| Hello Me
03 July 2002
| Taken from: Guitar School Magazine
When I made Scenes, it really wasn't during my free time.
I was doing a couple of videos for Megadeth in addition to some other
band stuff, so I had to juggle a lot of balls and work really late and
crazy hours. So, when a month became available, I thought to myself,
'It's a sign that I have to go in and make this record!'
Like his last critically acclaimed solo effort, the nature of Friedman's
next solo album is nothing like his cranium-crushing collaborations with
Mustaine and Co. In fact, it's the exact opposite! When in "Megadeth mode",
Mr.Friedman is a bona fide architect of balls-to-the-wall, mondo-gain
aggression. But get him alone, and the musical picture he paints is much
"I have a split musical personality of immense proportions," laugh Friedman.
"One side's black and the other's white - and nowhere the two shall meet!
In my Dragon's Kiss and Cacophony days, the two definitely
did meet and merge, but now they're absolutely split in half - they're
two separate entities."
We recently cornered this axe-wielding Jeckyll and Hyde at a secret location
in Arizona, where he and the rest of Megadeth are writing the eagerly
awaited follow up to the multi-platinum Countdown To Extinction.
Here's an update on what's been going on in Marty Friedman's two parallel
- GUITAR SCHOOL:When we can expect to see the new solo album?
And what it will be called?
- MARTY FRIEDMAN: I've only got a working title for it
that I don't want to mention because it'll probably change later today!
[laughs] As far as the release date goes, I'd really like it to hit
the store two or three months aftter the next Megadeth album comes out.
But actually, it looks like my solo album may not be finished yet!
- GS: What do you mean? I heard that it
was already recorded, mixed and ready to be mastered.
- FRIEDMAN: Let me explain! I gave Kitaro [the famous
Japanese New Age composer and film scorer] a copy of my finished and
mixed tape at the Heaven And Earth movie premiere. Three weeks later
he called me up and said, "I have to work on this music. There are some
really beautiful things here."
- GS: I know that Kitaro is one of your biggest
musical heroes. Hearing such praise from him must have made you feel great.
- FRIEDMAN: It blows my mind that he even gives me the
time of day! [laughs]
- GS: Although your new material has the same basic vibe
at Scenes, this collection certainly couldn't be considered
- FRIEDMAN: Absolutely not. After doing Scenes, I made
a conscious effort to analyze my writing. I feel that the new album is
a lot more beautiful and emotional. And it's much more melodic than
anything I've done before, because I relied less on playing the guitar
and more on creating strong melodies that can stand by themselves. I mean,
if a melody isn't strong, then it's not going to sounds good - but if
I played it on the guitar, I made sure that every guitar moment is cool
and unique. Guitar may have taken a back seat on this album in terms of
quality. I've never been one for arbitrarily playing guitar stuff anyway;
I always put a lot of thought behind each note.
- GS: Did the fact that you used with the same core
team that worked on Scenes [Nick Menza, drums; Brian Becar, keyboards;
Steve Fontano, engineer/co-producer] make the whole recording process
easier this time around?
- FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. Nick and I play together
every day - we've gotten to the stage where we can pretty much read
each other's mind! Nick is an amzing palyer; he's the best drummer for me
to work with. He's got a real musical ear, and his contributions are
Technically , Brian can play anything I can think of. In my opinion, he's
the ultimate voice for every instrument I can't play and that has to be
done on a keyboard. Since the only instrument I can play is guitar, he's
- GS: So aside from drums, bass and guitar, the
bulk of the sounds on Scenes and the new album are samples?
- FRIEDMAN: For the most part. I'd obviously love to
be able to use a full 70-piece orchestra, but some of us can't afford that
luxury! But I did get to use a few real instruments on this album.
I hired studio uys to put down some cello and violin parts.
- GS: Samples or not, there are some great sounds
on your new album.
- FRIEDMAN: Thanks, I managed to get hold of some amazing
samples that aren't available to the public. They enabled me to do things
that I would have been able to do with the samples that are out there because
a lot of them sound chessy. I think I barely got away with the samples I
used on Scenes, so I was more than a little apprehensive about using
too many samples this time. Don't get me wrong, I really like the sounds of
Scenes, but they just don't sounds like real instruments. We made
a lot of compromises in reagrd to waht samples were used where on Scenes.
For example, in places where I'd say, "I need a string section here," I'd use
a completely unrelated sample called "Tranquility" or something because
the "strings" sample we had sounded nothing like a string section.
