Marty Friedman Interview

Megadeth is one of the survivors of the 1980’s Heavy Metal Revolution. And, they've got a new CD, "Hidden Treasures" (Capitol Records) and tour to prove it!

Megadeth has been around since the mid 80's and proof of their popularity can be found in the sales of "Youthanasia," their previous CD., which went platinum plus.

Megadeth member Marty Friedman spoke with us.

Q. In Wolfman Jack's recent autobiography "Have Mercy!" he writes, "I really think that there isn't anybody out there that's as exciting for throw kids as there was back in the 50's, 60's and 70's. The 80's was kind of like a drop off point. It got weaker each ten year period. And now we're in the 90's and there's next to nothing. "What do you think of Wolfman Jack's assessment of the music business today?
A. I totally agree with it and I'll even go one step fur­ther. I think it stopped in the 60's. It. stopped when The Beatles came to America. It was pretty much the end of, in my opinion, the real rock music, something that was real exciting. I always said that 1964 was pretty much the cut-off point. In the old days there was like Elvis and Little Richard, Buddy Holly and all that stuff. That was really like frightening to the parents and the people in the community. That was really revolutionary. Everybody became really jaded from the 60's on. It really changed, and I think for the worse. Of course there's a lot of good music happening since the 60's but in my opinion rock music is about the middle to late 50's, and that was when it was at its coolest stage. Ever since then there have been cool things that have come up and gone down and up and down, but nothing as great as there was back in the 50's.

Q. Are you surprised then that with all the changes in music, that there's still a market for Megadeth's music?
A. Oh, there's always gonna be a market for our music because if there was a market at all, it's always gonna be there. We pretty much stick to our guns. We don't try to jump on any trend, or try to start any new trends. We're just interested in making the best music we can. We've got a very, very loyal fan base. We rarely disappoint them. It just seems like more and more people keep coming to the party. I think that's contributed to the longevity of this band. We're never a band you could consider an overnight sensation. It took a long time for us to get where we are and we keep growing little by little and becoming more popular and more popular. Bigger venues and selling more records and all that stuff. It didn't just happen overnight So I think the longer it took to get up is also going the other way, a long way to go down. We're pretty much something you can count on to be what we are. It’s not like we’re gonna change our next album to try and follow the trend. We're not gonna put out a rap, metal album next year or a grunge album It's just gonna be what we do, only hopefully improved. We try to get better at what we do all the time. We don't really change with the times. Sometimes we might not be so fashionable. Sometimes we'll be in fashion. All the trends seem to go in circles, and they come back eventually. Last year, or two years ago, heavy metal was really, really huge and we were there, and capitalized on it. Now it's kind of like this grunge thing has been around for awhile and techno and heavy metal died out for awhile and we stuck to our guns. Now grunge is hopefully dying out. I don't, know what's gonna happen to this techno thing. Eventually everything always comes back to straight, ahead heavy rock ‘n’ roll.

Q. That's the foundation.
A. It really is. There's a lot of off shoots from that. They get popular for a little while but I think longevity has something to do with keeping your stuff basic. If you look at the Rolling Stones, you know what to expect. It's also based around good songs and good songwriting. I think that's another important part of Megadeth.

Q. "Megadeth" at one time was referred to as a "metal" group. Now, you're described as "primal rock ‘n’ roll." Is there a difference?
A. Well, I mean we get called all kinds of different things. I think our music is the same no matter what people call us. If you're a Donny Osmond fan, we're the most extreme death metal you've ever heard. But if you're a Fear Factory fan we might sound like a pop band. So we really don't like to label ourselves anything. We just kind of accept all the labels that people give us, and forget about 'em, and just let 'em go and do our music. The good thing is we're all lucky that we all four believe in what we know to be cool. We all have a vision of what we think is cool. We're all lucky that we share a very similar vision, to what that coolness is, and that vision doesn't change every month. It's pretty much the same so we all get excited about the same things in our music. When we're doing it right, we all know it. I think we're all lucky for that.

Q. Didn't you put out an album or two on Shrapnel Records? I mean you personally.
A. Yeah, I actually had three solo albums out.

Q. You're mixing it up pretty good venue wise this time out. You're performing in arenas, amphitheatres, theatres and ballrooms. Is that the group's idea or your management, business team?
A Yeah, it's pretty much a combination of both. We def­initely have no reservations about playing different size venues, especially since we've already been through America once on this tour. Some cities we haven't, been to yet That's where maybe we can play a big venue and some cities we've been through once or twice already and we're catching people the third time around. We may not want to play a huge venue at that time, 'cause everyone has seen us on this tour. But, we still have enough fans to fill up some other venues. So, it depends on which city and what market we go to. One night you're playing on a really small stage and the next night you're playing in a massive amphitheatre. It actually kind of makes it fun for us, instead of the same thing every night.

Q. How is it decided when the group will tour? Obviously, you have to have new product to tour behind.
A. Right

Q. Is the determination to tour made after you get so much radio play on a song or after so many sales?
A. No. It doesn't work that way. I mean if you're making an album, you're very well aware that you're gonna tour after the album, to promote the album. So usually we need a little time after the recording is done to recuperate, from the recording. In our case it's really not that much time. We usually take about a month or so, or two months. Sometimes it takes that long to get the record out after recording, so we have a little time off. You have to tour because people want to see you do it and then they'll decide whether they want to buy the album. So it's pretty much like a cycle. We're already planning the next tour for our next album, and we're still in the "Youthanasia" cycle. (Laughs.)

Q. When you started out, did you just want to be in a band, or did you have ideas of fame and fortune?
A. I just wanted to be able to play guitar. I didn't really set out to be in this huge band. It was a wonderful dream but I never set out to have the big goals. I always set little goals and when I'd achieve them, I'd set another little goal after that. One after the other. Next thing you know, you're where you are instead of having this big ridiculous dreams, trying to spit at the sky. It doesn't really work that way. I'm glad I did it that way. First thing I wanted to do was just play music and after that I just took it one small goal at a time.

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