Interview with Yngwie J. Malmsteen
Interview by Marko Syrjälä & Luxi Lahtinen
Intro & pictures by Marko Syrjälä
Additional help for the questions by
Faith Nezad, Jared a.k.a. "thrashassult"
and Jake a.k.a. "ColdHateWarmBlood" - THANKS guys!!
Well it's been a very long time since Yngwie's last visit in Finland.
This guy is a living legend and one of the best guitar players who is
still around. This interview was done last August in Helsinki when he
was doing promotional tour to support his latest masterpiece
ATTACK!!.vLot's of interesting comments here … ENJOY!!
When you were coming up with the songs for this new
"Attack" album, what kind of things actually inspired or
influenced you when you were composing single riffs and melody lines and
stuff like that for it?
fact the only concept I had was no concept. I just let it flow. And the
fact I didn't had any outside influences from anybody or anything was
one of the reasons why that album came out sounding very fresh.
So you were kind of improvising things when you wrote these songs?
I always do it anyway. That´s for sure…
Has somebody else from your band written any songs for the new
No. It's all done by me.
How would you describe this new album?
Have you heard it?
Yes, I have.
Isn't it better if you describe it then?!
I think it is.
But how would you describe it by your own words...?
No, I mean that's not a thing. I can't describe it cause it's my
music and that's my creation. The only one who can describe it in words
is you. Cause you are the journalists and the media. Of course I can
describe my own music, but it's not the right thing to do. So you can do
it on behalf of me, right?!
Right… yeah… I guess so…
What I can say is that this album is very fresh. I think it feels
very inspired and new. That's all I can tell you how I feel about that
On this new album you really have a great sound and production
unlike your previous album War
To End All Wars which was really muddy and kind of like, eh,
"unclear…". What went wrong with the production for that
you!(?) Well, what actually happened... I was really like a… to put it
simply: Two different things happened. One was that I had an idea of
making a really heavy album. A lot darker, a lot heavier and maybe even
slightly into the same vein what some other bands were doing that time.
That was a big mistake. And the other mistake was that I hired an
engineer who hardly knew what he was doing. For example I don't feel
that drums were recorded very well at all. They should never have been
recorded that way and there were lots of things like that. The funny
thing in here is that studio where drums were recorded back then, the
actual drum kit itself is the same drum kit in the very same studio we
used for the Attack!!
album. And everything we recorded there, I mean the vocals, guitars,
bass, keyboards, etc. - everything was recorded in the same studio as
well. All the mixing was done in the same studio. But as you can hear
there is a big difference there which happened because I was very
critical and concerned this time. I was very critical for the sound and
I hired an extremely good engineer named Brian Fitzpatrick whom I have
been working with before and he really did a good job this time.
What kind of things actually inspires or influences you mostly?
I don't have outside influences on my album at all. I´m totally free
of influences. That's why I don't listen to any music. A: It's not
interesting and B: I don't want to be influenced by anybody. In fact,
that was one small problem I had when I was doing War
to End All Wars album cause I started of doing those tuning down
things and that's not me. The music is totally free from any influence
except Bach, Vivaldi and stuff like that because it's hardware in my
head you know… But the lyrics obviously get influenced in advance -
anything from the history books to current events, feel, anger and
Yes, there are lot of influences from books and old stories I have
to admit it as well… (I'm a Viking, too, so I know, -he-he!!)
Yes, there are. I don't use computers. In fact, I hate computers; I
hate the internet, I think it's horrible. I think it's the fuckin´
Devil. I read books a lot, I make my living playing a piece of wood you
know. I'm not filling in with the ´Generation X´ thing or whatever
it's called anyway. I'm not from that world - I' m from a different
world. I'm from the world where you actually do something; you think,
use your brain, you create something. So I don't get enforced by the
shit which is coming out from TV and fuckin' computers you know? It's
really seriously declaiming people´s minds are tearing like fucking
rolling apples y' know because nobody's using their brains anymore.
