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01 January 2004
New Years Interview

WWW.MARTYFRIEDMAN.COM : It?fs been a great year at the site, and a great year for you as well, let?fs talk about what 2003 was like for you. First of all, how does it feel to be rapidly approaching one million hits on the site? You are at over 980,000 as of 12/31.

MARTY FRIEDMAN: Wow, that?fs pretty cool.
.COM: We get a lot of emails about the pictures in the gallery, you?fve got quite a few.
MF: If I were a fan, I would want to see those embarrassing ?eearly days?f pictures of any artist , so I don?ft have any problem letting mine out.
.COM: It was hard keeping up with you this year. Maybe you can point out some highlights?
MF: Definitely a lot of firsts for me this year. My first show at Budokan (with Sera Masanori), first J-pop single (?gAi No Uta?h by Aikawa Nanase), first appearance on major Japanese TV programs like Music Fair and Pop Jam, which are usually strictly relegated to domestic artists. I also got to visit a lot of places where I had never been before. And having survived several extensive Megadeth world tours, there really aren?ft a lot of places left that I haven?ft been to. I was able to play in Peru, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as Akita, Iwate, Nagashima and Yokosuka, Japan, all of which I had never been to before. It was also the first time I had ever done any kind of live touring of my solo music.
.COM: That was a pretty short tour, though.
MF: Yeah, but it proved to me that it actually could be done with a live band, in a real touring environment. Until now, the only time I played any solo stuff was during guitar clinics, either by myself or with a backing cd.
.COM: How did the music go over? Or more specifically what songs went over the best?
MF: As I expected, people want to hear me play the heavy aggressive stuff. ?gGimme A Dose?h and ?gFuel Injection Stingray?h seemed to do ok.
.COM: People are confused with your musical tastes and directions, you gotta expect that fans of your heavy stuff aren?ft exactly going to want to hear you playing teen idol stuff?cKind of a letdown to some hard core guys, don?ft you think?
MF: I get it! But my even though my tastes vary extensively, whatever I wind up playing, I pretty much do it my own sick little way, and with the same conviction and aggressiveness.
.COM: ?gMusic For Speeding?h went over pretty well with the hard core fans.
MF: For the most part. I still couldn?ft resist putting a couple of ballads on it. Why the hell do I always do that!? I did do some guitar work on an album by Tourniquet (?gWhen Moth And Rust Destroy?h) which is pretty much balls out all the way. Actually, if you?fre talking about sheer speed, I think maybe I played faster leads on that album than anything I had ever recorded before. Pretty hairy stuff. Lots and lots of guitar is what they asked for so I enjoyed dishing it out for them.
.COM: Tourniquet is a Christian band. Where do you stand on religion in music?
MF: I don?ft care what kind of band they are, their main songwriter, Ted Kirkpatrick is a good friend of mine and a fabulous musician. Religion has been a part of music ever since music (and religion for that matter) began. Personally though, if lyrics get too deep and depressing, I subliminally tune out. I mean, if I wanna be depressed, I can just turn on the news, right? I don?ft have to pay $18 for a cd to do that.
.COM: You?fve got a point there. So, on to a completely different topic, tell us about your New Years show. Last night, right?
MF: It was insane!! I had a show with Aikawa Nanase in Nagashima, Japan. It was an outdoor show at midnight on a cold, cold Japanese winter night. At the soundcheck, I literally could not feel my fingers at all, they were completely numb on the fretboard. The drummer always plays in shorts so he also looked pretty uncomfortable as we ran through a few songs. It was the kind of thing where you really wanna hear the board tape after the show is done, because you have no idea how your playing is gonna sound, because you can?ft feel anything! But the venue was next to a gorgeous Japanese Hot Springs resort, so in the long hours between soundcheck and the midnight show, a few band members and I enjoyed some time in the hot springs (or ?gOnsen?h in Japanese). There really is no experience like it and I would recommend anyone who comes to Japan not to return home without visiting one of these very traditional Japanese Mega-Resorts.
