YNGWIE MALMSTEEN: 'I Make Music That I Love Because I Only Live Once'

Joe Charupakorn of Premier Guitar recently conducted an interview with legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Premier Guitar: What prompted the decision to play all of the instruments on "Spellbound"?

Yngwie: There was no reason why it happened this way. It just happened. I got inspired, started recording stuff, and all of a sudden it was done.

Premier Guitar: It may come across as a surprise to some that you also played the drum tracks on the album.

Yngwie: When I was a kid, I played drums, and when I first got a 4-track, I would put down drumbeats and then do the rest of the tracks on top. For this album, it was live triggered drums. It was quantized a little bit to make sure it was perfect.

Premier Guitar: "Spellbound", the title track, seems more direct and less epic than some of the other selections. How do you decide when to really go all out or when to keep things simpler?

Yngwie: Some of the tracks were really demanding to put together but they're mind-blowing when I listen back. "Spellbound" has a lot of guitar playing on it, obviously, but I wanted to keep it with a more straightforward beat. It doesn't have so many stops and things like that. Whereas if you listen to "Majestic 12", that's like a little symphony.

Premier Guitar: "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" and "Iron Blues" showcase your bluesy side. Did you include these to appease the naysayers?

Yngwie: [laughs] I wish I could say "yes." I'm very selfish. I make music that I love because I only live once and I'm an artist. I don't try to revolt against anybody and I don't try to please anybody. I feel very strongly that I if love it someone else will love it — not everybody though. To quote Niccolò Paganini, "One must feel strongly to make others feel strongly."

Premier Guitar: But you don't seem like a guy who'd enjoy listening to the blues.

Yngwie: Well, no. I always include one in my shows but I wouldn't want to play more than one blues song either. A lot of people don't know this but I started out as a blues-based player and then when I realized after playing 18 hours a day that there's more than five notes per scale, that's when my stuff became what it was. I started listening to violinists and flautists and that's how my style evolved. It's such a funny thing that people think that I got the classical influence from Ritchie Blackmore. If you listen to him, he plays nothing but the blues. But I think the blues is important and you need to have that in you no matter what else you like to do. It's like a basic function that's necessary.

Premier Guitar: It seems that what separates you from your countless clones, even the really famous ones, is that while you grew up listening to classical music those guys mainly came about classical music secondhand through you.

Yngwie: That's a very good observation, my friend. I think so, too. When I was 11 or 12, I was into DEEP PURPLE and the blues. I broke away from that and got into things like harmonic minor, Phrygian, diminished, counterpoint, pedal tones, and arpeggios. It's like when a blues player naturally improvises the blues, I do the same thing but in a neoclassical way. Bach, Vivaldi and Paganini became my influences and have been for such a long time now that I don't even have to think about it.

Read the entire interview from Premier Guitar.

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