Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

An Exclusive Interview with Former Megadeth Guitarist Marty Friedman

"Performing in a Jewish state is exactly the same as anywhere else, except all the longhaired heavy metal kids are named Shlomo Goldstein and Irving Cohen. It always cracks me up, I love it."

By: Peter Herriman

Published: June 6th, 2014 in Culture » Music » News

An Exclusive Interview with Former Megadeth Guitarist Marty Friedman

He is considered one of the most influential lead guitarists in thrash metal history.

Marty Friedman, formally of Megadeth, has confirmed the final track listing for Inferno, his first solo album of original material in four years, and his first recording in more than a decade. It’s available for sale now, via Prosthetic Records.

Originally hailing from Washington, D.C., Friedman has spent the past 14 years in Japan. While there, Friedman has attracted the attention of major television producers who became his management team and together they crafted his rise to become one of the biggest TV presenters in Japan.

Apparently, he is the equivalent to Ryan Seacrest in Japan and he is even called “Mr. Heavy Metal.”

Having the audacity to leave Megadeth and relocate to Japan shows how Friedman isn’t in music for the wrong reasons; he is in music for the music and his own happiness rather than appeasing major companies who see him as a bankable employee and not a person. You could almost say, being in a multi-platinum selling band can and will dehumanize you if you have been there for longer than you are comfortable.

I had the honor of speaking with the iconic heavy metal legend about his recent past, his present career, and of course, the new album.



Shalom Life: Why relocate to Japan?

Marty Friedman: I had been touring Japan about twice a year for several years when I realized that the music most Japanese people listened to was not American music, but domestic Japanese music. This domestic Japanese music has an eclectic and happy aggressive sound that appealed to me so much that I just fell in love with it. I could look at the top 10 in Japan and like 9 of the songs, where in the US, I might like one out of the top ten, if I am lucky. I knew I could make brilliant and inspired contributions to the domestic Japanese music scene, so I dropped everything and came to Tokyo.

How does living and working in Japan compare to when you were living and working in the U.S?

The music is different mainly. There is less dull and depressing music, less rap (none) and more upbeat happy music. There is also less genre division here, it`s OK to mix rock with pop with disco with Metal with R&B, as long as a melody is present. I can be totally free to express music the way I want over here, whether I am doing my solo music or working with others.

Are you looking forward to playing live in Europe and the U.S. again?

Very much! I just finished a European tour and it was phenomenal. It will be 10 years since I toured the US so I am excited beyond belief, no idea what it will be like.

What is your gear setup for this album tour?

I have been playing PRS for several years now and currently playing the PRS Marty Friedman model, which will be on sale this summer.

You are of Jewish heritage, how have you been received in Israel? I have heard of your April 2007 concert in Tel Aviv where you played the Israeli national anthem. How is performing in a Jewish state different or similar to other shows around the world?

I have played in Tel Aviv three times, most recently in 2012, and every time I have played Hatikvah. It is one of my favorite moments every time. I am not the most religious Jew in the world, but when I play the Israeli national anthem I feel like I want to make sure my family sees it. Performing in a Jewish state is exactly the same as anywhere else, except all the longhaired heavy metal kids are named Shlomo Goldstein and Irving Cohen. It always cracks me up, I love it.


You were first inspired by KISS when you were 14, another very Jewish rock band. How did KISS influence your entire musical upbringing?

When I was a kid I wanted to play pro sports, but being small and skinny, it was a pretty unrealistic dream. But when I saw KISS, it was like, “Now THAT is something I can do.”

What can we see for the future of Marty Friedman? More albums and television work in Japan or maybe in the U.S.?

Yes. More of the same, but not only in Japan, I will be doing more internationally with Inferno.


Head over to iTunes to buy your copy of Inferno now, and learn about Friedman over at his Facebook page.

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