Aerosmith’s longtime songwriting collaborator, Marti Frederiksen, participated in the Rock N’ Roll Fantasy camp program with a virtual Master Class via Zoom on 2020/07/27. He interacted with +20 fans from around the world for 90 minutes, including stories about the writing process of Aerosmith‘s songs with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler (Jaded, Nine Lives, Beyond Beautiful), music production advise and, what’s most important to us, new details about the Outtakes he co-wrote with them.
Let’s get right into it! Here at the Aerosmith BackBurner we got to ask Marti a few juicy questions around the topic of Aerosmith outtakes and the upcoming box-set, and he revealed some interesting details:
The BackBurner: Over the years, an interest for Aerosmith’s unreleased work has developed amongst fans. Do you have any favourite song that you wrote with them that didn’t make the cut? There are some titles on the internet: Easy, Ain’t it True, Bridges are Burning, I Love you Down, Innocent Man, When the Sun Never Shines; did you feel like any of these songs were strong enough to be released at the time you of writing them?Conversation with Marti Frederiksen, Rock N’ Roll Fantasy’s MasterClass 2020/07/27
Marti: I mean, yeah, listen, that’s the “collaborating” word coming back in to. When you write these songs, you give them to the record company, or to the A&R guy, and they go “no, not quite this song”. You know, it could be the best song in the world, and if that guy is just in a different mood, and just doesn’t feel like that’s right on the record, then it can be shut down that simple, and “Innocent Man“, that song, I mean, we have a full-on (production), I mean, it’s probably out there now, but we do have a full-on production of that, just like that record (Just Push Play), with strings and all those background (vocals), and everything, and the same with the other ones you named (Easy, Ain’t it True, Bridges are Burning, I Love you Down), some of them were just done.
The BackBurner: We had the chance to ask a similar question to Tom Hamilton the other day and he mentioned that the band was starting to work on a box-set, are you involved in the process? would you maybe push and ask them to include one of your songs there like “Innocent Man” there?
Marti: I’m sure that they are probably talking about a lot of those songs, that seems like the most logical place to start at least, unreleased stuff that does sound really good, and, you know, these guys are getting older now, and I’m sure they could whip out a couple of cool jams, but there was a lot of heart and time put into those, so to do something from scratch to compete with that kind of sound, or whatever you call it, it would be a lot of work, you know? and I don’t know if they’d wanna “go there”. I would love to get with them again and try a song or two, for sure, you know, I still work with Steven a bit, and I miss working with Joe Perry, I mean, Joe Perry is the reason that I got in with Aerosmith too, he took me under his wing and he liked where I came from. I was his bass player/drummer/singer, and he was the guitar player, and he played shit and I just started throwing out stuff, it worked, you know?
The BackBurner: You mentioned having initially working with Joe Perry in 1996 and coming up with a few jams in 1996 and building a demo on top of those, did any of those very first jams eventually developed on to final songs?
Marti: Yeah, there are some from that session, I had 4 songs on that record, but I probably wrote, for that record, I think that I wrote 9 or 10 songs. And they are all demoed, and some of them don’t have quiet finished lyrics, but, one of those songs from Nine Lives was a song we ended up, we finished it and we re-wrote the words for this Charlie’s Angels movie that came out, we had a piece in there, but that was from the Nine Lives experience (When the Monkey Comes / Angel’s Eye).
The BackBurner: Did you wrote a song called “Loretta” with them?
Marti: Nope, that might have been Mark (Hudson). I mean, they have collaborated with so many people, that I’m just honoured and grateful that I was able to do what I did with them, I mean, at the end of the day I probably wrote 40 songs with those guys, you know?, and probably had 25 of them on record, so, I’m grateful.
The BackBurner: We can’t get enough of that man, we hope they get released and that you keep writing with them, thank you for your time, it’s been amazing talking to you.
These are interesting facts we learn from Marti. The fact that all of the outtakes he wrote with the band are demoed (maybe even the ultra-rare track “King Kong” from Nine Lives), we can conclude that the demos in the lost Avatar DAT tapes are the very first jams/demos that he and Joe Perry wrote for Nine Lives, that “Innocent Man” received a rework during the 2000 sessions for Just Push Play and a full orchestral arrangement, taking it to a fully produced song, he thinks the band will very likely use some those songs on the boxset, and we can now be sure he didn’t write “Loretta“.
But most importantly, while he doubts the band will be interested in doing another album, he is open to writing and producing new tracks with them, and admits missing working with Joe!
He also shared amazing details and stories of his work with Aerosmith and the process of writing a few of them:
- John Kalodner, Aerosmith A&R, liked his work and introduced him to Aerosmith.
