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Guitarists are all the same… NOT!  Marty Friedman has had a great career that includes platinum albums, Grammy nominations, and a catalog of solo discs that would make most bands jealous.  Luckily I was given a little time with him as he wraps up his European tour… thankfully I got all of my questions in but one before technology got the best of us.


Marty: How are you doing?

Toddstar: Good, yourself?

Marty: All right.

Toddstar: Thank you so much for taking the time out for us today Marty, we really appreciate it.

Marty: My pleasure man.  Let’s rock it.

Toddstar: Let’s jump right into it then. Inferno, this thing is insane.

Marty: Thank you so much.

Toddstar: What can you tell us about this thing, that you might not get listening to it once or twice? What little nuances can you point us towards?

Marty: Well that’s a good point about the once or twice thing. It’s the type of thing where I think you could listen to it a million times and not find all the little hidden Easter eggs in there. There are just a lot of things going on. Usually, as a fan, I’m the guy who likes to listen to something once and know whether I like it right away or not, but on Inferno there’s a lot of density to it. If you like it at the beginning I think you’re cool, and if you don’t like it at the beginning I urge you to give it another chance. It could be one of the type of things that you just hated, but upon second listen you might go, “Well, you know what? I think I like it.” It’s like licorice, like black licorice. First it’s got an alarming taste, but once you decide that you like it, you can’t stop eating it.

Toddstar: That’s a really good analogy. A lot of people are going pick this up and think, “Oh, it’s just another six string solo disc.” They’re just going to discard, whereas you’ve got a lot of vocals on this, but the between this disc and what is normally preconceived, there’s a cohesiveness to this. It almost makes it feel like a band. Is that something you went into the project with that in mind?

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Marty: Absolutely, because as I’m listening to it it’s got to feel like a one complete concept, one complete sentence, one complete idea; not a just a bunch of random things showing a resume of guitars, which so often happens in instrumental music. I really wanted to avoid that. Yeah, got some great vocal songs on there. Even the songs without vocal, the melody are the main thing, and if you can hang with the intensity and the heaviness of that whole thing, I think you might not miss the fact that there’s not a lead vocalist behind each song.

Toddstar: You hit on it, and I like the word that you used. You used the word melody, because that’s one thing that I picked up on, was the melodic flow of the disk. You’ve got everything from “Resin,” which is a heavier, faster track, and then near the end of the disk you’ve got “Undertow,” which personally is one of my favorites. There’s a melodic sense to it that ties it all together.

Marty: Yeah, I’m … Melody is actually what comes more naturally to me than all that insane riffing and insane playing. Of course, that also comes natural, but the melody type of thing is really … that’s my bread and butter. That’s what I can really bring to the party. On this album, I have to say, that “Undertow,” like you mentioned, that’s the only ballad on the whole record, the rest of it is pretty much balls out the whole way. I wanted “Undertow” to be the contrast of the record.

Toddstar: I think it does it well, especially when you go straight from that into “Horrors,” which totally has … it totally turns the album on its head as far as I’m concerned.

Marty: Cool, man.

Toddstar: Just, again going through them, you’ve got Danko Jones on this, Alexi Laiho, you’ve got David Davidson, and Jorgen Munkeby is on there … “Meat Hook” is another great one, where you use different tones. You brought in some horns, which isn’t very typical of a guitarist, especially a metal guy. How did you come about with something like that? Like, “Let’s throw some horn on there for fun.”

Marty: Horns … What song are you talking about?

Toddstar: Was it “Meat Hook”? I think it’s got some horns on it.

Marty: Yeah, yeah. Yes, it’s a saxophone that Jorgen from The Shining, is, well the lead of that group and the sax player. He’s the first guy I ever heard to play a sax with heavy metal guitar. As soon as I heard him do that, I knew I could do something fresh with that. He does it in his own band, The Shining, and I knew that I could take that and make it my own way and do something fresh with it. I just love what he did.

