Lesson 1 – Music: Marty Friedman
Marty Friedman (born Martin Adam Friedman, December 8, 1962) is an American
guitarist. He is most widely recognized for his tenure as lead/rhythm guitarist for thrash
metal band Megadeth for close to ten years. He has resided in Japan since 2003. He
hosted his own television programs, Rock Fujiyama and Jukebox English on Japanese
Birth name: Martin Adam Friedman
Born: December 8, 1962 (1962-12-08) (age 46)
Origin: Washington, D.C., United States
Genre(s): Shred metal, thrash metal, neo-classical metal, instrumental rock, progressive
rock, enka, j-pop, gagaku
Occupation(s): Musician, songwriter
Years active: 1982 – present
Label(s): Avex Trax, Shrapnel
Associated acts: Megadeth, Cacophony, Hawaii, Rolly Teranishi, Nami Tamaki, Jason
Becker, Nanase Aikawa
We`ve got a lot to talk about in a short space, let`s try to get as much in as possible! First
congrats on your new album, Future Addict. I`m really impressed with it, but can you tell
me what made you decide to do a self-cover album? It actually really surprised me, I
would have never expected it from you.
Thanks! I`m totally stoked about the record. It came about in a really strange way. For the
last 3 years, in Japan I have done so much mainstream television, easily over 200 shows,
many programs having nothing to do with music, that believe it or not the vast majority
of people who know me in Japan know nothing about the music I`ve done in my career.
Even though you you`ve been touring and having a career there for so long?
Yes. What you have to remember is that in Japan I was always an international artist.
Even though I was pretty successful in terms of being an international artist in Japan, fans
of international rock and pop music only make up about 10% of the music fans in Japan.
The rest are listening to mainstream J-pop and Japanese rock bands. And then on top of
that comes the rest of the mainstream TV audience that doesn`t really follow music much
at all. With TV I`ve been able to reach all of these people constantly, and amass the
biggest fan base I`ve ever had in Japan but many of them have little or no idea about the
music that I`ve made before moving here.
That`s weird for me to accept because I`ve known you for your guitar playing for so long.
As a matter of fact, the only time I`ve ever heard your voice is on your instructional
That`s probably the way it is everywhere except Japan. So the record company asked me
to consider a greatest hits album, to let people know about my music. I told them that`s
hard to do since I`ve yet to have one hit song yet! Then they suggested a self-cover album
and that started to sound better to me.
Some of the songs on there sound nothing at all like the originals. I mean completely
different music, lyrics, everything but the title is different. Is that some kind of publishing
issue or something?
No way! Actually I think there is no reason to do a copy of what is already cool and out
there. This is an opportunity to take music from several stages of my career and trim off
any fat that might have been there. At the same time I gave it several shots of adrenalin
which I felt was much needed. A lot of the songs had great parts in them, but certain
things that I didn`t like or didn`t stand my personal test of time got seriously overhauled
so much that now I can play Future Addict for anyone and have no regrets about anything
in the past. Not that I even regret anything actually, it`s just a rare thing to be able to go
back and make everything exactly the way you want it. That`s what makes the record so
satisfying for me and hopefully interesting to those who want to hear my interpretation of
What do you mean by certain things? How about an example?
Well, obviously the older stuff like Hawaii and Cacophony suffered from low budget and
rushed recording. As much as I love Megadeth and the songs from that era, and I`m
proud of what I`ve done on all the Mega recordings, the overall vibe on those recordings
was Dave (Mustaine)`s vision. He was very good at knowing what weapons he had in his
arsenal and making a great product with them. Those songs were certainly cool that way
too, but I did them completely my own way to the smallest detail on Future Addict.
To what standard did you choose which tunes to do? Was it the record company`s
Not at all. I chose every tune on the record and the whole thing was truly a labor of love.
Hard labor, though! I chose songs that either meant something personal to me or had
certain parts in them that I liked and other parts that I would be happy to exchange for
something I like better. Overall, all of the songs from every stage of my career so far
went through serious structure overhaul with the main goal being to make them much
more exciting to me than the original.
Do you think you have achieved that?
Of course! You tell me!
It`s not really fair for me to say because I`m running your site! Actually, I have lots of
good memories of the originals too and the new stuff will take some getting used to,
especially since there is no old school feeling on this album. It`s not a nostalgic feeling at
I`m glad you feel that way, I will stop playing music before I do anything for the sake of
nostalgia, my friend. Music, and actually life in general, is a straight line, you either stay
in the same place, go backward or go forward. I can assure you that if you listen to my
playing or my arrangements at any time in my career, it has evolved a small step at a time
from what was just before. That is really the only goal I have in music, and the only thing
at all that I am concerned with.
That is a good way to look at it, I think. When will countries other than Japan get to hear
Later this year. Before that, the Live in Europe album will come out in the US. Actually
that just came out in Europe.
I need to ask you about your decision to have your drummer Jeremy Colson as your
vocalist on the record. He is definitely singing in a different way from the original
singers, I feel it`s kind of a punkish style.
