Marty Friedman released incredibly exciting news earlier this month, as the guitar legend will be returning to North America for his first headlining tour in over a decade! Following the success of his latest solo album, “Inferno“, he has toured in Japan, Europe and South America, but he will be ending the year here, and fans couldn’t be more excited! Find out if he’s coming to your town here!
Last night I got to speak with Marty on the phone about the upcoming tour, his latest record, his long career, and much more! Enjoy the chat below!
Metal Mark: Marty, thank you so much for taking out the time tonight. How’s everything on your end?
Marty Friedman: Great to speak with you Mark. Everything is really exciting on my end right now. I’m doing these interviews for the upcoming tour, and the more I talk about it, the more excited I get!
MM: It sounds like you may be more excited than the fans are for your return to North America.
MF: I probably am man (laughs). This tour is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and never thought it would be a reality, due to different things happening, so now that I know it’s really going to happen, I couldn’t be happier. I wish it was September already!
MM: So do we Marty! From what I hear, the “Inferno” tour has been doing really well so far, and it’s a true spectacle to see.
MF: Yea, it’s been going awesome. Much better than expected honestly. We really wanted to do a proper tour, or else we wouldn’t do it ya know. The fans deserve it, especially in North America. It’s been a long time, but trust me, this show will be worth the wait.
MM: It wouldn’t be the “Inferno” tour without the “Inferno” album, and it’s just another remarkable release in your already stellar career.
MF: Wow, thank you so much man. I’m really glad you enjoyed it.
MM: I’m definitely not the only one who enjoyed it, because the response has been huge all over the world. I know you wanted this to be the ultimate record, and hold nothing back, so to get it out there, and hear the positivity from both fans and press has to be reassuring.
MF: Honestly it has blown my mind. I usually don’t pay much attention to reviews anymore, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was beyond surprised at how many people loved it. The response has been over the top, and I’m truly blessed for the fans I have. When I make an album, I put everything I have into it ya know. I never know how people are going to react, but I’m really touched at the response like I said. My own personal music taste is a bit warped, so I don’t expect people to jump on the bandwagon, and automatically love it. If you’ve enjoyed what I’ve done before, you will enjoy the record, but I’ve had people that have never heard of me tell me how much they loved the record, and that means the world to me.
MM: “Inferno” featured some great guest spots, but one that I was really blown away by was when I read that David Davidson of Revocation. I’m one of their biggest fans, so to hear you two shredders collaborate was just insane to me. How did that partnership come about?
MF: Yea, that song wasn’t easy (laughs). We pushed each other hard on that track, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. How that basically came about was that a friend at the record label showed me a Revocation video, and I was completely blown away. This is a weird thing to say, but when I heard it, I instantly thought that was what I hoped Megadeth was going to turn into ya know. It just felt like a futuristic version of Megadeth at the time, and I was hooked. Since you’re a fan you know, but for those that don’t, this band is incredible. Their sound is heavy and intense, their lyrics are meaningful, and their performance is just stellar. I really could have seen Megadeth go in that direction, so it was refreshing to hear. I listen to a lot of metal, but not much stands out anymore, but Revocation is one of those bands that stands out to me. They are just excellent at their craft, so to have Dave on that track on my record was an honor. That song really showcases the best of what we both have, and our styles are very evident in that track, which is sometimes hard to do with a collaboration. Plus, the drumming on that song is ridiculous, so I couldn’t be happier with what we came up with.
MM: You mentioned the drumming on that track, but honestly, your band sounds amazing on the entire record. I know it’s the Marty Friedman album, but the band behind you impressed the hell out of me.
MF: Thanks for saying that. I don’t think they get enough credit for what they do, so it’s nice to hear someone say that. Yea, they don’t suck (laughs). Over the years I played with a lot of great bands, and this group is no exception. We meshed well on the record, and the vibe when we get together is awesome as well. It makes for a better performance from each member, and a more enjoyable time for the fan, which is the point. We definitely have some surprises in store for the North American run.
MM: You have mentioned surprises a few times, and with your extensive catalog, how much fun was it to put that together?
