Marty Friedman’s nieuwe studio album ‘Tokyo Jukebox 3’ komt uit op 16 april 2021 via The Players Club / Mascot Label Group. De plaat is de derde in een serie die begon met ‘Tokyo Jukebox‘ in 2009 en daarna met ‘Tokyo Jukebox 2‘ in 2011. De trilogie presenteert Friedman’s uitvoeringen van Japans repertoire.

Hij deelt: “I’ve been playing stuff from the first two ‘Jukebox’ albums live all over the world, and it’s taken on a life of its own. Especially in places like North and South America, Australia, Italy, France and even India. My fan base is very dedicated, and what I have found is that lots of new fans have been introduced to Japanese music and culture through me, which is very gratifying. On the tours it seems like aside from the dedicated guitar fans, the Japan fanatics have been noticeably growing, so now felt like the right time to do ‘Tokyo Jukebox 3’.”

Deze week deelt Marty ook een nieuwe muziekvideo voor het nummer ‘Makenaide’. Over deze video vertelt Friedman, “I feel so incredibly fortunate and grateful for the love and support of wonderful people from so many countries and cultures around The World. With this video, I tried my best to share that unique feeling with you, and what better way than to have those cool folks jam for us. A huge thank you to everyone who took the time and energy to learn this song and make this video so fun to look at.”

Friedman heeft veel tijd gestoken in het selecteren van de juiste te coveren nummers voor dit album, “In Japan, you have to get permission to record and release cover versions, and that can be a very tricky and long process. So, the last thing I wanted to do was to ask permission to do a song, only to wind up not recording it for whatever reason. That would be very impolite. I spent several weeks choosing songs and demoing them to see whether I could create versions that I could get pumped up about, before I even approached any publishers. I came up with a short list of 20 songs, and from this chose about 15 that I knew I could really score with.”

Er is ook een muziekvideo voor het nummer ‘The Perfect World’, het origineel was in 2018 geschreven en opgenomen. Dit is ook het enige nummer op het album met vocalen. Marty verteld hierover, “Back then I did the song with Jean-Ken Johnny from Man With A Mission on vocals, and that was used as the main theme for the Netflix series B: The Beginning. On the day of release, the song went straight to the top of the Japanese iTunes chart.” This recording is a new, fresh interpretation with Alfakyun, one of Japan’s premier female J-Pop singers performing the vocals”. Hij vervolgt, “It’s really a self-cover, so it fits in with the idea of this being a covers album.”

Het grootste deel van de opnames vond plaats in Power House Studios in Tokyo, waar Friedman, die ook het album heeft geproduceerd, werd vergezeld door bassist Kiyoshi en drummer Anup Sastry. Hij vertelt, “Kiyoshi has been in my band for about six years now doing all my tours and recordings. She is a powerhouse, and I honestly have never seen anyone hit the bass as hard as she does, especially while keeping up with my kind of challenging music. Anup was a member of Skyharbor (an Indian/American progressive metal band) and has been on my last three albums. He is just plain phenomenal as well.”

De opnames begonnen in januari 2020 en hadden eigenlijk klaar moeten zijn in maart met een release in mei. Toen sloeg de pandemie toe en werd alles vertraagd. Friedman had ineens geen deadline en maakte gebruik van deze extra tijd; “I kept reworking the music, and improving everything. In the end it took several months to get the album completed, but it was time well spent. I believe the music turned out so much better because I wasn’t under any deadline pressure.” Het album is gemixt door Jens Bogren in zijn Fascination Studios in Sweden. Friedman had alle vertrouwen in Jens; “Jens has mixed my last three albums and he’s one of the best in the business. He knows what I want, and I know he’ll get it for me.”

Friedman’s oog voor detail met betrekking tot dit album gaat verder dan alleen de muziek. De cover toont de gitarist gekleed in een traditionele Japanse kimono, met make-up die de authentieke traditie eer aandoet. Hierover vertelt hij, “I have to admit that getting this done was a hellish process. It could easily have just looked like a dude in drag and therefore rather stupid. It does take a very serious attitude and approach to pull this off properly. If you look at the covers for the first two ‘Jukebox’ albums, I had on kabuki make-up. There was no photoshop used at all and that’s precisely why they came out so well. This time I brought on the absolute top professionals in the unique field of wardrobe and make-up, and I believe we’ve hit the bullseye. I am actually wearing two kimonos in the photo, as well as padding to fill me out a little like a sumo wrestler. You’d never believe I am this skinny rock dude from the East Coast of America!”

Op nieuwjaarsdag 2021 verzorgde Friedman een live streaming concert om de ‘Jukebox’ serie te vieren. Over een wereldwijde tour denkt hij als volgt, “Obviously, we have to wait and see what happens with international travel protocol. But I cannot wait to get back on the road again. I have really missed it terribly.” In de tussentijd hoopt hij dat iedereen geniet van zijn nieuwe werk op ‘Tokyo Jukebox 3’, waar Friedman zijn eigen interpretaties geeft van J-Pop hits zoals LiSA’s ‘Gurenge’ en Official Hige Dandism’s ‘Shukumei’, naast Da Pump’s dance track ‘U.S.A.’, Sekai No Owari’s ballad ‘Sazanka’ en ‘Senbonzakura.’

Ter afsluiting deelt Marty nog, “I am so happy with the way this turned out. And I am also grateful for how it’s been received so far. The reaction has been fantastic. It was joyful and cathartic to record, and I am delighted it’s now giving people such a fun diversion.”