I really like Jeremy`s voice, there is a lot of aggression in it, kind of like the way he plays
drums. Before we decided to work together, we went into the studio and wrote "Simple
Mystery" and from hearing his vocals on that, I could see the idea of a self cover album
becoming something extremely fresh and cool to do.
It`s not a metal approach at all, it seems closer to a pop or a punk style. With your
background in metal, how did you adapt to this drastic change in vocals?
Every one has their own taste and opinion for sure, but I never was a big fan of metal
vocals in general. The reason I love metal is because of the big walls of aggressive
guitars. Although the sound of my music is undoubtedly metal for that reason, the
structure of the melodies is way closer to j-pop and the aggression is closer to high
energy punk than traditional metal so Jeremy`s vocals fit really well.
Of course the guitar playing is what you would expect from a Marty Friedman album, but
the drumming is also spectacular. I mean, I loved Jeremy`s playing on Loudspeaker but
this is really up a few notches from that.
I agree. Jeremy and I have worked together for about 6 years now and we have the
telepathy going on. It`s almost like me and Jason, where we have this standard, we both
know what it is and as long as the other guy is there we are constantly trying to one up
each other over that standard. It`s like a friendly competition that always results in some
sick teamwork style ensemble playing.
I noticed that, and there is a lot of intense interplay between guitar and drums as opposed
to guitar and guitar on this album. Less guitar harmonies and a lot more actual solos. Is
that fair to say?
I never really thought about it too much but I guess you`re right. I remember when I was
a kid, my motto was, if it`s not interesting, harmonize it and see what happens! I think
lately instead of that, if it`s not interesting get rid of it and try something else.
You are also producing quite a few artists in Japan, you call Jeremy in to record with
Most of the time, yes. I have a team that I use religiously for just about everything I do,
whether it`s my solo stuff or anything else. Same engineers, techs, mastering staff, bass
players, sequencer guys, Jeremy and me. I like to keep the same people around me if at
all possible. It`s basically the team that did Loudspeaker. We just finished a new song for
Nami Tamaki. She is known as a dance pop star, but the song we did just sounds like it
absolutely came right off Future Addict or Loudspeaker, heavy! The only difference is
her super cute voice is on top of the chaos instead of Jeremy`s rough voice. The same
thing happened with Nana Kitade, who is going to be a superstar internationally, not only
in Japan, mark my words.
You sent me the Kitade Nana CD, and I still can`t get over how these female pop singers
are ok with singing over what sounds like very aggressive metal music. That must be a
Maybe so, maybe not. I kinda just do it that way myself because I love extremes. If
Hilary Duff were to do a duet with Decapitated, I would be the first one to run out and
buy it. I might be in the minority on that, but I don`t care, really. That kind of thing just
appeals to me.
Let`s talk about your movie appearance with Gene Simmons. We reported at the site that
the movie is called "Detroit Metal City" and you will be playing live with Gene in it. Is it
correct to say that it is a Japanese version of "Detroit Rock City"?
No, the story of "Detroit Metal City" has nothing to do with Kiss. It is based on one of
the most popular comic book stories in Japan now. Gene doesn`t play himself in it, and
without giving away the story I can tell you we are in this insane band together!
As a Kiss fan you must have been excited to do it, how did you and Gene get along?
It was amazing. He is extremely intelligent and we had lots of opportunities to talk during
the endless setup time between takes and stuff. We are both pretty knowledgeable about
50`s and 60`s music and were constantly trying to stump each other with trivia.?As a Kiss
fan it was pretty surreal. As a working musician, I was more than impressed with his
work ethic and seeing him in action I could see why he is so successful and has such a
I would like to talk about your new book, "Ii Jyan J-Pop", unfortunately it`s not in
English so very few of us outside Japan will read it. Can you tell me something about the
I have a monthly feature in Japan`s number one entertainment magazine, Nikkei
Entertainment. In this feature I have predicted what songs would be in the top of the
charts for the month each issue comes out, and go into details about the song, my
experience with the artist if any, and basically break down what`s cool or uncool about
the tunes. After almost 2 years of doing this, over 100 songs and loads of info have been
culled from my features, plus some of the most in-depth interviews I have done since I
moved to Japan. It also has my ranking of the best 40 J-pop songs of all time, with
comments about each one.
I don`t know about America or Europe, but here in Indonesia as well as the rest of Asia,
J-pop has become more well known than ever in the past few years thanks to YouTube
and the internet in general. There is very little info out there about J-pop that is in
English, will your book ever be translated into English?
I have suggested that to the publisher, but that`s all I can do really. I do think it would be
an amazing introduction to people outside of Japan to a huge whole new world of
You have an unusual place in the world of J-pop I think, first of all because you aren`t
Japanese, and also because you have a completely different career and reputation already
established before getting established again in J-pop.
Yes, and it was really like starting from scratch when I first got here, because like I said
before, the majority of j-pop fans know little or nothing about international artists. It was
a huge challenge at the beginning but so worth it.
Very cool. I`m going to wrap this up here unless you have anything else you would like
to add right now.
Thanks to you for keeping this site as great as it is, and thanks to everyone who visits. It
really means a lot to me, and I look forward to all of you hearing the latest music I`m