adds, "But I don't want to be saying anything about anyone who is unable to defend themselves."

Still, the Megadeth singer-guitarist continues, "Let me just say this — it was a hard decision that had to be made. There were a lot of people involved and I had to make a decision, because unfortunately, when you're the leader, you're the one that has to suck it up and face the music. All I wanted to do was make a clean break, and not hurt anyone, not hurt the fans and not hurt him. I just wanted to move on, and I hope the gentleman concerned is doing okay. I imagine there was some adjustment that had to take place when it happened."

Recalling the fallout of Megadeth's two-year breakup from 2002 and Ellefson's subsequent $18.5 million lawsuit in 2004, Mustaine says, "I've forgiven him before when he sued me and I'lll forgive him a thousand times. I just won't play music with him anymore."

Mustaine also spoke of the decision's difficulty to Rolling Stone this week, saying, "It was hard on me letting him go. And I'm happier now than I’ve ever been."

Last year, Ellefson returned in The Lucid — a band featuring Sponge singer Vinnie Dombroski and Fear Factory drummer Mike Heller — with the singles "Damned" and "Maggot Wind." Meanwhile, Megadeth's "We'll Be Back" marks the Mustaine-led band's studio debut of drummer Dirk Verbeuren, who joined in 2016 but had yet to contribute on LP.

The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! arrives on Sept. 2. This summer, Megadeth will head out on tour with Five Finger Death Punch for a slew of shows in North America. Get concert tickets here.

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