Antihero Magazine’s Donna Craddock chats with the legendary guitarist about the recently released live album, “ONE BAD M.F. Live!!“, which dropped on 19 October 2018 via Prosthetic Records.
ANTIHERO: Konichiwa, Marty. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me! I’ve got a bunch of questions for you. Hopefully, you’ll find them fairly interesting. I’ve been listening to the live album and I’m absolutely blown away by the production. It sounds almost like it’s been studio recorded which obviously, compared to the old live recordings, is definitely a step up. What were difficulties compared to recording a studio album?
Marty Friedman: Difficulties…I would say it’s much easier than recording a studio album because all we had to do was play a show and then it’s done. I mean, it took two hours to record an album so, that’s really easy. Mixing it took a couple of days and we had to spend a little time editing – shortening things, tightening things up and making the album, album-sized. I mean, it’s a double record; it’s a double LP. So, we could fit about 76 minutes there and our concert is about two hours. So, we had to decide how we could keep the spirit of the concert without…obviously, we couldn’t put all the songs in there, so we had to see which ones we were gonna cut out. But still, it was the easiest. It’s like doing a music video and you’re just playing a concert. It’s just done, it’s great.
ANTIHERO: Are there other live albums that you love, maybe of your own or of other people’s, that have a particular influence on you?
Marty Friedman: Oh, when I was a kid, live albums were absolutely everything. I liked live albums way more than regular studio albums, and the ones I grew up were really old school stuff like KISS live, the Ramones, Rush, UFO, Peter Frampton; just, the big live albums. They always just, made me feel like you were there at the concert, even in your room. And, the pacing of them was something I kind of kept in mind when I was editing this record. Actually, when we were playing our tours, I liked to…I don’t know, the way I used to feel when I was a little kid going to concerts, you know. You’re drawn into it, there’s not a whole lot of downtime, there’s not a lot of boring stuff going on. So, a lot of things were kind of tightened up and edited, and we made medleys out of a lot things. So, instead of listening to entire songs, you hear them arranged in such a way that it keeps your interest, hopefully. And, you know, the 75 minutes goes by pretty quick.
ANTIHERO: Yeah, absolutely. I’m the same. I think a really good live album can sometimes be even better than an actual studio album! I’ve been viewing your involvement in Japanese TV. Have you got more plans for anything like that going forward?
Marty Friedman: Yeah, it’s every day, as a matter of fact. Just yesterday, I did a TV show, and I’m getting to do maybe one or two more before I go to the U.S. for some shows and events and, it’s kind of an on-going thing, you know. I do a lot of one-offs on TV and, I haven’t done a regular show where it’s the same show every week, for a while. But, I’ve done so many one-offs over the last couple of years and it’s a constant thing and, pretty often, I’m way more recognized for TV than music, over here in Japan. So, it’s kind of weird but as long as it introduces people to my music, it’s all good.
ANTIHERO: Do you enjoy doing it then?
Marty Friedman: Yeah, I do. I mean, it’s good fun and it’s great stimulation. It’s really good for doing something outside of music, you know. Because, when you play music, if you’re a lifer in music, you tend to just record and tour, and record and tour, and do promotions and you really, kind of, don’t have a life. Because those are the only things you do. So, doing TV kind of forces me to do things that I normally wouldn’t do. And, therefore, when I return to my real gig – which is playing music – I return to it with more fun, more…kind of a relief. “Oh, this is what I’m supposed to do,” you know. It’s really natural.
ANTIHERO: Yes. Like, the TV is just for fun but, it sort of freshens your mind and your ears up a little bit. I read in your press release that you’re working on a documentary at the moment. I’d like to hear a bit more about that.
Marty Friedman: Yeah. Well, we’ve been on that for about three years, maybe three and a half years. It started on my Inferno Tour, when I first decided to go back and tour America for the first time since I moved to Japan, and, followed me since then. The director and the film crew are all in New York and they’ve come out to Japan, and they filmed me all over Japan, and all over America, and they’re gonna film me again in New York City this month. I really don’t know how it’s gonna end or where it’s gonna end, but those things take a long time and, hopefully, it’ll see the light of day in the next year, maybe.
ANTIHERO: A very long process then!
Marty Friedman: Yeah, it’s long.
ANTIHERO: I don’t envy the person editing all that, because that’s going to be hard to cut that down to where it’s a feature-length film sort of time.
Marty Friedman: Yeah. I think, so. But, I think we’ll probably have to edit it in such a way that you can’t see the length of my hair growing because it grows so fast, it’ll be hard to connect it.
ANTIHERO: A few people asked me about your favourite guitar players growing up. Who influenced your style, sort of like then and now?
Marty Friedman: Oh, wow. Growing up, you know, when you’re 13 or 14, those influences really stick. You know, I think the Ramones and KISS were probably the biggest influence that made me want to play music, made it look like I was able to play music, so to speak. I didn’t really want to be KISS or the Ramones but, when I saw what they did I said, “Wow it doesn’t look like you have to be such a genius to do this.” I’m like, “If they can do it, I can do it.” And, it served me well because it got me satisfaction at an early age. You know, had I been a fan of something a little bit more progressive back then, I might have been discouraged and said, “Wow, this music thing’s not for me. It’s too difficult.” But, you feel the accomplishment when you start with music like that. So, it’s really — those are the two big ones for me, and then maybe Black Sabbath, maybe.
