John Parks of Legendary Rock Interviews recently conducted an interview with legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Legendary Rock Interviews: I wanted to start by asking you about your autobiography which was released last year, "Relentless". Writing a book can be pretty self-revelatory and can also answer a lot of the questions fans or journalists ask you repeatedly over and over the years. Did you find that to be the case in documenting your life story?
Yngwie: Yeah, but I think it goes even a little deeper than that. It was a long experience. I started writing it back in about 2006. I wrote it. and then I stopped a little bit. and then I got back into it. and stuff like that. So... If you read the book, or have followed my career, or know something about me, then you know I have been through a lot of different phases, so to speak. The thing is, when I look back on what I've done, some of the stuff, I am, like, "Wow, that can't be me. That can't be something I did. That has to be someone else." Some of it almost feels like watching a movie to me, almost like "Wolf Of Wall Street" with this totally fucking crazy, outrageous lifestyle. Just totally off-the-wall behavior which is nothing like how I am now. [laughs] I am just the most clean-living, normal, I guess some people would call it boring [laughs] person now, because I just don't do anything like that. I just play guitar.
Legendary Rock Interviews: You're a family man.
Yngwie: Yeah, and you know, I feel better than ever and in better shape than ever. I feel very together, very focused and just feel amazing. It's really nice but when I look back at some of the things I did or use to do I am just like, "Wow, I can't fucking believe that." It really does feel unbelievable, or like you're watching a movie, or reading this story about someone completely different, so that was one part of the reflection in writing the book, you know. The other thing is, I was surprised that my memory is very, very good, I remember everything and in some respects that is hard to believe because of some of the things I've done over the years, but it's true that I remember everything. Everything in that book is true also, which is important. There have been so many things written about me in magazines or the Internet or even other unauthorized books and most of it is just complete bullshit, so getting the true story out there was another reason I felt very strongly about releasing the book. I also wanted to tell the story more from the angle of the personal experience of becoming what I am or whatever or being what I am if that makes more sense to you.
Legendary Rock Interviews: There are quite a few things in the book that I never knew about you or knew but didn't understand including your really early years in Sweden as a kid. Do you think a lot of Americans have some misconceptions about your homeland or you as a kid?
Yngwie: Yeah. Coming from a very obscure place to begin with, and growing up in an environment much different from that in America. Most Americans, I don't think, could fathom the society that I grew up in. It is a completely different philosophy from America's. You are basically told what you can be by the educational system. They would look at you in the United States and say, "OK, little Johnny, you can be a doctor or a musician or the President," but in Sweden, they would look at you and say, "You are nothing, you are never going to be anything, you're a piece of shit. Now shut up and stay in your fucking place." That's the way they did things, but that didn't work on me. I'm a very bombastic kind of person and very strong-willed, I'm relentless, basically, and the more they pushed me, the harder I pushed back, so obviously I needed to get outta there. The whole thing, which I discuss so much in the book, is that what I was looking to do was basically impossible to do there in Sweden, which is why I have so much love for America. My book is basically a love letter to America. I love this country more than anything in the fucking world; you can't even imagine how much I love America.
Legendary Rock Interviews: Is a lot of that love based on the musical freedom and career freedom you enjoy?
Yngwie: Yeah, but it goes a lot deeper than that. Everything that I think that a society should offer someone, which is nothing other than the ability to be able to do what you wanna do, is offered by America. You get nothing for free. I'm not asking for anything for free, and no one should get anything for free, but what they should have is the opportunity to do whatever the fuck they want whenever the fuck they want, and no one should be able to stop you. If you succeed, wonderful, if you don't, tough shit, bro, but in Sweden, you didn't even have that ability or opportunity to try, and that mentality is what I am going against. I am convinced that there are few, if any, American people that could even start believing or understanding what living in a socialist country does to a person. It kills the person, it kills the soul, it kills everything, it kills the whole purpose of a person being alive to begin with. It is the worst thing that you can do to a person. In a situation like that it is like Russia Lite, as much as it is a societal system, it is much more than that. It is a mental embedding in people, like brainwashing, and it's bad, man. In this country, everything, all of that freedom, is sometimes taken for granted or not even thought about. It's like, "Oh, do you wanna do that? OK, go do it!!" That's how it is in America, and I just love that.
Read the entire interview at Legendary Rock Interviews.