Writer/Producer Marti Frederiksen Talks About His Hits With Aerosmith, Faith Hill and Def Leppard

Marti Frederiksen
Marti Frederiksen

Note: This interview was published in 2004. Marti Frederiksen has since written & produced hits for Carrie Underwood, Steven Tyler and other artists.

When it comes to collaborating with top rock & pop artists, Marti Frederiksen has become one of the leading writer/producers in the business. Not only has Frederiksen co-written and produced two hits for Aerosmith (the smash ‘Jaded’ and the recent single, ‘Girls Of Summer’), he has also co-written many cuts with Def Leppard (including their latest single, ‘Now’), Jonny Lang and Sheryl Crow. In addition, he has produced songs on the latest albums by Faith Hill (the hit single, ‘Cry’), Pink and Mick Jagger.

Frederiksen, who grew up in the Los Angeles area, began playing in bands and writing songs during high school. Upon graduating in 1984, he played drums for a band called Drop In The Gray, which signed a label deal and released an album with Geffen Records. Following the group’s breakup, Frederiksen developed his writing and producing skills with two other bands which he subsequently formed: Outlaw Blood on ATCO Records (with guitarist/vocalist Mark McCoy); and Motherland on 550/Sony Records (with drummer Jason Bonham).

It was in 1993 that Frederiksen enjoyed his first, major success as a songwriter, co-writing and producing the #1 rock hit ‘Got No Shame’ with Brother Cane (on Virgin Records). ‘I really enjoyed working as a writer/producer,’ explained Frederiksen. ‘Aaron Jacoves (then Vice President of A&R at Virgin) hooked me up with Brother Cane, and I co-wrote five songs on their first album. Aaron also helped me land a publishing deal, by introducing me to Kaz Utsunomiya (then Senior Vice President) at Virgin Publishing.

Frederiksen continued his success with Brother Cane, co-writing another #1 rock hit, ‘And Fools Shine On,’ for the group’s second album. These hits caught the attention of renowned A&R executive John David Kalodner of Columbia Records. ‘John really liked ‘Got No Shame,’ so we met, and then he hooked me up with Aerosmith (for their Nine Lives album in 1998),’ recalled Frederiksen. ‘It was great working with Aerosmith, and writing with Joe (Perry) and Steven (Tyler). We set up in a room; I programmed the drum machine and played bass, and Joe would play guitar.’

After his collaboration with Aerosmith, many doors opened for Frederiksen. He wrote and produced cuts with a wide range of artists, including Ozzy Osbourne (“Dreamer”), Amanda Marshall, Jeff Healey, Mick Jones of Foreigner, Ritchie Sambora and Richard Butler. In 1999, Frederiksen received a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Song category, for co-writing ‘The Flame Still Burns’ (from the film, Still Crazy). The following year, Frederiksen even demonstrated his ability as a strong vocalist, by singing (for the soundtrack) all the lead vocals by the mythical group Stillwater in the acclaimed, Cameron Crowe movie, Almost Famous.

Notwithstanding these successes, it was his teaming again with Aerosmith last year which resulted in his most notable achievement to date: co-writing and producing ‘Jaded’ and nine other songs on the double platinum Just Push Play album. ‘For ‘Jaded,’ Steven (Tyler) and I went to his house in Lake Sunapee (NH) to write,’ recalled Frederiksen. ‘We just walked in and started working with acoustic guitars. Steven liked a guitar riff I was playing, so he wrote several verses, and he came up with the title. It was a great collaboration; we had a feeling that this song could be the hit.’

‘Jaded’ made its debut when Aerosmith performed the song at the American Music Awards in January 2001. The following week, the single was released, and it became a Top 5 pop and #1 rock hit. The success of ‘Jaded’ and Just Push Play helped establish Frederiksen as a prominent, in-demand writer/producer. During the past year, Frederiksen has worked with such major artists as Mick Jagger, Sheryl Crow, Pink, Def Leppard and Jonny Lang.

This spring, Frederiksen got together again with Aerosmith to write two songs for their new, greatest hits album. ‘I went to Maui to write with the group after they finished their Japan tour,’ said Frederiksen. ‘First we wrote ‘Lay It Down,’ then a few weeks later we wrote ‘Girls Of Summer.’ We started recording the songs in Maui, and then we completed recording in Boston.’ ‘Girls Of Summer’ was released in May, and it quickly became the most added rock and pop single at radio.

Frederiksen couldn’t be happier with his current success. ‘It’s a dream come true to be working with such talented artists, with them having faith in me,’ said Frederiksen. ‘I just want to keep working with great artists, plus maybe discover a new artist, and help them make the best music possible.’

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima