Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Marty Friedman has established a name as a virtuoso guitar player since the eighties. He first came on to my musical radar through his time with thrash legends Megadeth. Marty recently made a rare Irish “guest “appearance playing the second half of a support set with the Shining an innovative band from Norway who term their style “black jazz”I was lucky enough to catch up with him after the set in the Green Room of the Academy venue in Dublin.
Good evening Marty.
Marty “Hi and where are you from.”?
Northern Ireland, a country that you have visited several times over the years. You played tonight with Shining -a new band to me and indeed to many people over here. How did that co-operation arise?
Marty”I was a fan, of Shining and when I was choosing guests for my Inferno album my record label said that I should check out Shining, I said “You know Shining?”.They said yeah and to give them a call. They gave me the information for Jorgen and I got in touch with him. Turns out he was a fan of me too. We were fans of each other “I was very excited because I am not really big on a lot of the modern heavy music”
Are they a new band?
Marty “They are a relatively new band, and are one of the first bands that I have got excited about in a long time. I was very happy to find out that he was willing to do a collaboration with me on my record. We did a song called “Meat Hook “which we played tonight and I just loved it.”
I know for a lot of the audience here tonight it was surprising that you did not play a bigger part of the set (Marty came on and just played a couple of numbers).
Marty”It is what it is,because the set is so short(Shining were the bottom band on a 3 band bill)Its really 40minutes and I play 20minutes…”
At the same time you also want the band to have their moment, and not perhaps be overshadowed by you being there for the entire set?
Marty”Yeah we wanted to have a Shining set, and then a Marty set. When I come on its all my music.
Looking back and viewing your musical career, can you single out a particular high and low point?
Marty “Well the high point will be tomorrow.
The Glasgow show or just making it through until tomorrow?
Marty” Well, you know if you can name a high point then that means that you are finished. I cant really name a high point, and there is not too many low points to speak of. I have been very lucky that I don’t have a big low point to speak of. Its all been a lot of hard work but it has all been high points.”
How do you view your musical legacy-is it something that you regard with pride?
Marty”I am not finished yet! I look at it as pretty good so far but I have yet to do my best thing.”
If you were not a guitar player what would you have done?
Marty”Guitar-playing is probably the only thing that I am really suited for. I think that I could be a proof reader because my grammar is very good. Not that I am smart or anything, I am just very good at grammar. I could probably proof read for a magazine or a newspaper or books.”
Marty”Or Interviews, its hard work you know and people tend to overlook things. I have like x-ray vision when it comes to reading. If something is wrong then it stands out…”
That’s me pre-warned then?
What in your life are you most proud of?
Marty”Just the fact that I am able to come to Ireland and people want to hear my music. People want to ask me questions, people are here and they enjoy what I do. That by far is the proudest thing.”
Have you ever felt intimidated by another guitarist? Perhaps jamming with a band at a festival for example?
Marty”Never, it’s actually quite the opposite. I tend to play better when there are good people around me”
That pushes you that little bit more?
Marty”Yeah because I want to show these guys what I can do. I remember recording and I had some guitar player friends that showed up. As soon as they showed up I started playing better. After they left I just thought to myself “Why don’t I just play better all the time. Why do I have to have these guys come? “
You need to motivate yourself?
Marty”Yeah I need the motivation. “
Do you still have any unfulfilled ambitions?
Marty “Lots of them man, I just want to play more better music.”
Any advice for any young guitarists starting out? Obviously there have been significant changes in the industry since you started?
Marty”Yeah making a living in music has never been easy. If you start off playing music with the hopes of making a living at it then you should just give up: because it is impossible. If you start off playing music because you love playing music then maybe you have a chance to make a living at it. This is a good answer and is really true. Even if you make a living at it there is so much bullshit that you have to deal with every single day that you could make a better living with less bullshit doing many other jobs. I have to say that you have to start because you love playing music and that’s what you want to do.”
What angers you?
