Shortly before his Inferno North American Tour began, the one and only Marty Friedman took some time out to check in with A&GS. Having chatted with him last year I couldn’t wait to do it again. We talked about playing back in the U.S. for the first time in a decade, his band, and a lot more. This interview is even more special to me after seeing Marty, CHARGEEEEEE( drums), Jordan Ziff (guitar), and the incredible Kyoshi (bass) rip through the city of Philadelphia two weeks ago. So park it here a minute and check it out!
Amps: How excited are you to tour the United States again? And how do you feel about EXMORTUS opening these dates? I love those kids!
Marty: EXMORTUS is fantastic! I’m really stoked that they’re on the bill. They were recommended to me by the label (Prosthetic Records) since we’re both on it. I just thought they were an awesome, awesome band, and I know my fans are gonna dig ’em. I am beside myself with how excited I am over doing this tour. My band members’ excitement rubs off on me because it’s also gonna be their first American tour, and my first one as a solo artist.
I’ve toured everywhere BUT America since I moved to Japan. I knew if I was gonna do it, I’m gonna do it balls-out and Inferno was the record to do it on. My last couple of albums have been all Japanese songs and I really love those records but I just didn’t think that was the vehicle to take me to America so I just never thought about it. But now Inferno has just been by far the best-received album I’ve ever done, so it’s kind of a no-brainer to tour for it. But I’ve kinda got the jitters, you know? I’ve been talking about it for hours today and I thought I might get bored at some point, but I’m STILL so excited talking about it! I’m so thankful for the response that has allowed this tour to happen.
Amps: A&GS loved Inferno and we gave it an absolute 10/10!! I am beyond excited for this tour.
Marty: Thank you so much. I appreciate that. It’s gonna be a sweaty show, man. My band is on fire and we’re gonna do stuff from my entire catalog. There’s so much stuff I haven’t played live. 12 albums and most of the stuff hasn’t been done live. NONE of it has been done in America so it’s really exciting putting the show together.
Amps: How the HELL do you put a setlist together at this point?
Marty: Well, you know I’ve done four tours of Europe since I moved to Japan and I’ve also done tons of stuff in Japan and South America. So I got sort of a gauge of what people like and what they don’t. But it’s also beyond just choosing songs, it’s putting things in the corners of the show that are not just playing songs like a jukebox. It’s getting the audience involved, so there are a lot of little surprises that happen. Hopefully people walk away from it thinking it’s definitely not just some instrumental show. Being lumped into that is something I would like to avoid in any way. It’s metal and that intensity is there.
Amps: Can you believe how batshit the metal community went over Inferno last year?
Marty: To be honest, yeah, I was a little bit surprised because I hadn’t followed what anybody was saying about anybody in America for a long time. The record company was really big on saying, “Come on man, there are people there who really care and wanna hear what you’re doing. And there are people in America who are influenced by stuff you’ve done before and what you’re doing now. But it’s really hard to find because it’s all in friggin’ Japanese” you know? And that was their honest sentiment. So I had to listen to them because they were always so honest. They started giving me the reviews and the interviews that I’ve done, like yours last year, and I was very surprised at the number of people who were interested. That was the first thing that surprised me. And then the really kind, complimentary things people said about the record, everything from websites, fanzines, all the way up to Rolling Stone and Billboard, they were all just equally as pumped about it. People who knew about my past, people who didn’t know about my past, people just taking the record on face value, and really, really giving me some great encouragement. So I have to say yes I’m both surprised and flattered.
Amps: The thing is, I listened to the album and as I got deeper into it I kept waiting for that “letdown” track and it never came (Marty laughs). Hell, I was never even a CHILDREN OF BODOM fan until the damn song you did with Alexi Laiho. Next thing I know I get the new album promo and now I’m a fan…I blame YOU!
Marty: (Laughing) oh yeah, I take the blame completely. And these guys like Alexi and DANKO JONES who say I influenced them growing up, they lit a fire under my ass and added a lot to the party. And when you listen to their music, in no way are they any kinds of clones of mine or anyone else’s. They’ve got their own style that is ass-kicking. So I’m like, “These guys are the real deal and I want their flavor on the record to push me to make cooler stuff.
“Amps: What albums released in recent years have caught your attention?
Marty: Most of the stuff is in Japan but I can definitely say that DEAFHEAVEN’S Sunbather is one that I can’t seem to get out of my CD changer. That’s the biggest one for me lately. And there’s another band but I don’t remember the name. And my friend made me a CD of theirs while we were on tour in South America, and I’m cranking this band but I don’t know who the fuck it is! I can’t access song titles or anything! So it’s DEAFHEAVEN and The Band Who Shall Remain Nameless, I guess (laughs).
Amps: What would you like to say to all your fans out there?
Marty: Man, thank you everybody in America. New York is like a big important stop on the tour. I’m looking forward to eating pizza there, which is even more important than the show! But I can’t wait to see everybody there and all across the U.S. Thanks for the interview, Damian!
It is forever humbling when people who have achieved Gods-like status at their craft take the time to thank me for interviewing them. It is also a constant reminder of why we do what we do. Marty Friedman is not only a Guitar God, but he is such a nice person that it’s just so easy to talk to him. He’s a regular guy who just happens to melt fretboards wherever he goes. There are seven shows remaining on the Inferno Tour. It would be a crime to miss this one, so GO!!
LIVE PHOTOS: ANYA SVIRSKAYA