Marty Friedman contributed to a number of Megadeth’s all-time classic albums, most notably 1990’s Rust in Peace and 1992’s Countdown to Extinction, but had not shared the stage alongside Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine since his exit from the band in 2000. But that all changed on Monday, February 27th, when the guitar virtuoso reunited with Megadeth for three songs during their headlining performance at Tokyo’s legendary Budokan Arena.
“It was just like a perfect exclamation point on everything that we had done together up until this point,” Friedman told Heavy Consequence a day after the show. “You couldn’t have written a better way for the whole thing to play out. It was just perfect timing, just a very natural and organic way to do it.”
Friedman has resided in Japan for the better part of two decades, and both the timing and location of the gig were more than ideal.
“Dave just said, ‘Hey, we’re playing Budokan. Do you want to play?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah!’ And it was one day before I go to tour America – which I’m leaving today [Friedman will be supporting Queensrÿche and headlining his own shows]. The timing was perfect. Budokan is like 20 minutes from where I live and everything has been good between me and Dave for as long as I can remember. When he brought it up to me, it just seemed like such a perfect ‘Yes. Let’s just do it. Let’s destroy it.’ It was great.”
It turns out that the idea of Friedman joining his former band was in the planning stages for about two months prior, and ultimately consisted of him performing on three thrash classics: “Countdown to Extinction,” “Tornado of Souls,” and “Symphony of Destruction.”
“They had one show at a different venue — kind of on the outskirts of Tokyo. So, I went to that venue and rehearsed with them at the soundcheck for that show. It was interesting, because when Dave and I talked about the songs that we were going to do, we both agreed that ‘Countdown’ would be great – because the intro has got a bass solo in the introduction, and that would be great time to introduce me. And I thought, ‘That’s a great idea.’”
“But I sort of forgot we never really played that song when I was in the band. It was kind of like… a sleeper track — even though it was the title track of an album. I tried to find something online, and apparently, we did play it when I was in the band — there was some footage of us playing it in Osaka. So, I guess we played it, but it definitely wasn’t a staple setlist song. I learned it from the video – from the mid-‘90s.”
“But then when I got to rehearse with the band now, none of the guys [in addition to Mustaine, the current Megadeth lineup includes guitarist Kiko Loureiro, bassist James LoMenzo, and drummer Dirk Verbeuren] in the band had played this song before! Despite that, it sounded like they’d been playing it for years. The band is just so tight, and they’re firing on all cylinders, and so talented. So, you’d never know it was not a ‘normal setlist song.’ It was just for the Budokan show. So, I was impressed with how well the band adapted to playing a brand new song.”
Friedman also discussed his current relationship with Mustaine. “Oh, it’s great,” he enthused. “It’s always been great. I think if anything, if there was ever any kind of weirdness, it was probably in the minds of the people who are fans or just people who are reading media things. We chat every once in a while and it’s always very nice. We have no … maybe at the time when I left the band there might have been some weird feelings between us, but I think at the time, Dave understood why I left. And at the time I understood why I put the band in a possibly rough situation. But that’s such a long time ago.”
He continued, “And since then, there’s really been nothing but friendly, normal contact — and occasionally, we’ll talk about a thing that we might need the other to comment on. But absolutely nothing but complete friendliness. I think in the back of our minds, this event always was kind of looming. It was going to happen someday. Megadeth is not the type of band that’s just going to stop and give up – they’re always moving forward. And I was always rooting for them, and for them to come and play a Budokan show is just something that I’m really proud of them. Even regardless of my participation, I’m just proud of them for getting there.”
“And I thought it was a really cool thing for Dave to do, to ask me to play at that very important show in Japan. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but in Japan, playing Budokan has a very legendary ring to it. You’ve played there or you haven’t played there. It’s kind of a big separating borderline. So now, Megadeth is a band that has played Budokan and I’m just really proud to have been part of it.”
Lastly, would the guitarist be open to playing with Megadeth again – whether onstage or perhaps in the studio? “Yeah man, the door’s open. I think the door has always been open. It’s really just a matter of doing something that has meaning to it. Meaning for them and meaning for me. So, Budokan is sort of a no-brainer.”
“But if something were to come up that would be a good thing for them and a good thing for me, and add value to it, then I’m all for it. As far as I’m concerned, their band is just kicking so much ass right now – I can’t imagine them needing me for anything. [Laughs] But Budokan was wonderful. There’s other things in the future. My door’s open and we’re on great terms, and I love all the guys in the band. It’s very casual.”
Stay tuned for our full interview with Marty Friedman. Check out fan-filmed footage of the Budokan show below, and purchase an on-demand ticket to pro-shot footage of the gig here. Pick up tickets to Friedman’s upcoming US shows, both headlining and supporting Queensrÿche, via Ticketmaster or StubHub.