first came to national prominence via his first solo outing Dragon's Kiss
in 1988 and as one half of the guitar frontline, along side Jason Becker, in Cacophony. After the group's demise, Friedman went on to join Megadeth
Over the next decade, his stint with the band would garner up sales of over 10 million records and see Friedman
undertake numerous world tours with the band. Not one to remain idle, he also continued to record solo records in and around Megadeth's hectic schedule, often embarking on adventurous musical forays far removed from his work with Megadeth
. In a bold move, he eventually left the legendary Megadeth to pursue new musical goals. He has since continued to enjoy success particularly over in Japan where Friedman now resides full-time these days.
is Friedman's latest solo release and his most aggressive to date that also sees Friedman's shredding roots return to the fore again. In this exclusive interview with UG, Marty Friedman
speaks to Joe Matera
about life and music in Japan, Loudspeaker and of course, Megadeth.
Ultimate-Guitar: Your new album Loudspeaker has just been released in the States, but it was initially released in Japan last year and garnered your very first top 40 entry as a solo artist. So do you finally feel like you've made it as a pop star?
Absolutely! (laughs) I was surprised, completely surprised. But it's all good.
How does living in Japan and working in the music scene there compare to when you were living and working in the U.S?
It's wonderful and the best thing I've ever done. I've been a huge, huge fan of Japanese pop and rock music for a long time and I just can't get enough of it and this is the place for it. I'm so happy to be part of the scene and doing exactly what I want to be doing musically.
You've since worked with techno pop stars, the Philharmonic Orchestra and regularly appear on numerous television shows. How does doing all of these projects impact upon your guitar playing?
|"If I'm doing the exact same thing musically all the time, I don't have the excitement to do any of it that much."|
It's probably the best thing ever for my guitar playing and on the new album Loudspeaker you can tell. I think having outside influences that are not exactly the same in life, can really become a good influence on the music that you make. I find that if I'm doing the exact same thing musically all the time, I don't have the excitement to do any of it that much. I love to play and I love to play everything but when I do other things I mean, I'm born to play heavy metal and rock music, but when I do stuff outside on the edge of that, it really makes me more excited to play aggressive rock music again. And it definitely makes me excited to play music period. During the making of Loudspeaker the majority of that time was spent doing completely unrelated stuff. Like I was playing with full-on Idol pop singers, the Philharmonic Orchestra and doing a lot of television and playing with rock bands. So by the time I was going into the studio to take my breaks and record Loudspeaker, I was like full-on excited to be playing aggressive music rather than go 'oh God, not another heavy metal song!
I really think Loudspeaker sees you coming full circle and going back to your shredding roots, the kind of stuff you were much better known for earlier on in your career?
It is definitely more on the aggressive side. In fact, I would say it's the most aggressive album I've ever put out really. And it came out so naturally and easy too. Hopefully, I've grown somewhat since my first original solo album, but basically Loudspeaker is a collection of everything I've learned over the period of time that I've been playing guitar.
The reason you gave initially about your departure from Megadeth was that you felt you weren't progressing as a musician and got tired of the whole metal scene yet Loudspeaker sees you going back to that same kind of scene?
But I don't look at it as going back. I didn't think Megadeth were aggressive enough! When I left Megadeth, I wanted some contrast, I wanted some stuff that was totally non-aggressive and some stuff that was really friggin' aggressive. It was getting to the point where everything was kind of mid-tempo, old school metal. And there was so much cooler nu metal happening at the time, that I really felt we needed to get modern because this shit that we were doing was not aggressive enough. And our pop stuff was not pop enough. If we're going to do a pop, I'd say 'let's do a proper pop song
' and if we're going to do a metal song, I'd say 'let's do a full-on metal song and make it really metal
'. And that idea didn't really go over too well with the band for whatever reason. They weren't really aware too much of what was going on in the modern rock scene and weren't really adventurous enough for my tastes. And that's all good you know. I think Megadeth are Gods for flying the flag for old-school metal and that's what they're meant to do. I think, God bless them and I hope they continue to prosper forever. But for my time in the band, I'm very happy with the history we have together and very proud of all the music we made together.
