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Your solo in “I Can’t Relax” is pretty insane!
The solo section I’m playing over is totally rock ’n’ roll, but what I’m playing is so demented and so non-rock ’n’ roll. It’s all these atonal concepts that have found their way over a totally rock ’n’ roll motif, and yet it doesn’t sound weird.
What vibe were you going for with “Meat Hook,” a sort of Captain Beefheart-style track with Jørgen Munkeby on sax?
Like I said before about instrumental music, you’ve got to do something really unique to excite me. Jørgen plays this absolutely perverted sax line, and it’s so cool. First of all, I’m not a big sax fan, especially in rock. If somebody told me there was this guitar player playing with a sax player, I’d be immediately uninterested. I managed to do a very, very heavy metal track with a whole lotta sax in it, and I have a feeling even the most hardened anti-sax metal fan will succumb to its coolness. I totally beat my fears on it, because I hate sax so much, but I find myself listening to this and loving it.
How did the duet between Alexi Laiho and Danko Jones on “Lycanthrope” come about?
Alexi is a great carrier of the metal torch. I think metal has been done to death for so many years, and there are so few things that are vital and exciting. A few things are, and what Alexi does is one of them. When he told me he wanted to join me on this record, I was excited and looking forward to coming up with something. I had him write a song with me, sing it, write lyrics, and play guitar. Danko came in and did a great heavy metal duet with Alexi. It’s one of the most aggressive songs on the album.
On “Undertow” you used the rhythm section of bassist Tony Franklin and drummer Gregg Bissonette. Did you deliberately make it softer?
As brutally heavy as I intend to make an album, there’s got to be one spot to give it a contrast. This comes quite naturally to me—the hardest thing is to not do five of those on a record. Maybe I’ll do a whole record of those someday, but this album was meant to be balls-out the whole way. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and you’ve got to have one for the girls out there.
“Stigmata Addiction” is a track from Marty’s 2006 album Loudspeaker. This live concert version from Japan is a compendium of his mind-blowing techniques, including stunning sweeps, ferocious finger vibrato, and Eastern-sounding scales. At 4:12 the track breaks down into a halftime groove that showcases Marty’s beautiful sense of lyricism and melody.
Did you co-write “Horrors” with Jason Becker?
There’s a scene in his movie [Not Dead Yet] where he’s working on a song with his dad. I asked him if he was using that song for anything because I liked where I thought it was going. I said, “Dude, let’s collaborate on something on my record,” and he was totally up for it. He sent me a bunch of stuff he had, including that piece from the movie, and I basically wrote the song with that in mind. I created an entire song like I did in the Cacophony days. It was like, “What would Cacophony be like if it had continued to evolve?” Jason’s stuff on there is just off the hook. I had to come to the party and create the ultimate Cacophony-esque opus without making it a nostalgia piece.
Was that difficult?
That might have been the most challenging piece on the record because people have a certain expectation from what we did together. I wanted to also make sure I made Jason’s parts sound like Jason, since it wasn’t him playing. He can’t physically play guitar now, so there are a few acoustic parts on the song that Jason had written that I had a guy named Ewan Dobson play. He’s much more of an acoustic expert than I am, and he took Jason’s playing the way I arranged it and played it to a tee. So it was just like I was sitting in the room producing Jason, but it was actually Ewan playing the stuff. What you get at the end of the day is Jason’s spirit completely coming through. This is what Cacophony would be like had we continued to evolve.
Is Inferno the record you’ve been waiting years to make?
I went over this thing so many times writing and editing that I just don’t see anyone disliking it. Of course, I don’t mind if someone does dislike it, because you can never control anybody’s taste. But I really don’t see anything that will turn off any of my previous fans who have found me from my solo music or Cacophony, Megadeth, or any of the things I’ve done in Japan. I really feel I’ve covered everything in there, and the main thing is, I satisfied my own criteria. I really couldn’t do a better record than this right now, to be honest with you.