Former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman recently gave an interview to his official web site regarding his recent and upcoming activities. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Q: First of all tell us about your live plans this summer. All we have on the site are the dates and a little about the new members in Aikawa Nanase's band.
Marty Friedman: "This tour is gonna be wicked! I've seen the setlist and it is going to be by far the hardest rocking set in Nanase's history. I know it was put together this way because of this absolutely sick band new we have. (FYI along with Marty and Nanase, the new band Pata (X JAPAN) on guitar, Shinya (LUNA SEA) on drums D.I.E. (hide/spread beaver) and Crazy Cool Joe (DEAD END) on bass) Shinya joined me on 'Hebimetasan' so I know him, D.I.E. was in the band since I joined so that's cool, I saw Joe on video and he is a flashy, insane bass player. Not as in too many notes, insane as in aggressively beating the crap out his bass! Looks like we may have a bit of good ol' friendly competition!"
Q: What about Pata?
Marty Friedman: "I have yet to meet him, but look forward to it big time. I may wind up in fan mode, as my being a massive X JAPAN fan is a big part of what got me into J-rock and J-pop in the first place."
Q: You mentioned "Hebimetasan", that's the TV program that you do weekly. What is that whole experience like?
Marty Friedman: "It is so exciting, it`s such a fresh look at Japan, rock and heavy metal, and so funny!! I wish they could translate it into English because I think people from all over the world would get a kick out of it."
Q: We'll certainly support you from this end! Any realistic chance of that happening?
Marty Friedman: "I doubt it, but you never know. I will be doing a different show that will be broadcast worldwide on NHK. I believe that is on most major cable or satellite systems around the world. That show will be in English and will air in August. I'll definitely give you the details on that as soon as I can."
Q: The ratings for "Hebimetasan" are good?
Marty Friedman: "They're actually great. The ratings have exceeded the network's expectations and they are competitive with long established prime time shows, which is truly amazing for a brand new show."
Q: Why do you think it`s doing so well?
Marty Friedman: "It's a great and unique chemistry with the cast. There's Ken, an MTV host who is also a rock musician, Hisatake, an extremely knowledgeable heavy metal producer, Yoko, one of the top fashion models in Japan who is constantly on the cover of several top magazines and me. You've got the 4 of us plus a different celebrity guest every week. It's a variety show at heart definitely with the emphasis on laughs and keeping it upbeat, with the underlying agenda of introducing heavy metal and hard rock to people like Yoko, who would normally never come into contact with the genre."
Q: Do you play guitar on the show?
Marty Friedman: "Yes, lots of it!! Last week we had an amazing guitarist come as the guest — can't tell ya who!! — and in true game show fashion we did a bunch of guitar 'competitions.' Actually come to think of it, the success of the show is probably mainly due to the producers' ingenuity. Every week they find really unique angles to have fun with the subject of heavy metal and keep the viewers wanting to look forward to the next episode."
Q: So do you think the show has converted many mainstream people into new heavy metal fans?
Marty Friedman: "Absolutely! I can relate to the idea especially because, I am a full-on metal fan at heart, but I am also a huge fan of mainstream music and I know what each genre's fans like and deeply dislike about the other. I think many of the mainstream viewers come away thinking, 'metal's not so bad, I actually liked that stuff they do on 'Hebimetasan'. We're giving major exposure to a lot of artists who may be household names in metal but unknown in the mainstream world."
Q: Tell us about your newspaper column.
Marty Friedman: "I have a daily column in Tokyo Sport which is the highest circulated sports/entertainment newspaper in Japan. I got the gig because I mentioned that I liked that particular paper on TV and voila! That said, starting July 4th, a week of my columns will be in the paper. If the reaction is good the column will continue. The Japanese news world is fiercely competitive, so all I can do is hope for the best.
"On another note, the Yomiuri Shinbun which is the most famous paper in all of Japan is running a half page feature with me on July 6th. Nothing to do with music or TV, the article is about my experience and taste in hotels of all things! I do have a bit of experience with hotels though."
Q: You have a solo show in Korea on August 6th, it is supposedly the biggest festival they have over there. I know you are planning to make a live DVD from that show, is that correct?
Marty Friedman: "Yes. The reception that I got in Seoul last month was so good that I pushed the issue of a live DVD with Pro-mere, the company that produced my last instructional DVD. They thought it was a great idea as there is no real document of my solo shows. Actually I have not done all that many solo shows! A short U.S. tour in 2003, one U.S. show in 2004 and about 10 one-offs in Japan, and that's about it."
Q: Before I let you go, last time we talked you mentioned that you had started working on your new solo album. What's it like and what kind of progress are you making?
Marty Friedman: "This is the first time I've done a solo album that hasn't been done in one big block of time. This means I can live with the demos and the rough versions longer to make more adjustments than usual. There will be no compromises when it's done. I'm so excited about it, I have the best resources in the world at my disposal, and most importantly no time restraints so the thing gets done when it gets done. Without giving away too much musically, I can tell you that the hard will be much, much harder and the soft will be much, much softer. Four songs are almost ready for mixing and the rest are still in various rough forms. I can't wait to get it out to everybody! But I'm taking my sweet time."