He said: “When they were changing guitar players a long time ago, I got a call from somebody from KISS‘s people. They said, ‘Do you think you might be interested in auditioning for KISS?’ I’m like, ‘Tell me when and where.’ They go, ‘We’ve got a couple of questions for you. First of all, you don’t have any facial hair, do you? You’ve got long hair, right? You’re skinny, right? You’re over six feet tall?’
He continued: I’m like, ‘What? I’m, like, five [foot], seven and a- alf [inches], but I’ll have an operation. I’ll do something.’ ‘I’m sorry, it’s not going to work out.’ I was so bummed… Gene[Simmons] and Paul [Stanley], how many Jewish guys are six feet tall without boots? Why did it have to be that way? I totally get it, though.”
In the same interview, Friedman was asked which advice he’d give to aspiring guitarists, to which he replied: “Comparing yourself to other people is not really a good thing. My level for me, it’s great, but if you asked me to play like Jeff Beck or Eric Johnson, you wouldn’t believe how terrible it was. But I can do myself pretty damn good.
“What that means is, instead of comparing yourself to what you can’t do that other guys can do, develop the things that you can do yourself and get it to the point where other people will admire what you’re doing, and they won’t expect to do, ‘Oh, play me a Steve Vai solo. Play me this. Play me that.’ That’s really important.
“There’s a lot of people that think they have to be all things to all people — they have to be able to play everything — and I was guilty of that too as a kid. A new thing would come out, and I’d be like, ‘Oh, now I’ve got to learn this sh*t too?’ VAN HALEN came out, and I’m like, ‘Now I’ve got to learn this sh*t too?’ But it’s more important to figure out your own thing and really go into that rabbit hole rather than trying to be a little bit of everybody else…
“Once you get over the fact that you don’t have to be like anybody else, it’s very liberating on your instrument, because then you start to really dial in [and ask], ‘What am I trying to say on this thing?’ If your goal is you just want to be a good guitarist, that’s pretty weak. You’ve got to have something that you want to say… things that matter to you personally that you want to get out of your instrument. The closer you get to those things, the more you develop your own style.
“If you just say, ‘I just want to get better,’ it’s really too vague, and you’re going to get eaten up. If you want to think about ‘good’ and ‘better,’ there’s always somebody better. You’ll never be satisfied. But the sooner you decide what you want to say on the instrument, the sooner you’ll find more satisfaction with your playing, and you won’t feel that pressure to be like this guy or that guy.”