| By Mayzan (the webmaster of MartyFriedman.com)
Thanks for visiting www.martyfriedman.com! I recently had the chance to speak with Marty at good length so let`s get straight to it. Enjoy the first part and the next one will be up next week.
MAYZAN: Thanks for chatting with me today, it`s been a long time. Actually our visitors probably don`t know this, but I have been running your site since the very beginning but I have yet to meet you in person! I`m going to see you live in Singapore and I`m really excited.
MF: Me too. It`s about time! Just so everyone knows, you started up this site completely on your own and I was just blown away by your cutting edge web abilities, which especially back then was very impressive.
MAYZAN: Thanks, man! I remember walking you through basic computer stuff back then, hopefully you are ok on your own by now..
MF: I forgot all about that! I sucked! We don`t need to go into too much detail about that now..
MAYZAN: Okay then! Today I want to talk about this year which has been a huge year so far for you, but first off, tell me about the new single! You have been talking about this collaboration with Andrew W.K. literally for years now, and it`s finally for real?
MF: I could not be happier about it. He is by far my favorite USA rock artist and I think we have made the ultimate mixture of our styles. The day I heard his first album, I said someday I`m definitely gonna work with that dude. Since then he guested on 2 of my TV shows over here, and I joined him on stage at his Tokyo concert a couple years back. We got along instantly. But who wouldn`t like the guy? He is about the friendliest, most positive and cooperative musician out there.
MAYZAN: What is the single about and how did it happen?
MF: The song is called “Kiba” which means “fang”. It came about when I was offered the opportunity to write the song that you will hear if you win the highest award on the most anticipated new Pachinko machine in Japan, “Souten no Ken”. In Japan this is likely the avenue which exposes music to the greatest number of people as this game will be displayed in every Pachinko center in the entire country. Andrew really went way beyond the call of duty perfecting his Japanese pronunciation to the point where locals don`t even know that it is a foreigner singing. It is truly an amazing vocal performance.
MAYZAN: When I heard the song, I felt like it`s totally Marty and at the same time it`s totally Andrew. It actually doesn`t sound like anyone could have done it other than you two guys.
MF: You could say that for sure. No one wanted to do anything experimental. Actually both of us do tons of different and sometimes surprising things. As you know I`m way into ballads and straight up pure pop, but musically I`m most known for intense guitar playing like on “Loudspeaker”. That`s cool too. Andrew`s latest album has lots of unique styles and dark, modern arrangements but he is most known for powerful, uplifting, party anthems. These are just facts. So even though both of us like to disregard any boundaries and go over the top into new territory, for better or worse, this time we made a real effort to do what we are most known for, I mean, it`s a Andrew W.K. and Marty Friedman record-you shouldn`t have to worry that it is a collection of gorilla mating calls.
MAYZAN: Ha! You never know with either of you guys1 Will this be available outside of Japan?
MF: On the single there is another version of Kiba sung in English, so the option is there but it is not the top priority now. There is also an instrumental tune on the single called “Battle Scars”.
MAYZAN: We reported that you will be working with the Taiwanese singer A-mei, you`re on tour with her now as we speak, so tell me something about that. I was actually a bit surprised that you are doing something outside of Japan other than your solo music.
MF: A lot of things led to it and it really is so cool. This fall, it really got close to the point where I was becoming over saturated on TV in Japan. With my next new solo product not coming out until late January, and a big TV year planned for next year, I really needed to cut down my exposure in Japan a bit so when I come out to promote my new release in February and March, it will stand out a little more and have more impact.
MAYZAN: So you wanted some time off?
MF: Not really. I`ve really become a workaholic the last few years, and I can`t stay still for long. So when A-mei offered me the tour, it was perfect because I could do something that I would love to do and get away from Japan a little at the same time. Musically it is a huge challenge being so different to what I have been playing before, a fresh new environment from which I`ll definitely come out learning something. That is what appealed to me the most.
MAYZAN: I know her music and it doesn`t seem to be what I envision you ever doing. It`s pretty much mainstream Chinese pop. Not as much rock as J-pop. I honestly can`t imagine you in that situation.
MF: Believe it or not, I have been a massive Chinese pop fan for years. One of my all-time favorites is Jay Chou, who like A-mei, is also from Taiwan. So the idea of diving straight into the arena/dome class level of that musical scene and finding out what makes it tick was exciting. On top of that, this tour is a new concept for her. Her idea was to get a guitarist with a name internationally that would have a considerable changing impact on her already established sound. I was flattered that I was offered such a responsibility. The other musicians aside from the A-mei and the Taiwanese backup singers are all top class Japanese musicians, including Takayoshi Ohmura who also plays in my solo band. That guy can adapt to any situation with so much ease and finesse, it`s amazing.
MAYZAN: That`s cool. It`s the first time for you doing anything like this? How was it to adjust to?
MF: It`s a little like the Suzuki Ami tour I did in `05 but on a much larger scale. Musically when it rocks I can blaze like crazy but on the ballads it`s the kind of thing where if you do the wrong chord voicing or a strange guitar fill or solo, it really stands out in a horrible way. With Suzuki Ami I had already got used to that good kind of pressure so playing with A-mei is no problem. But Chinese and Japanese musical sense is completely different, so I have to switch to a different part of my brain for a while, which is pretty fun. The coolest thing about it by far is actually being a part of these totally different cultures, which despite insane language barriers, have a blast cooperating to put on this massive show. It really makes you wonder why any cultures around the world don`t get along with other cultures.
MAYZAN: Japan and China are for the most part one race societies, unlike in Southeast Asia, where you see a lot of mixed cultural things on a regular basis. I guess you are getting a chance to experience something we are pretty much used to down here. As an American you probably could write a book on it! I should probably talk to you again after I see the show in Singapore, but what would you tell anyone who may be able to see the show in Asia?
MF: It is very likely that it is a one time only tour for me, as I am already committed to my solo recording and touring and Japanese TV and radio for the rest of 2010. That`s why you gotta check this out while it lasts! The tour is only 16 or so shows and I`m enjoying every minute of it. The show is long-between 3 and 4 hours, the light show and staging is jaw dropping, Lots of goosebumps moments. A-mei is a godlike singer, and way sexy performer and there is tons of guitar playing. Actually a lot of it is a side of my playing that I may have done on record before but rarely live. I really get to stretch out and play. And also, if you like the ballads from my solo albums, you will probably love A-mei`s ballads as well.
MAYZAN: Thanks so much for the update, my friend! We will catch up again in Singapore and until then safe travels!
MF: Same to you and again thanks so much to everyone who participates in this site, those who work on it and those who visit. Thanks for all your comments and questions. If I answered every single one there would be no time to make music, but I always do look forward to reading them.