Legendary Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen doesn’t need much of an introducion here. He is arguably the most technically accomplished hard rock guitarist to emerge during the ’80s and he has been an important influence and source of inspiration for many of today’s top players and bands. So far Yngwie has released thirteen studio albums and now he has been on tour almost 16 months supporting his latest release "Unleash the Fury". Last December Yngwie and his band did a brief tour of Finland, which was the very last leg of this endless spectacle. The day before the Helsinki show he kindly agreed to do this press conference for the Finnish press. In contrast to his difficult personal reputation we were treated to this long, fun and hilarious conversation. Here are the results, ENJOY !!!
INTERVIEW BY MARKO SYRJALA AND FINNISH PRESS
PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
TRANSCRIPTION BY NEIL BATTY
UNLEASING THE FURY IN RUSSIA, UPDATES AND DVD’s…
How has life been treating you this year, has it been a hectic schedule up to now?
Itï¿½s been pretty good, you know. In fact I would like to count last year as well because the tour for ï¿½Unleash the Furyï¿½ started in May 2005 and we started in Europe actually. We did a lot of the Festivals here and you know, went all over the place. Then we concentrated a lot in the United States, we did a long tour of the United States and then went to Japan, then in the beginning of the year went out to the United States again. After that, just recently we did a tour of South East Asia, which included Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. Then we did a big tour of Australia which was really quite good because I hadnï¿½t been for a long time and now we are doing this which probably will turn out to be the last shows for that album.
Whatï¿½s on your calendar next after this tour is finished?
Iï¿½ve been writing a lot of music, I mean I could probably make five albums out of what I already got.
You never seem to run out of ideas?
You see I have the luxury of this very strange little function that I have, I always have a guitar and a little amp, wherever I go. And if I watch TV, you know in the house or whatever, I play the guitar and if, oh man this is a really cool riff! I just run upstairs and I have a recording studio where I actually do my albums. So I just lay down the ideas, pretty elaborate ideas, they are good enough to put out on record actually.
So you do this all the time at home?
Well I have ask, doesnï¿½t that disturb the rest of the family?
The other day I wrote a song in my bed! I woke up and while I was laying there I had a riff and a melody done in my head. I walked into my bathroom and laid it down! If you listen to it you probably wouldnï¿½t know it was done in the bathroom because it sounds very dark and heavy. For me the environment Iï¿½m in is always very sunny.
I hope youï¿½re not going to call it ï¿½Woke Up One Morningï¿½?
No! (Actually thatï¿½s not bad ï¿½laughsï¿½) I had no title for it that far.
Is there any chance that some of your current band members could participate in writing your next album?
Erm, well, no because thatï¿½s not how I do things. It is a very unusual thing in the confines of rock and roll, so to speak, but I do work very much more in a way that a classical composer would. A classical composer writes a piece of music, he may be a pianist or a violinist but he also writes for the cellos and the woodwinds and the choirs, percussion. He writes every part of the whole ensemble, and thatï¿½s what I do. Every time Iï¿½ve done it in a different way, Iï¿½ve walked away extremely disappointed and very unhappy. So maybe I was born into the wrong century or something else, I donï¿½t know. But it just doesnï¿½t work for me. For the longest time I would record with a couple of people in the room with me. They wouldnï¿½t necessarily write, but they would be there. In fact I would always come up with the idea and the melody, I would tell someone to program the drum machine, ok I want 16 notes here and I want this, this and this. I would say to the keyboard player, play this part and the keyboard player would sit there and play this part and that part. Thatï¿½s how I did it for years, then I parted with those guys about 6 years ago and I said to myself this could be interesting, what am I going to do now? Except the very early days in Sweden it was always my own stuff, although some people like to put out my stuff and call it there own! I would like to point out very strongly that this is not something that is done out of arrogance or selfishness or anything like that. Itï¿½s purely an artistic expression that I feel is much more in the vein of a painter. A painter doesnï¿½t want to let someone come in and paint the background and you do the foreground and the little trees, oh can I come in and do a little bird in there? No! I donï¿½t want a fucking bird in there! And I donï¿½t want to argue about whether thereï¿½s going to be a bird or not! Thatï¿½s one way to look at it. Another way is to look at it like