Geschreven door Jessica Santiago Lopez op 2014-06-07 21:41:18

Interviews :: Interview met Gus G. en Marty Friedman

Afgelopen maand stonden Gus G. en Marty Friedman in de Benelux voor een aantal shows. (Foto’s van de show in België zijn hier te vinden). Christophe Pauly ging een gesprek met beide mannen aan voor Metalkrant, na de show, en het resultaat is hieronder te lezen.

Interview door Christophe Pauly

Let’s start with Gus G. When did you get the idea of doing a solo album? And how did it start?
GG.: It started in 2012. I had some riffs that would fit more in the hard rock than in the metal. And those wouldn’t work with Firewind. So I started to write with Mats Leven (who sings on 4 songs on this record).We did 4-5 songs pretty quickly. So when those things got ready, I thought: “ Ok, this is the direction. And this could be a solo album”.

Did you know Mats for a long time?
GG.: I met him in 2003 at a festival in Sweden, where he was playing at . I’m bit a fan of him since he was on Yngwie Malmsteen’s Facing The Animal. So we met there and had a great time. We became buddies through the years and jammed together. We always stayed in touch. He’s the guy whom I always wanted to do something with. And in 2010, I asked him to join Firewind because our singer couldn’t come on tour with us. Mats has the advantage that he isn’t only a singer, but a songwriter and producer too.

There’s a similarity between your album, I Am The Fire, and Marty’s new album, Inferno. You both have collaborated with different artists on it.  So how did it worked for each? How did you choose those artists?
GG.:  For me to be honest, it was a lot of people who came from Jay Ruston (the guy who mixed the album). He introduced me to his friends because, at that time, I just had Mats and another song with Jeff Scott Soto and that’s all. I had nobody else to play with. So he asked me: “Who’s going to play drums on your album?”And I said “I don’t know!”. So he got me Jeff  Friedl who came from A Perfect Circle and who’s a great drummer. He continued to propose me people.  “How about Billy Sheehan? Or Dave Ellefson?”
MF: Yeah??
GG:  Oh Yeah, Dave Ellefson played on the album! That actually came together in a kind of exchange between musicians. He had a project with Frank Bello from Anthrax, so Jay called me and asked me if I would want to do a solo for Dave Ellefson. I said “Fuck yeah!”
MF: So you played for him and they played for you?
GG: Yeah!
MF: Rock n’ Roll is so easy!
GG: I think that this kind of brotherhood in metal is missing these days. So, I was happy to do it too for that side. I did the same with Jeff Scott Soto. He played on my album and I played on some of his songs too.

What about you, Marty?
MF: Before doing this album, I put down a list of all those current musicians who said great things about me in interviews with the press. I haven’t read the press outside Japan for many years, so I didn’t really knew what was going on. And all those great people have said so many great things about me, that I couldn’t believe it! I thought I was completely forgotten. So it was really nice and I started to search for those people on the list and listen to their music. And I liked so much of it! I contacted them and they were so enthusiastic. And this time, I didn’t want to do a solo. I wanted to write the songs together by starting at zero with each guest.

So they wrote the songs with you?
MF: Yeah, we wrote it together and I arranged it, produced it and played guitar. It was more like I was in a band with those guests.

This album is very different from what you’ve done before. It sounds more heavy and surprising at some moments. I think it will stay as a particular album in your discography.
MF: Yeah, I wanted to make a new landmark in what I do, to give people the opportunity to compare what I’ve done before and what I do now. People always try to compare everything I’ve done to something and I was fed up to always be compared to the same things that I've done before.

I think that your playing has changed also a lot over the years
MF: Yes, but you know, it changes every day. It changed from yesterday in Holland to today.

Of course, but I was thinking about the difference was really beginning at the Cryptic Writings album. Those were so different from the  Rust In Peace era.
MF: Yes, but if you're a guitar player, you know that the link of the notes, space between the notes is the biggest thing you can change. And that's how you can sound different. When I play that older stuff, I think that I will never sustain that this short or make it last longer or think about a cooler place to end the notes.
GG: It's very important, because that's the way to change your phrasing.
MF: Every metal guy starts at the 1 and end at the 1, in everything that they do. Luckily, when I was a teenager, I found that the cooler place is where you start the notes and the phrase and when you end them. You get to be so much more adventurous. So, each album is like going further and further.

When I looked at you during tonight's show, I was thinking that you look like you have much more fun nowadays than during the Megadeth years.
MF: Oh shit, yeah! You know, I had a lot of fun in Megadeth. I loved it. Every minute was fantastic. But it was kinda limiting. I still love it. I still love everything that we did. But everything that I've done is very natural.

You also got more freedom in your playing?
MF: Yeah, and it's your own mind. I found that playing in Megadeth was only personally minded for everybody. And now I write everything I do. It's easier to interpret. I had much harder time playing other's music than playing my own.

