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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
more serene.

"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
    "Scenes II"

  • 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
    always welcome.

    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
    very important!

  • 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
    orchestra players.
    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
    writing process.

  • 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
    about, either.

  • 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.