an author, for instance Steven King, or whoever, Clive Barker, my very favourite. Iï¿½m pretty sure he writes his own stuff. So in a lot of ways people have a hard time dealing with it. They go, look at that Malmsteen guy, heï¿½s a real writer, heï¿½s very full of himself isnï¿½t he? Iï¿½m not like that. I think youï¿½re full of yourself if you call the band ï¿½your nameï¿½, and donï¿½t do everything! There are a lot of people who do that but I wonï¿½t mention names! So to get back to the creation of things, this is a very long answer I know! I donï¿½t mind, I very much enjoy playing on other peoples albums and I do that quite often. I played on Derekï¿½s (Sherinian) album twice and I just did another thing with some Beatles stuff, I do shit like that. People ask me ï¿½Hey, do you want to come and play on this album?ï¿½ and I go ï¿½Yeah, sure. Whatever.ï¿½ and when I go in, I do exactly what they tell me. Which is almost always they tell me to do what I want to do, but i’m prepared to do what they want me to do. Thatï¿½s the way I would like people to have people work for me. Thatï¿½s why Doogie (White) has been around for such a long time because heï¿½s perfectly well aware of the fact that heï¿½s like an actor in a film or heï¿½s performing a Shakespeare play, and he does it very well. Thatï¿½s why weï¿½ve been doing it so long together. Every time Iï¿½ve been doing it with other singers, out of laziness, Iï¿½ve let them write ï¿½Oh come on baby, yeah yeah, lets do it tonightï¿½ type of thing, I cant fucking bear it now. I wonï¿½t mention names or records, but Iï¿½ve done records and I really hate them and thatï¿½s only because I allowed that.
ï¿½Live in Leningradï¿½ has been recently released on DVD. What kind of memories do you have from the time of filming it?
It was a very strange episode simply because it was a very turbulent era in my life. It was simply because I had a lot of personal fucking really dramatic bad things like family members dying, car crashes and weird shit, earthquakes. It was a really horrible time in my life and I donï¿½t look back at it very fondly, that particular era. So we made a record and I had to get rid of a manager, he had ripped me off, I lost everything I had. My house was flattened in an earthquake, my mother dies and this is not cool. So I go out with this new album which I think was called ï¿½Odysseyï¿½ which is a perfect example of what happens when (obviously itï¿½s a very successful record) but in my personal opinion I donï¿½t want to go there anymore. We did the tour of the States and Japan and that was it pretty much, then a new manager came in and said ï¿½No, lets do Europe.ï¿½ So we did a huge European tour and my Father happened to have a lot of connections in the Soviet Union believe it or not. He said he had been there and apparently I had sold shitloads of records there. So he suggested I go there and at the time no one really went. I went long before Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne all other people. So, what happened was it was a very big thing so they booked 11 nights in a row in Moscow in a hockey arena and then nine nights in a row in Leningrad in a hockey arena! After five weeks of being there, this was before they had McDonaldï¿½s and Starbucks and all that shit, this was KGB days! It was bizarre, completely bizarre. Iï¿½m a beach bum, I like the beach, I donï¿½t like the harsh weather. So it was a very bizarre thing. We had a film crew in from Finland and we filmed the next to last show, I looked at the footage and it was absolutely horrendous, fucking horrible. Nothing to do with the crew, it was the lighting, it just didnï¿½t look good on film, I said ï¿½No, no, no. we have one more night tomorrow.ï¿½, so it was the last night that we ended up catching, it was ok. It wasnï¿½t an incredibly good performance, but it was ok. I think it pretty much shows what that era was going through. It was at the end of a lot of changes, so it was kind of like the end of something.
Do you have any plans to release another DVD of this tour?
Well, no. I did film a few things on the last American tour. I have some amateur things that could be used as a small teaser. Audio wise I have a lot of good stuff, professional recordings from this tour that may come out. From weird places like Singapore and Istanbul, really good recordings and really good shows. I wish I had recorded my last Australian tour. That was the pinnacle, everything was perfect.
During the past years you have been called the metal god, the guitar god and a metal legend. How do those titles make you feel?
I have also countless times been called a lot of worse things, so I take everything with a grain of salt! Itï¿½s been an equal shower of really good and really bad, but I tend not to take it too seriously. I am extremely self critical and I never ever cut corners on my performance or my recording, live performance or what ever. Its always 500%, maybe 500% effort doesnï¿½t always translate to 500% result, Iï¿½m not saying that, but 500% always goes in. Whatever comes out, it all depends!
