Marty Friedman: 'I Didn't Think Megadeth Were Aggressive Enough!'

Marty Friedman speaks about life and music in Japan, his latestalbum Loudspeaker and of course, Megadeth.

Marty Friedman: 'I Didn't Think Megadeth Were Aggressive Enough!'
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Marty Friedman 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 in 1990. 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. Loudspeaker 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? Marty Friedman: 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.
"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."
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? 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.
"I would say it's the most aggressive album I've ever put out really."
Are you in touch with any of the members of Megadeth? 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.
"When I left Megadeth, I wanted some contrast."
Looking back over the early albums you did with Cacophony what are your thoughts on those records today? 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

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    fluffylump2
    I can't believe he thinks Megadeth isn't aggressive. I also don't see how he could want Megadeth to follow every trend that flies by and calls them boring for staying true to their sound. Plus, Megadeth has definitely progressed from album to album, from the mid-late eighties up until now. This guy's guitar playing is incredible, but I don't like how he talks about Megadeth.
    breadfan82
    I didnt think Megadeth were aggressive enough!
    Um, I'm pretty sure that isn't the problem there, Marty. Megadeth is extremely aggressive and confrontational. All you have to say is "I left the band because I didn't want to play metal anymore," or "I didn't agree with the direction it was going".
    Blackened89
    A lot of you are are misreading what Marty said. When he said Megadeth weren't aggressive, he's talking about the Risk era when he quit the band. Risk was a decent album, but nowhere near their best. It was a bad time for Megadeth, and they've finally got out of the hole that album put them in. Dave was obsessed with getting a number one album, and having bigger commercial success than Metallica. That's why the fast tempos from Rust in Peace slowed down till Risk. Dave was trying to get a more commercial sound on each album. Countdown, Youthansia, and Cryptic Writings still had the Megadeth sound, but were different at the same time. Risk was just a complete departure, which is why it was a failure. Marty said it perfectly when he said it wasn't aggressive or poppy enough to be a success. Obviously, Rust In Peace is aggressive and nowhere in the article did he deny that. Marty's a good guy, and the best guitarist Megadeth ever had. I've liked what I've heard from Loudspeaker, and I also like the new Megadeth songs so things turned pretty well for both camps.
    Oxendoobie
    Marty Friedman: 'I Didn't Think Megadeth Were Aggressive Enough!' Is that proper english?
    Killswitch666
    A lot of you guys are saying Becker was better than Friedman.. What a lot of everyone around here is missing though, is that Jason Becker said it himself, that nearly half the things he's learned on guitar, he learned from Marty. He also says that Marty is a much better guitarist than himself. I've always been a -huge- fan of Marty.. But out of both of these guitarists, Dave Mustaine from Megadeth.. #1 in my book. He does so much for the fans. And he makes the -most- agressive riffs I've heard. And I'onno who said it, but someone said it's not like they can't go on without Marty, and that's a true fact.. Glen Drover is by far the best of the past Megadeth guitarists. I'd put Glen up against guys like Jeff Loomis, and John Petrucci, and Alexi Laiho. But still, in my book, Marty's a god and always will be.
    last_biscuit
    Oxendoobie wrote: Marty Friedman: 'I Didn't Think Megadeth Were Aggressive Enough!' Is that proper english?
    ERm...yeah
    jack_132
    Ahhh, you fools. When he speaks of them not being agressive enough, he means that when they set out to do a "completely metal" song, it wasn't metal enough. And when they went to do a "pop song" it wasn't pop enough. He's just saying that they didn't go to extremes, and he didn't dig that.
    last_biscuit
    *in case of grammar nazis, i know it should be 'Erm' and if you mean because he says 'were', 'the band' is a group of people and is treated as a plural so were is right.
    zebrahead234
    to all the people saying it wasnt heavy enough, he meant RISK wasnt heavy enough, not the older stuff
    seek_&_destroy
    buckethead_jr wrote: sambargun wrote: So mr.Friedman, be bold and tell the truth(that you left Jackson because of your resentment over Fender)..... Friedman recorded some of Youthanasia with a fender.
    no. just cuz it was a strat doesn't make it a fender. If i remember right it was a "$400 Japanese Strat"
    emr_steelmech
    seek_&_destroy wrote: buckethead_jr wrote: sambargun wrote: So mr.Friedman, be bold and tell the truth(that you left Jackson because of your resentment over Fender)..... Friedman recorded some of Youthanasia with a fender. no. just cuz it was a strat doesn't make it a fender. If i remember right it was a "$400 Japanese Strat"
    or maybe thats why Youthanasia was one of there worst albums, though not really bad I kind of agree on his point with Jacksons. They effin shred, but Ibanez guitars are a bit more versatile. Gonna have to look up some Cacophany.
    Nannada
    Skarr wrote: have you noticed they aren't many of the 80's bands still together today? About the only four bands that I can think of right now that are still around today are Black Sabbath (They still do songs together, if that counts), Ozzy (Who is putting out a new album soon if it isn't already out), Metallica and of course, Megadeth.