The sample I have now are so good, they're basically the same as using real
That opened a lot of doors for me because I could actually use the sounds I
had in mind when I wrote the stuff.
- GS: Where did you find of samples of such quality?
- FRIEDMAN: My engineer, Steve Fontano, has a friend
named Alex Wilkenson who scores mobies and television shows. He has access to
some amazing samples, like a really awesome oboe and bass clarinet sound
and a flute sample that's so good, you swear you're hearing a real flute.
I ended up using a good 30 to 40 different sounds from him. Actually, before
I met Alex, we'd recorded the entire album using some really good sample with
Brian's equipment and some rented gear. But when I hooked up with Alex and
discovered that his samples wre even better than the ones we had, I called Brian
and said, "Dude, I need you to do me a big favor - replay everything!"
- GS: Many people don't like sampled music because,
regardless of how good the samples are, they're invariably used without
any appreciation of how the instrument being emulated would perform a particular
part in the first place.
- FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. That's very good point. Also,
being aware of how different instruments interact within a real
orhestra is vitally important if you want your work to sound authentic. Every
part, however small, has to be in context. The way I write is to try and phrase
each part exactly how it would be played on the actual instrument.
It's not like I have an oboe play a lead guitar line! I imagine that I have
a full orchestra to work with and think accordingly. Thankfully, due to Brian's
talent and technique, he can pretty much play anything so that it fits any
instrument's natural phrasing. I don't think I could have pulled this album
off with a lesser player.
- GS: As you write and arrange all of your own
material, have you ever considered using a MIDI guitar and doing the bulk
of the playing yourself ?
- FRIEDMAN: I have not found a MIDI guitar that is
tracked well enough to do that. Someday soon that technology will be
avaiable and then I will be able to do a whole album by myself!
- GS: You have been a full-time member of Megadeth for over four years now,
and the band is incredibly busy.When do you find time to compose your solo
material? Do you work on it while you are on tour with Megadeth, or is it
something you tend to zone in on those rare moments when you are at home?
- FRIEDMAN: I write all the time. My solo stuff just
kind of comes to me out of the blue. Whenever it does, I record it on a
cassette and I saved it. Then, when I have got a whole bunch of idea tapes
stored away, I will listen to them all and pull the best ones. Onces I have
at that stage, the chances are that I will have more than enough compatible
material to form a conceptual album. Since my concept of melody has not
really changed at all over the past 10 or 15 years, I find that ideas I
have been sitting on for years fit together really well with my more
recent work. Actually some of the stuff on the Scenes album was written
back when I was 15, some of it was written the day before I went in to
- GS: Does the new album also contain any ideas
that were spawned long time ago?
- FRIEDMAN: No, Scenes effectively cleared out
the bulk of my back-catalog. The experience I gained making that record
gave me a much better concept of what a finished product could be like
that is not a full on, rock/metal format. After Scenes was done I found
myself thinking, "Well,I wish I would have done this melody line on a
violin, and that one on an instrument other than guitar." So, on the new
album, I kind of had other instruments in mind as I was writting and
recording, which made the whole thing much more of a challenge.
As I have already mentioned, in orchestral works, certain instruments
blend together well while others do not-you have to be aware of those rules.
Also, in order to get a true orchestral effect, certain instrumental
sections have to be panned a certain way and you've got to know about that
stuff, too. I've been learning a little things like that along the way,
so that knowledge has definitely helped make it really exciting to create
this type of music.
- GS: Even though you've said that your concept of
melody hasn't really changed over the last fifteen years, the difference
between your current solo work and your earlier stuff is like night and
day. You've gone from distorted, heavy shred-mania to mellow and moody.
How would you describe this dramatic mood swing?
- FRIEDMAN: I think that it's really the same music,
but now I have a much better idea of how to present my melodies.
Nowadays, my energy is channled in a much more positive direction.
In the old days, I'd try and take all the concepts I'd been practicing
and put 'em together in a big, pyrotechnic stew - that doesn't always
I used to want complete reckless abandon all the time, bit U also wanted
gut-wrenching, beautiful melodies. The trouble is, you can't really put
two pounds of baloney in a one-pound bag! A perfect sample of what I'm
talking about is the song "Thunder March" of Dragon's Kiss. Listen
to "Triumph" on Scenes. It's the same song! The difference is that in
"Triumph" you can hear what's going on instead of confusing wall of
harmonized guitars, distortion and drums. I've learned that melody and
arrangement are what's important; every-thing else is secondary.
I used to think it was vital that you could hear every single guitar
part, but in reality the only thing that matters is getting a piece of
music out so it can be heard correctly.
