MARTY FRIEDMAN Hasn't Listened To MEGADETH's 'Risk' Album Since It Was Recorded

July 8, 2024

Former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman has once again said that he and his then-bandmates did "the best" they could while making the "Risk" album, saying that the controversial record was "exactly where we were as a band at that time."

Issued in 1999, "Risk" received a mixed response from critics and alienated hardcore MEGADETH fans due to its departure from the band's heavy thrash metal roots to a more commercial, pop rock sound. The album debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard chart and was later certified gold for selling half a million copies in the United States.

In a new interview with journalists Gustavo Maiato and Mateus Ribeiro, Friedman was asked how he looks back on "Risk" 25 years after its release. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I haven't heard it since back then. I don't think it was much of a risk, actually. And I just remember we did the best we could. And it's exactly where we were as a band at that time. And that's all any album is, really. An album is like a yearbook in school or in high school or college or whatever. An album is a yearbook of that period of time. So you can't really go back and say, 'Oh, this sucks' or 'We didn't mean to do that' or 'It was not a good idea,' or whatever, you can't go back and say that, because it is what it is and it was what it was. At the time, we believed in it and we did the best we could and that's all I can say about any album, really. It's the same answer for any album."

Friedman previously discussed "Risk" I na December 2018 interview with SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". At the time, he said: "Well, I think anything that needed to be said from me about that was probably said at the time. I haven't even thought about that since then, so I couldn't give you an intelligent answer. I'm barely thinking about what I did yesterday, much less back then."

He continued: "I'm sure whatever it was at the time that it happened, everybody involved with it was doing the best that they possibly could — I'm sure of that — because that is something that's happened on every record before that and every record since that and every record I'm doing now.

"When you're doing it, you're doing the absolute best that you can. And pretty much if you look at any press of any record, when it comes out, what the people are saying right then, right at that time, that's what it is. And then, depending on the results of that, people's stories change, but at the time, you're doing the best that… You really, really, really believe in that — everybody believes in it — and then that's it. So I definitely wouldn't even begin to think of whatever specifics were going on back then — it's just the farthest thing from my mind — but I can assure you that anything was done with the best of intentions and the hardest work. And everybody was just trying to do their best."

Six years ago, MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine said that "Risk" was the result of him "capitulating" to Friedman's "desires to be more of an alternative band." He told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation LA Invasion: Live From The Rainbow Bar & Grill": "We kept slowing down and slowing down and slowing down. If that record would have been called THE DAVE MUSTAINE PROJECT and not MEGADETH, I think it would have been successful. People wanted a MEGADETH record. They didn't wanna see Dave bending over backwards to keep Marty Friedman happy, 'cause Marty wanted us to sound like fucking DISHWALLA."

Four years ago, Friedman admitted that money was a major motivator for him when he was approached almost a decade ago about taking part in a reunion of MEGADETH's "Rust In Peace" lineup.

Friedman had met with guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine and then-bassist David Ellefson at the 2015 NAMM show in Anaheim, California to discuss the reunion, which would have seen him and drummer Nick Menza back in the mix.

Friedman opened up about his reasons for turning down the MEGADETH reunion in Mustaine's latest book, "Rust In Peace: The Inside Story Of The Megadeth Masterpiece", which details the making of the iconic record "Rust In Peace".

"My main thing was I'd be happy to do it, but I'm not going to take less money than I'm already making to do it," Marty said in part.

"I'd been in Japan for more than ten years cultivating a career with solid rewards. I was making money not only for myself but also for my management and staff. My manager has been with me fifteen years.

"Everything was sound and solid professionally, and when the offer came up to all of a sudden join MEGADETH again, as long as I would not be making less money, I was ready to go," he said. "But I was certainly not going to take a loss to join a band that, frankly, at that point, didn't seem like they had too much to offer musically. A couple of members of the band had recently quit, and musically I hadn't heard anything that they've done in a long time. I didn't know about how relevant they continued to be in the music business. It wasn't like MEGADETH was on the tip of people's tongues, at least not in Japan. I had reached the point where people stopped immediately connecting me to MEGADETH and were talking about the things that I had done in Japan."

According to Friedman, part of the reason he turned down the MEGADETH reunion is the fact that the group is largely seen as Mustaine's solo project, with members coming and going every couple of albums.

"Had it been more of a band situation and not such a one-man, Dave Mustaine-main-man party, I might have considered doing it for a little less," Marty said. "But, at the end of the day, MEGADETH is so much Mustaine because that's the way he engineered it. I didn't feel that kind of camaraderie, the four-man diamond, THE BEATLES, KISS, METALLICA. I felt like I would be going out there and tour and it was going to be Mustaine's big success. If I'm going to do that, I'm certainly not going to lose money to do that; I was doing great on my own in Japan."

Mustaine told Loudwire that he was put off by Friedman's financial demands when the topic of a "Rust In Peace" reunion was broached.

"Marty has a really successful career in Japan where he makes quite a lot of money," Dave said. "And this is the part where I thought it was a little weird, where he said he said that he has to pay all his team while he's gone instead of just himself. 'Cause I thought we'll pay you what you're making so that's switching horses in the middle of the river — it's no big deal unless you fall off. And then when we found out that he wanted to sell his merch, his this, his that, his this, his that, then he wanted this crazy amount of money and he wanted to fly first class everywhere. I said to our management, 'I can't deal with this.'"

In a 2016 interview with the "Eddie Trunk Podcast", Mustaine confirmed that MEGADETH didn't hold any rehearsals with Friedman while attempting a reunion of the "Rust In Peace" lineup.

"Marty had sent some e-mails saying, 'Oh, man, you know, the fans have this self-inflated importance of 'Rust In Peace' beyond what it really is. And I was, like, 'Huh?'" Dave said. 'So I didn't know if that was a backhand to the face of the fans or not, but he had basically said that if we were gonna do anything, it had to be better than 'Rust In Peace'. And he sent me over some links to some songs that he thought should be the direction that we were going in, and one of it was this J-Pop band with some Japanese girl singing, and I was, like, 'Uh-uh. This ain't gonna work.' More power to [Marty for being into that stuff]. Do what you want, Marty. He's a great guitar player. But I'm not gonna sing like a Japanese girl."

Friedman reunited with MEGADETH twice last year: first during the band's gig at Tokyo, Japan's famed Budokan in February 2023 and then at the Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany in August 2023.

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