Although he’s often considered to be one of the most technically proficient musicians out there, Marty Friedman has not been exactly fond of the whole “shredder” categorization of some guitar players. Recently speaking to Ultimate Guitar, the former Megadeth member expressed the importance of the artistic aspect of musicianship — communicating one’s feelings through music.
During the chat, Marty was reminded of some of his old instructional videos where, unlike his contemporaries, he didn’t focus on perfecting technique and playing fast impressive parts. Instead, Friedman showed how melodies and chords work. He replied:
“I’ve always thought about melodies first and genre of music doesn’t really matter so much because melodies go in every kind of music — everything from metal to classical, to punk rock, to dance music. Every single type of music has some sort of melody.“
“So if you understand melodies, and you hear melodies inside yourself, then you can put it anywhere, wherever your musical taste leads you. I might be known as being a metal guitarist, but my base is in melody. I don’t know what video you saw, but anything that I do would be kind of based in melody. So that makes sense.”
Up next, Marty was asked about the whole “shredder” movement and why he never conformed to the whole thing. He replied:
“I’m not sure what that term ‘shredder’ means now, but when I was growing up, there was always some kid in somebody’s basement who practiced 10 hours a day. And they played so incredibly fast, and accurate, and tricky, and all that stuff. But, to be honest with you, I never thought it sounded very good.“
“But it looked amazing. You look at those fingers, and it looks so exciting, like, ‘Wow, this guy’s so good,’ but if you close your eyes and listen, it’s like, ‘What this guy’s playing will never ever be in a song.’“
“And it could never be something that could become popular. It looks cool on the fingers, but it doesn’t sound cool. That’s what shredding is to my image. So when I hear that term, that’s what I think of. And it’s really quite easy to do those things, if you just practice, anything.“
Discussing this issue further, Marty went on to explain the importance of music itself rather than just the flashy aspect of impressive virtuosic playing. According to him, there’s more to guitar playing than just showing off incredible hand and finger coordination. Marty continued:
“But making music is not about practice — making music is about life, life experiences, and taking your feelings, and putting them into someone else’s ears. That has less to do with practice and more to do with understanding how to interpret your feelings on whatever instrument you play. And that is a life journey. You see the difference?“
Of course, he never downplays the importance of practicing. However, one shouldn’t ever forget that the flawless playing technique is not the goal but rather a tool. He continued:
“There’s one thing where you can sit in front of a metronome and speed up every day, and play the same thing over and over for hours and become proficient at that — that’s one thing — but [another is] to have a life with broken hearts, family issues, health problems, and feelings that you want to communicate to other people, because other people have the same feelings, too.“
“So how do you do that which comes from a different place than sitting in front of a metronome? When I hear these shredders, sometimes I’m very impressed by the technique to be honest with you.“
“But I see right through it — I see that this as a guy who’s practicing all day. That’s wonderful, but if I hear music that really touches me, I’m very interested in the soul of that musician [who’s] making the music. I feel a human connection to that. And those things have very little to do with mechanical practice.“
“Sometimes people like to categorize, especially guitarists, and sometimes flashy guitarists like myself, they say, ‘Oh, he’s a shredder!’ And maybe it’s just a compliment, and I just have to be cool with that. But like, for my own definition, it’s like I explained to you.”
Earlier this year, Marty Friedman got the chance to perform with Megadeth once again over at the Budokan Arena in Tokyo, Japan. Of course, the lineup is completely different now and it was more or less a reunion with Dave Mustaine rather than Megadeth of his time.
Nonetheless, Marty and the band had a blast playing live, performing three classics from his time in Megadeth. And, most importantly, everyone got the chance to see Marty and Kiko Loureiro share the stage.
In another recent interview, Marty was asked how he approached his old lead parts during the live show. He replied:
“Kiko was kind enough to mirror Dave’s parts, so for me, it was very much like it was when I was in the band, only with the rhythms in stereo. He did come up with some neat harmonies to some of my lines in ‘Countdown to Extinction.’”
Knowing that both players are adored by Megadeth fans, Friedman was asked to weigh in on how he compares to Kiko. He said:
“I’m not so great at comparing guitarists, but I can tell you that Kiko is a wonderful player with a wide variety of brilliant techniques and an incredibly versatile musical sense under his belt. I think he brings something fantastic and important to the band. I think we both have an interest in ‘gypsy’ motifs in common, but we construct melodies in a different way. I like his playing a lot.”
Photo: Hiroshi Yamazaki (Copyright holder: Marty Friedman) (Marty Friedman – 01)