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Stillwater Runs Deep: Marti Frederiksen and the Next Great Song

Posted in MusicWorld on August 24, 2009 by

Like David Foster, Diane Warren, Timbaland and other multi-platinum writer/producers before him, Marti Frederiksen has earned an enviable reputation for being one of the industry’s most reliable “go-to” composers. Over the course of a still flourishing career, Frederiksen has penned tunes for a veritable gallery of superstars, including Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Sheryl Crow, Pink, Faith Hill and more. Indeed, Frederiksen has exerted such an influence on the charts that he was recently cited as BMI’s most-recognized rock writer.

Yet, despite similarities to songwriting peers past and present, there is one crucial factor that sets Frederiksen apart—his performing abilities. A veteran of several rock bands, and an impressive vocalist and multi-instrumentalist in his own right, Frederiksen demonstrated his impressive vocal skills in 2000 when his voice was featured in the acclaimed Cameron Crowe feature film, “Almost Famous.” It was Frederiksen who supplied lead vocals for the movie’s mythical ‘70s rock group, Stillwater.

Frederiksen credits his performing experience for giving him the combat readiness necessary to thrive in the high-pressure world of professional songwriting. “Being thrown in the room with a Jagger or a Tyler/Perry—that’s not easy,” Frederiksen says. “But I think being in those situations helps me deal with a lot of the younger bands I work with. This business is all about the next great song, and that applies to anybody, whether it’s Jagger and Aerosmith, or Good Charlotte.”

Though he is often summoned to compose hits for rock legends, Frederiksen doesn’t attempt to replicate an artist’s past work. “I definitely go more from scratch,” he says. “As far as sound goes, I try and go with what works for the artist. But when you‘re talking about someone like a Mick Jagger or Ozzy Osbourne, people are going know who it is anyway, because those artists have such distinctive voices. So as far as songs go, why be limited? You can pretty much try anything.”

The urgency in Frederiksen’s songs is partially attributable to Frederiksen’s experiences as a hard-rocking road warrior. Raised in the Los Angeles area, he began playing and writing during high school. Upon graduating in 1984, he played drums for a band called Drop in the Gray, whose album was issued by Geffen Records. Frederiksen continued to hone his writing/producing skills in two subsequent bands, the ATCO Records act Outlaw Blood, and 550/Sony Records group Motherland, featuring elite drummer Jason Bonham.

Frederiksen enjoyed initial success as a songwriter in 1993, when he co-wrote and produced the #1 Brother Cane rock hit, “Got No Shame.” Subsequent Brother Cane collaborations—including the #1 rock hit “And Fools Shine On”— caught the attention of renowned A&R executive John David Kalodner of Columbia Records, who teamed Frederiksen with Aerosmith for the group’s 1998 Nine Lives album.

In the wake of the success of the Aerosmith collaboration, labels began clamoring for Frederiksen’s Midas touch. 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.

Most recently, Frederiksen placed three hits on the charts, including “Sorry” by Buckcherry, “Love Remains the Same” by Gavin Rossdale and Motley Crue’s “Saints of Los Angeles.” He’s written songs, and/or produced recordings for, the likes of Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, The Jonas Brothers, Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Hinder and others.

But like any artist worth their salt, Frederiksen still champs at the bit.

“It’s great having these opportunities to be with these bands, and get songs on records,” he says, “but hopefully I can branch out and not just be ‘rock award guy.’ I’ve got a couple of Carrie Underwood songs coming out, so maybe I’ll get a country award. That would be nice. Break it up a little—know what I mean?”