MF: Oh it’s so much fan man. I know a lot of people dread making the set list, but not me. I absolutely love it. It’s even more exciting, because I know this stuff hasn’t been played live in the North America before ever, so it’s going to be a blast. Choosing the songs is a joy for sure, but I’m also really focused on the overall vibe of the show. It’s important for me that my band members outshine me by far, because I don’t want it to feel like one guy shredding on a guitar all night. Some people may enjoy that, but that’s not what I want ya know. It’s very important to keep the fan’s attention throughout, throw in some surprises, and do our best to give them a show they deserve. They pay their hard earned money to see us, so we need to entertain the fans as best as possible, and I know we will with what we have in store. Trust me on that.
MM: Wow, is it September yet?
MF: I wish! (laughs)
MM: Not only is this tour coming our way, but a documentary is coming our way as well. It was recently revealed that the shows will be professionally filmed, so will this be a live DVD release, or much more?
MF: Much more. Much, much more. We’ve actually been filming this documentary since January. It’s basically the story of my decision to move to Japan, what exactly I do here, and comes full circle to making this return to North America with the new album. So yes, there will be a ton of live footage from the road, but a lot more than that. Honestly, they probably have another year or so of filming before they can edit it down, so don’t be looking for it this year, but it’s definitely going to be something I think fans will enjoy. So yes, much more than a live DVD. It’s going to be a documentary of my crazy life, so I can’t wait for it to be complete.
MM: You are asked a lot about the decision to move to Japan, and why you love it there, and I really thought your love of the country came across well with the “Undertow” video. It wasn’t a normal instrumental video, but I thought it was incredibly well done.
MF: Thanks Mark. I definitely didn’t want the typical video that you see a lot of people do these days. I also wanted to show a side of Japan that not many people get to see. The whole look and feel of the video isn’t something a lot of people think of when they think of Japan, so I was really pleased with the response on that as well. It’s very typical of videos in Japan, and not the crazy game shows that most people see on YouTube or anything. It’s a wonderful place, and that video really showcased the look and feel I wanted very well.
MM: You’ve always been a musician that followed his heart, whether it was leaving other bands, moving to Japan, or whatever. You always seem to be looking forward in life, so what’s the next venture that you see for yourself?
MF: That’s an interesting question, because I’ve never really set goals for myself, or approached life that way. The only goal I’ve ever had was to make sure I was doing something better today than I was yesterday. I never want to be one of those artists where people say they only enjoyed my earlier stuff, or all of my stuff sounds the same. People may prefer different eras of my career, and I totally get that, but my own satisfaction comes from getting better each and every day. Whether it be musically or personally, it’s very important to me, and I’ve stuck by that my entire life.
MM: For a lot of fans, it’s almost impossible to think of you being better at guitar, because of the incredible work you’ve been a part of already in your career. I have to ask though, is there still a technique or sound that you still want to learn or can improve on?
MF: (laughs) Oh definitely! I think you would be very surprised at the lack of mechanical ability that I have. I’m super good at my own thing, I can say that, but I absolutely suck at most other people’s things. I’m definitely not the perfect guitar player at all. Actually I’ll give you an example of how bad I am at mimicking other people’s styles. One time I was producing an album with a band, and we only had one day left to finish up the guitars. We had about a week’s worth of material, so I knew I had to step in and help out, so we could get it done faster ya know. Man, I was awful at it (laughs). As hard as I tried, the parts always sounded like me. It was so frustrating, because I tried everything I could, but in the end, it still sounded like my playing. Luckily, I’m really good at my sound, or else I don’t know where I’d be in life. You name the technique, and I’m probably nowhere near as good as people tend to think. Fret-tapping, sweep-picking, anything with a name on it really, you’d be surprised at how bad I am at it (laughs).
MM: Well luckily you’re incredible playing your style!
MF: Thank God (laughs). Seriously, if someone asked to me join a project mimicking another player, I would try, but I guarantee it would still sound like me, and they would be looking elsewhere.
MM: It’s great to know that you are human after all (laughs).
MF: Totally human. That’s a fact.
MM: Very cool Marty. Thanks again for taking out the time tonight, and I can’t wait to see your show in New York City later this year. Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the fans?
MF: Just a sincere thank you for the support throughout the years. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve toured North America, but this run will make up for it. We have a ton of surprises like I said, new music for you to hear, and much more! I’ll see you on the road, and I’ll see you in New York Mark! Thanks!