    Black Sabbath was 70's. Um... What about... Iron Maiden, and Poison... (they toured really recently) Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Guns 'n Roses, whitesnake, Kiss, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Nine Inch Nails... VAN HALEN (If Eddie gets out of rehab) ZZ Top...
    Hells_Bell
    emr_steelmech wrote: seek_&_destroy wrote: buckethead_jr wrote: sambargun wrote: So mr.Friedman, be bold and tell the truth(that you left Jackson because of your resentment over Fender)..... Friedman recorded some of Youthanasia with a fender. no. just cuz it was a strat doesn't make it a fender. If i remember right it was a "$400 Japanese Strat" or maybe thats why Youthanasia was one of there worst albums, though not really bad I kind of agree on his point with Jacksons. They effin shred, but Ibanez guitars are a bit more versatile. Gonna have to look up some Cacophany.
    Youthanasia one of the worst albums, It's mt second favorite after RIP. To each his own I guess. I'm seing him in a caouple of days btw
    Hempster
    fluffylump2 wrote: I can't believe he thinks Megadeth isn't aggressive. I also don't see how he could want Megadeth to follow every trend that flies by and calls them boring for staying true to their sound. Plus, Megadeth has definitely progressed from album to album, from the mid-late eighties up until now. This guy's guitar playing is incredible, but I don't like how he talks about Megadeth.
    Totally agree with you.Megadeth didn't have legions of fans by keeping up with the trends.They played in what they believed in and loads of musicians respect that ideal,why not Marty?Lots of bands tried keeping up with the trends but fail miserably.I can't imagine Megadeth going Nu Metal!
    Nocturnous
    zebrahead234 wrote: im teetering on which one to buy Loudspeaker, or music for speeding?
    Dragons kiss?
    Seither2k
    Wow...I must be a loser, because him saying "were" has been bugging the crap out of me. A group of people come together to make a band, a singular entity. Singular. If he said the members of Megadeth weren't aggressive enough, I'd understand. Had to get that off chest.
    MetaMegaMagic
    I'd have to say Megadeth's known for its style, and it's centered around Dave, not Marty. Although Marty's a way better musician and way more diverse than Dave, he's not that suited to Megadeth. He can go ahead and make pop songs and aggressive metal songs on his solo album and they'll be awesome. But, Megadeth's always stayed true to its roots. Besides, I can't really imagine pop with Dave Mustaine's snarling vocals.
    sykguitaryst
    if his idea of aggression is his horrible recreation of tornado of souls and/or the killing road, ill take non-aggressive anyday.. and i completely disagree with the "make pop stuff really pop and make the metal stuff heavier" idea, dave mustaine singing straight pop is a horrible idea rofl.
    git-airman
    fluffylump2 wrote: I can't believe he thinks Megadeth isn't aggressive. I also don't see how he could want Megadeth to follow every trend that flies by and calls them boring for staying true to their sound. Plus, Megadeth has definitely progressed from album to album, from the mid-late eighties up until now. This guy's guitar playing is incredible, but I don't like how he talks about Megadeth.
    i think its insulting marty would want 'deth to change, even a little it, but to that scale? he is a great player, and it is terrible how he speaks of them. and how could they be more agressive? united abominations is one of the rawest and inspiring albums i ever heard.
    carlos1536
    fluffylump2 wrote: I can't believe he thinks Megadeth isn't aggressive. I also don't see how he could want Megadeth to follow every trend that flies by and calls them boring for staying true to their sound. Plus, Megadeth has definitely progressed from album to album, from the mid-late eighties up until now. This guy's guitar playing is incredible, but I don't like how he talks about Megadeth.
    very true!!!
    Rexbeans
    It's just a fact that Marty Freidman was just too good to be playing Dave's childish compositions.
    Asterix_13
    Rexbeans wrote: It's just a fact that Marty Freidman was just too good to be playing Dave's childish compositions.
    Even Megadeth's worst songs are still superior to Marty's best solo efforts xD So let me get this straight, Megadeth isn't aggressive enough, but Jpop is? I must be missing something.
    DiabolusnMusica
    Rexbeans wrote: It's just a fact that Marty Freidman was just too good to be playing Dave's childish compositions.
    you miserable piece of chit... you dont deserve to live.
    Metal101
    Rexbeans wrote: It's just a fact that Marty Freidman was just too good to be playing Dave's childish compositions.
    Dave is a genius. Don't EVER diss the rifflord again.
    akhimakhi93
    rocker_01 wrote: Marty's the reason I touched the guitar for the first time 3 years ago, and Marty's the reason I still play... MARTY = GOD Nothing else to it...
    +9*10^100000
    rocker_01
    Marty's the reason I touched the guitar for the first time 3 years ago, and Marty's the reason I still play... MARTY = GOD Nothing else to it...
    poona
    I love Marty Friedman, I love Jason Becker and I love Cacophony, but their singer is annoying. I can only listen to the opening melodies from The Ninja but not the whole song... Anyway, its true that Megadeth weren't really taking that many chances with their music after RIP, although I loved The System Has Failed.
