| Marty Friedman's stepping stone
01 April 1990
| Article from: Metal Attack
Eyebrows were raised among thrash fans when guitar ace
Marty Friedman, star of guitar band Cacophony (that also
included former David Lee Roth strings-man Jason Becker)
joined Megadeth to replace Jeff Young. He was rated as a
virtuoso but was he the ri ght man for the Megadeth concept?
Events have proved that he was the ideal man for the job.
Certainly the gig came at the right time for Friedman as he
explained when we met Marty recently. Cacophony had just
fallen apart and Marty was desperately looking for a spot with
his own act whatever the musical style. There were fears that
this talented virtuoso would land in a pop rock band wasting his
talent. But happily everything fell into place. Friedman was
invited to join the musically adventurous Megadeth to record
the brilliant 'Rust In Peace' album and play Europe on their
'Clash Of The Titans' tour. To hear about Marty joining and his
future role in the band we talked to the guitarist himself. We
were also delighted to be joined by Mustaine's long time
oartner and Megadeth co-founder, the healthy looking and
always cheerful bass-man David 'Junior' Ellefson.
Perhaps the latter was sitting in to check out Marty's interview but it
was great to see him anyway and he gave us his views on the
so-called 'Clash Of The Egos!', Kuwayt and... Marshians?!
Not long ago alcohol and drugs were problem for both Dave's. But
now the guys are really making progress. Dave:"Yeah Dave and me
are a lot stronger and can resist temptation better."
Marty Friedman's two albums with Cacophony were called 'Speed
Metal' ('87) and 'Go Off' ('88). Those and his solo album 'Dragon's
Kiss' ('88) weren't really commercial hits but his playing and
sensitivity had a unique quality. Funnily enough, Dave Ellefso n didn't
know much about Marty's more recent work.
- DAVE:"I'd never heard those albums. Dave Mustaine, had of
course but I only knew Marty from his Hawaii records. We heard
that Marty was looking for a band and we said 'Well, whatever
happens, let him drop by'. A pretty bad attitude, actually!"
To the ones of you who don't know: Hawaii was the band with
whom Marty Friedman recorded his first album called 'One Nation
Underground' (1983), an album that is a neglected speed metal
- MARTY FRIEDMAN: "I didn't have the faintest idea what they had heard of me.
Cacophony and the solo LP don't show at all my possibilities.
Hawaii was aggression-wise much closer to Megadeth and on the
other hand I didn't know what direction they were going in bec
ause 'No More Mr.Nice Guy' was just released and it really didn't
sound heavy. But at the audition they said 'F**k that song!' And I
can live with that."
- DAVE:"We will never play that song live. We recorded it 'cos Alice
Cooper asked us to. Due to the common problems we have, Dave
and me had a really good thing going with Alice. At the
beginning they asked Alice himself to record a new version of the
so ng for the film 'Shocker' but he had to tour and asked us
whether we wanted to do a cover version. One thing led to
another and at once there was the single, a video and a hit in
England. It got completely out of hand and we didn't plan it that
way. The h ardcore Megadeth fans thought we had wimped out,
but of course it's stupid to apologise for the fact we scored a hit!"
Even if Megadeth had turned into a Madonna cover band, Marty
would still have joined. Back in January 1990 Friedman was
unemployed and he says candidly: "At that time I would have done
anything for money man! I was totally broke and didn't get any
roya lties off my last album..."
Ellefson started to laugh: "Yeah, you lived in a shit hole apartment,
- MARTY FRIEDMAN: "You'd better believe it! I was sitting in the middle of
Hollywood in a four hundred dollars a month apartment, with no
locks on the door, no security. I was surrounded by freaks
partying all night, hookers and poverty. I didn't care about the m
usic at that stage, I just had to join a band. But I couldn't have
done better than joining Megadeth and now I don't have to take
care of all the commercial stuff. In fact I wasn't too satisfied with
- THE TWO DAVES THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY. SAID ELLEFSON:
"Well in the past
we always tried to find musicians to replace whoever had just
left, but this time we were looking for real people instead of
clones of Poland and Young. He was one of the few guys who
knew how to play rhythms. A lot of people can only play solos,
but rhythm and a band feel are also important. In Megadeth we
need complete musicians, with the right spirit and attitude. When
Marty walked in it clicked immediately."
