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Exclusive Interview: Chatting with singer-songwriter Marti Frederiksen

October 3, 2012
By: Belinda Thomas

Martin Frederiksen is an songwriter, record producer, and musician. He writes and produces rock, country, and pop music. He is best known for his work with many bands including, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Fuel, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner, Rascal Flatts, Daughtry, Three Doors Down, Buckcherry, and film soundtracks and more.

I spoke with Marti about his career and his upcoming work with Aerosmith, Three Doors Down and Julian Lennon.

Here is what he had to say.

Interview with Marti Frederiksen

Belinda: I want to find out first of all how did you first become interested in music?

Marti: I think it was just when I was kid the neighborhood I lived in there was all these bands were playing up and down the street, there was like 3 different family bands and I happened to be exposed to it, seeing how music was being made and I just took a liking to it. And my older brothers always would be listening to music and my mom would sing around the house and stuff. I just started doing it at a very young age.

Belinda: Was there any artist that influenced you growing up or any bands or singers?

Marti: I think what influenced me was just the sounds coming off the records, with Elvis, and The Beatles, and Motown, and English artists. It was just sounds. I just really took to it, you know.

Belinda: Sounds great, and when did you start playing instruments?
Marti: I started at young age, you know, 5 years old playing drums.

Belinda: Wow, you did start early. How did you first get your approach to being in the music business? Did you start off in a band? Did you start off just writing songs?

Marti: Yeah started off being in bands… like having that dream of being the next Who. I had a couple of record deals with various bands and then finally I had some success outside of a band. I wrote with this guy and they had hit song and helped them write it and worked with them on it. That was my kind of my first success. Trying it myself, never quite hit. It worked outside of being in a band. Finally this was a band called Brother Kane, and I had a hit song with them. And then from there I just continued to work with other bands.

Belinda: Oh yes, I am really familiar Damon {Johnson} and Brother Kane. I remember the song from Headbanger’s Ball.

Marti: That was mine and Damon’s first hit.

Belinda: Wow, that’s fantastic. Now I want to find out about the new Three Doors Down. Are you are working with Three Doors Down on their project? What can you tell us about it?

Marti: Yeah I have wrapped that up. We wrote 3 songs and they recorded them for a new greatest hits record I’m told. I think it’s coming out before the end of the year but I have heard glimpses of the finished product and it sounds really great. I can’t wait to hear it final and mixed all up. We did 3 songs together combined with all their greatest hits.

Belinda: Good, what is it like working with the guys?

Marti: It’s awesome. I got a chance to work with them on their last record and I wrote 2 songs with them on that. One of them was “Time of My Life” that was the title of the record “Time of My Life”and another one was a single called “When You’re Young”. So I did write with them on the past record too.

Belinda: Now when you write with a group other guys, do you guys sit together and pitch ideas. Or do you come up with stuff or do listen to what they have first and then you add suggestions? How does that work?

Marti: Yeah, a lot of times I will ask them if they are strumming something they have been kind of messing around with that is not necessarily been finished. Just so I can see if I can come up with something off of their idea. I think that is a good place to start.

Belinda: You also wrote the first single “Someday” with Julian Lennon. How did you come across writing with Julian?

Marti: Yeah, we just got in a room. I was with Steven, he brought me in. Steven Tyler. And he said Let’s write with Julian, he is staying below me at Sunset Marquis. Then Julian had a friend he’s partners with a guy has been collaborating with, Mark Spiros. So Mark Spiros, Julian and me and Steven got together and wrote the song. Supposedly it’s going be his first single I’m told.

Belinda: Yes, his first single is coming out I read that and it’s this single. Let’s talk about Aerosmith. You have worked with them before, real big success with Just Push Play. What was it like coming back and working with them for the new album coming out in November?

Marti: I have been working Aerosmith now since the late 90’s. My first time was with the album Nine Lives and I was the co-writer on that. And then I got to co-produce on Just Push Play. And I have worked on a couple things between that and now. So I have been in the touch them and I became pretty good friends with Steven now and we hang out a lot. We just came around to write some more stuff for this new record and I was able to get 5 songs on their new album, 3 of them I produced with Steven. It’s always a pleasure to work with the band.

Belinda: When you were coming up with the songs, I interviewed them a couple of months ago, Steven and Joe had mentioned that this album is supposed to be one of their best albums and it sounds like their old stuff. Is that what you also think?

Marti: Yeah, he probably didn’t mention my name on that interview, he probably just said Jack Douglas was producing the record. I don’t know, you would know more than me. But I got to do 3 songs fortunately and Jack did the remainder of the record... Yeah it has an old school flavor song. I got to do more songs, maybe a little more poppy kind of song. One of them is a duet with Carrie Underwood. It’s called “Can’t Stop Loving You” and it’s got a little bit of country flavor but Aerosmith has always had that little twist. “Crying” had a little bit and “What it takes” had a little bit of that. So it’s kind of that kind of song.

Belinda: Speaking of country artists, you have worked with Carrie Underwood and you also worked with Rascal Flats. What is the difference in writing for country artists as opposed to rock artists? Is there difference?

