Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden’s Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: Have you stayed in touch with [MEGADETH mainman] Dave Mustaine and the other guys through the years?
Friedman: Not all that much. Not really that much, but not zero. We’ve been in touch a few times and it’s very friendly and I have no problem in the world with them and wish them nothing but success and hopefully they feel the same.
Metalshrine: Have you listened to any of the stuff they did after you left?
Friedman: Actually, I heard the one record they made right after I left and that’s the last most recent thing I heard of theirs. That’s about it, really.
Metalshrine: I read that one of the reasons that you left was that MEGADETH wasn’t aggressive enough. Is that true?
Friedman: Oh yes, that’s totally true. Totally, totally true. At the time when I left it was the beginning of 2000, but I actually told the guys that I was gonna leave in the middle of ’99, but that’s another story. I left in 2000 and at that time every other band was just about a thousand times more aggressive than we were. At the time you had, I guess, KORN and MARILYN MANSON and even LIMP BIZKIT had stuff that was deeply heavy and our stuff just sounded thin and small and to my ear it just sounded really dated and very old-fashioned and traditional. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things and in fact a lot of people who are into heavy metal really like that traditional sound and don’t want it to change, so that’s a very valid point and I understand it, especially since I’ve been a RAMONES fan since I was a baby. When they changed just the slightest thing, I got all crazy, so I understand that, but with a name like MEGADETH and all the other bands are just blowing you away with this big deep heavy sound that is way scarier and way harder and more aggressive than a band called MEGADETH, it was not turning me on anymore. I was like, “Let’s do one thing or the other! Let’s either get friggin’ heavier or let’s just be a little bit more marketable, because right now, we’re kind of an underground band and we shouldn’t be. We’ve got so much great potential within the four members of the band that we shouldn’t be an underground traditional metal band.” That’s not where I wanted to go, but maybe that’s where they wanted to go. It was just a completely musical decision why I left the band and it had absolutely nothing to do with any personal problems. I was just seeing all these other bands and I love aggressive music, but it’s gotta be really fucking aggressive. I hear stuff now like DECAPITATED and stuff like that. I would’ve wanted to play stuff more in that vein than what we were doing. I thought, maybe our first couple of records when I joined the band were kind of aggressive for that time, but there was so much stuff after it that I would say was trumping us in that department. I know music’s not a competition and I wasn’t competing, but I just thought that other bands were doing what I thought we should do better. I don’t know why we were always in the mid-tempo kind of ’80s thrash metal zone and we were all beyond that, but that’s really what I meant back then and I totally meant it.
Metalshrine: About doing something different, did you listen to METALLICA‘s “Lulu” project?
Friedman: Ahhh, I think I heard one song where Lou Reed is, like, talking or something. I didn’t listen to it thinking that I was gonna be asked about it, I just remember, “What’s this?” Was he rapping or was it spoken-word?
Metalshrine: Yeah, I guess it’s more like spoken-word throughout the album.
Friedman: Yeah, I don’t know. I have no idea.
Metalshrine: But as a musician, could you see yourself doing something that’s totally different from what you’ve done before in a way to push things forward?
Friedman: I absolutely believe it and I absolutely get it and I understand it. The thing with METALLICA is that they’re such a great band and they’ve got so much great stuff already in their history, that they could just like fart on a record and people would at least wanna see why they’re doing it, you know. They’ve got so much great stuff and they’re allowed to be experimental if they want. I have a lot of weird trippy stuff that I haven’t released that maybe if I was in a band like METALLICA, I would have the opportunity to release it, but I kinda keep my stuff a little bit more to how I’d like to represent myself, but I think all musicians have a lot of experimental stuff and that’s how you grow. I give them total props and total credit for always being experimental and that’s why they’re always one step ahead of the curve in the world of heavy metal and that’s why they’re like THE ROLLING STONES of heavy metal. They’ve always continued to reinvent themselves while keeping that great sound, but I can’t really speak for that whole “Lulu” album. I don’t think they’re gonna lose fans with it, but they have fans of their old stuff who are not gonna like it as much most likely, but if they like it, that’s all that matters. It really is. Especially when you have a history of success behind you. It takes balls to do something that you know your hardcore fans are not gonna like. It’s easy to preach to the converted. It’s easy to do that and it’s fun to do it because everyone’s gonna love you and it’s great, but it takes balls to take a risk and even more balls to do it in public and release it so I give them credit.
Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.