Guitarist Marty Friedman (MEGADETH, CACOPHONY) recently spoke with Claudio Cicolin of Italy's Lezioni-Chitarra.it. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On his new live album, "One Bad M.F. Live!!":
Marty: "My band and I have been touring for quite some time, and it's just been getting so good that I really just wanted to have a document of the actual performance. I've had a lot of different lineups in my band, but this is the longest same lineup of all. All of my lineups have really, really been good, but this is the most like a family, and really [the] chemistry is something special. Every time we'd go on tour, I would be like, 'We've got to record this,' at least just to have it as a document. That's what we did, and it was just a thrill to record this part of the tour."
On how his playing and songwriting has changed over time:
Marty: "I like to think that the more you do anything, you hopefully evolve and get better at it, and at least are able to express yourself with more depth and more heart and more interest and more good things. If you do anything, hopefully you should get better and not get worse the more you do it. I've seen my playing evolve a lot. Every couple months, really, I play differently. It's a good thing for me. Anyone with a long career, fans are going to have particular periods of time of the person's career that they like the best, and that's totally fine, because when you listen to music, it's not really the music you're listening to — it's what's happening in your life at the time you're listening to the music. That has such an influence on how you feel about the music you're listening to. If someone prefers something from a particular part of my career more than what I'm doing right now today, I get it — it's cool — but for me, as far as my playing and writing and arranging and producing goes, it's really becoming something that I'm more and more proud of than ever, especially on my last two albums, 'Inferno' and 'Wall Of Sound'. I think I finally got the formula of how to really bring out the most of my playing. My playing has a different freedom and a different ease than it had before. Things that I would do now very easily might be something I would have dreamed about doing maybe four or five years ago and worked really hard to get that done, now those things come a lot easier, and I get more adventurous... I can really realize the image in my brain much better than before, and I can imagine cooler things now. I feel like I can connect notes better than I have ever done before. If I listen to my previous stuff, the main complaint that I have with it is [that] I should have connected this differently — I should have stayed on this note longer or shorter. It's really such a minor adjustment — it means nothing to the people listening, but it means things to me."
On how he approaches writing instrumental music:
Marty: "The first thing I always, maybe subliminally, have in mind is that my guitar is going to be the singer if I'm doing a song that doesn't have lyrics. When I play melodies, it's distinctly different from when I'm playing runs or fills or riffs or phrases. I'm really channeling the heart of a vocalist a lot of the time, which I've had a lot of experience doing just from the nature of my music. It's kind of unnatural for a guitar player to do that, and luckily, it's been something that has evolved along with my playing, so I try to really be a vocalist [through the guitar]... If you were listening to some Turkish folk song, you probably wouldn't know what the lyrics are, but somehow, something in the vocal inflections and the melodies resonates with you, and you don't even know what they're talking about. I realized this a long time ago before I could speak Japanese and I was listening to Japanese music — I didn't know what they were saying, but I was receiving these emotional impulses. I'm like, 'That means that you don't have to use words to get emotion across,' and so I really tried to be a vocalist with my guitar. My guitar is speaking in a language that are not the words that everybody knows."
On why he thinks guitar-based music has remained popular in Japan:
Marty: "I think Japanese [people] as a society actually really like the guitar. This probably comes — and this is my own crazy theory — but I think in traditional Japanese music, there's a shamisen, which is a three-stringed instrument that's kind of like a guitar. If you adjust it a certain way, it actually distorts — it sounds like a distorted guitar. That's been in Japanese folklore and traditional music for hundreds of years, so it kind of passes down through generations. The guitar is not too far of a stretch from the shamisen. I think that people of all ages really like guitar in their music in Japan, whether it be dance music, pop music, R&B music, traditional music, Japanese music, folk music, EDM. I think Japanese people just have some kind of gravitation to the guitar as an instrument, and I like that. Personally, I think the guitar is the same as any other instrument — I don't have any special fondness for the instrument itself — but I think that sound is what represents rock music and heavy metal music, and that sound is something that I love, and something I can easily put into my music."
On branching out into other genres of music:
Marty: "'Heavy metal' as a genre, if you have to stick in that genre, it's really quite limiting, especially in the world of commercial music. But heavy metal as spirit and heavy metal as a way of life and a sound that you love is not limiting at all. As a matter of fact, it's one of my biggest thrills to add an element of heavy metal into music that heavy metal doesn't belong [in] — like, the ultimate poppiest, poppiest music, but giving it a big, heavy, distorted guitar and a wild guitar solo. It's, like, so illegal that it's cool... it's just like infecting this world with heavy metal. That's kind of what you have to do — you can't do this traditional, old-school, heavy metal, purist stuff and think that normal people out there are going to find it interesting in 2019, but I think people — especially lately — are finding ways to have that glorious fuzzy guitar sound mixed into other genres, and that's going to happen more and more. I think that's what is going to keep hard music alive — the way people invade popular, mainstream music with the feeling of heavy metal."
Friedman's 14th solo record, "One Bad M.F. Live!!", was released on October 19. The album was recorded in Mexico City on April 14 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 will kick off an American tour in support of the album in San Diego, California on January 23. The Texas-based "super metal" group IMMORTAL GUARDIAN will open.