Megadeth Press Articles


So Far, So Good... So Mega! :: Marty Friedman's Stepping Stone :: Clash of the Titans - Mighty Megadeth :: I'm a Rock Star, OK? :: The Big Four :: Rust Never Sleeps :: Good Times, Bad Times, Dave Times :: Clash of the Titans :: The Secrets of Hangar 18 :: Simply Symphonic :: Deth Metal! :: Love it to 'Deth! :: A Kinder, Gentler... Megadeth :: RIP Reader's Poll Winner - Best Album: Countdown to Extinction :: I Was Dead and They Brought Me Back! :: Godzilla vs. Megadeth :: Tour of Consequences :: Mustaine Mouths Off :: MD.45 - The Mustaine Side Project :: There's a Lot of Fire on This Album! :: Dethspotting :: Megadeth: Secret Mission :: At the Start It Was About Revenge :: Escaping Capitol Punishment to Reach Sanctuary :: Megadeth's Really Over!

Marty Friedman's Stepping Stone

taken from Metal Attack, May 1990
by Robert Heeg


Eyebrows were raised among thrash fans when guitar ace Marty Friedman, star of guitar band Cacophony (that also included former David Lee Roth strings-man Jason Becker) joined Megadeth to replace Jeff Young. He was rated as a virtuoso but was he the right man for the Megadeth concept? Events have proved that he was the ideal man for the job. Certainly the gig came at the right time for Friedman as he explained when we met Marty recently. Cacophony had just fallen apart and Marty was desperately looking for a spot with his own act whatever the musical style. There were fears that this talented virtuoso would land in a pop rock band wasting his talent. But happily everything fell into place. Friedman was invited to join the musically adventurous Megadeth to record the brilliant Rust in Peace album and play Europe on their "Clash of the Titans" tour. To hear about Marty joining and his future role in the band we talked to the guitarist himself. We were also delighted to be joined by Mustaine's long time partner and Megadeth co-founder, the healthy looking and always cheerful bass-man David "Junior" Ellefson.

Perhaps the latter was sitting in to check out Marty's interview but it was great to see him anyway and he gave us his views on the so-called "Clash of the Egos!", Kuwait and... Martians?!


Poverty

Not long ago alcohol and drugs were problem for both Dave's. But now the guys are really making progress. Dave: "Yeah Dave and me are a lot stronger and can resist temptation better."

Marty Friedman's two albums with Cacophony were called Speed Metal ('87) and Go Off ('88). Those and his solo album Dragon's Kiss ('88) weren't really commercial hits but his playing and sensitivity had a unique quality. Funnily enough, Dave Ellefson didn't know much about Marty's more recent work.

Dave: "I'd never heard those albums. Dave Mustaine, had of course but I only knew Marty from his Hawaii records. We heard that Marty was looking for a band and we said 'Well, whatever happens, let him drop by'. A pretty bad attitude, actually!"

To the ones of you who don't know: Hawaii was the band with whom Marty Friedman recorded his first album called One Nation Underground (1983), an album that is a neglected speed metal pioneer.

Marty: "I didn't have the faintest idea what they had heard of me. Cacophony and the solo LP don't show at all my possibilities. Hawaii was aggression-wise much closer to Megadeth and on the other hand I didn't know what direction they were going in because 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' was just released and it really didn't sound heavy. But at the audition they said 'Fuck that song!' And I can live with that."

Dave: "We will never play that song live. We recorded it 'cause Alice Cooper asked us to. Due to the common problems we have, Dave and me had a really good thing going with Alice. At the beginning they asked Alice himself to record a new version of the song for the film 'Shocker' but he had to tour and asked us whether we wanted to do a cover version. One thing led to another and at once there was the single, a video and a hit in England. It got completely out of hand and we didn't plan it that way. The hardcore Megadeth fans thought we had wimped out, but of course it's stupid to apologize for the fact we scored a hit!"

Even if Megadeth had turned into a Madonna cover band, Marty would still have joined. Back in January 1990 Friedman was unemployed and he says candidly: "At that time I would have done anything for money man! I was totally broke and didn't get any royalties off my last album..."

Ellefson started to laugh: "Yeah, you lived in a shit hole apartment, ha ha!"

Marty: "You'd better believe it! I was sitting in the middle of Hollywood in a four hundred dollars a month apartment, with no locks on the door, no security. I was surrounded by freaks partying all night, hookers and poverty. I didn't care about the music at that stage, I just had to join a band. But I couldn't have done better than joining Megadeth and now I don't have to take care of all the commercial stuff. In fact I wasn't too satisfied with my audition."

The two Daves thought differently. Said Ellefson: "Well in the past we always tried to find musicians to replace whoever had just left, but this time we were looking for real people instead of clones of Poland and Young. He was one of the few guys who knew how to play rhythms. A lot of people can only play solos, but rhythm and a band feel are also important. In Megadeth we need complete musicians, with the right spirit and attitude. When Marty walked in it clicked immediately."

