Interview: Marty Friedman on the new album, live streaming and upcoming Japan tour

Following the recent Japan release of his new album “Tokyo Jukebox 3”, Marty Friedman has a special New Year’s Day live-streamed show and a Japan tour coming up. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson had a quick chat with Marty to find out more.

Congratulations on a fantastic new album! The pandemic forced you to put touring on hold this year. Was it because of this you decided it was time for the third instalment of “Tokyo Jukebox”? “No. ‘Tokyo Jukebox 3’ started in December of 2019. I was planning for a release around the Tokyo Marathon. The pandemic gave me more time to live with the songs and do countless updates and for that, I’m very thankful, as it came out much better for it. As they say in Japanese: 不幸中の幸い.” (Editor’s note: “Fuko chu no sawai” is similar to “Silver lining of a dark cloud”).

You have some very cool song choices on the album, from various musical styles. How do you choose what songs to include on this kind of album which primarily consists of covers of famous Japanese pop and rock songs? “I had to choose songs that I can really make come alive with my guitar taking the place of a lead vocalist. No matter how much I may like a song, you never really know if I can add anything to it until I actually get in the trenches and start destroying it. For every song I chose, I had to discard two or three others that didn’t work as well.”

You have done a few virtual jams and collaborations both online and on Japanese TV this year. Which of these new collaborations are you most proud to have done? “It’s all fun, I like them all. People need to be entertained. Musicians need to make music. The pandemic has forced some unique musical things to happen and I like being paired up with unlikely musical partners.”

In January, you will be doing a “Tokyo Jukebox 3” Japan tour, including two sets at the Cotton Club in Tokyo on 21st January and shows in Fukuoka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Osaka. You will be performing with your terrific Japanese band. What can you tell us about its members?Chargeee has toured with me for 10 years and he steals the show, every night. Toshiki Oomomo played bass on my ‘Inferno’ album as well as my ‘B: The Beginning THE IMAGE ALBUM’, and he is a monster. Naoki Morioka toured with me in India, Australia and all over Asia. He is an up-and-coming guitar hero and is way too good to be as young as he is.”

It’s still too early to know if you can tour internationally in 2021, but what plans – or hopes – do you have for the coming year? “’Tokyo Jukebox 3’ comes out worldwide in April and I already have touring offers, but I have yet to confirm them. I want to play everywhere, but I want it to be safe for everyone involved before I OK anything.”

Tell us about the special online New Year’s Day live gig you will do! “This will be the most adventurous, ambitious and sweaty live stream performance I can imagine. I think my fans will be surprised at how futuristic and imaginative the staging and performance will be. It is very new territory for me and my band. My staff is going beyond what any of us have done before, to make big and awesome piece of guitar-based entertainment out of this new and very fresh medium.”

For more information and tickets to the Marty Friedman New Year Streaming Live “TOKYO JUKEBOX LIVE Worldwide 2021” on New Year’s Day:

Full details of the Japan tour in January can be found here.