- GS: Is this a classic case of older and wiser?
- FRIEDMAN: Yeah, I've definitely grown a lot and have
matured with regard how to present my music and finding out what's best
about it. My vision used to be somewhat blurred. I'd go into the studio
thinking, "Well, I know I've got all of these cool guitar parts I'm gonna
do, and they'll turn out really bithin'.. "Nowadays I find that before
I even go into studio I have very good idea of exactly what I'm going to do
and how to finished product is going to sound.
That makes me much more excited than just wondering if I'm going to nail my
guitar parts or not. Having said all this, I'm really happy with a lot of the
old stuff I did and am proud of my accomplishments.
- GS: Even though you consider your current solo work
not to be far removed from your pre-Megadeth material, I'd imagine that the
typical Megadeth fan would be able to listen to Dragon's Kiss and Countdown
To Extinction back to back without problem. However, many will probably
think, "What the hell is this wimpy crap?" after listening to scenes
or your upcoming solo album.
- FRIEDMAN:I know exactly what you mean, and I was a
little concerned that it might freak people out. When I was 16 or 17,
I liked Black Sabbath and The Scorpions but if suddendly one of those guys
had come out with a solo album that was both completely balls-out distortion,
I would have thought it sucked no matter haw great it was! So, I can relate
to that kind of thing and I totally respect it.
That's how I used to feel,and I still sort of feel that way.
Amazingly, I've heard more about Scenes from Megadeth fans than any of my
old stuff-and it's all been very positive. I think that kids today are a lot
more open-minded, thanks to all the imformation that's instantly available
to them via cable TV. Actually, some guy at the last NAMM (National
Assosition of Music Merchants) show-a total rock dude who looked like
he goes home and cranks Black Sabbath - told me that he liked Scenes so
much that he played it at his wedding! That just blew my mind.
- GS: You mentioned earlier that you've been doing a
lot of thinking about other instruments in terms of phrasing. Has that
affected your approach to the guitar?
- FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. It helped with my solo material
and it's helping with my playing in Megadeth. Right now we were working on
material for our next album. There are so many creative forces around the
band,and with Dave (Mustaine)and Max Norman producing, I might be called
on at any time to play a Raga groove or tribal-type lick, or something that
sounds like it's from new Guinea. You never know!
- GS: Speaking of Megadeth, in the previous
incarnations of the band it semed that Dave Mustaine and Junior Ellefson
ran the show when it came to writing new material. Now I get the distinct
impression that the band is slowly becoming "one" when it comes to the
- FRIEDMAN:That's totally correct. I feel we've come
a long way as far as writing goes. Now it's less about each person
contributing riff and the others embellising it and putting in their
entire 100%. "Go To Hell" [Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey] was the first time
all of four of us sat down to write something together. To me, "99 ways
To Die" [Beavis And Butt-Head Experience] really opened up he doors as
far as us seriously becoming a band that's really four guys coming up
with stuff and working together. "99 Ways..." was probably the most fun
and enjoyable recording experience we've ever had. It only took three
or four days to do, and they just flew by because there was such a great
vibe happening. We're trying to carry that vibe throughout the new album.
- GS: I realize that you're still early in production,
but how's the new Megadeth material turning out?
- FRIEDMAN:It's the same but different-if that makes
any sense ! As soon as you hear it you know it's definitely Megadeth; there
is no way that';; ever change because we are what we are, and none of the
four of us is ever going to change so much that the overall picture will
be different. But, over the course of the last album and tour, and because
of the life in general, we've all grown as people as people and musicians.
Also, we know each others' weakness and strong points a lot better, so we're
capitalizing on that knowledge and understanding a lot more than we ever
did before. I've never been as excited about a Megadeth record as I'm now-even
at this early stage. And I don't get excited very easily-because I'm usually
too busy working!
- GS: Do you have any idea when Megadeth fans can
expect this new album to hit the streets?
- FRIEDMAN: Not really. It could be early nest year, late
this year or even sooner. Who knows? We're just working this album at our
own pace. There's no pressure on us from the record company, which is cool.
The studio we're using is ours, so there's no studio time resraints to worry
- GS: You guys have bought studio?
- FRIEDMAN: No, we're having one built in Arizona so
we'll be the only people that will ever record there. We're gonna destroy it
once we're done!
- GS: What about the mixing board and all the recording
- FRIEDMAN: We'll save all the equipment, but the building
will be torn down. There won't be any ghosts of past artists lurking in the
studio-it's for Megadeth only.
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