Toddstar: Well it definitely is fresh. It gives it … this whole disc, I like the fact that it’s not just a rehash of … going back to even your debut Dragon’s Kiss.  You’ve gradually built to this album. I mentioned “Horrors” real quick, but that was co-written by Jason Becker. How long has that one been lying around? I’ve know you’ve known Jason for a long time.


Marty: Yeah, we haven’t collaborated on anything since we were in a band together. It’s real special. Have you seen his movie?

Toddstar: Yes.

Marty: If you remember, there’s a scene in there where he’s working on a piece of music with his dad. I called him up and I said, “Dude, are using that music for anything?” He says, “No, not yet.” I said, “Well, how about letting me use it for my record? I’ll take that and I’ll write a song around that and collaborate; we can do a collaboration.” He’s like, “Sure.” Then he sent me that and some other stuff. I arranged it just the way I used to arrange it back when we were in Cacophony together. Back then I was producing as well. It’s really the same processes we did before, except we’ve both grown a lot since then.

Toddstar: Okay. Well you’re wrapping up the tour, you’ve got just a couple date left I believe. You’ve got a co-tour with Gus G. How’s that tour going?

Marty: It’s a lot of fun man. We’re having good shows and doing some jamming together every night; it’s all good.

Toddstar: Now listening to both of you, listening to your playing through your career and then listening to his catalog, you guys almost come from a different school. Is that one of the dynamics that’s making this tour fun for you?

Marty: Yeah, we don’t need two of the same guys. He’s a monster player and he’s got his own style, and it’s different from mine. Even though there’s a lot of guitar in the evening, it doesn’t get tiresome for the fans.

Toddstar: Well once this tour wraps up, what’s next for Marty Friedman? What are you doing next?

Marty: That’s when I go back to Japan and start promoting Inferno over there. Within the next month or so, I should have an announcement about an American tour.

Toddstar: You just saved me a question.  We’d love to see you back in Detroit Marty, we miss you back here.

Marty: Yeah, I’d love to be there man; it’s always been some of the best audiences for heavy music. I haven’t been there forever, so I’m looking forward to it.

Toddstar: Yeah, it’s been too long that’s for sure. Well, who made you want to pick up a guitar and play? Who made you want to do this?

Marty: It was definitely Kiss and The Ramones.

Toddstar: Well, it’s … those are two totally different sounds from where you are. How did you get from there to here?

Marty: Well they influenced a lot of people. When you’re 14 and you see Kiss, it just gets you in the door to loud music. Then once you start creating your own way, then you find your own sound and your own direction. At the beginning, the impact of Kiss, it’s, that started off so many people.

Toddstar: Well that being said, who out there haven’t you written or played with, that you would love to get on one of your records?

Marty: Well man, I’d love to do something with Metallica someday. That would be really, really cool.

Toddstar: Okay. If there was one song in the history of time Marty, that you wish you had been either part of the recording, part of the writing, or even just in the room when it was recorded, what song would you have wanted your stamp on?

Marty: Anything in the early Elvis Presley years, in the 50’s. Anything young Elvis.  I think would have wanted to be a fly on the wall.

Toddstar: Okay, okay. Well you’re out in this your, you’re just about it wrap up. What’s the one thing that when you were packing up for this tour you though, “I can’t leave home without.”?

Marty: A lot of Japanese food type of things with protein in it. Snacks, the healthy snacks from Japan. You never what you’re going to get in Europe.

Toddstar: That’s so true; I’ve noticed that in my travels. You’ve got this new album coming out, you’re getting ready to promote it in Japan, and as you alluded to, you’re getting ready to be able to drop some news on a US tour. Things are really looking up for you.  I mean again just this monster album. At this point for you Marty, what’s the meaning of life?

Marty: You’re breaking up there…

And with that, we were done.  As a friend said after relaying the info regarding the lost call – “That’s Rock N Roll, right?”

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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