- This happened in 1996 during the time Glen Ballard was producing the Nine Lives album.
- He was a big Aerosmith fan with posters in his teenage bedroom.
- He got a meeting with Steven and Joe, and was told by Koladner to go and jam with the guys and that leadership in helping them put their ideas together to greater songs.
- He got a Linn-9000 drum machine and came up with at least 5 different jams with Steven and Joe on their first day. He then looped it and added a bass part.
- When Tyler and Perry left he kept working on the track, wrote a bridge and polished the jam including vocal melodies for a verse.
- On day 2, he presented Joe his work and really liked it. Joe added some of his guitars. Steven called and Joe asked him to come to the studio. Marti presented Steven with his ideas for the verse melodies, he liked them and added a vocal track (no lyrics).
- He thought he would not want to keep working with him, and asked to get a photo with the band.
- A month later, he got a call from Joe Perry telling Marti he really enjoyed working with him and asking him to keep collaboration with him to write more songs.
- After getting 4 co-writing song credits on Aerosmith 1997 “Nine Lives” his career opportunities expanded.
- Aerosmith called him again to help write some of the track in their followup album, 2001’s “Just Push Play”.
- He worked with Mark Hudson on JPP. He went from working with ADAT to ProTools.
- He mentioned he fixed a lot of the JPP tracks with ProTools and that Steven hated it. It sounds like a modern fixed record that is very tight. He sais that the band all “hate” that record.
- But this resulted in him getting his first hit pop single with “Jaded”.
- It wasn’t written until the very end, they felt like they didn’t have a single. He went with Steven to his lake house, while Steven was on the phone, he sat on his living room with the guitar, playing around the idea of the Smashing Pumpkins song “1979”, and a variation of that verse resulted on the riff for Jaded. Steven was on the phone and yelled: “wait, wait, what’s that?”, but the time he was off the phone he already had an idea for the verse and a melody and by the end of the day, they had a demo.
- Steven had 5 verses for Jaded, he just had to help to edit, choosing the best bits of each one.
- His work with Aerosmith has been “easier” because he has a guy like Joe Perry coming up with cool guitar riffs.
- About writing “Beyond Beautiful” he said he was in Joe’s apartment/house (while working on the JPP album) watching tv at 10pm one night, and Joe said, “hey man, do you wanna go down to the studio and lay some things down?”, they did, and together they did stomps and loops and added the guitar riff, that’s how that song was built, 2 hours after the tracks were recorded with a drum loop, the song was almost done, all the music and a few melodies. He then went to Steven’s house to work on melodies and the rest came very quickly.
- The Just Push Play album was 4 guys in a room writing the record: Steven, Joe, Mark Hudson and Marti. It was a long process, and the songs had “a lot of thing going on in them”, a lot of overdubs, and lots of tracks. He thinks that’s the reason that Steven and Joe don’t like JPP.
- Steven and Mark can go crazy doing vocals, Mark would some times put 50 vocal backgrounds on a song even if you can’t really hear them. The record ended up being an experiment.
- He loves JPP, but can see how a few songs could be stronger, he thinks he could re-write a few, he could probably fix a couple to make them stronger. But it probably won’t happen.
- The song “Nine Lives” was written with Steven and Joe in Miami with a small setup in a hotel room. They started jamming to AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” and it just turned on to Nine Lives. It doesn’t sound like ACDC, maybe just the uptempo drum beat. He thought they would not use it as it sounded like Judas Priest song, but they did. Steven’s voice just made it Aerosmith.
Other interesting bits of his MasterClass were:
- He qualifies himself as a “collaborator” rather than a songwriter or producer.
- His interest in music started when he saw bands playing in his neighbourhood when he was 5 years old.
- He comes from a musical family, his mother used to sing in Mexican radio, he would sing at family diners and come up with improvised songs.
- He was in the choir during his high school years but would add additional harmonies and got kicked out.
- Collaboration to him goes beyond being in a room with another artist, it’s even about talking to people, that’s how he got the singing role for the movie “Almost Famous”, networking.
- He started by being an artist to understand the music world with a band in 1984 signed with Geffen Records with the band “A Drop in the Gray”, where he was the drummer and toured until the band broke up.
- He played the guitar and did vocals in his next band, but it broke up before the album was even released.
- After this, he starting doing demos, and that’s how an A&R guy discovered him. He was known as “the guy who does good demos and can help if you have a song idea”.
- Jaded changed his life and opened all the doors for him. He worked with Ozzy, Mick Jagger, Bryan Adams, Sheryl Crow, etc.
