Rockin' Hard in the Land of the Rising Sun: Marty Friedman

Rockin' Hard in the Land of the Rising Sun: Marty Friedman

by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass

One of J-Rock's most surprising superstars is an American guitarist whose driving, wild style made Megadeth one of the most compelling Metal bands of the '90s. His passion for J-Rock eventually led him to live and shred there, eventually ending up marrying a Japanese musician himself. His name: Marty Friedman. But you can also call him Hebimeta-san. (ヘビメタさん, Heavy-Metal-san.)

Recently, Friedman made a pilgrimage to Dave Grohl's invitation-only recording studio Studio 606, to record his next solo album. He met with LA Weekly's writer Jason Roche while he was here in the San Fernando Valley, recording on the storied multitrack system that originally resided at the legendary Sound City Studio.

“I would go on stage and play American heavy metal, but then at the end of the night in my hotel room I would listen to nothing but Japanese pop music,” Friedman says. “I decided that I would rather play the music that I was listening to.”

During his time with Megadeth, he shaped their distinctive sound almost as much as Dave Mustaine's unusual but compelling singing voice. 

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Friedman was already well set in Japan by the time the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami hit. Like many expats in Japan, Friedman sprung into action, organizing a musical equipment auction that included many of his most precious and irreplaceable instruments, like the Carvin V220 guitar he played throughout his time in Megadeth. All proceeds went to organizations working on the ground in Tohoku. 

His Otaku cred is impeccable as well. In 2014, Friedman worked with composer Revo and idol singing group Momoiro Clover Z on "Moon Pride," the opening theme song for Sailor Moon Crystal, the fan favorite that rebooted the classic Shojou anime series. He also, with Ayanocozey Show, composed and performed the theme song for the Tokusatsu movie Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Fourze and OOO: Movie War Mega Max, "Samurai Strong Style."