Marty Friedman: "I spend 80 percent of my time on the arrangement. If I have that beautiful frame, the notes I play inside it are going to really come through"

Marty Friedman
(Image credit: Susumu Miyawaki)

While most musicians' tour plans are still sidelined by COVID-19, Marty Friedman happily reports that he’s already played live dates – in Japan. “Gigs are happening here, and for a lot of people that’s a great thing,” says the guitarist, a Tokyo resident since 2003. 

However, he’s quick to point out that, for the time being, concerts in his adopted homeland have been a far cry from what he’s used to. “There are very strict guidelines everybody has to follow. We can’t go beyond 50 percent capacity at any venue. Don’t get me wrong – touring now requires 10 times the effort to achieve half the results, but if that’s what it takes to play, that’s what I’ll do. Everybody needs music. I mean, sure, there are other priorities in life, but music is really important. They need something that makes them happy, now more than ever. If I have the chance to play, I’m there.”

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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar World, Guitar Player, MusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.