Nobody takes a challenge anymore. "Maybe I should actually try to
become good at something?". "No, let's just tune guitars down
and play fuckin´ ´nu-metal…´. Please, sorry… it's not a good
How are your touring plans this time? Is Scandinavia and
especially Finland included this time? It's been seven years since your
last visit in here anyway…
Well, the thing is that I don't book the tours. On my last world tour
I was even in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Turkey, Greece and basically all over
the place - almost every city in the Europe except here in Finland. And
I don't know why we never came in here?!
Do you have the same guys playing in a touring band who also
played on this album?
Definitely, except the bass player…
How about Derek Sherinian… because I happen to know that he is
also touring with Billy Idol at the same time...?
Well, the thing is that he's not probably with us in the first half
of the tour because he can't come. But as soon as he can he will come.
When is this new album is going to be released officially?
It's coming out 4th of September in Japan, 16th of September in
Europe and in the States around beginning of October. Something like
Is there going to be some extra songs for Japanese fans this time
Just one song…
Is that song going to be released sometime in the rest of the
world also as a single B-side or something…?
Probably yes. It's a pretty cool song called "Nobody's
Fool", but... on the other hand, you don't miss much really.
How about your new singer, Doogie White. How did you find him to
sing for you?
The thing is, he found me…
Did he contact you personally?
Yes, he did. I met him first time when we played together with
Rainbow back in 1995. We met very briefly then like "Hi…! How are
doing?!" - and then I did a show in London about a year ago and he
came to the show and we just talked to each other a lot then. The band I
had at the time, I got rid of them then and... I still had a full South
American tour to do. So we put together a band from there with Doogie,
Derek, Patrick and Mick Servo.
You have had many great and talented vocalists in your band during
all these years. How high do you rank Doogie in your long list of
Very highly! I think he is very good in my opinion.
Maybe the best one you've had so far…?
Well, for the thing we are doing now he is definitely the best.
What do you think of newer neoclassical players such as Alexi
Laiho from Children Of Bodom, for example?
Who is he?!
Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom Finland . He is also such a big
name for example in Japan these days - very skilled guitar player
What was his name again…?! No. Never heard of him. But don't get me
wrong. I haven't kept eye on those things. I mean, I'm usually so busy
that I'm not able to listen to other ´rock bands´ or musicians really.
It's not my thing and I just don't do it.
Do you even follow happenings in the Swedish music scene at all?
No, not at all. I've been living in America 20 years now, so…
Actually this the same question as the previous one. I just don't have
much time and also I'm not interested at all. Because I spend so much
time with my music I don't listen to music. I prefer watching movies or
reading books to listening to music when I have free time.
You have always done a lot of these guitar clinics around the
world. What does it give for you?
a kind of interesting little thing to do 'cause you get to talk with
kids and everything. Actually I do them quite often. Next is going to be
next Monday in Stockholm. My clinics are quite different compared to my
shows because I'm using backing tapes that are kind of cool and I just
play live lead guitars on top of it. It's a very nice little setup what
I do. I do some of the classics, some new stuff, some examples of my
scales and everything. And it's all cool.
Are you going to release any promotional videos from the new
album, by the way?
That's the plan.
From which song or songs?
I don't know. I haven´t decided yet.
About your first band in the U.S… it was called Steeler…
I already had a couple of bands before Steeler in Sweden. The first
band was called Burn in 1976. And then I had a band called Power; after
that Powerhouse and The Rising Force and then I moved to United States
and joined to Steeler. I think I was in Steeler about 15 minutes anyway…
I see… Anyway, your name was printed on the album cover…
Unfortunately yes. You had some question about Steeler…?
Yes, actually I was a bit curious about your ex-singer named Ron
Keel. How did you liked him and are you still in contact with him?
Well, let's put it this way. My nickname for him was "Wrong
Key", so… I'm not in contact with him.
what a great nick name!! Do you feel that you've sacrificed something
from your life because of your career?
What you actually mean by that…?
What I meant is that have you given up for something because of
your musical career?