Iï¿½ve got a DVD here, more recent than "the Leningrad" one, called ï¿½Concerto Suite for guitar in Japanï¿½. I was watching it and got a vibe that it was an effort of countless hours to compose. I guess you are very proud of that?
I donï¿½t know how the fuck I pulled that off! What happened was I composed this stuff and spent quite some time on it, Iï¿½m very happy with it. I basically recorded all the pieces for the symphony then brought that back and put the guitars on at home. I never played it live or played it in its entirety. Even though I read music, I never utilised that, I never do. So when this thing was booked I was here in Europe on tour. I didnï¿½t remember the parts, I didnï¿½t remember how many bars goes where. I never practiced these things, I do something and I leave it. Not only have I never played it with an orchestra, I never played it from start to finish and Id never played it in front of people or filmed it. So, Iï¿½m on tour in England and we had played Nottingham, we bus it to Heathrow and fly to Tokyo. I go from the airport to the rehearsals for two hours. Then off we go, we film it. Thatï¿½s the first time I do it. If thereï¿½s ever a being watching over me, it was then. This piece is very unique in that it is written allowing for so much improvisation. Having a 90 piece orchestra and a 60 piece choir itï¿½s harder to jam! You donï¿½t jam with these guys, I think the conductor was amazing.
Did you know the conductor from before, or had you just ï¿½met at the airportï¿½?
He didnï¿½t speak a word of English! But that was what the thing was, we had a connection. Thereï¿½s a classical term that means ï¿½follow the soloistï¿½ so if Iï¿½m playing rubato which means not a set time, he has to look at me and make the orchestra do that. I have to give him a lot of credit for that. Then on top of that thereï¿½s arrangements of my previous stuff, we had to do that too. I had to change stuff, there was a grand piano in the dressing room and we had to rewrite the score in a couple of hours. It was crazy. Iï¿½m very very proud of it and looking forward to doing more of it.
Your latest studio album is called ï¿½Unleash the Furyï¿½. Did you feel very furious when you named this album?
No. Itï¿½s a little bit of a joke and itï¿½s not a joke, its both. What happened a few years ago, something appeared on the internet. All of a sudden ï¿½Oh Malmsteenï¿½s freaking out again!ï¿½ and what most people donï¿½t know, this incident was in January 1987. Thatï¿½s 20 years ago. The band, me and Joe Lynn Turner and Jens and those guys were flying to Tokyo. Back in those days we were out of control and we were hammering down everything they had, throwing stuff round. Jens was the worst, I always get the blame, but Jens went to the bathroom with these female sanitary napkins (towels) and he put Bloody Mary mix on them. He was throwing them in peopleï¿½s food and of course we thought that was really funny, we would go on for hours. It was a 16 hour flight, we had to slow down. Hours later we were half asleep, me and Joe wake up and thereï¿½s a lady in front of us with a pitcher of ice water pouring it on top of us ï¿½Cool down boys.ï¿½ Fuck, I freaked out completely but instead of saying ï¿½Fuck you bitch!ï¿½ I said ï¿½You have unleashed the furyï¿½ because I have always been into that sort of thing, that was bizarre enough, but thï¿½e most bizarre thing was somebody actually had one of those little recorders and decided to turn it on. I donï¿½t know who it was but I have a feeling I know, it doesnï¿½t really matter. First of all, to record something like that is very bizarre, then 15 or something years later it appears on the internet. But thereï¿½s no such thing as bad press! So I took that and thought I was funny, however the record does unleash the fury musically. The song itself doesnï¿½t have anything to do with the incident.
Do you know reasons why you are so popular in Japan?
Yes, I think I do know why. I do know why exactly. It was brilliant for me because what happened was, I lived in Sweden until I was 19 years old and being 19 is young but I had been in bands since I was 9. Thatï¿½s 10 years I been fucking really going for it, I had been recording and playing around youth clubs. So I would be all over the place and quite well known in Stockholm, you know. Everybody knew me but there were all sorts of weird shit going on, I was struggling very much. Then the army thing came up and that was hell.
THE ARMY OF SWEDEN AND ALCATRAZZ
Did you serve in the military in Sweden?
Were you kicked out?
Well, I made sure they didnï¿½t keep me in there! When they found out how I was around loaded weapons and the way I was acting they thought, maybe not. I didnï¿½t like it. Anders served in the navy, Jens got out, he had a very innovative way out but I donï¿½t want to talk about that one, but he got out in a most innovative way! So most of my friends figured a way to get out, but it wasnï¿½t that easy back then. That was just a part of the frustrations, having said that what I did was so outlandish because the music I was doing then had no commercial value whatsoever, nothing. People go ï¿½What the fuck is going on here?ï¿½ Waaaaaa! and solos! So to make a long story a bit longer, I struggled with these tapes, good recordings, but didnï¿½t get much. I wanted awards and shit like that! So anyway, I used to buy Sounds and Melody Maker and Guitar Player, so I sent in my tape. I though what have I got to lose? So I thought big chance! And, my god, it was within a week I had a thousand phone calls, I had calls from KISS, I had call fromï¿½ I donï¿½t remember all the people. But everyone was like ï¿½Hey man! Dude you fucking rock on the guitar man.ï¿½ I was like, you know, from Sweden! One of the funniest things was the first thing the KISS manager asked me was ï¿½We really need a new hot guitar player and you sure are a hot guitar player, everybody talks about you now. But we need to know something first. Are you 6 feet tall?ï¿½ I was like, I donï¿½t know, because Iï¿½m 1.90m, Iï¿½m tall you know, Iï¿½m more that 1.91m or something, Iï¿½m tall you know? I probably would have if I had told them Iï¿½m 6.3ft if I had known, so that was funny! So what happened was, all these offers came in and Mike Warren* called me and said ï¿½Dude, you have got to come over here. Iï¿½ve got this guy called Billy Sheenan. I want you to record an album with Billy Sheenan, a drummer called Leonard Haze from Y&T. You guy go and rip it up with you crazy shit like you do!ï¿½ I was like OK whatever. And then a week later or so, I get this call from this band called Steeler, but what I didnï¿½t know was thereï¿½s a billion bands like Steeler in LA that played all the clubs and they were nothing above the norm really. But I thought this is good, so I decided very cleverly not to go out there and be like this virtuoso kid, I figured I can do that later. No, let me get out on the circuit and play in a band, so I do. So February 3rd 1983, Iï¿½m landing, one guitar and one extra pair of pants. Iï¿½m landing in LA! Iï¿½m coming from an environment in Sweden where Iï¿½ve been stonewalled everywhere, completely stonewalled. I couldnï¿½t do anything more, I really couldnï¿½t. I mean I had a life, I had an apartment, I had a girlfriend, I had a studio, I had a band, I had a cat. I had everything and I said ï¿½Fuck it, Iï¿½m off!ï¿½ Everyone thought I was crazy of course. I didnï¿½t know what to expect because nobody went to America, everybody went to England, nobody went to America it wasnï¿½t something somebody did. So I go and I remember the first show I did, March 11th I think, opening up for Glenn Hughes, he was in really bad shape at the time, not so good, he had some problems. I remember it very clearly, there were 30 people there. Iï¿½d been in America for about a week, maybe a little more. I do a show for 30 people, next weekend we play the Troubadour or the Roxy and from this shitty little dressing room you can see down to the street. Back then LA was a really hot jumping place which it isnï¿½t anymore, but it was then and I was looking out the window before the show and though wow look at all these people. I wonder who is playing tonight? Somebody looked at me and said ï¿½You are!ï¿½ I didnï¿½t realise it then, but one week, all the shit I had done all those years in Sweden, stonewalled, I had landed from another fucking planet. In LA where people play 3 notes and what I did, they thought it was from outer space. All of a sudden I was the hottest thing around. I got offers from Phil Mogg to go with UFO. Dio was at every fucking show I did, I became good friends with Ronnie from day one. I still am. I got all these offers. Phil Mogg comes to one of the shows and says ï¿½Hey come over to my house tomorrow for a barbeque!ï¿½ So Iï¿½m like ï¿½OK see you tomorrow.ï¿½ The same morning I get a phone call. ï¿½Hi, can you come over and audition with Graham Bonnet?ï¿½ Iï¿½m like ï¿½Graham Bonnet?ï¿½ ï¿½Yeah, you know, Rainbow? Schenker?