Why Marty Friedman Doesn’t Think He Makes ‘Guitar Music’
Marty Friedman is regarded as one of metal's very best guitarist and, despite being a virtuoso shredder, he doesn't consider the music he makes to be "guitar music," as revealed during a recent appearance on The Ex-Man podcast hosted by Doc Coyle (Bad Wolves, God Forbid).
Marty Friedman on the Resurgence of Guitar Music
As Coyle points out, guitar-driven music is enjoying a resurgence, particularly of the instrumental/shred variety.
"I feel like this environment, especially for high-level, virtuosic instrumental type music is probably as popular now as it's been since the '80s and the days of Joe Satriani and Yngwie [Malmsteen] and that stuff," the host assesses (transcribed by Loudwire),
Bringing this up to the current, Coyle adds, "Artists like Polyphia and Animals As Leaders... It's probably the perfect time to put that out there because I think there is such a big market now. You can be very niche and still be pretty successful today."
"I like that you're noticing that and I'm noticing that. I think there's cycles in music that's heavily guitar-oriented," says Friedman.
He, too, is thrilled about the modern guitar scene in heavy music, continuing, "Polyphia is a fantastic band and I actually toured Asia with them in 2019. It was a wonderful pairing because we both do such different things, but somehow it attracts the same kind of people. I think they're a really good band to point to to show that audiences are intellectual enough to receive a lot of musical data in the music that they listen to. Polyphia is not simple music by any stretch of the imagination, and yet a lot of people are enjoying it."
Polyphia, "G.O.A.T." (Live in 2021)
Marty Friedman on YouTubers Helping to Popularize Guitar Again
In 2021, the guitarist acknowledged the growing presence of YouTube guitarists and how it has helped revitalize interest in guitar-playing in a fresh, new way. "These guys are not just good players, they're also fantastic at creating content with guitars. It's not easy to do. I would really be hard-pressed to come up with these ideas that these people are coming up with," he said at the time.
It's a stance he still maintains, explaining to Coyle, "I think that's a very positive sign and I think the fact that there's a lot of YouTubers out there that are playing guitar, having fun with guitar and have a lot of followers just because the channel is entertaining, that's bringing interest to guitar music."
Marty Friedman on Why He Doesn't Classify His Music as 'Guitar Music'
Despite being one of the most celebrated guitar gods in metal, Friedman doesn't view his music the same way so many others do. "Guitar music" basically means it's stuff for guitar nerds and academics to geek out over, which is very much the case with Friedman's music, but his lead style is something he feels has a totally different approach than a lot of other music that falls under this umbrella.
"Even though my music is categorized into 'guitar music,' I really don't even see it that way, actually, but the listeners do. I view myself as singing through the guitar. There's always a vocal element to the music that I play, but it's done with guitar so naturally there's a guitar fanbase for that," he reasons, "I think it's different from a lot of the more popular guitar bands out there."
Still, he's smitten that fans of guitar music are finding favor with what he does as well.
"People are finding me — I'm so [in the] Japanese bubble — they're finding me peripherally through other artists. A lot of people have mentioned my name as an influence and I'm always thankful for that. It's really about making one new fan at a time or 10 new fans or 100 new fans — one thing at a time. As long as you stay in the game, a lot of new opportunities seem to be happening," Friedman humbly adds.
Listen to the full interview below.