- MARTY FRIEDMAN: "First of all I studied the songs from their first three
albums, and nothing from the new stuff because they were afraid
that if I didn't make it, I would steal all their ideas and say 'Hey
Jason, lets re-form Cacophony, I have a lot of new songs !"
NO JAPANESE PLEASE!
There was another reason for Marty learning the old Megadeth stuff
- MARTY FRIEDMAN: "Dave has a strange style of playing riffs, and listening to
the early songs helped me to get into that. It wasn't that easy
because he takes care of every nuance, and that's great because
most bands are happy if you can play in the same key toge ther.
Dave will let you know if you've placed your hand half an inch in
the wrong position. I like that. It's a pity Mustaine didn't have a
lot of time to go through all the stuff but I learned a lot off
"Yeah I play a little bit of guitar myself and because of
my long association with Dave I could teach Marty how things
had to be done."
It must all have been a big change for Marty. With Cacophony and
on his solo album he had complete artistic freedom. With Megadeth
he had to play his part in an overall concept.
"It was a big but welcome change. Now I don't have to carry the
whole burden on my shoulders. I just do what I have to do,
playing guitar solos within the songs. My work is much more
streamlined, which is more important because I have to do more
in a c ertain space. In the early days I'd have 45 minutes on an
album and we'd say, 'What shall we do with it? just put zillions of
solos in there.' Now I have to focus my work, and concentrate
more. Megadeth is a big challenge and there is a much bigger
audien ce. With Cacophony it wasn't so important what you did,
because only twenty thousand people heard what you did. Now
we are gambling on a million. Of course now I can't put all my
Stravinsky influences into my playing - the others won't let me,
ha, ha! (Junior shakes his head in agreement). It's a challenge for me
to do difficult things that a lot of people can listen to. It's easy to play
'difficult' things but the hard part is to make it accessible."
Dave:"The songs only sound so complex due to the arrangements.
The riffs alone aren't that hard but it's the way they are
connected to each other."
- MARTY FRIEDMAN:
"Mustaine is very precise. His way of building up a song is
brilliant. He knows how to work towards a climax in a song. To
play riffs and put them in order is not so hard but the clever bit is
building them up. I never used to do that and was mor e
concerned with lead playing. Luckily I didn't have to change my
solo style, only my riffs. I always play for myself but the real
challenge now is to satisfy others. In the studio I had with
producer Mike Clink and the band, a lot of good ears around me
, so if something sounded too Egyptian or Japanese or just
'weird' - they let me know."
"None of that Japanese playing please!"
Friedman believes he will take a wider role in the future.
- MARTY FRIEDMAN:
"Yeah, I will compose a bit more. Not whole songs but
definetely parts of them."
His solo-plans for the second album are on ice for the moment.
In fact I have written ideas and put them on tape for my
next solo album but I don't know whether I will ever release it.
This tour with Megadeth will take a year and after that we start
writing for the next album. My solo album exist, but..." Dave
teased:"But only as an idea in Marty's brain!"
Finally we discussed the Clash Of The Titans tour. Had it become
the Clash Of Egos?
"Not really. Look with all those big bands you are bound to
have competition but we are on different levels, sounds-wise,
attitudes-wise and presentation-wise, everything is different.
Slayer really suprised me. I hadn't seen them for four years a nd
hadn't thought much about them, but now they are really good.
Seven years ago Kerry King played together with Dave and me.
(He helped out Megadeth on live gigs a few times -RH). But then
he started to do that Slayer stuff and I thought, 'Oh man, do
something reasonable.' But nowadays they are really the best in
their field. They sound like a war machine man! There can't be a
clash between Megadeth and Slayer because we sound so
But what about Suicidal Tendencies and Testament, who have
both complained about bad sound on their tour. Ellefson denied
responsibility for that.
"Look, Slayer and Megadeth are of course the headliners. We
have worked hard to get here but we are nevertheless
sympathetic towards our support bands. We went thought a lot of
stuff in the past and got bad treatment, use of only half a PA etc.
Headlin ers are often afraid of newcomers so they cheat. We
don't do that. Personally I'm pleased about this tour. It's a really
heavy package and it gives us a chance to play some of our
harder songs. We finally got to play some heavy shit again!"
from: Metal Attack 4/90