INTERVIEW: Marty Friedman

The legendary Marty Friedman is on his way to Australia soon for a clinic tour forAllans Music. Marty is probably best known for his tenure in Megadeth’s classic ‘Rust In Peace’ line-up, where his amazing mastery of exotic melodies and seemingly limitless technical ability balanced out the ‘street-style’ power of Dave Mustaine’s rhythm and lead work. But Marty’s playing has always been about much more than metal, and on such diverse albums as Scenes and Music For Speeding he combines a wide array of influences including classical, new age, and Japanese pop. Now a resident of Japan, Marty took time out from his busy schedule to have a chat with I Heart Guitar.

Is there anything about Western culture that you miss? Or do you get enough of it on tour?

I miss stuff like crazy sweet multi colored cereal and pop tarts, that`s about it. I hope I can get a hold of it in Australia…

What was it like for you moving to Japan? I hear you went there without a guitar which I imagine was a little bit stressful.

I can be without a guitar for a long period of time with no problem, but those long periods don`t come around so much as I`m always doing music in some form or another. Moving to Japan was tough at first because all of my friends were in the International side of the Japanese music business, but I wanted to get into the Domestic music business, which is a completely different and much bigger world. It wasn`t long until I invaded that world though, and I was really glad that I was able to do so.

I saw a few videos of the Rock Fujiyama-show on youtube and it instantly became a new favourite show of mine, any chance of the entire series being released on DVD, maybe outside of Japan too?

I get that question ALL THE TIME! There was an entire team from the network just devoted to getting the television clearances for the music on that show. A DVD for release would be a daunting task, especially given how we butchered famous songs…The show lasted 3 more seasons than originally contracted, and we all loved doing it.

One of my favourite instrumental songs right now is your cover of the song Sekai No Hitotsu Dake No Hana which I think is a really cool song. Any chance of you doing more instrumental covers of Japanese boyband-songs on future records?

Glad you like it! On Tokyo Jukebox I covered lots of Japanese songs, not all by boy-bands though!

What about this new Fanta band? Was that just a very awesome ad-campaign or are you guys going to record something?

That is the mystery. It is a brilliant campaign that will go on strong for the rest of this year, who knows if we will ever write a song… That`s what is cool about it, no one can imagine the sound.

A while back, you had a signature Ibanez guitar based off the SZ-shape. More recently you’ve been photographed playing Les Pauls. Are you still with Ibanez? And what is it about Les Pauls that does it for you?

I will play anything that sounds great and stays in tune. Believe it or not, very few guitars can do that to my scrutiny. I think Les Pauls are great looking and sounding guitars. Lately I have been playing mostly PRS and Gibson, but I play Ibanez and some others too.

What are your thoughts on the Axe-Fx? Where do you see guitar amplification go in the future, do you think that the future is going to be all digital as far as amplification goes?

I never thought about the future of guitar amplification… I like the Axe-FX because it is the easiest way to get unique and quite usable sounds. Believe me, it is SO useful, especially for situations where there is very little setup time, which is often the case doing TV and radio, as opposed to concerts and studios where you have long soundchecks etc.

One thing I’ve always loved about your playing is your clean tone, especially on ‘Scenes.’ What inspires your clean tone?

Thank you so much! If I play a melody with clean sound, I want it to have the same authority as with a dirty sound. It is a matter of interpreting a melody with that in mind, even be it subliminally. It`s hard to put into words, but it`s more about focusing on listening to what you are playing rather than the actual playing itself, which is what most people focus on, I believe.

You left some huge shoes to fill when you left Megadeth. Have you ever had a 2am phone call from Chris Broderick or Glen Drover saying ‘How the hell did you do that lick?’

Haha!! Not yet, I`m sure they will have no problem.

What are your thoughts on Megadeth’s 20th anniversary Rust In Peace anniversary?

Bravo!