YNGWIE MALMSTEEN: 'I Can't Do Anything Half-Assed; I Just Can't'

Earlier this week, Brandon Marshall of Sonic Excess conducted an interview with legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Sonic Excess: Congratulations on your 19th studio release, entitled "Relentless". What is your proudest achievement with this new record? Did you challenge yourself in any new or different ways prior to writing and recording "Relentless"?

Yngwie Malmsteen: I picked up the guitar 40 years ago. One would think, "Enough is enough, why would he top himself?" or whatever, but I really did. I wasn't necessarily saying, "I'm going to top everything think that I have done." It was more of a burning passion. It's weird; I don't understand it. I just pick up a guitar, and it's a fire. That's why I call the album "Relentless", because I can't do anything half-assed; I just can't. It has to be full-out or nothing, more is more. Some of the tracks on the record are pretty extreme. The title track being one. It's not all about guitar playing; it is also about composition and how to put it all together. I look at the record as a whole and not just one song. For instance, "Knight Of The Vasa Order", that is an instrumental. Then you have, for example, "Look At You Now" that I sing on. They are very different, but they all function together as a whole.

Sonic Excess: As you mentioned, the title Relentless is a reflection of your guitar ability…

Yngwie Malmsteen: No, I mean I am a relentless person. I am completely relentless in everything that I do. It doesn't matter what it is, and I have always been like that. I have always been a purist. I have always been an extremist. I have always been someone who goes full out or nothing, and that goes for everything, like my cars, for example. I live everything full out, and that is a personality trait. My guitar playing is a result of that personality trait.

Sonic Excess: With "Relentless" being Tim "Ripper" Owens' (vocals) second album recorded with you, did the process of writing and recording flow a bit more smoothly, because you and Tim knew what to expect from one another?

Yngwie Malmsteen: Well, I did everything like I have always done it. I write the song; I write the lyrics; I write the melodies; and I have a perfect idea of what it is going to sound like, and Ripper is the man to deliver it. What happened on "Perpetual Flame", what I did was I wrote all the songs, the lyrics and everything was finished. I sent my singer down from England to do some vocals, and it just didn't work. It wasn't what I had in mind at all. And, of course, as legend has it, I invited Tim down to sing a couple of songs, and he clicked perfectly. He (Tim) is just brilliant with what he can deliver. I mean, with "Relentless", where the lyrics are very dark and aggressive, he puts the vibe where it's supposed to be.

Sonic Excess: Do you view yourself as more of a classical musician or a rock star?

Yngwie Malmsteen: Oh my god (pause)… I don't know. I'm trying to understand how other people perceive me, and that's interesting, but, to myself, I'm really... to me, music is the most rewarding and challenging thing. I'm a very lucky person who is very lucky to do this. I don't really look at myself in a certain way. I just do what I do, and I hope people dig it.

Sonic Excess: The last time that we spoke, you mentioned you were in the process of writing an autobiography. How is that coming along?

Yngwie Malmsteen: I'm still going with it. I just read through another 300 pages of proof readings, but it's been finished.

Sonic Excess: So, it should hit shelves very soon then?

Yngwie Malmsteen: Probably in 2011. I'm hoping, anyway.

Sonic Excess: Is it going to be a reflection of your career?

Yngwie Malmsteen: It's going to be everything. Mostly personal stuff, like how I grew up in Sweden, the relationship with my family, how I left, how all of a sudden I was in the United States, and the wild rides. There was a lot of wild shit going on, trust me. It's a big combination. It's a lot of that stuff, but it also things like how I got developed into what I do. It's virtually everything. It's a big memoir. It's my whole life basically, the good things, the bad things, everything.

Sonic Excess: Looking back on your career, would you do anything differently?

Yngwie Malmsteen: No, because if I made a mistake, there was a lesson to be learned. So, no. Let me tell you, I have made a lot of mistakes. (laughs) I got ripped off blind for years, but I learned my lesson. So, I know exactly what's going on. Every time you do something, there has to be a lesson. If you make the same mistake more than once, then it's bad.

Read the entire interview at Sonic Excess.

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