| By Mayzan (the webmaster of MartyFriedman.com)
MAYZAN: Thank you Marty for taking the time to do this chat with me, I`m sure all of our visitors have been waiting for this interview as well. And congratulations on the initial success of "Loudspeaker"!
MF: Thanks and no problem!
MAYZAN: It`s been a while since we did an interview for the site, lots to talk about over the last few months for you, but let`s start by talking about "Loudspeaker". Was there a main concept or theme in making the album?
MF: If anything I knew I wanted to make the most aggressive album of my career so far. Ever since I came to Japan, I have been doing such an insane variety of things, and believe me I have enjoyed everything thoroughly. By playing with techno pop stars and doing mainstream TV all the time I`m sure that I have confused more than a few of my fans who have supported me for a long time. I think a lot of them realize that there are a lot of things I wanna do, but really wish that I would come out with an album of what I`m most known for. That was the only real concept I focused on for "Loudspeaker".
MAYZAN: That`s what the album sounds like to me, but I think you have really surprised a lot of people with an album like this. There are a lot of fans who think that you are into pop now and that`s it. When did you record this album?
MF: I am into pop! I just love music period. I have my own taste in music and it is probably a bit weird too. I just happen to have a ton of music in my system that I need to play. What I find fun and challenging in music is the pushing the extremes. I recorded "Loudspeaker" over 14 months a little at a time, while doing all the other things I do. So for example one day I may be playing a dance pop tune live with Ami Suzuki, then the next day writing and producing a ballad for Clair, then the next day playing a Japanese Enka song on TV then the next day I would go into the studio for "Loudspeaker" and work on a sick heavy track like "Stigmata/Addiction".
MAYZAN: What I like about the album is that it doesn`t show that pop side of you at all, it`s pure heavy all the way.
MF: I`m glad you like it, but that`s where you are a bit wrong, I have to say. Doing a wide variety of mainstream music and working with the top producers, writers and artists has given me a great insight on how to make heavy music more exciting and powerful. I`ve learned that even though a genre may be different, being influenced by people who are top class in their field can rub off in a big way on whatever you do. If you want to get technical, some of the song structures, key changes and modulations on the record are very pop, or j-pop in nature. It`s just that I may be playing at warp speed or detuned to low B or soaking in distortion so there is little chance that one would hear the record and think it`s poppy. I feel like it`s like when the metal meets well thought out structures it becomes more powerful.
MAYZAN: Come to think of it, you are the only artist to truly do a metal instrumental record. I mean, you have some great guests like Steve Vai, John Petrucci and Billy Sheehan on "Loudspeaker" and we all know how great they are but they really aren`t known for metal. When they do their instrumental albums, it`s more progressive than anything else. I guess for a lot of their fans, this is the first time to hear those guys in a full metal context. How was it working with them?
MF: I`ve been lucky enough to make some good friends who play fantastic. They all were very cooperative and seemed to enjoy doing their parts very much. For me it was a big experiment, I wanted to get these guys to play the most aggressive way they could because as a fan I really wanted to hear them in a full metal context like you say. They tore right through it and were so easy to work with. When John came into the studio, it reminded me of jamming with Jason Becker.
MAYZAN: In what way?
MF: John would come up with a phrase, I would love it but suggest changing a few notes. John would make the change, but then change it again to make it even cooler than I thought it would be. That would inspire me to tweak it once again, then he would get another idea and the whole thing would keep snowballing until we finally get this insane solo. Then we kinda have to stop because there would be no end to the constant friendly one-upmanship. Cacophony was like that too.
MAYZAN: Are you competitive when it comes to other guitar players?
MF: Not in the slightest. I find that whenever I`m around a good player, I just want to absorb any knowledge I can from them, while at the same time show them some of my stuff and explain it if asked.
MAYZAN: Tell us about the album cover. You and I have had a few good laughs about your past album covers! What was different this time?
MF: My longtime fans know I have had some damn shitty album covers over my career! Anytime I do an autograph signing, without fail someone shows up with a Hawaii album and it`s all over! Cacophony was not much better either. What can I tell you? Actually some of my solo album covers barely squeak by the OK meter in my opinion. Just barely. I actually liked the Music For Speeding cover but even then a lot of people didn`t think much of it. Up until now my favorite album cover of my career was Youthanasia. That was an awesome cover!
