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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Yngwie Malmsteen

Interviewed by Lisa Palmeno
Interview with Yngwie Malmsteen from 2005

This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at

I read in one source that you have 24 albums out. Another source cited 27. How many CDs does Unleash The Fury actually make?
That I don't know. I don't remember the exact number, but it sounds about right. I did about four albums with other bands under other names like Steeler and Alcatrazz. Then I started making albums with my own name.
MSJ: Most people think of musicians as having a good time, but there's a ton of work involved that people outside the entertainment business never see. You are a tremendously prolific songwriter. What's a typical day like when you are not on the road? Is there a certain portion of each day you devote to composing?
I don't have like a regimen like that. When I'm at home, I usually start the day with some physical activity like tennis. That's my first choice. If the inspiration strikes me, then I go into the studio. If not, I don't.
MSJ: How do you approach the creative process?
Like I said, there's no system. I can start writing lyrics. I can start with a theme I started writing on bass, drums, the guitar, whatever.
MSJ: "Fuguetta" and "Paraphrase" are variations on Bach compositions. What made you choose those two pieces?
My biggest influence is from a very long time back. These are just natural things for me to play... I do things like that live all the time.
MSJ: You write a lot about classic themes, whether the subject is fallen warriors as in "Cherokee Warrior" or the folk tale variation on "Beauty And The Beast." Can you explain the connection between literature and history and your music?
It's "Beauty And A Beast". It's about one of my cars. It's a Ferrari. It's beautiful, and it's a beast, and it's a Ferrari. Actually, what is on TV in my house now is History Channel. I am European, and it comes naturally for me. I know about it and learn about it and think about it. I grew up in a very high intellectual environment, more than what you probably think a rocker would. My uncle is professor and my father is a musician. My mother was a painter. My sister and brothers are all instrumentalists.
MSJ: Unleash The Fury has 18 songs. Why such a long album?
Why not?
MSJ: Which song on UTF came together for you first?
I don't know. I threw them together during a period of time. There is no such thing as "now I'm going into write songs, and now I'm going into record." I have my own studios, plural. I have two of them. I do whatever I want whenever I want. I arranged it that way.
MSJ: Which of your albums is your favorite and why?
Every album I've done has been the best album I could do at a time. As far as a rock album, my most complete album is UTF. As far as rock albums, I'm most pleased with this one so far. It may change in the future, but that's the way I feel right now.
MSJ: Which was most problematic and why?
I never had one. I don't allow problems.
MSJ: Are you already working on the next recording?
Well, I've been touring this year. In about two weeks, I'm going out on tour in America and Japan. From now until the spring, I'm touring. I still have recorded at lot of new stuff, and I'm working on new stuff, but it's nothing that I have a pressure from a label to do. There's no rush.
MSJ: How much of your work gets scrapped and never gets recorded?
I record almost everything, and then I obviously don't use all of it, but I record a lot. Pretty much when I come up with an idea, I record it. Then I do whatever I want with it.
MSJ: Can you tell us about your studios? What special features have been incorporated to meet your specific musical needs?
The main recording studio is actually in my house. It's got three recording rooms and a very nice control room. It's all state-of-the-art, everything that you can possibly imagine at the highest end of the high end. It doesn't lack anything. I'm very proud of it. Then I have another studio a couple of miles away. That one is set up like a sound stage, but that's where we record the live drums. Then we take the recordings to the other studio and record the rest, and mix.
MSJ: What was the last concert you saw for your enjoyment?
I saw Itzhak Perlman play. He is amazing. It was in Miami.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Too many to mention.
MSJ: On your website, you said your sister, a trained flautist, taught you most of the formal music theory. What's the age difference between you, and how much did she influence you as far your playing style?
She didn't really teach me it, but it filtered through. But I would ask her a question, and she would know it. She is seven years older than me. Well, she didn't influence it, but she influenced it by giving me my first album ever, which was Deep Purple's Fireball. That changed everything.
MSJ: Has she recorded flute parts on any of your albums?
Yes. She came down here and recorded with a string quartet for an album called "Fire & Ice."
MSJ: You play drums in addition to 6-string and bass guitar. How many instruments can you play? How many can you play well, ones that you have mastered?
Well, guitar and bass of course, that's down, and on drums I'm pretty good, I think. I play keyboards, cello, sitar, and I sing.
MSJ: Tell us about your early experiences, the ones that led you to this point. What was it like for you when you first saw Jimi Hendrix play on television back in 1970?
It wasn't musical. It was a visual, seeing someone burn a guitar, and that was great.
MSJ: Your bio says that Violinist Niccolo Paganini's music "supplied a missing link between the formal structures of classical music and the flamboyant performance of Hendrix." What did listening to a performance of "24 Caprices" by Russian violinist Gideon Kremer do for you. How did it reach you and bridge that gap?
It was a revelation, you know? It was just amazing. The tonality of it made me want to apply it to guitar.
MSJ: Your last tour started May 29 in Dublin, Ireland, almost two months before the CD was released. It ended July 3. Isn't it unusual to tour before an album's release, or is it that you are always touring?
In Europe, it's common just to play the big festivals.
MSJ: What part of the live performance do you enjoy most?
All of it.
MSJ: Your Concerto Suite DVD is just coming out. What can your audience expect from the DVD and any other upcoming projects or shows?
Well, that's really something very different all together. It was really an amazing experience, and I hope people will like it as well.
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