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Just before Halloween I caught up with guitarist Marty Friedman once Megadeth begun their U.S. tour. I was excited to talk with him about his contribution to the bandís new album Risk, their most varied album yet, and about their tour. The last two times I interviewed band members I was left with the impression that Megadeth are a serious, intense, and smart group of people who arenít afraid to experiment and challenge themselves. Risk is the culmination of several years of hammering away at the boundaries of hard rock and heavy metal, but they still have the drive to move on and become an even better group of musicians.
How has the new album been received?

Its been received great. It seems to be getting better as the tour goes on. When we first started this leg of the American tour it seemed that the older songs went over better than the new songs. We were a little bit discouraged at first, but as the weeks went on it seemed that the new songs had surpassed the older songs as far as the crowd participation and popularity. Last night we were talking about what songs went over the best and they were the three new songs from Risk. I think it has just taken a few weeks for people to get used to the new material and let the record be out for a while and for a lot of people to pick it up. It now seems to be catching itís stride.

Iím sure that as the weeks go on that you are playing them better too, that must have something to do with their popularity.

We donít play it at all if it isnít ready to be played.

What guitar parts were challenges? What new songs did you want to try playing?

Right now weíre playing four new songs: Prince of Darkness, Breadline, Crush ĎEm and Insomnia. I donít think that guitar playing is about challenges. Singing is more of a challenge because there are back-up vocals on all these songs and for me Iíve never been much for singing. On this record there is so much vocalizing that I actually had some vocal training before going on this tour so I could contribute to the backing vocals. The training helped a lot. For me that was more of a challenge. Just a few days ago Dave and I went on a morning radio show, just the two of us and two acoustic guitars and vocals. I did the back-ups on that and I would have never done something like that before just because I wasnít into singing and I didnít have much ability. Thatís really been my challenge for this tour.

You have so many layers of guitars on the new album that I wondered how the sound translates to a live setting.

Between Dave and myself we create the sound as thick as it needs to be. On the record there are a lot of lush guitar textures and arrangements. I spent a lot of time creating these walls of sound and blending my guitar sound with Daveís guitar sound. We got a really interesting blend on each of the songs but I think live we arenít about those subtle details so much as just hitting you really hard in the face. Basically we just get a really good sound for him and a really good sound for me that we each like that blends together nicely and then just put our heads down and rock.

Do you whip out the acoustic guitar now and then?


Where is your favorite place to perform in Europe?

Wherever the last city is.

How about in the United States?

I like cities where there is a lot of stuff to do outside of playing the show. I like New York and L.A. and Chicago, those are the best. As far as the shows, sometimes when we get to small towns like where we are now, like Saint Paul, Minnesota, and yesterday it was Fargo, North Dakota, those kids really appreciate us coming out and playing, they have a great time. I like all different kinds of places in America.

When are you planning to come to the West Coast?

Right now we are concentrating on the East Coast and the Midwest, we are going to hit it pretty hard until the end of the year. I donít know what our agent is thinking about sending us to the coldest part of the country in the winter. Iím sure we are going to concentrate more on the West Coast in 2000. That will be a lot of fun.

Did you enjoy playing along with violins like in Insomnia?

I like that violin part, it sounds like something I play if I was a violist but having strings is nothing new to what we do. There is a really nice string arrangement on Trust from our last album and we had a ton of pseudo-string arrangements on Blood of Heroes on Youthanasia. Iíve always liked that flavor.

Breadline seems a lot lighter and looser sound for Megadeth.

That was even lighter on the original mix of that song. I thought if we were going to do an upbeat song, I wanted to go even more in the pop direction. The first mix of Breadline was quite pop and our management nixed it because it was too pop in their opinion and so they went back and remixed it and added a little bit more of the traditional aggression to it.

The growl.

Yeah, depending on whom is listening to it either thinks it is a good idea or notÖmyself, I would have preferred to commit to it becoming a complete pop song. I guess our management was fearing that it was too far away from what Megadeth is known for. Either way I think it is a good song and I think a good song is good regardless of how it is mixed. Thatís why it is one of my favorite songs to play live.

How did your appearance on WCW Nitro come about? What is your connection?