MAYZAN: "Loudspeaker" has a very cool cover in my opinion, what did you do different this time!?
MF: This time I had a concept of what I wanted, I knew who I wanted involved, and challenged all of them to make something that they could be really proud of. I am extremely happy with this cover, finally!
MAYZAN: Will the cover be the same outside of Japan? And while we`re on the subject what can you tell us about the worldwide release of "Loudspeaker"?
MF: The cover will likely be the same all over the world. There is some Japanese writing on it and we are debating whether to keep it or change it outside of Japan. Other than that it should be the same. We are planning a worldwide release, late fall this year.
MAYZAN: "Loudspeaker" charted at #20 in Japan, and sold out of its first pressing on the very first day of release, congratulations! It is particularly amazing for an instrumental album. What do you think made that happen and why not until now?
MF: I would like to think that it`s my best record yet and it probably is, but as you know there is so much more that goes into selling a record. Being on TV every week for the last year certainly is a factor. The first class team of my management and record company is a luxury that I have never had for my solo work before. All of those things play a part, I`m sure.
MAYZAN: You just did a performance with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, have you ever done anything like that before? How was it and will we be able to see it?
MF: It was for a TV show so it was filmed. It was a blast! I had done something similar in San Francisco when I played Jason Becker`s "End of the Beginning" with the San Francisco Community Orchestra which was a great experience, but the level of musicianship is completely different between a community orchestra and a world class 70 piece orchestra. It was unbelievable. The arranger did a fabulous job with my song, "Paradise Express" and the 2 other songs that I played. It was an awesome learning experience all the way around because the structure of an orchestra is so completely different from a band. All of the mental timing cues that you are used to from playing in a rock band are gone and it took some getting used to in rehearsals.
MAYZAN: Obviously broadcast is Japan only?
MF: That`s right. August 26th at 6PM on NHK.
MAYZAN: On a completely different subject, we got this email at the site, and I wanted to know what you thought about it.
Since Feburary I have been running the myspace profile posing to be your official one? For awhile now I have been feeling rather guilty because I feel like I have been decieving over 4000 people, including Jason Becker, Jeff Loomis, Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Nick Menza, and many other people.. I truly feel terrible.
Because of these people asking this I would like to know if I could have your permission to actually keep it running as the true official Myspace for you. With you being able to check it and use it, of course... I would completely re-design it according to how you would like me to and everything. I just thought I could bring that as an offer to you, that's your choice man. If you don't want me to I completely understand.
I'd like to also sincerly apologize for what I have done. I do feel guilty because of it..
MF: I don`t really have an opinion on this. I`m sure the net is full of imposters all across the board. For the record, as you know, the only site on the net that I have anything at all to do with is this one.
MAYZAN: I know that but the fact is there are many of your fans out there being deceived by people like this.
MF: If people want to pretend to be other people on the net, I say it`s lame, but whatever gets you off. I would like to think that people don`t necessarily believe everything they read on the net. Either way, the only thing that matters to me is the music, and that is the only thing I can control.
MAYZAN: You and I have been doing this site since the beginning, and your fans have come to trust the info here.
MF: You say you and I but it is mostly you! Great job, my friend. I would like to contribute more but I can either make music or talk about it.
MAYZAN: But you do have a `Marty`s Report` blog-type section in the Japanese side of the site, why not here?
MF: That is a place where I write short blurbs in Japanese about the events and stuff that I do in Japan. I prefer to chat with you like this for the English side.
MAYZAN: I can tell you that the rest of the world is very interested in when you will do anything outside of Japan. The majority of the emails that come here are basically asking that.
MF: I am planning a tour of Europe for early next year. It has been way too long since I have played there live aside from guitar clinics and special events. I`m also considering the U.S. and South America, but it is way too early to comment on that.
MAYZAN: We all hope that happens! Thanks for chatting, Marty.
MF: Thanks for your great work on the site! See you soon.