- He chooses to initially work with older classic rock bands rather than the newer.
- His approach to songwriting is to have the band in the room playing stuff, and picking the best parts of them, taking initial ideas and developing more, he starts with the melody and gets inspired, he improvises sounds for a vocal part and then figures the lyrics. It almost sounds like he is singing, but he is not really saying any words but gets the sound and melody.
- Writing music to lyrics already written is not as easy.
- His advice for unknown musicians is to collaborate as much as possible, finding people in the industry and at the same level and show demos around.
- Writing lyrics with other artists is tricky, song and melody come quickly to him. It’s about taking your time, putting some ideas down and coming back the next day. It depends.
- Coming up with a concept could be difficult too, he doesn’t like the idea of writing “country songs” with a full lyric written before any music or melody. “We’ll figure those 4 chords later”, he feels that approach is very un-creative.
- About preparing before he writes with another artist he comments he would initially stress a lot trying to come up with ideas, like his work with Ozzy, but he has learnt that it is better when it’s spontaneous, being in the room with no early ideas, just talking and jamming, the ideas come. Stressing about it is not fun.
- He had to reschedule his meeting with Ozzy many times and thought he wouldn’t be able to make it. Eventually, Mick Jones invited to write for Ozzy in LA. He was told Ozzy needed an “Imagine” kind of song. They wrote “Dreamer” after Mick played 4 simple chords, and Marti came up with the melody.
- About additional production on tracks, he feels that the most important is getting the basic tracks working well first, and if additional instrumentation can help to make it more modern, it’s ok.
- He thinks artists can get away with weak lyrics and coarse language in the lyrics today. His advice is to stick to writing songs you could play live.
- He doesn’t like the idea of using pre-recorded tracks on live performances.
- Advise to connect with big producers, writers and artists is very hard, but you can do it by connecting, interacting, networking and talking to people. He was lucky that Koladner got him introductions, but all the people and connections he had previously got him to be where he is today. Be open and collaborate.
- Cash in rock is very thin. For producers these days is not as attractive unless you get 50% of the royalties of the writing of the songs, own the songs, and also produce. Only writing does not pay as much. Owning the masters also helps with income.
- He thinks Ed Sheeran got a 50-50 deal, and that he thinks he has retired because he had such a bad deal from the label. He thinks major labels should allow renegotiating to get everyone happy.
- Faith Hill wanted Marti to produce her and to get Steven Tyler to guest on the song “Cry“. Everyone wanted him to get Steven for a duet. It didn’t make sense as Steven would get a big part and would not make a difference. She recorded the song alone, he wrote the song music in midi so he could change the key easily until finding her match. She asked for a Crown and Coke, and did her vocals well. She eventually won a Grammy for her vocal performance.
- There is no easy answer to “how to get a song to an artist”. The answer is not sending CDs and tapes to producers via Fedex anymore, they won’t even have a CD player to play it on. It’s all about connections and collaboration. But he admits “song placement” is not his forte. There needs to be “another guy” saying “hey listen to this”. Contacting producers and managers are a good way to get new connections. Don’t give up!
- “Song pluggers” are big in Nashville, but mostly works for country songs.
- Perseverance! he is 58 and is still making music all day and enjoying it.
- He hasn’t seen Koladner in a long time, last time was in Mauii, he has retired. He is brilliant and has helped a lot of people, doing it all for the artist.
- For the movie “Still Crazy”, he received the lyrics in advanced and thought it was easy to finalize the songs and won some awards for it.
- Publishing splits is hard when writing with a band because splitting royalties would be too small, so it’s better to share credit as “the band” and him as Marti, 50%, it’s better to have this talk early on.
- He offered advise to change a part in a Mick Jagger song and he didn’t get a songwriting credit, so it’s better to hold your tong when you are just the producer (and not the songwriter) or else have those conversations in advanced.
- Leaving the “fan” out of the room to be a professional “producer/songwriter” was hard for him, especially with Aerosmith.
- Kalodner said the experience would overwhelm him, that Steven and Joe were really cool and would come up with great stuff, but that they might not be the kind of stuff that he would be able to sell to the record company. Producers need to get passed the fan experience and be professional, lead and advise on judgement to build the better song, suggest different directions the music could go.
- He is really thankful to John Kalodner.
- Marti was interested in collaborating with a few friends that joined the Masterclass.
The fan community should continue to engage with him and the band via social media asking them to release specific songs to secure their inclusion in the upcoming box-set.
A video update exploring all the details of Marti’s MasterClass will be coming soon.
Please help us grow with a like, share and a comment or question to get the conversation going for the band to notice our request and release the songs!