Marty”Ahhh airports…It is not a big complaint but I really hate the fact that you can’t take shampoo into an aeroplane. Little things like that. I don’t have a lot of complaints about life; I am not a big complainer. I don’t have a lot of problems to complain about. Those little things bug me like I had a tube of toothpaste in my bag and they took it out and said “throw it away “I have been flying all over Europe with the same toothpaste in my bag and just today in Manchester they took it away. It’s like “What about London, what about Italy, what about France? I had it everywhere that I go. What’s toothpaste going to do to disrupt an aeroplane? Anyway I mean it’s no big deal.”
With all the awards and accolades that your playing has achieved do you find it difficult to keep your feet on the ground?
Marty”I don’t pay attention to any of that. Of course I love it when people hear my music and they enjoy it. I don’t pay attention to the good things and I don’t pay attention to the bad things. I am listening to myself and I am judging it myself. If I like it-I like it. If I don’t, then I don’t like it. That is the best way to keep going. If you are a guitar player, not even what I am doing..If you are a teenager in a band everybody is going to tell you how great you are. All the time-from the beginning. If you start believing it then you are finished, you are done. You will expect things to happen “
What about your early musical heroes,who were they?
Marty”Kiss, and the Ramones and Black Sabbath”
Have you stuck with those bands through the years? What about Kiss for example with just half of the original band being left?
Marty”Of course I prefer the original members era. I am very thankful for the new members, because if it weren’t for them there would be no Kiss. I think that they do an excellent job and I have no problem with them. I have a lot of respect for them, all four members now. I am a little pissed off at the old members because “why would they want to fuck off and do that “Gene and Paul are probably not the easiest guys to work with. I can understand their reasons for quitting but I have a lot of respect for the new members. I want them to keep going.”
You also seem very in touch with current music -the hook up with Shining being an obvious example. Are there however any musical genres that you would dismiss? In the UK we have manufactured pop music and reality TV shows..which have become part of our culture.
Marty”I really dislike reality TV shows, but it is easy to ignore them because you just don’t watch them. Anytime I have seen one I wonder why people would ever sit down and watch them. Musical I don’t have any problem with anything. There is good music-there is music that I like. No one can judge good music and bad music .Every single persons opinion is valid. Especially in the world of rock and metal, people like to complain about Edm and stuff. It’s just not for them, if its not in your life then it’s not in your life. I see a lot of people enjoying it and having a good time and that is what music is about.”
Outside music do you have any interests or hobbies?
Marty”I like languages, learning Japanese was my hobby until I became bi-lingual then it’s still I guess my hobby.”
What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?
Marty” Make sure that you look good naked(laughs)that’s good advice.
On a desert island you can only have two albums. One of yours and one other..Say Kiss what would you have?
Marty”OK, I would pick Kiss”Alive”even if I wasn’t on a desert island and I don’t know if I would want to pick one of mine because I am very critical of my own music”
You prefer to look forward rather than back? You don’t go back and listen to what you have done in the past
Marty “Not very much, sometimes I listen to my albums for reference when I am doing a new album. To make sure that I am sounding better and make sure that I am doing something new. I rarely go back. I will just make Kiss Alive 1&2 the albums.”
What are your future plans musically? Obviously you will be taking a break for the Christmas holidays?
Marty “Actually I don’t have a break for Christmas sadly. I am working Christmas Day. Actually I arrive in Japan on Christmas Day and go directly into a television studio and do a narration for two weeks of television programme. It is a bit of hard work but I had so much work in Japan that I left to come on this UK tour that it all piled up. The only way to make it happen was to work on Christmas. That’s rock and roll man. I am going to be touring America, South America-just more”Inferno”stuff. I am going to be playing concerts; I am going to be doing guitar clinics. I am actually writing an autobiography and doing a documentary. The first thing that I want to say is that I have a new video coming out(see link below)for a song called “Undertow “off my new album”Inferno”This is the best video of my career, so far.”
I believe that Megadeth are in the market for a new guitarist. Has that chapter finally closed for you? You earlier said that you prefer to move forward rather than go back.
Marty “I don’t really have an answer for you, I know that people would want to know. Honestly I don’t have an answer. I have never said never to anything in my life, so who knows? I really don’t know.”
Thanks very much for chatting to me this evening…