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Interviews : “I don’t think anybody was unhappy with anything” – An interview with Marty Friedman

By on October 22, 2019

Without Marty Friedman’s face-melting solos and precision riffing, Megadeth main man Dave Mustaine would never have achieved his goal of besting Metallica in one critical metric: releasing the most excellent album of any of the so-called ‘big four’, which happened in 1990 via the incomparable Rust in Peace. That statement talks a big game because Master of Puppets (Metallica- ’86) is massively influential, and Reign in Blood (Slayer- ’86) is ferocious, but no other album from the era possesses Dave Mustaine’s propensity for killer songwriting, or Friedman’s chops, technical prowess and lightning-fast licks.

Friedman’s Megadeth career spanned close to a decade, from 1990 to 1999. But he’s been a recording artist for over 35 years. So, when preparing for a conversation with the man himself, one must mine the plethora of material bearing his name, and it’s all gold!

“You never get tired of hearing that people are enjoying what you’re doing, and I’m nothing but flattered,” said Friedman. “Of course, I know what all of my weaknesses are, and I know all the things that I lack and all the things that need to be addressed. But as long as I don’t let what people say give me a big head, I think I’m in good shape and I just always appreciate hearing that people enjoy it. There’s nothing better than that.”

Friedman is bringing his band to Australia for a series of shows on the east coast in December. The response so far has been very positive with strong pre-sales and a severe demand for VIP Meet and Greets. So how does he prepare a setlist when his name appears on near 50 official releases.

“It just helps from touring a lot. I’ve been travelling with this band for years and doing solo tours since about 2002, that’s like 17 years of touring, “said Friedman.

“You start to figure out the best way a set moves, and it’s one big show. It’s not just featuring this single or featuring this song, and you’ve got to think in terms of a two-hour show and how-to bring people on your trip. You’ve got to start them off, and you’ve got to lead them somewhere, and you got to make them feel like they’re leaving with something positive with a lot of energy.”

It wouldn’t be a rounded interview with Freidman if Megadeth weren’t a topic of conversation? On that subject, the band’s album from 1994 Youthanasia suffered from middling tempos and bone-dry Max Norman production. The collection could have rivalled the excellent Countdown to Extinction (’92) however it was cruelled by Mustaine’s misguided attempts to listen to producer Norman and release an album of cuts that could be culled for radio.

“Angry Again”, “99 Ways to Die” and “Go to Hell” are all cuts from the era by the band that never made an album proper, instead of appearing on soundtracks and the overlooked Hidden Treasures (’95) compilation EP, and they’re vastly superior to the cuts on Youthanasia. Does Friedman agree that Youthanasia is a weak Megadeth album in an era when they were surely poised for greater success?

“I wish I could give you a better answer. At the time, I thought all the stuff was just great, and it was exactly what we wanted to do, and I don’t think anybody was unhappy with anything,” said Friedman.

“As always, the fans look way more in-depth into it than the people who are you putting it out. That’s something I’m incredibly grateful for, and it’s very flattering, especially with all the time that’s passed since, so when I hear you asking me a detailed question like that I feel bad that I cant give you an answer that’s going to satisfy you to those details.

“At the time I thought all that stuff was just fine I haven’t listened to it probably since we played live. Even with my records, since the release, you work so hard on an album, sometimes for years and finally, the thing gets done, and then you have to play a lot of that stuff for years and years after that.

“What happens is you don’t listen to the actual record maybe ever again, because you hear it for that whole tour and through every single in-store it’s in the background. Especially now that I have been out of the band for 20 years plus whenever those things were released. So, I really couldn’t give you anything better. Ask anybody in the band at the time, and we would have just said. It’s the best that we could do, and we like it.”

Tickets on sale now via Pinnacle Music Group.

11th December – Sydney, Crowbar – TICKETS
12th December – Brisbane, Crowbar – TICKETS
13th December – Melbourne, Bendigo Hotel – SOLD OUT
14th December – Canberra, The Basement – TICKETS
15th December – Melbourne, Evelyn Hotel – TICKETS

About

Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith