Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist)
Interviewed By EvilG
Back in 1998 when I learned that Mark Boals would be returning to Yngwie’s “Rising Force” band for the CD Alchemy, I was very excited. He had after all sang on what is perhaps the best Malmsteen CD, Trilogy! So out came Alchemy and to no surprise – I loved it…the best Yngwie CD to come along since Trilogy. Mark did the Alchemy tour and then began work on his own solo album. Partway through the recording, he was called in to do vocals on the new Yngwie CD, War To End All Wars. A slightly less exciting CD than Alchemy, but nonetheless godly (despite the strange sounding production)!! Right before the new tour was to begin I read a press release about Mark no longer being in the band…WTF?? Very shortly after this I was contacted by Mark with news of his new solo CD Ring of Fire. I quickly jumped on the chance to pick his brain about what happened and to get more information on his solo album. Below is the result of our Q-n-A session.
The first thing we have to get out of the way is a question I’m sure you’ll be answering for a few more months. However, I’ve only read the press release from Yngwie’s camp so please tell us why you are no longer a part of Yngwie’s “Rising Force.”
Well, it was a little strange, we had been getting along so well for the last couple of years, and I really enjoyed the last couple of tours we did. But he got a little upset with me after I did the solo album (Ring Of Fire), and to tell you the truth, I was shocked when I heard the mix on War To End All Wars. I thought it really sounded bad, and in my opinion I thought he ruined my vocal performance with the e.q. and putting it so low in comparison with the other instruments. However, this does not explain it. I really can’t explain it. There seemed to be something between his new manager and myself that didn’t click, and suddenly they stopped making the arrangements for me to be on the tour.
The timing of your departure struck me as a bit odd (right before the tour). When did you know that you were leaving and why didn’t you do the tour with Yngwie?
This is another strange thing. I was all packed and ready to go to the rehearsals, and then I got an email from his manager saying all negotiations were finished.
Isn’t this the third time that you’ve left Yngwie’s band – after Trilogy in 1986, after the Inspiration tour in 1996 and now? Were the reasons the same each time around?
No, the first time we had a big fight, the second time it was a management decision, and this time, it was a strange, but friendly split.
So is Yngwie and egomaniac and/or a tyrant to work with? Or are you? hahaha
I guess you know the stories, so what could I add to them? For the record, I’m not any of those things you mentioned!
Did you have any input into the songs or the lyrics? Did Yngwie tell you what vocal lines to sing or were you given total freedom?
Total freedom? With Yngwie? No, I had to sit and wait while he came up with something. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed working on the albums, but it could have been much better if he had allowed some collaboration. He always promised he would, but then he always changed his mind.
Were any bridges burned or is there a possibility of working with Yngwie again?
I don’t think there are any bridges burned, and if you look at our history, you’ll see that anything is possible.
Did you think back when you left the band for the first time in 1986 that you’d be back ever again?
No, I didn’t think so. I was very upset after that split, and very frustrated with the music business in general. I was fed up.
How did you get back in the band for Inspiration and then for Alchemy? Was it as simple as Yngwie calling you up?
You got it! Sometimes things can be very simple.
Are you happy with the end result of War To End All Wars in terms of the songs, the lyrics, the mix/sound and your own performance on the CD?
As I said above, to put it bluntly, I liked the songs, hated the lyrics, and hated the mix because my performance doesn’t come through on the record. On the demos I have, they sound great. Even the guitar sounds funny to me in the mix. I don’t think it sounds as good as it usually does. He really gets a great sound and is playing really well, but it seems in my opinion it is ruined in the mix also.
What are your favorite songs on the new CD?
Miracle Of Life, Crucify and Tarot.
What is up with that shit song tacked at the end of War To End All Wars called “Black Sheep of the Family” – who was holding the gun to Yngwie’s head to make him record that abomination? haha
I wish I knew! I thought the same thing as you!
Out of all the albums you’re sang on with “Rising Force”, what CD is your personal fav?
I like Trilogy the best because there was healthy tension between all the musicians, which made an exciting record.
What is your opinion on Yngwie’s other albums – did you always listen to his stuff and like what he was doing?
To tell you quite honestly, I stopped listening after Odyssey, and didn’t listen again until he called me to do Inspiration. Later on, I listened, and on the albums I missed, I did like quite a lot of what he was doing after I heard it.
What has been the most rewarding thing about re-joining Yngwie for these last two albums? What has been the most frustrating thing about re-joining or about playing in “Rising Force” in general?
Well, the most rewarding thing is playing live shows with him and the band! It’s really exciting to be on stage with a legendary guitarist and rock out! The most frustrating thing is not being allowed to write any songs!
Since you’ve been in Yngwie’s band and that’s were most people know you from – the spotlight obviously shines more brightly on the band “leader” – Yngwie. Did that ever bother you?
No, that never bothered me. My true reward is making great music.
So, tell me a bit of background on yourself. Where are you from and where do you call “home” these days?
OK. Originally from Ohio, I moved to Los Angeles in late 1984, and that’s where I still live. It’s a great, weird, interesting, dangerous, horrible place to live, and I love it! It’s never boring!
What got you interested in singing and who was the first vocalist you heard that made you say “damn, I have got to do that.”
I can’t remember when I started singing. It seems like I always have done it. I remember recording my voice with a microphone and a tape machine when I was five. At that time, there were a lot of great singers, and I tried to sound like them all! I knew than I wanted to be a serious vocalist. James Brown really freaked me out! Ha ha!!
What other influences have you had?
I had listened and looked up to to guys like Ian Gillan, RJD, Glen Hughes, Alice Cooper, Rod Stewart, Mark Farner, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, and Luciano Pavarotti!
Do you play any instruments? When writing for your solo albums did you write the music yourself on guitar or on another instrument?
Sure, I play a lot of Bass and Guitar, a little Keys, and also some woodwinds like saxophone. I do write a lot of stuff on the guitar, but it varies. Sometimes it’s a combination of stuff.
I know you have a new solo album (out today) called Ring of Fire. How is it that it’s out at the same time as the new Yngwie – I assume you were doing both at the same time?
No. I started doing my solo album in January after finishing the Alchemy tour, but I had to stop because Yngwie all of a sudden said he had to make another album quickly! So, I had to put mine on hold in March and go to Miami for 3 and a half months. Then I rushed home and finished Ring Of Fire at the end of August!
Did Yngwie get to hear it, if so what did he think of it???
I only got one comment from him, believe it or not, and he said it “wasn’t what he expected”! That’s it!?
Is this a Japanese only release? If so, why, if not then will it be released world wide?
It will be released worldwide soon. For now it is out in Japan, Korea, and all of Europe and Scandinavia.
The Japanese audience has always been very supportive of you and of Yngwie. Would you say they are the most loyal audience?
I would say rather that they are the most “intense” audience! Where else in the world can you go to a rock concert and people will get absolutely quiet so they can hear every nuance of the band? And they will ask you very precise questions about musical technicalities of your performance, where in the U.S. for example people only will say, ” it was really great”! I was also amazed on the last tour there (Japan) when I performed an opera aria and noticed that the entire audience was in tears!
On your new solo CD you are working with another well known guitarist – Tony MacAlpine . Tell me how you guys hooked up and eventually recorded this album.
Well, I gave him a call, (I had never met him) and asked if he would like to do it, and he was really cool about it. He was great to work with and we’ll probably work together again.
Are the musicians who played on Ring of Fire guests, or do you consider them band members? Will they tour with you for this release?
Some of the members will be in my new band, (and tour), but Tony will be unable to do it unfortunately, because of his many other obligations. So, my new band will be Vitalij Kuprij, Virgil Donati, George Bellas, and Barry Dunaway.
If you will tour, do you have any ideas on what countries you will visit?
We will go everywhere that has a demand for us!
Ring of Fire is your second solo album – the first coming in 1998 called Ignition. What is different about this one, and how does it differ from the music on the Yngwie albums?
Right. My first album was a great album, but I tried to do a lot of styles that were different from what I did with Yngwie. On this new one, I have focused my style more around the neo-classic style that I am best known for. It sounds different from Rising Force because although it is in the same style, the music definitely has my stamp on it. I got to write and work with some of the best (other) musicians in the world, and when you hear their playing, you’ll know why I did!
What are your goals for your solo career? Will you be making this your musical focus, or are you keeping your options open?
At this point, I will be concentrating on building a new band. It’s gonna be really great! I will keep some options open also, because I am ready to explode with music from holding it in for so long!
What albums or bands have you been listening to lately? Have any newer metal bands grabbed your attention?
To be honest, I haven’t had much time to listen to anything this year, I have been so busy doing two albums and touring!
What do you do besides be a metal god singer? haha Do you hold down a 9-5 “regular” job or has music been your entire life?
Is that what I am? Ok, seriously, I don’t have a “9 to 5″ or any other job but music.
What’s your next move???
Right now I’m working on new music for my next “band” album, which will be coming out in July 2001. I will be doing some touring hopefully in the spring. I have some offers to do some guest appearances which I am considering also. It’s time to have some real fun!!!
Additional Mark Boals info from YngwieMalmsteen.net
About Ring Of Fire
Tracks: Ring Of Fire, Atlantis, Bringer Of Pain, Betrayer, Keeper Of The Flame, The Hunted, The Quest, Dreamer, Death Row, Alone, Battle Of The Titans, Nessun Dorma (bonus track for Japan)
Mark Boals – vocals, bass, addl. guitars
Vitalij Kuprij – keyboards
Tony MacAlpine – guitars, bass, additional keyboards
Virgil Donati – drums
Produced by Mark Boals
All lyrics and melodies written by Mark Boals,
Arrangement by 4,5,6,7 by Mark Boals
1,3,8,9,10,11 by Tony MacAlpine
2 by Vitalij Kuprij
Except 12, Lyrics and music by Giacomo Puccini
The Czech Symphony Orchestra
and Prague Philharmonic Choir
Conducted by Julian Bigg
Chorus master – Pavel Kuhn
Produced by Christopher Todd Landor
Engineered by Eric Tomlinson
About the Band Members
Guitar Master Tony MacAlpine first came to the attention of the guitar world with his debut solo instrumental album Edge of Insanity (Shrapnel). His neo-classical styling led to frequent comparisons to Yngwie Malmsteen, though Tony has developed his own legion of fans, and has also experimented with styles like prog and fusion. His current projects include Planet X with Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater).
A seasoned pro and drum hero in his home country Australia, Virgil Donati is making a big name for himself in the States these days as the drummer for prog/fusion bands like Planet X and Tribal Tech. Armed with mind-boggling technique and a firm grasp on complex time signatures and rhythms, Virgil is in demand and ready to drum up a storm.
Keyboardists often lurk in the shadows of their guitar playing counterparts, but not so with Vitalij Kuprij. Described by many as a keyboard genius, this Ukraine-born virtuoso from the band Artension is creating a huge reputation as THE neoclassical keyboardist.
Further information can be found on the Mark Boals website at www1.sphere.ne.jp/mark