ï¿½ ï¿½Yeah, I know who it is!ï¿½ So the same day I go and play with Graham Bonnet. Then I went to see Phil Mogg and I decided to go with Graham Bonnet because Graham Bonnet didnï¿½t have a fucking clue about what he was going to do. So I took the chance, I didnï¿½t know if I did this deliberately but it was fucking smart, I just went to play the circuit in LA and all of a sudden I was talk of the town. Then I can pick and choose, instead of doing the solo thing with Billy Sheehan. Anyway, Iï¿½m really talking a lot here! So what happened was I came to Grahamï¿½s thing ï¿½Ok. Whatï¿½s the name of the band?ï¿½ ï¿½We donï¿½t have a nameï¿½ ï¿½Do you have any songs?ï¿½ ï¿½Noï¿½ ï¿½Ok, do you know hat you want to do?ï¿½ ï¿½Something like Rainbow?ï¿½ ï¿½Okï¿½ So I played it cool and said ï¿½Iï¿½ll come back to you, Iï¿½ve gotta go see UFOï¿½ Iï¿½m like 19! ï¿½Yeah, Iï¿½ll talk to you later! Iï¿½ll call you, donï¿½t worry!ï¿½ Donï¿½t hold your fucking breath, you know? So I go and see Phil and heï¿½s a fucking mess. My girlfriend wanted to take a picture of me with Phil, but heï¿½s really short so he had to stand on a load of phone books. He said ï¿½I used to be tallï¿½ he a joker, like Mr Monty Python! So I go with Graham Bonnet. What was brilliant for me was I came into this thing with Graham Bonnet that didnï¿½t have a name. I had some great ideas for names like Excalibur or Century or something like that. No, they didnï¿½t want dragons nothing like that. I figured I can live with that, so they called it Alcatrazz which I thought was very naff. They had a drummer in that band, I said ï¿½Iï¿½ll take the gig but you need to get another drummer, this one is shit we have to get a good drummer.ï¿½ So I was calling the shots already, Iï¿½m the fucking punk calling the shots in Graham Bonnets band! So we fielded Clive Burr from Iron Maiden, We had Ainsley Dunbar, Bill Lorden from Robin Trower all these drummers, then Jan Uvena came along I said ï¿½Have him!ï¿½ We did a record and the first thing we did was go to Japan because in Japan anything that had anything to do with Blackmore had immediate success. So I come to Japan not even a year after I moved to America. This is less than a year and all of a sudden Iï¿½m in Japan playing Festival Hall or whatever itï¿½s called in Japan. It was amazing, not only did the record go gold in a week or something but it was a very successful thing. The first thing they do to me when I get to Japan is give me a solo deal! So now Iï¿½m given a solo deal. Iï¿½m recording with these guys (Graham Bonnet) everything is amazing. I donï¿½t know if they took it as if I was their find or something but they immediately adopted me as theirs. So from then on in Japan, I was theirs.
Maybe it was something they had not seen before?
I think so too, but it was more like they felt like I started there, which I wasnï¿½t really true, but in a way kinda did, because everything went from there. Which is another really ironic thing, my first solo record called Rising Force has always been looked at being the ultimate instrumental this whatever you know. I didnï¿½t want to make an instrumental record, they told me to make an instrumental record because it was a side thing from Alcatrazz. I think the Japanese thing was I came in all guns blazing and it wasnï¿½t on a small scale, it was on a big scale immediately. And it was new and big and thatï¿½s why they said this kid is ours, you know.
There was some other concert that was released on laser disk in Japan only that has extra features, interviews, 20 years ago you were quite shy back thenï¿½
Probably I was just jet lagged!
Or maybe you were just not used to do interviews?
There are always lot of rumours around but is there really any chance of an Alcatraz reunion at some point?
Well, I never rule anything out. They have been calling me quite a lot. So Iï¿½m not saying no to that, it may be fun, you know? So Iï¿½m not saying no. But thereï¿½s no immediate plan for it.
Now, many years later, how do you like the ï¿½No Parole from Rockï¿½n Rollï¿½ album?
I think it has some really good moments. I love the fact that the keyboard player used the Mellotron because I was really into that. I told him to use it a lot. Itï¿½s funny looking back at it, I was just a little kid and these guys had been around the block. But they didnï¿½t have any direction, so I took the direction. I felt very good about that album. I thought it was very good. I still like it.