ANTIHERO: So, if your manager was to give you a call and say, “This particular band wants you to play guitar for them,” which bands would you consider joining?
Marty Friedman: Oh, that’s a good question. Probably a lot more than you’d think. I mean, I would love to join a band that is doing something interesting, new, and exciting. And, I would love to do that because they tend to do a ton of collaborations with a lot of very, very unique artists and people and I always love collaborating with something different. And, somehow, my style seems to bounce off other people in a very positive way. I mean, there’s a lot of bands out there — I can’t really put my finger on one, this band or that band — but, you know if they’re doing something that I think is really cool, I would jump on it. I’d love to do any kind of new adventure, new band thing, it’s all good.
ANTIHERO: Have you learned to play the koto?
Marty Friedman: Oh, no. The koto, no way. That’s…
ANTIHERO: It’s a pretty hardcore-looking instrument.
Marty Friedman: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
ANTIHERO: Have you ever had a go on one?
Marty Friedman: No, I don’t really want to break it. There some great koto players in Japan. Actually, on my album Tokyo Jukebox 2, there’s a big koto and guitar piece of music and the koto player was one of the best in Japan. So, I’ve seen what she does and there’s absolutely no way I can approach it. So, I just don’t want to break the instrument.
ANTIHERO: What recommendation would you make for anybody wanting to get into listening to Japanese music?
Marty Friedman: I think some of my favorite in the world of rock, I really like this band Crossface and 9mm Parabellum Bullet is really cool. They are a great band. I just did collaborations with both of them, as a matter of fact. It’s just really super fresh, heavy, heavy music. I mean, it’s modern but I think people who are old-school fans of metal will get into it as well. The list just goes on. If you go into idol music then you can talk about Maneki Kecak which is – they just played Budokan – a fantastic new group. There’s a TV show that I do called “Last Idol”, and it’s all based around this idol group called Last Idol and they’re really cool, too. Momoiro Clover is a stadium act here in Japan and they have some fantastic stuff that I’ve collaborated with, as well.
ANTIHERO: Do you still go to live gigs, as an audience participant? Is that something you still spend a lot of time doing?
Marty Friedman: Not really. Sometimes I do for…it’s always for one reason or another. There’s always a reason to go. I just went to some gig. I just went to…Joe Perry played with Johnny Depp here, in Tokyo, and one of my good friends is their tour manager – or their actual manager – so I went and saw them. But, I haven’t really been in the audience of a show…I can’t even remember. But I am, as a matter of fact, going to see a new artist tomorrow and I don’t know anything about them, but my management group also manages them. So, I’m gonna go watch this new band and I’m looking forward to that. But, I rarely go to gigs unless I’m playing at them.
ANTIHERO: Yeah. No, that’s understandable. What are your favorite songs to perform live?
Marty Friedman: Oh God…
ANTIHERO: I know, that’s a question isn’t it?
Marty Friedman: Exactly…the first one and the last one. The first one, you have butterflies in your stomach and, the last one, you want to give it everything you’ve got because it’s the last shot, there. So, I’d say the first and last.
ANTIHERO: What are your favorite ways to unwind that are non-musical related?
Marty Friedman: Wow…there’s really not a whole lot. I love to go to the beach and do beach stuff and, that’s my favorite thing to do really; beach.
ANTIHERO: Is there a beach near you, where you are in Japan?
Marty Friedman: The closest good one is in Okinawa, which I’ve gone to and it’s nice. But Vietnam has some fantastic beaches, so does Thailand and, I love the beach.
ANTIHERO: Yeah, me too, actually. I don’t live near the sea, but I absolutely love it when I go out there; like a giant meditation.
Marty Friedman: Do you go to Spain for the beach? Is that what it is?
ANTIHERO: Oh, no. Blackpool, here in the North of England. Blackpool is a little bit like a trashier Las Vegas but very British. But the beach is nice.
Marty Friedman: I love that British stuff. I read their magazine Viz. You know that?
ANTIHERO: Oh my goodness–yeah, I do. I do, indeed. My dad used to read that when I was a child. I used to sneak it out of his office and read it when I really shouldn’t have been.
Marty Friedman: I read Viz all the time, and I think that’s the only reason why I can understand your accent perfectly. Your accent is perfect. It’s totally awesome. For me, it’s very exotic.
ANTIHERO: Well, I’m gonna take that as the biggest compliment I’ve had in a while because all I can hear is how broad it is right now compared to yours! So, what are your plans going forward for the next year, maybe two years? I know you’ve got another studio album coming out at some point.
Marty Friedman: Yeah, but before that, I’m gonna do a whole lot of touring. I’m gonna tour America, and Europe and Asia starting in November, and hopefully be in Europe for all of April, including the U.K.
ANTIHERO: Well I hope to see you and maybe photograph one of your UK dates! Thank you so much for your time today, Marty! I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening.
Marty Friedman: Okay, thank you very much. I hope to see you soon at one of my gigs!