Are you in touch with any of the members of Megadeth?
|"I would say it's the most aggressive album I've ever put out really."|
I'm in touch with all of them pretty much but we don't talk like everyday or anything. It's definitely not unusual for any of us to email each other every once and a while.
You're now playing Ibanez guitars instead of Jackson Guitars, why the switch?
I switched over to Ibanez about four years ago. I think Jackson guitars are probably the best guitars in the world for heavy metal music and I really can't dispute that at all. But I think outside of heavy metal, there are many, many better guitars than Jackson. That is, if you want to have a wider palette of flavours and colours. I tried so many different guitars and I basically wanted a guitar that was a good solid instrument, not an extremely, expensive and extravagant instrument, something that I could play that people could afford to buy and something that I'd be happy to play whether it be full-on aggressive stuff as well as more pop kind of music as well. Ibanez was the one that could do it all and I'm very happy with it. I've got a signature model that has been out for two years now that is called the MFM Marty Friedman Model and it's a rad guitar. I've got about four or five of those but they're all basically their sound is identical except that their colours are different. They are what are all over the Loudspeaker album.
What sort of gear did you use on the recording of Loudspeaker?
I used Crate Blue Voodoo amps and Crate cabinets and I used, as I mentioned, a bunch of those different coloured Ibanez guitars. And though I used Boss effects there is not a lot of effects on there. It's pretty straight really. But, when I did use effects I used a lot of the Boss multi-effects units like the Boss GS-10 or the Boss GT-6.
When it comes to the studio do you like to experiment?
I don't like to do any experimenting or any of that stuff. When I show up at the studio, my tech has already got a decent sound up for me and it is pretty much what I go with. I don't like to spend even one minute tweaking tones.
Are the guitar solos on Loudspeaker all improvised or did you work them out in advance?
I say on the album about 80% of the solos were improvised. The good thing about making that record is that it took 13 months so if I didn't like a solo, I could always change it later on down the line.
What sort of frame of mind do you put yourself in when it comes time to lay down your guitar solos?
When I'm writing the songs I try and write parts that when I come to have to improvise over them, I don't have to think about the chords anymore. So by the time I'm playing, I'm not really thinking of anything, I'm just trying to soak myself into the track and just let it come naturally. If it gets too complicated for me like if I have to think, 'okay a F# minor 7th here or whatever' then I don't want to think theoretically. I just want it to come out and hope for the best. Pretty much that is what it is. I don't really need to be inspired at all. All I have to do is get in there and play and it basically comes up there I want it to come out.
Looking back over the early albums you did with Cacophony what are your thoughts on those records today?
|"When I left Megadeth, I wanted some contrast."|
I think they're great but there are things I would have liked to have done differently. But I think, especially at the time, there was really nobody and probably even now, nobody who could touch what we were doing as far as guitar intensity and melody. There are a lot of guys who play really fast and do intricate stuff, but if you listen to that Cacophony stuff, the melody is always the most important thing. Sometimes we were over the top and kind of over playing and there were a hell of a lot of guitar solos, but I'm still proud of it. I have to agree that we were definitely pioneers when it comes to making intense music out of a guitar.
Do you still keep in contact with Jason Becker today?
Yes as a matter of fact I do. He's had Lou Gehrig's Disease for over fifteen years now but you would never know from being in touch with him. He's never down about it and he's always in great spirits. It's really an amazing situation and I'm just happy he has fans around the world. When I do interviews with people around the world I always get asked about Jason and it just makes me very happy because he's certainly deserves recognition.
Finally, if Dave Mustaine came to you today and offered to follow your suggestions, the ones you mentioned to me earlier in this interview, would you consider rejoining?
Absolutely not! There is not even a slightest desire to do it. We have a great history together and I like to leave that intact. I don't see anybody benefiting from that at this point, but I will never, say never. You never know what the future could bring. It definitely was a magic line-up, so who knows. But as for right now, it's not going to happen.
2007 Joe Matera