Marty Friedman – Moving Ahead Of The Curve

marty friedman

Marty Friedman has made a name for himself for his distinctive guitar playing style within his years in Cacophony and later for a decade in Megadeth. Legions of fans have grown to love his works on such albums as Rust In Piece or Countdown To Extinction, and has made a name for himself within the metal world for those bodies of work.

Since then, he took a left turn and ventured into the world of Japanese pop music (better known as J-Pop) in 2000, after being passionate about the Japanese culture and the music. Following his passion, he also moved there and has been a staple within that musical scene for the past decade.

He released his first new solo CD titled Inferno in 2014, aside from his Tokyo Jukebox 2 CD in 2011, both via Prosthetic Records in North America. He made his yearly Stateside appearance at the NAMM show in January, as well as a speaking engagement sharing his experiences living and working in Japan as a foreigner.

Friedman shares his feelings about returning to Los Angeles, a place he once lived him and any culture shock he faces, considering he learned to speak fluent Japanese as well.

“I feel reverse culture shock. I’m used to living in Japan and you get used to your surroundings, and then you return to LA, where I used to live here and it feels like I’m not at home, as I do in Japan. But I kinda like it. It feels fresh about it. I always like coming back to LA. It’s like a reverse fun culture shock. I get to enjoy the things I like about LA.”

Since releasing Inferno, he is constantly taking in a vast amount of music from all different walks of life and how it factors into the writing of albums such as this one.

“If you’ve heard Inferno, then you’d know it’s a pretty adventurous record. It’s allowed me to tour the world and allow me to hopefully tour America, which is why I’m here this time. Whenever I come here, they pile on nice events like this to do.”

Speaking engagements is something Friedman is no stranger towards, as it has become a common thing for him to do in Japan. “I do a lot of lectures in Japan, believe it or not. They’re often on different topics, not language so much but musical and cultural topics, issues having to do with foreigners in Japan and world topics. I’m not really a talkative person, but like I said before, it’s a way to get better at both languages really.”

He is discovering that fans of his music are discovering him through the internet, whether it is through their fascination of Japanese pop culture, anime, or music. “That’s definitely an important point of finding out through however they find it out through the internet by gossiping Marty’s the Japan guy. It just sounds weird. People do a little research after hearing that and they might find something I did with Momoiro Clover Z or with any of the other Japanese projects I’ve done or my own Tokyo Jukebox or something like that. I do so many different things. It takes one thing to be an entrance and then they’ll look into some other thing like that.”

marty friedman with momiro clover z

He shares one of the Japanese metal bands he likes. “I’ve done TV shows (with Maximum the Hormone) and I’ve done their radio show. I covered one of their songs on Tokyo Jukebox (“Tsume Tsume Tsume”).”

While he has done a lot of music within his time in Japan, the subject of Megadeth does come up a lot from both the public and the press alike outside of Japan. Is this something he encounters there as well? “Not nearly as here (the US), because here that’s what I’m known for. But it’s taken a long time in Japan, not to wipe that out…I’ve done so many other things. Maybe if ten people meet me, two of them would know me from Megadeth, two of them know me from this thing and two would know me from something else. It’s all different things.”

He shares his thoughts on the subject and whether it truly hinders on deciding on what music he chooses to tackle at that moment. “I used to get a little bit…not upset but I’m doing all of this cool stuff now. Why do you keep bringing up Megadeth? Then I realize that it takes a long time of doing other things before people notice it. So then after a while, people ask less about it and more about what I’ve been doing lately. So I feel that it’s better. But I’m proud of all of that Megadeth stuff so I really don’t mind.”

He speaks about the rising popularity of Babymetal, a group who have been making waves Stateside and has a connection with. “My guitar player (Takayoshi Ohmura) plays in that. I’ve never played with them but we did some media stuff before, some magazine stuff.”
“I just think it’s really, really good. So I’m not surprised at the success. I’m glad it got found. There’s a lot of really good things in Japan that don’t get discovered and it never gets discovered. They’re not really normal for America so the fact that they’re popular is a great thing and will inspire a lot of people to look into Japan a lot more.”

While he has worked with a number of different people within his time in Japan, he still has a wishlist of people who he has yet to work with. “(It’s) mostly producers. When I get the Momoiro Clover stuff with hyadain, he was one of my favorite producers of all time. There’s also Tsunku, and I’ve done stuff with him but mostly guesting on TV shows. So we’ve never worked in the studio together. I’d love to do music with him, not a chat show. I’d love to work on a song with him. That would be a dream come true. He’s one of the reasons I went to Japan.”

Lastly, talks of a US tour came up and while nothing has been confirmed, he commented on where that subject stood. “That’s why I’m here because we’re talking about touring this year for Inferno. We’ve toured in Europe and in Japan. We played Loud Park in Japan. It’s going to be a really, really intense, high energy show.”

Rei Nishimoto