Guitarist Marty Friedman has performed with Megadeth and as a solo artist at festivals, arenas and small clubs. But if he had one wish, it would be that his music be played on a totally different platform.
Friedman, who lived in Scottsdale from 1994 to 2001 and now resides in Japan, would love to play or have his music featured at the 2020 Olympics in Japan. He was recently appointed a Japanese Heritage Ambassador to promote the games.
“My biggest dream is to play at the Olympic games or have my music used,” Friedman says via telephone from Japan. “As far as I’m concerned, this is one step toward that. I’m always promoting Japan and talking about the great things here before I was elected ambassador. But if this is one step toward having my music in the Olympics, I’m for it.”
The author of two hardcover books about the Japanese music scene, Friedman adds that the ambassadorship took him by surprise.
“First, they chose a non-Japanese person to do such a thing and that it was me,” he says. “I am very honored. I do a lot of things in Japan and out of Japan as well to bring attention to Japan. A lot of people come to me as an expert about Japan.”
He has a lot to promote this year, starting with his new album, Wall of Sound, which releases August 4. After a two warm-up shows in Japan, Friedman will kick off a tour in the United States to support it. He comes to The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix on Friday, August 25.
“Playing in America is the most exciting thing,” he says. “I came to Japan. I love being in Japan—working, playing, all the things I do here.
“But playing the United States is a huge treat. I get to go to places like Phoenix, where I used to live. I get to see a lot of the old gang and I get to see a lot of new people. It’s a blast. I get really excited right around this time, when the record is about to be released and the work starts. It’s one victory at a time.”
The tour will be similar to his last jaunt, he says.
“It went really well,” he says. “We’re going to get the crowd involved. We just randomly take people out of the audience who want to come on stage and jam with us. I give them a guitar and amp and create some super moments. We’re going to bring back things like that and play a whole bunch of new stuff from Wall of Sound.”
He’s one for sticking with formulas that work. He recorded the album like his 2014 effort Inferno, demoing songs in bulk and then letting them stew. Once again, he assembled a diverse group of musicians to record and guest on Wall of Sound. His core recording band is Anup Sastry and Gregg Bissonette on drums; and Japanese bassist Kiyoshi. Guests include Jinxx of Black Veil Brides and Shiv Mehra of Deafheaven. Jorgen Munkeby of Shining lends his voice to the album’s only noninstrumental track.
“I did lots of demos over long, long, long periods of time,” he says. “I did maybe 16 to 18 months of work before I went into the real studio. I lived with these songs and had so many emotional attachments to them. I threw away anything that I wasn’t still loving after a whole year.
“Then, I went to a real studio. We were almost like a debut band who had a lot of personal experiences attached to the songs. Debut bands have real strong albums. It’s not a coincidence. They had a lot of time to live with the stuff and react to it.”
With many projects under his belt, Friedman is adding autobiographer to his resume. He says his book is nearly finished, but he’s not sure when it’s set for release.
“It’s hard to finish a biography when you’re still stuck in the middle of things that you’re doing,” he says. “There’s no ending to it. As things evolve, we’ve made some additions to the book. I’m just honored to be asked to do such a thing.”
Marty Friedman w/Scale the Summit and The Fine Constant, The Rebel Lounge, 2303 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, 602.296.7013, therebellounge.com, 7 p.m. Friday, August 25, $23-$26.