We all know that guitarist Marty Friedman is living in Japan for quite a long time, but that he’s quite a figure there, I guess many don’t know. In an interview with BackstageAxxess, he talked about his official role of the Ambassador of Japanese Heritage, a possible performance at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, and more.
As transcribed by Ultimate Guitar.
You’ve been living in Japan for a long time now, but you have recently gotten quite a few accolades and honors. I wanted to ask you about receiving the title of ‘Ambassador of Japanese heritage,’ if you could tell me a little bit about that?
“Well, the government of Japan appointed me as Ambassador of Japanese heritage which basically means I’m kind of ‘lay us on the information along about the inside of Japan, what it’s really like,’ some places and things and concepts.
“I guess for some odd reason, the government of Japan picked up on me, and I guess I’m just a rock ‘n’ roll guitar player from the East Coast, and it just floored me.
“I’ve done a lot of events in Japan related – going to play the Tokyo Marathon opening ceremony third year in a row, just really exciting things.”
You also did some work with the Tokyo Philharmonic and came up with the Japan Heritage theme song. How did that whole project kind of come about? Did the government ask you to do that?
“Literally, yes. They literally asked me to come up with a song to officially be the theme song for Japan Heritage.
“What Japan Heritage is – it’s, well, right now it’s like 39 different either places, things or concepts, cultural art things, things about Japan that voted by the government as Japan Heritage.
“Like, certain places, shrines, certain theatrical things… and they wanted a song that would officially be the theme song to be used at events and to be put in textbooks for kids in their music school and stuff.”
Next year, the Olympics are going to be in Tokyo. Do you think you’ll have any role to play, maybe a performance at the games?
“I’m so working towards that. A lot of things are leading towards it but you can never know.
“There are only so many things that actually wind up being in the Olympics, I might either do something related to the Olympics or outside.
“That’s my biggest goal in life, to play for a figure-skating competition, which is kind of a strange goal for someone that’s known as a heavy metal guitar player.
“I’m getting close to that, I definitely got the songs that are suitable for it, and I’ve actually done some work with the Olympic skaters in my day, but to have my music played in that type of arena, that’s what I really want.”
One last question. When people come out to see you play, maybe somebody wants to hear a certain song from back in the day or maybe they’re not as open to new music, but for somebody who’s never seen you play before, what is the one thing that you would kind of like them to take away from the experience of coming to one of your shows?
“Great question. I want everybody leaving the show feeling happy and feeling like they just got a huge jolt of positive energy. Something that will last for a little while.
“I remember when I was a kid going to concerts, I just waited and waited for those two hours, and those two hours at a concert kind of kept me going for the next couple of months until the next concert. It kept me going, and I want to give people that feeling.”