Marti: I don’t think there is a difference. I think there is difference lyrical. Country tends to be a little bit more detailed in the lyrics. But all and all for me it’s not much different. I think the production is different, like heavier guitar and different drum sounds, that way. But when I am writing the song no, maybe what you are writing about.. yes.

Belinda: Do you feel it is different for you writing for a band as opposed to writing just for an individual singer?

Marti: Yeah a lot of times when I write with an individual singer I will find that I do almost a demo. I will map it out the way I hear it. Sometimes with a band it’s more what they would do and all pitch in. So, it’s just depends on who is in the room. Sometimes it’s different, sometimes I will end up mapping out the whole song even with the band. And then they will go redo it or if I end up producing it or they will get a different producer and they will take elements of what we did or copy it depending on how good it is.

Belinda: That’s interesting. I need to ask you about the Sick Puppies. I talked to them at the BMI Awards, they won an award back in May.

Marti: Yeah, I wrote that song with them.

Belinda: Yes, what can you tell me about working with the Sick Puppies and the band?

Marti: A friend of mine is their A&R person and he called me say how would like to work with this band I am working with. We wrote like 6 songs and three different songs made it on their record. “Maybe” was one of them. That was the one we won a BMI award for so that was probably the song you are talking about. We got together since for their new record and wrote a couple more. I enjoy working with that band. They are an up and coming band that has big potential making a stand.

Belinda: I read somewhere that you had worked on Almost Famous, that you were voice of Jason Lee. Is that correct?

Marti: Yes I was. That was great fun. It was one of the rare times I didn’t have to write a song or produce anything, actually just have fun and sing into the microphone. Sing someone else’s songs. I got to do that on that. It was pretty cool.

Belinda: That’s my favorite movie. What was that whole that process like working with Cameron Crowe?

Marti: It was mainly with his wife Nancy Wilson from Heart, she was kind of the producer behind the music. It was pretty great. We got to in there and we treated it like 1970. There was no computer, we were recording, you couldn’t dice the vocal up. You had to sing it. If you didn’t like the part you had to re-sing it, there was no fixing it. We kind of approached it like that to give it that sound. It was kind of cool.

Belinda: What is your songwriting process like? Do write on the piano or guitar? Do you do a melody?

Marti: Most of the time I write on the acoustic guitar. What I will do I will just start strumming something and just sing. I will make up words on the spot whether they mean anything or not. I will sing just anything. The start of the song for me, it’s more about the chords and the melody. Then I will try to fit in the words after the fact.

Belinda: That’s interesting. Who are working with now?

Marti: Well, I am not working with Rhianna but I am trying to write songs for her new record. Her management called me in to asked if I wanted to do some co-writing for it. That’s what I am working on as we speak.

Belinda: Wow, that’s going to be very interesting. It’s not every day that people write with Aerosmith and all these other bands. How are approached for songwriting? Do they call your agent? Or do people just see you at award show or somewhere? How do you work with all these artists? How do they contact you?

Marti: The word gets out that Marti does work with artists and songwriters. A lot of bands they will make the rounds or I worked for some bands in the past that will come around again like I worked with Buck Cherry and we worked on stuff for their new album. Sick Puppies I worked on their last record so we thought we would give it a try again. So a lot of them are repeat customers and then some of the new stuff, word gets out that Hey have you ever tried writing with this guy. Different labels and publishers. The word kind of gets out.

Belinda: That’s interesting. Is there anyone out there you have not worked with that you would like to work with?

Marti: Sure.. all kinds. I would love the opportunity to work with any established artist or anything new that has that great potential. Bring it on. There’s too many to mention. Anything I haven’t done I’d love to give a shot.

Belinda: Who are your favorite artists or favorite songwriters out there? Any songwriters out there you are really a fan of or any artists?

Marti: There are so many great songwriters. I am out here in Nashville now. The songwriter thing here it’s incredible. They really get in there and everyday just trying to write a great song, there is no in-betweens, and they are really striving for that great song. Alot of competition to get the good stuff. There is just so many. I am just happy to be a part of it.

Belinda: When you write songs are there ever songs out there you have already written on your own and then you get approached by a group to record and you pull it out and you rework it? Or do you always just start off fresh? Or does it just depend on this artist?

Marti: For the most part we are always going for something new. A lot of the artists or bands, they really want to write new songs and be of a part of. They love the process of that. Then I become more that just a song, more of a collaborator and being a part of joining the group for the day.

Belinda: That’s interesting. Thank you so much for taking the time out Marti and talking to me about your songwriting. I love your work and I also like a song you worked on a song called “Now” by Def Leppard which is one of my favorites.

Marti: That was good fun to do that. That was a long time go.

Belinda: That’s a great song. I still play that album.
Marti: That’s awesome that you say that.

Belinda: It’s such an underrated album. I told them the other day I wish they could do more songs from that album but when you have a short amount on tour you can only do so many songs. Thank you for taking the time out. I am a fan of your work and I really appreciate you taking the time out to do the interview.

Marti: Thank you very much I appreciate it.

Belinda: No problem, you have a great day.

For more information on Marti: http://martifrederiksen.com/