MARTY FRIEDMAN On His 'Super Band From Japan' Backing Group: 'They Outshine Me Every Single Night'

MARTY FRIEDMAN On His 'Super Band From Japan' Backing Group: 'They Outshine Me Every Single Night'

Guitarist Marty Friedman (MEGADETH, CACOPHONY) recently spoke with Australia's Everblack Media. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On his "Super Band From Japan" backing band:

Marty: "I'm sure everybody's going to love my band. They might come to see me, but when they leave that concert, they're going to be more excited about my band than they are of me, because they outshine me every single night... There are certain people around the world who are able to do what is necessary in my band and have gone through extensive, intense training to do it... They've gone through such incredible training to do such a thing. The top priority is that they have to get more attention than I do when we play. They can't just be there in the background — they really have to play, and they really have to be there."

On his audition process:

Marty: "Musical ability has to be pretty much taken for granted. It's beyond that. It's like a showmanship-type of thing. It's kind of an attitude. I think [bassist] Kiyoshi is a perfect example — she's got her own thing. When she plays, she's not just mimicking what I'm doing — she's doing her own thing that works in my music really well, and the same thing [is true] with my guitarist and drummer as well. The audition process, it's quite crazy. It's quite difficult, I think, for the people who want to do it. There are many people who have the musical ability to do what I need, but beyond that, it's stamina, it's image and appearance. There are people that play fantastically, but maybe they look like they work in a bank or sell insurance. That's not going to work. I really want them to take a lot of the attention — I want every person to take an equal amount of attention, so it feels like a band... [and so that] nobody walks away from the concert feeling like there was a weak link in there."

On collaborating with other well-known musicians:

Marty: "I love to do collaborations that are unique and magic comes out of them. It's very organic — they just kind of fall into place. I never really searched out this guy or that guy. When you're doing music and you're on the road and you're in the studio, you run into people that you admire, and you can kind of tell by your conversation if it's going to lead to something more than just a friendship — you think it's going to possibly be kind of a kindred spirit type of thing [where] you want to do a song together. In Jørgen Munkeby's case, I was a big fan of his band SHINING, and when we were put together, I just knew immediately that we had to work on something together, because it was just the chemistry. It didn't take more than a few minutes to figure out that we both wanted to do something, so I worked with him on my last two records... All those things, they just come up very organic from just the first meeting. You can tell when you've found a piece that you'd like to add to your puzzle."

On being married to a cellist:

Marty: "We never play together at home or anything like that. It's very unusual. She's always doing her music and I'm doing my music. We always try to find opportunities that we can play together. Recently, I've been doing an orchestral show every season in Japan, and she's been doing that, but usually we're both in such different directions and in such different musical atmospheres that we never get to play together, but when I'm writing the music, I find a place to have her play. She's just a perfect complement to what I'm trying to do. It's very easy, actually, because I can talk about things in detail. When you just hire somebody to play a part, you're really just in the studio giving directions, but she's seen the entire creative process of all the demos and the months of working on rough versions and remixes and arrangements, so she's heard this stuff from the ground up and knows a lot deeper than a session musician would know what I need to have played. It's just a joy to get her on as much stuff as possible."

On metal and Japan:

Marty: "The genre itself is a massive influence [on Japanese music], but the genre itself is not really very popular at all. What is popular is music is that is being made by people who grow up with heavy music and guitar music and thrash music and intense, progressive music. A lot of people who discovered that music [in their youth] grew up to be musicians and have branched out into more mainstream musical fields, and they've injected those kind of flavors into pop music. That's pretty much what I've done in Japan a lot — I've played with groups like MOMOIRO CLOVER [Z] and AKB48, and they're really far from heavy music, but when I played with them and worked with them, recording and playing live, I really add that element of heavy music to them. That's okay in Japan. In Japan, the mainstream allows heavy influences in the mainstream music, whereas in other countries like where I grew up in America, there's heavy music, and there's non-heavy music, and they don't really mix very much. Japan is different in that respect."

On his 2020 plans:

Marty: "There's a lot of Japan Olympics-related things that I have planned and a lot of television work, and hopefully a tour of Europe, because I haven't toured Europe in quite some time. I've pretty much only done Japan, South America and North America over the last five [or] six years. I get European offers all the time, but it's always been a timing issue. I'm going to try to hit Europe and then start to work on my new record."

Friedman is continuing to tour in support of his 14th solo record, "One Bad M.F. Live!!", which was released in October 2018. The album was recorded in Mexico City on April 14, 2018 during the final concert of Friedman's world tour in support of his acclaimed 2017 studio album "Wall Of Sound".

Joining Friedman on "One Bad M.F. Live!!" are his bandmates Kiyoshi on bass, Jordan Ziff (RATT) on guitar and Chargeeee on drums.

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