In this conversation Lee (The Captain) and Marty discuss Marty’s early influences, how he got into guitar, inspiration from other instruments, moving to Japan, guitar gear and more.
Early inspiration (2:15)
Seeing KISS live at age 13 convinced Marty to get a guitar and amp and become an electric guitar player.
Starting to learn songs by Kiss and The Ramones helped build confidence as they were relatively easier to play (vs starting by trying to learn a King Crimson song, could be demotivating).
“I was glad to get that satisfaction at the beginning and it kept me going, I got into a band right away, started to live the same exact lifestyle I have now, write music, record it, play it live…”
Developing early playing chops (5:00)
Marty never really had a period where he spent hours and hours developing his technique. But he always had a project where he worked on original material. And the more material you work on, the more ambitious you become on improving as a player.
“I found that playing with my band, playing live, writing music, was very valuable when I tried to up my chops game…”
Learning from other instruments (6:00)
You can learn (insert guitar hero name here) licks – but many other players pursue this approach, and will likely pull it off better than you can.
Marty drew inspiration from other instruments. Learned lead lines from: Indian sitar, vocal lines, vocal lines of Japanese traditional music, Chinese music, cello lines.
“I was always more attracted to note choices and chords under the note choices that I didn’t hear in traditional rock…”
“I don’t want to compete, I just want to contribute something that is part of me…”
Realizing that music could become a career (10:00)
In the very early days (age 14-15) had a band called “Deuce” that was very popular locally. People were digging what they were creating.
Got all of the partying and rock star life out of his system by age 17. Wanted to make music as long as possible so became focused on developing a long lasting career (quit all the bad influences, developed healthy habits).
Being labeled a shredder (15:30)
Doesn’t want to be remembered/labeled as a “shredder” (not a fan of the term). The label feels limiting as just implying that the player can “play fast”.
“If that’s all that I’m known for, I would be so depressed. And sometimes it happens, people will say: Marty Friedman is known for his fast guitar skills…I hate when they say that!”
Band vs Solo Projects (18:30)
Absolutely loves working on his solo material – but prefers playing in a band and the band life.
“I love great collaborations…”
First time in Japan toured with his band Cacophony. Was really impressed by how they were received. Left a lasting impression as to a place he’d like to return.
Eventually moved to Japan in 2003. Fluent in the language. Was really into the Japanese music scene.
Guitar gear (28:50)
Is not a “connoisseur” of guitar tones, pedals or different kinds of guitars.
“I am way more interested in the melody and the interpretation of that melody, that is much more important to me…”
Currently has a signature guitar with Jackson. When working with a company look for two things: the quality of the instrument and the quality of the people you’re working with.
Marty admires the players that really know and understand all the nuances around their gear.
“Guys like Steve Vai and Devin Townsend are just brilliant at it, it’s a whole different world, to me that’s like playing the saxophone as well as the guitar, it’s something that I admire so much, I’m not that guy unfortunately, if someone else can dial up a nice sound for me I’m fine…”
Check out Marty Friedman’s “Melodic Control” lesson.