Ex-MEGADETH Guitarist MARTY FRIEDMAN: 'A Lot Of People Probably Thought I Fell Off The Map When I Moved To Japan'

February 3, 2019

Chris Akin of "The Classic Metal Show" recently conducted an interview with former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On why the U.S. market has not warmed to his solo career, which now includes 14 studio albums:

Marty: "I don't know how true that is. Of course, a lot of people probably thought I fell off the map when I moved to Japan 15 years ago. There's a certain percentage of maniac fans who have followed and supported me throughout that time, but for the most part, I've concentrated a lot of my efforts in Japan and done so much more in Japan than I've done in other countries, so that would explain why a lot of people just don't know what's going on, but that's all good. I have been touring consistently in America and all over the world, especially for the last eight, nine years. I'm going on tour right now starting in January. It's going to be all through the United States and tickets are selling really good. People know, but you know, if you're out of sight, out of mind, so you really have to keep cultivating any place that you want people to show up at your shows and people to know what you're doing. I've been doing that religiously. Every time I release an album, I do as much touring in the U.S as I can. It's all been great. We're about to do the best tour we've ever done. Just looking forward to every single show we're going to do in America."

On whether playing more shows in the United States has influenced the heavier direction of his most recent solo albums, 2014's "Inferno" and 2017's "Wall Of Sound":

Marty: "Maybe indirectly. I'm definitely conscious of what people want to hear from me, you know what I'm saying? If you want to make a record for yourself, that's great. If you want to make a record for everybody, that's great, too. If you want to do something for both, meaning I want it to be exactly what I want my music to be, but I also want it to be something people who are fans of mine, not only expect, but are looking forward to, so it's kind of like I have to fit both of those criteria, which is really quite difficult, but that's my goal. I'm known for playing aggressive and I'm also known for having that romantic, sappy side as well to contrast it. That's pretty much what I've evolved into and hopefully the latest albums have shown that in its best light, hopefully."

On whether he thinks he's pigeonholed in America as strictly a speed metal guitarist:

Marty: "That's a good question. Anybody's who's heard any of my material in the last ten albums or so, will know that it's much deeper than what you described there, but still, there's no possible way to control what the listeners think about you, what they feel about you. It's all good. If they like it, if they like something I've done in any era of my career, it's fantastic. I'm all for it. If they follow what I'm doing now, that's the best, that's what I like the most, but I still appreciate any fans from any era of my career. What can you say? I believe that when people are listening to me… let me get this straight: I believe when people are listening to music and enjoying the music, it's not as much the content of the music itself, but what's going on in their lives to which that music is the background music to. So, obviously, the artist cannot control those things. Think about it: You think of your favorite, really favorite songs, favorite music of your entire life, and it definitely brings back certain memories and certain feelings. Those things definitely overshadow 'This song is in G-flat. It's 185 tempo.' All the content. It's all about 'It's when this chick blew me off and I found a better girl the next day.' You know what I mean. Those are the things that are connected to the songs. Obviously, you can't control those things. Musically, of course, I would love everybody to know my most recent thing and that's why I'm touring and that's why that's the majority of what I play in my set. It's pretty much recent stuff. Of course, I've always wanted people to enjoy anything. It doesn't have to be the newest thing that they like and I can't control what they think as long as they enjoy themselves and have a good time at the show, it's all good."

On his relationship with his former CACOPHONY bandmate Jason Becker, who is suffering from ALS:

Marty: "Jason Becker is my biggest, biggest inspiration by far. Obviously, as a musician, but more so as a friend and as a person and all that stuff. He's making music that is giving so much joy to so many people. It's not important that the people know what goes into making a record in anybody's case, but especially his case because people will hear his story and think, 'Oh my god. It's unbelievable he's making this music.' And it is. That's not important. His story is not important. It's his music that is important and needs to be enjoyed on face value because it's just absolutely…it's so beautiful and unique and every note just drips Jason, regardless of who's involved with it, who's helping out with the process. Every single second of that stuff is what Jason's intention is. It's just a joy that he continues to take the energy to make it for us. That's what it really is all about. Anybody who's making music is putting out a certain amount of energy and effort and care. It's really a pain in the ass for anybody, to be straight with you, because all we really care about, myself included, is the end user, what the person is going to get out of this when it's done, so that's why we care about all these little tiny details and just little things that we want to make sure that we get right. Jason, he puts so much love and energy into what he does. It comes out awesome, so I really am inspired by that when it comes time for me to do my music."

Friedman's 14th solo record, "One Bad M.F. Live!!", was released in October 2018. The album was recorded in Mexico City in April 2018 during the final concert of Friedman's world tour in support of his 2017 album "Wall Of Sound", which debuted on Billboard's Heatseekers chart at No. 12.

Joining Friedman on "One Bad M.F. Live!!" are his bandmates Kiyoshi on bass, Jordan Ziff (RATT) on guitar and Chargeeee on drums.

Friedman kicked off an American tour in support of the album in San Diego, California on January 23. The Texas-based "super metal" group IMMORTAL GUARDIAN is opening all shows.

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