Goldberg is a big Megadeth fan. Weíre fans of his. The producer/director of Universal Soldier heard Crush ĎEm and wanted it for his movie that had Goldberg in it. Thatís how the connection started and it turned into a really cool thing with Goldberg using Crush ĎEm as his theme song and with us playing on Monday Nitro, it was real exciting for us to be in that wrestling atmosphere because it was just like the biggest, wildest rock concert that weíve ever been to. It wasnít even a rock concert except for us playing. We hope to do more.

I actually saw you on the show. I hear ĎÖAnd now, Megadeth!í I was happy to see the performance.

After the one song, we went off the air and played three more songs with the Nitro Girls dancing on stage with us. That was the highlight for us because instead of turning around and seeing the three sweaty dudes Iím used to seeing, I saw a bunch of sexy women shaking their asses.

Sounds surreal.

It was surreal in a good way.

It looked like a Vegas show to me.

Thatís wrestling, man.

What kinds of guitars did you use for the new album?

I used a ton of guitars. For the most part I used my signature guitar, my Jackson ďMarty Friedman model.Ē Itís your basic all-around guitar and I used a couple of other guitars for the textures and little parts here and there, your standard Les Pauls and Strats and Gretchís , but for the majority of the record I used my [Jackson] guitar.

No banjos or sitars?

There are all kinds of guitars and violins and bazoukis, but I didnít play anything other that guitar. On the last record I played a sitar on Secret Place, it was one of those electric sitars, a real sitar is way too difficult for me to play. I played a bazouki on Almost Honest. But on this record I just played guitar and any other instruments we hired professionals to play.

Probably for the best.

Definitely, saved a lot of time.

How did the electronic elements on Insomnia come about?

That was a cool thing because we just wanted something different in the rhythm department, rather than just a straight drum beat. We were able access people to do that and do it very well and make it fit the music we were trying to write. Iím really happy with that, I like the fact that we could have different grooves on the record other than an AC/DC beat on every song. I love that beat but I like to have something new.

My reaction in my Risk review was something like ĎWhatís this, dance beats?í Because itís you guys, it works.

That is a good point. We have to really believe in it before weíre going to do it. We wouldnít do something thatís going to come of as goofy. We just say fuck that and it would never happen. Before something comes out all four of us have to believe in it, it may be a little different, it may shock some people but itís not a big deal. Itís our music, we like it, and this is it. Because its us, it works, we have pretty much had a standard on what we release, weíve never blatantly tried to change our music to get success, we change our stuff because we think its cool for us.

more megadeth

Megadeth played the House of Blues in West Hollywood to a sold out audience for two nights, performing songs new and classic. After more than fifteen years, Megadeth had plenty of history to cover. The standout songs were Symphony of Destruction with its pummeling bass and guitar riffs and memorable lyrics, Peace Sells But Who's Buying? making me remember my teenage years, driving in my crappy car (with a suitably loud stereo), singing at the top of my lungs to one of the hardest bands in the world, and the surprisingly affecting and melodic A Tout Le Monde. A mosh pit began and fans jumped up on the shoulders of those near the stage and surfed the crowd, getting pushed back to the pit and usually falling in bone-crunching positions. One lucky athlete flew off the top of the crowd and flipped onto his feet! Such is the power of Megadeth that even their craziest fans don't get hurt when endangering themselves. They played Breadline and got the fans singing and jumping around, this is the song that got them on the radio, after all. Towards the end of the show Dave Mustaine came on stage by himself and talked to the audience about how he knew from experience that Megadeth would never get played on the radio. Who's laughing now? He asked for a cell-phone to call local rock station KLOS so he could bug them, but the phone wasn't working. He wanted everyone to call the station and request Megadeth songs and harrass the DJs. We are all too happy that the band is finally getting some respect from L.A. radio. The band then jumped into the jagged glass rythms and paranoia of Sweating Bullets, while we all sang along. It was a thrill to see Megadeth up close and not in a giant arena, the sound was great and the band was having fun, making eye contact with their rabid fans. Heads banged, hair flew and we all had a tremendous time. Megadeth closed the night with two rocka nd roll staples, Black Sabbath's Paranoid and The Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the U.K. which the band made their own. Afterwards the band came out and bowed, humble in the knowledge that without the love their audience feels for the metal masters, Megadeth would be nothing. The fans roared their approval and the band left the stage, happy to have kicked our asses for a few hours of rock and roll madness.

Now, Here's some photos from the concert!!!!!!!!!!


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