Marty Friedman, who has been shredding the guitar since his teens, first gained fame in 1986 for his work in Cacophony with fellow axeman Jason Becker. He’s no stranger to Billboard‘s charts due to his tenure with iconic thrash band Megadeth, but it wasn’t until Friedman’s 2014 album Inferno that he charted as a lead artist, entering the Billboard 200 at No. 186. What does he credit to finally denting the chart after releasing music since 1988 as a solo artist?
“Just lucky, really,” says Friedman. “I have no barometer of what’s big in the U.S. or what the trends are, so as always I just try to make the strongest album I can. Maybe after 11 solo albums, I’m just starting to get the hang of it?”
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Friedman’s admitted lack of knowledge about stateside music trends can be attributed to him adopting Japan as his home country in 2003. His love of Japanese culture influenced the video for Inferno‘s lead track: The clip was modeled after the TV show Zenryoku Saka, whose sole premise is filming different girls running up a hill. However, for his new video from Inferno, “Meat Hook,” Friedman took a more literal approach.
“‘Meat Hook’ was one of the few times that a guitar riff shot a vivid image into my mind as I was writing it,” he explains. “That’s pretty rare, so I kept that concept of the image I had in mind when it came time to make a video. It was the image of all these massive slabs of meat on hooks, kind of like in the movie Rocky … No idea why the image came to me. Maybe it’s because the actual guitar riff is quite aggressive, and when you play it you really feel the stamina of your muscles going at full throttle. If a guitar riff could be physical or ‘animalistic,’ the main riff in ‘Meat Hook’ could be described that way.”
Billboard is exclusively premiering the video for “Meat Hook” today. Watch the clip below:
“Musically the tune is kinda gory, and there are a lot of tension-and-release moments in it,” continues Friedman. “That’s like the concept of meat, in the way that slaughtering anything is grotesque and reprehensible, but once the thing is killed, then it gets all dressed up and pampered and seasoned, so when you are eating it, it can be blissful. Kind of a strange turn of events, isn’t it?”
“Meat Hook” is a collaboration with Norwegian jazz/metal musician Jorgen Munkeby, who’s known for his saxophone work. His horn play lends the track an avant-garde flavor. Friedman observes, “We both share a musical perversion and a willingness to do literally anything in the chance that we might come up with something that has never been done before, hence the unusual and abrasive collaboration we did in ‘Meat Hook.'”
Friedman has toured the world for two years in support of Inferno, and he will make a special guest appearance with another talent he paired with on the album: acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. Friedman is joining them at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Aug. 14. He reveals that they will perform together with a full orchestra. “We’ve been arranging music in such a way that we make the most of such a unique mixture of players and cultures. I’m honored to be asked to do it, and I’m sure it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event for fans of their music as well as my music.”
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While he’s in L.A., Friedman will begin recording his next album, which he has been working on since completing a U.S. tour in February and hopes to release in 2017. “Inferno was such an overwhelming work process that now I feel like a body builder who is pumped up and in his prime after doing all the hard training. I’m not trying to make an Inferno 2, but if you liked Inferno, I believe the new stuff will not disappoint.”
Given how much he collaborated with other artists on that record (it also includes contributions from Becker, Danko Jones, Children of Bodom‘s Alexi Laiho, Revocation‘s David Davidson and Skyharbor‘s Keshav Dhar), what are the chances of Friedman working with Japanese metal sensation Babymetal in the future?
“I have done several collaborations with them on TV and in the press, and played on the same concert bill with them, but have yet to work on music together,” he says. “I would not be surprised at all if a musical collaboration happened. It’s really just a matter of something being the right project for both of us. I think they are fantastic.”