More people will be inspired to pick up the air guitar as musician Yngwie J. Malmsteen arrives for the second time to bombard fans with his scorching blend of metal and classical music. Along with Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen and more, he has been credited as one of the world’s leading guitarists. We sat Malmsteen down for a chat.
When was your first rock show?
My mother sang in a choir, so I did attend other shows before I went to my first rock concert. My first rock show was when I was 12. It was Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow, with Cozy Powell on drums and Ronnie James Dio on vocals.
Do you prefer touring and playing in shows or producing music in the studio?
It has to be both. When you play live, it’s the instant energy from the audience that’s captivating. When you’re in the studio, it’s like you’re building a house, adding on stuff, and thinking about it. Both are two different things, and both are exciting in their own ways.
You’ve played solo as well as in G3 with Vai and Satriani. What’s the main difference between playing alone compared to playing with them?
The main difference is that when I do my own thing, I don’t have to worry about finishing the solo in, say, five minutes or so. When I play alone, I can just play. Don’t misunderstand, I really love those guys Joe and Steve, and I had a great time with them. But I’m more comfortable doing my own stuff.
Some claim that you focus too much on technique and speed in your music. Any comments?
I don’t agree. The most important thing for me is melody. It’s the passion and energy in music that matters.
You’ve had a long list of albums since you debuted about 20 years ago. Is there any album that you’re not very happy with, and which one do you really love?
I’m not exactly unhappy with any album. I would never compromise when it comes to music. It has to be the best album that I could do at that point of time. Even if I think I could do better now as compared to, say, 1994, I wouldn’t dislike the album, because it’s the best I can do back then. And the album I really love is my latest release Unleash the Fury.
We love Unleash the Fury as well. How did its title come about?
It’s referring to me unleashing the fury musically and it’s also referring to a funny incident that happened in Jan, 1987. I was flying to Tokyo, and the whole band was getting drunk and misbehaving. I fell asleep and about an hour later, a woman came and poured ice water on me and screamed at me to cool down. I shouted something about unleashing the fury. Someone recorded that. And it’s put on the internet 20 years later, which is weird! I just take it in fun.
How do you think you’ve fared in terms of songwriting in Unleash the Fury?
It’s like my baby. I think most forget that I write, produce and arrange everything in the album. Some only remember me as a guitarist. But I really spent a lot of time and effort in making the whole product.