So 11PM comes by and we start our show in front of 30,000 people. Between the body heat and the stage lights, the finger numbness was a little better and the show went great. At 5 minutes before 12, we stopped, and about 15 cute female dancers came up on to the stage with us to lead the crowd in ?gAuld Lang Syne?h, in Japanese of course! Everyone was waving light sticks and it seemed right out of a Queen video. At midnight, massive fireworks went off and then we blasted into our final tune. After the show, it was back to the hot springs, and now I?fm back to work with you!
.COM: What are your favorite songs to perform with Aikawa Nanase, and how can people outside of Japan hear her music?
MF: I get that all the time, because you really have to go out of your way to find Japanese music outside of Japan! But you can find it. Try or go to a neighborhood in the city where they have Japanese shops. Not just music shops, sometimes you can find cds in imported food shops as well. Anyone working in a shop that sells Japanese will know Aikawa Nanase. Fave tunes? One song called ?gMidnight Blue?h is cool. The recorded version features Japanese legendary guitarist Hotei, and I love his weird playing. It is fun doing my take on his licks. I also like doing ?gAi No Uta?h because I played on the original and it?fs easy for me to copy my own licks! Also ?gR-sitei?h(?gRated R?h) is great. It?fs like a cross between Megadeth and the Stray Cats.
.COM: How is Aikawa as a singer? Or should I say Nanase?
MF: Nanase is her first name. She is a real star. She needs no rehearsal at all, she is always perfect. I was a major fan of hers before I joined the band, so when I look over at her while we are playing, it?fs so cool!
.COM: Did you get any interesting responses to the audition we put up on the site recently?
MF: Like I expected, I got a lot of stuff from guitar players. Really good players actually, one guy from Finland named Rai Ilander stood out. But mainly we are looking for vocalists to produce, and the few that we did hear just weren?ft what we are looking for.
.COM: Can you clear up the ?gMegadeth reunion?h rumors? Do you know what is happening with that? Are you in touch with Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson?
MF: What reunion? I?fm sure I answered this somewhere in the FAQ, but I don?ft know anything about any plans for that. I am on good terms with both of them and I hope only the best in whatever they want to do. I was flattered to be asked by Mustaine to participate in a solo project that he?fs working on, but as much as I?fd like to, I decided not to mainly because I wouldn?ft want to take away any thunder from a full fledged possible Megadeth reunion, if that were to ever come to pass in the future. I hear thru the grapevine that his new music is gonna be killer.
.COM: Speaking of the FAQ, that is a popular part of the site. We?fre glad that you take the time to answer so many questions.
MF: My pleasure. I actually got the idea from Gene Simmons?f website. At first, I thought it was lame that you could actually communicate with the ?eLarger than life?f Simmons, but I got over that and realized how cool it would be to actually get a response from the demon himself. So I try to get to as many as I can. They gotta be interesting, though!! No string gauges and frigean scales!!
.COM: Ok then, what string gauges to you use?!
MF: That?fs gotta be on the site somewhere, look it up!
.COM: What?fs in your CD player these days?
MF: Don?ft laugh, but the new Hilary Duff CD kills! It?fs like a poppier Garbage without the dark lyrics. Great production and at least 6 great tunes on it. I got this Godz compilation that is a lot of fun. The new Do As Infinity album is great as expected. I still love both Andrew W.K. albums.
.COM: So what?fs coming up in ?f04?
MF: All I can say is keep checking the site for updates. There will be many. I have quite a few appearances coming up in Japan in January and I?fm working on some new music as well.
.COM: Anything else to add?
MF: Thank you for making this site a lot of fun for me and everyone who visits it. I?fll try my best to keep you in the loop with what I?fm doing. And a big HAPPY 2004 to all of my great fans and friends who have visited and contributed to this site. See you all soon!!!

Interview by Maysan (webmaster