I think that especially in the beginning of the career you have to
sacrifice a lot of things. Sometimes everything. I mean when everyone
else is out and having a party, chasing girls and stuff like that, I was
just home playing guitar. But I didn't mind. Some people might think
that was a sacrifice, but I didn't. There's nothing from nothing. You
can't get anything if you don't do anything. If you wanna reach
something worthwhile, you just have to be really good at something;
you've to work for it, y´know.
This question actually comes off one of our readers. Mr.
Malmsteen, is there a song that you would say is your signature song
that really defines what you're all about?
No. I couldn't go that far to say that because it's simply
impossible. There are many things that I can do with my guitar and
things that I can't do. And things I can't do people don't know about
because I never do it. Because I tend to make records that are into that
one style and that´s what most people are used to hear from me and
that's the way it is. But you probably take one song off the albums and
it may give you a good idea.
As for my ´neo-classical style´, I guess a song called "Far
Beyond The Sun" might be a good example about that or... well, not
"Black Star", but maybe… oh well, I just don't remember now.
But there´s also a bluesy side in me as well. For example
"Freedom" from my new album has completely different vibe
there. You just can't say one song really, y´know.
When you are listening your older albums...
What… ?! When I listen to them… !?
I NEVER do that!!
Really…? Why on earth!?
Never. I'm just not interested in listening to them any more…
Not even when you're practicing for tours and stuff like that…?!
At least I assume you have to teach some stuff for your band
Yes, I have to do that. That's sometimes hard. Usually I just say:
"Here is the list of songs - Learn it!!". Because it's not fun
for me at all to show and teach things like that for them , y´know.
This might take some time from you, but if you could give us a
brief comment of each of your studio albums next… here goes the first
This album here is really interesting because it started
a new wave for instrumental guitar music. It wasn't my choice to make an
instrumental album. Because I was still in Alcatrazz and I got this deal
and the record company said that you can't have a singer on it. I just
said: "Fuck this and that…" and did it anyway. So actually
to me "Marching Out" could have been the first one. But that
sold so well that decided to release it anyway.
Well, "Marching Out" is more of a standard rock
It's pretty cool for the time.
This was the first album when I really started
concentrating on my songs and basically taking care of a bit more about
my song writing, lyrics and stuff.
That album was done when there was a period in my life when I
was very down. It was a very horrible time in my life. There was a low
point of my life. It was all about bad things in my life - everything
seemed to be negative for me. That's why I don't like that album too
much even if there are some good songs on it and it was selling very
well in America.
This one is a very cool album because I kind of started all
things again. Really fresh album and everything was new and interesting
again. I moved to the new place, had a new band and did a good melodic
FIRE AND ICE
That one is also pretty cool. It's a little darker album
and maybe a little less inspired, but it's still ok album.
That one has its good moments, too…
Well… I don't like that so much. Nothing else to say about it really…
FACING THE ANIMAL
There are a couple of good songs on that one. And there was
that sad Cozy Powell thing. Cozy was a great man.
That was quite cool. A little crazy guitar playing there…
WAR TO END ALL WARS
I think this album has very good songs. But I missed the point there
with trying to go on with a really hard stuff. Has a heavy and dark
sound, but unfortunately did not have a good engineer. But I'm telling
you there still are a bunch of great songs on that particular album and
when we played them live, they really sounded brilliant. These are great
live songs. The heaviest album I've done - that´s for sure…
What about those old Alcatrazz albums. Do you have some ´golden
memories´ from that era, too?
Well, it felt like a fuckin´crazy rollercoaster sometimes. I was
nineteen years old back then and I came from a little town from Sweden.
I came from a totally different world when moved to America years ago.
Well, at least we had some good songs and funny song titles back in the
When you are playing your old songs live, do you still get sort of
a magical or nostagic old feeling that you had when you wrote all that
Not really. When I play some stuff that is let's say, ten years old
or so, I always put some new twist in it. I never do them exactly the
same way as they were originally done. Every time I play a solo, it's
always improvised one way or another. So to me my stuff is never old,
it's always new. I never plan those things - it just happens, you know…
OK our time is up now. Thank you very much and hopefully see you
Thank you and see ya!!
Official Site: www.yngwie.org