Do you think it was a good springboard for your own solo career?
Absolutely, it was all steps for sure. The Steeler thing I didnï¿½t have any love for at all, it was just banal crap but it gave me that big solo spot which was good for me. I was in the band for about 2 weeks basically, maybe a little longer! The Alcatrazz thing was more of my way of playing and writing I really enjoyed playing those kinds of songs.
Tell something about the G3 which you did with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani?
Oh yeah, that was cool. That was great. I had a good time with that. Me Steve and Billy are like brothers, we have known each other for so long. Joe is a great guy, I donï¿½t know him that well but heï¿½s great, a really great player. That was a lot of fun. I had a great time with it. Great for me too, in the States that DVD went platinum. Itï¿½s all good I had a really good time with it.
What kind of experience was the G3 tour?
I thought it was really cool. It took me a few gigs to get used to the idea that I had to go on and off pretty much the same time every day, which is completely alien to me. When I go on stage for instance we have this little ritual. We print out set lists and everybody has the set list and I never play that set list ever! Everybody is like, whatï¿½s he doing now? To me, thatï¿½s part of the freedom of being my own man. So to play with the G3 thing I had to confine myself to play these songs because thatï¿½s how long that set is. Everybody played the same, Joe, me and Steve played the same. Not one played longer than the other, which is cool you know. Then we go out and we jam. It was great. I really have nothing but great things to say about that, it was a nice experience.
It really is the Holy Trinity for us guitar guys because Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and yourself are the few that really inspire, like you create something every time you play rather than play whatï¿½s wrote. If you want to do that you may as well be in an orchestra…
Thereï¿½s nothing wrong with guys playing note for note everything and they go out and do that. Thatï¿½s great for them, it works good for them, itï¿½s more like Jukebox. I play a song and I take liberties, when Iï¿½m on stage I do whatever the fuck I want and Iï¿½m really spoiled that way because no one tells me ï¿½What are you doing?ï¿½ Thatï¿½s why I have this thing about sound checks, Iï¿½ve got to go and sound check not to check my sound but to feel out the place and whatï¿½s my perimeters, whereï¿½s the end of the stage! The sound in the room changes the way I play. If itï¿½s a really big boomy sound then I like to chop out big chords and stuff, solos as well. But if itï¿½s not so much an Arena, more like a theatre sound then I do long elaborate stuff and maybe do an acoustic ten minutes. So itï¿½s all different. I like to surprise myself, I donï¿½t like to go out knowing exactly whatï¿½s going on thatï¿½s part of the challenge, its exciting. Having said that you take the risk of it going to shit as well, if something starts going in the wrong direction you have to turn it round, itï¿½s a bit of a mind game!
Well, if you donï¿½t take big risks you donï¿½t get the credit and rewardsï¿½.
Exactly, but then again if you gamble too much you lose as well. Donï¿½t rely on luck as much as inspiration and inspiration comes from the audience also. The funny thing is when I play I find one person, it takes one or two songs, but I find one person and play the whole show for that person. Itï¿½s gotta be a person that gives me good feedback, not someone who is going ï¿½Urrrghhh!ï¿½ Well not necessarily one person but you know what I mean. Its not so much sing-along stuff, if you start doing some weird shit and start elaborating on something, you have gotta check to see if its working. I donï¿½t want to be completely isolated, I want to play with the people, more like a musical relation.
DEEP PURPLE AND BLACKMORE
You have mentioned in many interviews how important influence Deep Purple has been in you life and career. How do you like the music that Ritchie Blackmore is now doing with Blackmoreï¿½s Night?