    Seither2k
    My bad...was really bugging me. He said he switched over the guitars he used. Are there any artists that use more than one kind of guitar? Or if a guitar company sponsors them, do they have to stick to just that brand of guitar?
    psychodelia
    Checked/deleted... Maybe we could ease away from the grammar too. Nothing wrong with it, but by now it's been pointed out.
    Set-Abominae
    Judas_rising wrote: Cant beleive Marty likes nu-metal...thats really a kick in the nuts....>_
    Agreed. That is fairly alarming coming from a guitarist of Marty's stature.
    linkku1
    fluffylump2 wrote: I can't believe he thinks Megadeth isn't aggressive. I also don't see how he could want Megadeth to follow every trend that flies by and calls them boring for staying true to their sound. Plus, Megadeth has definitely progressed from album to album, from the mid-late eighties up until now. This guy's guitar playing is incredible, but I don't like how he talks about Megadeth.
    Well the -99 Megadeth is different than the Megadeth today. I think he was talking about perioud when he was playing in Megadeth. I hope Megadeth continues with currect lineup, its seems to be working very well. They kicked ass in Finland few weeks ago and the new album is really good.
    kran
    Megadeth not aggressive enough, not pop enough. Just listen to The System Has Failed. It has all of the best elements of Megadeth. 'Kick The Chair' Rocks as hard or harder than anything out there, and 'Truth Be Told' incorporates everything from acoustic to pure shred, and you're gonna tell me they don't play diverse enough?? C'mon Marty, I love you dude, but honestly..., I bet Dave just didn't ask him to rejoin the band so he was pissed.
    fcolbert
    This dude likes nu-metal? He should have been on that soap opera Some Kinda Monster not in Megadeth
    KidDynamite
    i think al pitrelli on megadeth filled in well for friedman....If friedman didnt wanna be in megadeth anymore thats his choice but its not like they cant soldier on without him.... good luck with the new band marty.....
    seek_&_destroy
    LOVE friedman. Though i still don't get it, loudspeaker was no where near as "Aggressive" as Rust In Peace, CTE, and Youthanasia. Well i guess it's down to what he thinks is aggresive. BTW i've never heard of/seen a "GS" line of Boss multi effects. Think it was an error? I kinda disliked the pop side to marty though. Just cuz i love him for his amazing exotic shred from Deth and Cacophony. I'll be honest i don't listen to his solo stuff as much as i do his Cacophony (God Bless JB) and Deth stuff. Too bad he won't even consider rejoining Megadeth Imagine how awesome that would be eh?
    Skarr
    I love Marty Friedman Megadeth. They were and still are one of the major influences that inspired me to play guitar and other instruments. I'm glad that Marty is doing his own thing and is enjoying it, But it's strange to me though how Marty said that "I didn't think Megadeth were aggressive enough!". To me, Megadeth is one of the most aggressive metal bands out there, but there are more heavier bands out now...and have you noticed they aren't many of the 80's bands still together today? About the only four bands that I can think of right now that are still around today are Black Sabbath (They still do songs together, if that counts), Ozzy (Who is putting out a new album soon if it isn't already out), Metallica and of course, Megadeth. Anyway, I've not heard Cacophony's music, but I'll definately check them out. I'm glad that Marty respects Megadeth and all they've done together,but it'd be awesome to see them play together again.
    Cabron1
    Friedman is a legend only one who has walked away from megadeth without looking like he got raped by Mustaine. Think his technique isnt as good as it used to be.
    rifftnstrings
    MARTY!!! Go UG for doing an interview with him. I was a little surprised when he said he still keeps in contact with Jason and everyone from Megadeth. That'd be awesome if he could work with Jason on something, it'd just be kinda hard. Even if not, I look forward to everything that Marty does.
    Gibson_SG_uzr55
    fluffylump2 wrote: I can't believe he thinks Megadeth isn't aggressive. I also don't see how he could want Megadeth to follow every trend that flies by and calls them boring for staying true to their sound. Plus, Megadeth has definitely progressed from album to album, from the mid-late eighties up until now. This guy's guitar playing is incredible, but I don't like how he talks about Megadeth.
    He didn't mean for Megadeth to follow a trend, which was nu-metal at the time, he wanted it to be as heavy as nu-metal, without changing the style. You can go heavier or softer and still make the same music all in all.
    saucehead
    When it comes to guitar tandems I don't think Becker and Friedman could be touched. Mustaine and Marty would excellent, but Jason and Marty hardly ever get mentioned when the discussion of great guitar duos comes up. I think his point about Megadeth not being aggressive enough probably comes from the fact that their music became simple for him to play. Things that are challenging for one person are not necessarily so for another. Still, Rust in Peace is one of the best metal albums ever, especially in terms of the playing on that album.
    recliner33
    Yeah Friedman kicks ass, but Jason Becker is better. When it comes to hot shot guitarists, becker was the best. I seen some crazy videos of him on youtube where hes bouncing a yo-yo while playing, playing with a leg above the guitar neck or him playing behind his back. If I had to make a list of the greatest guitarists ever, he would definately be in the top ten, he's the most underrated guitarist ever. It's too bad he can't play guitar anymore.