Gus. G, I Am The Fire is your first solo album. But do you remember Marty's first solo album? What did you think or felt about it when you first hear it?
GG: You know, I grew up with his solo albums. Dragon's kiss and those albums were sort of bar raising albums. It changed the game back then.
I don't know how it was for him to do his first solo album, but for me, I was a band guy for 10 years (Firewind is also my baby), but it was being involved with other guys like a brotherhood or partnership.
And in the studio, it was a great feeling too, because I didn't have to show my parts to anybody or go to any producer. I didn't want to hire a producer. A lot of time, producers want you to make the record they wanna make. And not to serve the artist. They think they know what's good for them whatever they think or feel.

What about you, Marty?
MF: My first solo album was way before Megadeth. In fact, the first Cacophony was supposed to be my first solo album, because it was 80% or more done before I met Jason Becker. But when I met him I just fell in love with the guy and said "I've got to find a place for you to play on this record. There's only one way to do it live if you join me. There's nobody else"
So we did it and at that time, he was only 16 and had this fantastic dexterity. He could play anything and understand anything. But he hadn't written any cool songs at that time. So it was hard to get him in there. But once we started he surpassed everything I ever expected. That was my first solo album. When Dragon's kiss came out, I had to write music from zero. All my music was used on Speed Metal Symphony. So I had to write very quickly.
GG: So, there was Speed Metal Symphony, then Dragon's Kiss and then Go Off!?
MF: Yes, the solo album was in between. I was excited to do a solo album, but I didn’t have any material. So I had to rush to get this material.

You wrote a song with Jason on this album. This album was the perfect occasion to do it, wasn't it?
MF: Yeah, we stayed best friends since that period. There was a tension on the project, because it's special. So I wanted to be sure it would have a good place on a good album, so it would be worth it to ask him to join me on it.

There was a movie about him recently which is quite interesting.
MF: Yeah, for sure. And there was an event for Jason.
GG: And another one!
MF: Another one? Where at?
GG: Yeah, somewhere in San Francisco. You did the first one and I did the second one last year.
MF: And I know they did another one in Europe.
GG: Yeah, but he couldn't be there. So he sent someone else.
MF: Great, what a super guy.

You moved to Japan several years ago. How is life there for a musician like you ? Is it different from the American vision?
MF: It's a strange place. If you go on tour there it's fantastic. If you live there, you have to do a lot of things, because it's a very fast moving entertaining culture. You can't just play a couple shows. You have to always do something, you have to keep busy. That's very stimulating and good, but it's a lot of work.

Gus G. , do you plan to do more solo albums in the future?
GG: You know, I have a contract for 2 albums. So yes, there will be another one.
I didn't know how this one would be received and it's got the best reviews in my career so far. So I think I will continue it.

Did you have some fear for this album?
GG: When I started this project, I didn't want to prove something, or to show something. I just did this album because I just had to do it. I had to get this music on an album. It's very different from what people are used to. So, I didn't know what was going to happen.

Let's talk about your collaboration with Ozzy. Was it hard to succeed to Zakk Wylde?
GG: You know, it's a very tough gig in a sense of when you look at the guys who have been there before you (Randy Roads, Zakk Wylde), it's pretty heavy stuff. But the only way to approach this gig without being too stressed is an approach of love and respect. I cannot replace Zakk Wyklde or Randy. These guys are like their own legend. You can only be yourself. And that’s what Ozzy told me as well: “Be you”
They didn’t want Zakk #2 or Randy #3. They just wanted Gus. You have to play all those songs as they are, but you also have to bring your own vibe into it.
MF: Has there ever been a discussion over the actual parts?
GG: No, never.
MF: So they asked you to play it with good sense?
GG: They already liked the way I played it, because I started with the cd versions. I played the solos in, notes for notes, etc. And he liked it. You know, Ozzy’s music is very open and you can do your own stuff in there. We discussed about my sound etc., but when you play Crazy Train, you don’t have to change anything at the solo. You can’t fuck around with that. I think what seduced him was the attitude “own it, don’t give a fuck and just go on” and I think it’s the best way to approach a gig like that.
Thinking of that Marty, if Dave Mustaine would asked me to play in Megadeth, I would play Symphony of Destruction notes for notes. Then the guys would tell me:”Yeah… But I think it would be great in F#! “(laughs) Or Tornado’s solos, Holy Wars,… Those are iconic songs.

Because they’re most technical?
GG: Yeah, also for that reason. But even if they’re technical, you have to own it. Ozzy’s songs are part of my Heavy Metal vocabulary. When you grew up, you listen to Ozzy, to Maiden, to Priest, Metallica, Megadeth,… If you don’t know that stuff, you’re not really a metal player.

How did you get the idea of touring with Marty Friedman?
MF: We talked about it for so long! We just wanted to have our albums to come up at the same time. And now here’s a chance. We always had a kind of cross paths. But we never got some time to work on it. And this time, we had these new albums.
GG: We did some things together. Like some jams for tv shows. When Marty was in Greece, I joined him to play some stuff. He also did a solo for a Firewind album. But now, it was just perfect timing. 



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