Marty: "First of all I studied the songs from their first three albums, and nothing from the new stuff because they were afraid that if I didn't make it, I would steal all their ideas and say 'Hey Jason, lets re-form Cacophony, I have a lot of new songs !"


No Japanese please!

There was another reason for Marty learning the old Megadeth stuff first.

Marty: "Dave has a strange style of playing riffs, and listening to the early songs helped me to get into that. It wasn't that easy because he takes care of every nuance, and that's great because most bands are happy if you can play in the same key together. Dave will let you know if you've placed your hand half an inch in the wrong position. I like that. It's a pity Mustaine didn't have a lot of time to go through all the stuff but I learned a lot off Junior."

Ellefson: "Yeah I play a little bit of guitar myself and because of my long association with Dave I could teach Marty how things had to be done."

It must all have been a big change for Marty. With Cacophony and on his solo album he had complete artistic freedom. With Megadeth he had to play his part in an overall concept.

"It was a big but welcome change. Now I don't have to carry the whole burden on my shoulders. I just do what I have to do, playing guitar solos within the songs. My work is much more streamlined, which is more important because I have to do more in a certain space. In the early days I'd have 45 minutes on an album and we'd say, 'What shall we do with it? Just put zillions of solos in there.' Now I have to focus my work, and concentrate more. Megadeth is a big challenge and there is a much bigger audience. With Cacophony it wasn't so important what you did, because only twenty thousand people heard what you did. Now we are gambling on a million. Of course now I can't put all my Stravinsky influences into my playing - the others won't let me, ha, ha! [Junior shakes his head in agreement]. It's a challenge for me to do difficult things that a lot of people can listen to. It's easy to play 'difficult' things but the hard part is to make it accessible."

Dave: "The songs only sound so complex due to the arrangements. The riffs alone aren't that hard but it's the way they are connected to each other."

Dave: "Mustaine is very precise. His way of building up a song is brilliant. He knows how to work towards a climax in a song. To play riffs and put them in order is not so hard but the clever bit is building them up. I never used to do that and was more concerned with lead playing. Luckily I didn't have to change my solo style, only my riffs. I always play for myself but the real challenge now is to satisfy others. In the studio I had with producer Mike Clink and the band, a lot of good ears around me, so if something sounded too Egyptian or Japanese or just 'weird' - they let me know."

Dave: "None of that Japanese playing please!"

Friedman believes he will take a wider role in the future.

Dave: "Yeah, I will compose a bit more. Not whole songs but definitely parts of them."

His solo plans for the second album are on ice for the moment.

Dave: "In fact I have written ideas and put them on tape for my next solo album but I don't know whether I will ever release it. This tour with Megadeth will take a year and after that we start writing for the next album. My solo album exist, but..." Dave teased: "But only as an idea in Marty's brain!"


Heavy shit

Finally we discussed the "Clash of the Titans" tour. Had it become the "Clash of Egos"?

Dave: "Not really. Look with all those big bands you are bound to have competition but we are on different levels, sounds-wise, attitudes-wise and presentation-wise, everything is different. Slayer really surprised me. I hadn't seen them for four years and hadn't thought much about them, but now they are really good. Seven years ago Kerry King played together with Dave and me. [He helped out Megadeth on live gigs a few times - RH]. But then he started to do that Slayer stuff and I thought, 'Oh man, do something reasonable.' But nowadays they are really the best in their field. They sound like a war machine man! There can't be a clash between Megadeth and Slayer because we sound so different."

But what about Suicidal Tendencies and Testament, who have both complained about bad sound on their tour. Ellefson denied responsibility for that.

"Look, Slayer and Megadeth are of course the headliners. We have worked hard to get here but we are nevertheless sympathetic towards our support bands. We went thought a lot of stuff in the past and got bad treatment, use of only half a PA etc. Headliners are often afraid of newcomers so they cheat. We don't do that. Personally I'm pleased about this tour. It's a really heavy package and it gives us a chance to play some of our harder songs. We finally got to play some heavy shit again!"


So Far, So Good... So Mega! :: Marty Friedman's Stepping Stone :: Clash of the Titans - Mighty Megadeth :: I'm a Rock Star, OK? :: The Big Four :: Rust Never Sleeps :: Good Times, Bad Times, Dave Times :: Clash of the Titans :: The Secrets of Hangar 18 :: Simply Symphonic :: Deth Metal! :: Love it to 'Deth! :: A Kinder, Gentler... Megadeth :: RIP Reader's Poll Winner - Best Album: Countdown to Extinction :: I Was Dead and They Brought Me Back! :: Godzilla vs. Megadeth :: Tour of Consequences :: Mustaine Mouths Off :: MD.45 - The Mustaine Side Project :: There's a Lot of Fire on This Album! :: Dethspotting :: Megadeth: Secret Mission :: At the Start It Was About Revenge :: Escaping Capitol Punishment to Reach Sanctuary :: Megadeth's Really Over!

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