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Exclusive interview with Marty!
03 April 2008
Transcript of an IM chat with Marty on 3 30 08

MF.COM

 

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.

 

MF

 

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, 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.

 

.COM

 

Even though you you`ve been touring and having a career there for so long?

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

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 DVD!

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

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?

 

MF

 

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 everything.

 

.COM

 

What do you mean by certain things? How about an example?

 

MF

 

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. 

 

.COM

 

To what standard did you choose which tunes to do? Was it the record company`s decision?

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

Do you think you have achieved that?

 

MF

 

Of course! You tell me!

 

.COM

 

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 all.

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

That is a good way to look at it, I think.

When will countries other than Japan get to hear Future Addict?

 

MF

 

Later this year. Before that, the Live in Europe album will come out in the US. Actually that just came out in Europe.

 

.COM

 

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.

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

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?

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

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.

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

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?

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

You are also producing quite a few artists in Japan, you call Jeremy in to record with them too?

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

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 Japan thing?

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

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”?

 

MF

 

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!

 

.COM

 

As a Kiss fan you must have been excited to do it, how did you and Gene get along?

 

MF

 

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 long career.

 

.COM

 

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 book?

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

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?

 

MF

 

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 amazing music.

 

.COM

 

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.

 

MF

 

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.

 

.COM

 

Very cool. I`m going to wrap this up here unless you have anything else you would like to add right now.

 

MF

 

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 working on.

 
 
 
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