MARTY FRIEDMAN Shares Opinion On METALLICA ‘Selling Out’

MARTY FRIEDMAN: ‘I’d Rather Chew Glass Than Listen To JIMI HENDRIX’

During a recent appearance on Speak N’ Destroy, Marty Friedman recalled first time hearing METALLICA, the “sellout” accusations, seeing them when he was a member of MEGADETH, and more.

“When I heard the METALLICA demo [1982’s No Life ‘Til’ Leather], I was like, ‘This is it, these are the guys!’ It sounded like punk-rock, but it sounds like metal, and it just kills — this is it,” Marty said. “I remember I just loved that demo a lot – I just thought they were the sh*t.

“At that time, even in the mainland [U.S.], no one knew who the SCORPIONS were, JUDAS PRIEST, or any of those bands [Marty lived in Hawaii at the time] — it was a niche market. There were some maniacs who knew that stuff and that was it, but in Hawaii, forget about it. There was really nothing — and not only that, but there was just no one who cared in the slightest about what we were doing.

“So we could send tapes out to people in Europe and Japan and America, underground people would rave about this stuff,” he continued. “I was a huge fan of the demo, but I was completely blind-sighted when Kill ‘Em All came out [in 1983]. I thought the music was so uncommercial, that these guys would never in a million years get a record deal. I just liked it too much, so there was no way — I mean, what was on the charts back then, DURAN DURAN and stuff like that, right?

“I never ever dreamed that it would ever come out. I mean, if it did come out, it would come out on some indie thing… When I saw the record in an actual record store — in Hawaii no less — I’m like, I just could not freaking believe it. And I’m like – it was the coolest thing ever.

“It kind of made me think, ‘Well, if this happens, then maybe someday I might have a shot of getting out of the complete underground.’ Because nothing was more underground than METALLICA at that time, they were just doing underground better than anybody else at the time — or at least in my particular taste.

“I was just blown away — I was shocked, I was happy. I was a bit jealous because up until that point, we were kind of in the same circles. We’d be in the same fanzines and stuff, and there would be a review of a METALLICA demo, there would be a review of a VIXEN demo, kind of in the same thing [Vixen was the original name of Marty’s early band HAWAII].

“I did know -—I thought they were so much cooler than the bands I was making, but I didn’t see it coming that they were gonna get a record and have the record sound that good and look that good and just be that cool right at that point. So I was blown away, just stoked that the world was ready to start accepting some heavy metal music, for better or for worse.”

Asked what he remembers about METALLICA second full-length album, 1984’s Ride The Lightning, Marty said: “At that point, a lot of the super-underground guys were saying that METALLICA was selling out because there was a ballad on it [‘Fade to Black’]. Each person has a valid opinion, each person’s opinion is equally valid, so you can’t say, ‘No, they didn’t sell out,’ ‘Yes, they did…’ Nothing is more irrelevant than that, it’s all in your perception.

“I thought, ‘Yeah, I think it’s a copout’ because you’re really extremely impressed that the album, first of all; second – the album came out; third of all, it was on a major label, and fourth of all, it was f*cking heavier than Kill ‘Em All.

“The album opens with ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ there’s nothing heavier at the time, so you got to allow them a ballad somewhere in there,” Marty continued. “It was by far the heaviest, it was Elektra [Records], it was by far the heaviest thing Elektra had ever considered releasing, so it was a major, major cool thing.

“A couple of people were saying, ‘Yeah, they’re selling out,’ but whatever. The album was just absolute — it was just like, ‘Wow, metal is gonna be in the mainstream, it’s gonna be great metal.’ So it was very inspiring. My breath was taken away. It was like the bar had been raised and f*cking barricade was broken, and anything could happen. After that album came out on a major label, it was probably a defining moment.

“But if you think about it, if Kill ‘Em All ended as it was, on an indies records, I mean, that would’ve been about right for the world of heavy metal, but no, they released… I think now that we’re talking about it — it’s not something that I think about every day, but if you think about it, that record came out and probably gave the world of heavy metal a good, solid 20 years to coast after it.

“Had it not come out, there would be no more major-label metal bands, first of all, it would’ve stayed in the indies world,” he added. But because of that being on a major label and totally kicking a—s, it allowed heavy music to become a real thing for a lot of people and open doors for people and stuff.”