When I was eight years old, my son is eight years old and heï¿½s playing with Lego. Now, when I was eight years old, I had played guitar for a year already! My sister, God bless her, gave me Deep Purple ï¿½ Fireball for my eighth birthday. I put that record on and the first thing I hear is a double bass drum and a fucking thrashing sound that fucked me up for life! Never ever any turning back because of that record. The next week or so I went out and bought In Rock. Now thatï¿½s even heavier and for the longest time that was basically my whole existence, the impact that had on me, I canï¿½t even describe it. Obviously I branched out and did my own thing and went way more in the classical ways but the love for hard music, not classical but hard music came form that. The Marshall stacks, the double bass drum, I always thought how does Ian Paice do that with one bass drum? He did it with two! I didnï¿½t know that then. By the time Made in Japan came out I was like nine or ten and it was just, I canï¿½t even tell you! As we know there was no Internet or magazines or TV shows, it was the mystique, it was wow look at the pictures! It was a magical thing, so thatï¿½s Blackmore for me has a very special place. And I love the guy. I think that he started in the later years to lose his vision a bit by letting other people tell him what to do and playing some really poppy crap, but thatï¿½s just my opinion. So at the end of the day he decided to do what heï¿½s doing now. I think if youï¿½re an artist and youï¿½re a creative person, you have to do what you want to do. You canï¿½t do what the dollars tell you, you canï¿½t do what people tell you, you have to do whatï¿½s right for you. If thatï¿½s whatï¿½s right for him then God bless him.
Have you ever considered making an album with a lady singing the vocals by yourself?
I never had a plan of that, no.
You had never thought of that, even with an opera singerï¿½.female?
To me it seems like Iï¿½ve had some women singing in my bands before! You know what I mean?
Well, how do you like the current Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse?
I think heï¿½s really good but its not really Deep Purple you see. I think Deep Purple without Blackmore is not right even though Steve Morse is great, a great player, I just donï¿½t think its right. They made great music, in fact I bought the last Gillan album, his thing by himself and I thought that was really good. So those guys are great but itï¿½s not the Purple I grew up on, itï¿½s a personal thing. Iï¿½m not saying its bad at all.
How do you like current Yngwie Malmsteen?
I think itï¿½s straight to the point, no bullshit and there would be distractions on the side, negative things and positive things but if you let them divert your ambition, you are in trouble. Thatï¿½s happened to me a few times, but not anymore.
Do you know where the final goal is?
I have a laser sight on it! Locked and loaded man!
During the years you have collaborated with many talented people. Drummer legend Cozy Powell was one of them. He actually did his last recordings ever for your ï¿½Facing the Animalï¿½ album. What kind of memories you have about working with and how did you two met in a first place?
I think that, once again my first show I went to was in the Royal Concert Hall in Sweden, Rainbow Rising! I was twelve years old. What a fucking first show eh? Cozy, Ronnie and Ritchie Blackmore were an angry sounding band, they were fucking amazing. I will never forget that. Cozy Powell! Fan-fucking-tastic. Iï¿½m a drummer myself, I actually play drums and I double bass drum like crazy, I used to do drum solos on stage just for the fuck of it! So Iï¿½m fully aware of what drummers should and shouldnï¿½t do, whatï¿½s good and bad and so on. Cozy, for me wrote the textbook on how to play rock and roll drums. I did a tour here in Europe and the last show was in London and I was invited to do the 40th anniversary thing for Fender with another band, and I say ï¿½who the fucks in the band?ï¿½ ï¿½Oh, itï¿½s Cozy Powell, Neil Murrayï¿½ ï¿½Oh, Ok!ï¿½ So I go there and have one short rehearsal, me and Cozy hit it off really well, so good friends. We are both Ferrari fans and all we talked about was cars! We played Black Star and some Hendrix numbers, just a short rehearsal, then we did Wembley Arena, thereï¿½s a lot of bands playing but my little thing with Cozy, Neil Murray and the keyboard player from Brian Mays band, I do the singing, we did a set and afterwards I just shot out the question, ï¿½You know Iï¿½m going to Miami now, recording and writing an album, do you want to come round? ï¿½So he did, he came round, what I loved about him, legendary as he was, he was still really into the music he would come down to my studio and listen to my demos, he would suggest why donï¿½t you put another ballad on? Two ballads? Yeah! Thatï¿½s why thereï¿½s two ballads on that album, two ballads?!! Yeah, ok, for you, only for you! So that was great, we had a great time, I know he had a great time too because I was like bringing out a little bit of the old Cozy. I made him play all the big chops he used to play before. After we had done recording, sitting in my kitchen, I say ï¿½Look, Cozy, Iï¿½m not asking you, Iï¿½m telling you to come on tour with me!ï¿½ So itï¿½s all set and his tech and drum set come down to the rehearsal room, we all ready to go and I get a phone call from Cozy and heï¿½s very upset, in tears. ï¿½Iï¿½m turning you down.ï¿½ ï¿½Why what happened?ï¿½ ï¿½I have to go back.ï¿½ He went back to England, he had some problems and the next thing I know he crashed, it was really, really, really horrible but the beauty of it was I got to play with him. That was the last recording he did.
If you listen to the current metal scene there is a lot of melodic metal that sounds similar to the stuff you did in the 1980s. Do you feel flattered by this or do you feel that you should get royalties or credit?
Well, if those kids are asked about their influences and they mention my name then thatï¿½s good enough for me! The thing is that when I first came out it was like a wave of guitar players came out and they all copied me. It was blatant copying. That was a bit weird I thought because in their interviews they were asked who their influences are and they said Bach, Paganini, yeah right! No, I donï¿½t think so. It was frustrating in a way. Iï¿½ve not really heard these bands, what are their names?
I could mention a lot of bands, Stratovarius?
Jensï¿½s band? Iï¿½ve heard some of their music, I canï¿½t remember the names now, but I can see what youï¿½re saying, but itï¿½s good. I can think of a lot worse influences!
Recently you took part of new Beatles tribute album called "Butchering The Beatles". How was that for you?
It was alright you know, I do a thing like that, they like me to do something you know. Sometime do, sometimes donï¿½t but I was actually in rehearsal before going on tour, I just went to my studio, cut the solo and left. It was very fast, it didnï¿½t take me very long.
How long it took?
Five minutes? Thatï¿½s how long it took. I donï¿½t spend a lot of time on those things, solos on my records and other records are just one take, thatï¿½s it. Me and Steve (Vai) were talking about that, he says ï¿½Whoa, we have been playing like 30 shows and you never play the same! Do you figure something new to play every day?ï¿½ No, I donï¿½t figure anything out, I just do it. Thatï¿½s the way Iï¿½ve always played, itï¿½s not always great to play like that because if youï¿½re not feeling good, it maybe wonï¿½t sound so good.
With your classical influences, traditional classical guitar, do you look at that as an influence?
Thatï¿½s a good question. My style of playing goes back to Purple again, I was so fanatical as a kid, completely fanatical. By the time I was 10, Iï¿½m not saying this because Iï¿½m bragging, itï¿½s just so fucking bizarre, by the time I was 10 I could play every fucking thing on the Purple records, note for note. My uncle was in the R+D department for Phillips, he was part of the team that invented CD technology, my Uncle! I love him to death. He used to get me all this stuff, some of the first cassette decks, I realised that Made in Japan was mixed with only organ on one side and only guitar on the other. So what I would do is take the record and put it on cassette but take a mic from my amp and record the everything exactly note for note, like the whole solo for Child in Time, everything. Then play it to my friends ï¿½Hey listen to thisï¿½ï¿½ ï¿½Yeah, itï¿½s Made in Japanï¿½ ï¿½No, its not!ï¿½ Then I would explain it to them, thatï¿½s how fanatical I was about that and I was 10 when I was doing that shit. I started feeling even that early on, whoa, wait there has gotta be something else I can do with this fucking thing. A couple of years later I saw a Russian Violinist play Paganini on TV and that was it, I decided that even though its impossible to play 3 octave violin arpeggios on guitar, you just donï¿½t do that!
Thatï¿½s interesting because with the Concerto CD, Iï¿½ve given that CD to friends and if I didnï¿½t tell them that you played guitar they would not know. They actually thought it was a solo violinist, sometime the distinctions blur. When you tell that story I feel that you have achieved that…
Thank you very much. I heard something in my head, the fact that these Marshall stacks and loud sound, ill never go away from that. Some people ask me, why do you play classical? Well, thatï¿½s just classical! So I wanted to play the heavy sound, but the pentatonic modes and blues based modes were becoming a little bit confined for me. So once I realised the inverted chords and suspended and diminished, chromatics, arpeggios and linear scales and harmonic minors, Phrygians and so forth which is mainly classical music. All of a sudden you get something going and that started very early on and I kind of just did it and did it. Then started to feel, wow, this is it. Iï¿½ve been playing a long time, but Iï¿½m working on some new shit now.
What inspires you most nowadays?
Everything, just playing! Just picking up the guitar, itï¿½s new. Improvisation is the genesis of composition, if you improvise all the time something is going to come out. I sit in front of the TV and think I wonder what would happen if I do a 5 octave fucking 6 string arpeggio, you understand that shit?
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