Steph Perry of Rock Notes conducted an interview with legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen on December 2, 2008. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Rock Notes: How did you hook up with [former JUDAS PRIEST singer] Tim "Ripper" Owens?
Yngwie: Well, this has something to do with exactly what happened with the recording. Because I had Doogie [White] in the band, and I wrote the songs, and the songs started getting more and more finished. The keyboard player came in and spent a couple of weeks on the keyboards. Then I started the lyrics for "Be Careful What You Wish For" and "Live To Fight Another Day". I wrote them thinking that's who I want to have, I mean that's what I had in my head. So the songs were finished by the time Tim came in. I actually tried to do a couple songs with Doogie and it didn't work out. I said to Doogie in a cool way, "Look, I'm going this way and this just isn't going to work out." It's almost like casting for a movie. You need someone to take that role. I'm a movie freak anyway. I'm into movies more than anything. Everybody always asks me, "What do you think of the new bands?" and I'm sure they're great. The bands that I still listen to are QUEEN and DEEP PURPLE and JIMI HENDRIX and stuff like that. It's not that I don't like the new stuff, it's just that I don't want to ever fucking look at what I do as work because then I don't want to do it anymore. So when I'm working on it, it has to be an inspired process. When I don't work on music, I want to like watch a movie or read a book or play some tennis or whatever. When I grew up in Sweden, I grew up in some sort of a fucking moon landscape. It was like nothing there. I'm not going to get into politics or shit like that right now, but when I hear all these people moaning and bitching about America, "You gotta change, you gotta change." Let me tell you something, you guys don't know how good you have it! This is the greatest country on God's earth! There is no better place, no better country, this is the ultimate place to live in, with warts and all. There is no place that could even be a pimple on this country's ass! And people better start being happy about that, because if you get "the change," you better be careful what you wish for. I'm telling you, that's not what you want, man; this is the greatest country on earth. Leave it like it is! I'm the living proof, living breathing proof. I came to this country with one guitar and one extra pair of pants. That was it! I was a teenager and everything and beyond I ever dreamt of has come true. And I could've never done it anywhere else. The only reason it was possible is because this is the country of the individual, this is the country where hard work will reward you, this is the country of no you don't get shit if you don't do shit. This the country that rewards hard work and rewards ambition. And where I came from, it was the exact opposite. If you did nothing you got everything paid for, if you work really hard they just take your money. So I know what I'm talking about when it comes to these things... I love this country more than anything I would go and fight and die for this country.
Rock Notes: What is the biggest misconception about you?
Yngwie: Let's face it, in the past when I first started out and all that I probably had a fucking attitude. I was very confident and very young and I probably said and did things I shouldn't have. So some people have based their opinion or theory of who I am on that. Which is okay, because it happens to me almost every day I do these interviews and I hear people say, "Oh, man you're really cool and I was so worried about talking to you." You learn when you're in this business that no matter what you do or no matter what you say there's going to be a certain element of people that are going to try to bring you down.
Rock Notes: It's pretty cool that some of your new material was chosen for Rock Band downloadable content. What goes through your mind when you learn that your songs will be featured in such a popular video game?
Yngwie: I have to be honest with you. My kid is ten years old and a couple of years ago I brought him to one of those video game stores and said, "Hey, go get whatever you want." And the guy that worked there knew who I was. He goes, "Hey, check this out," and put this plastic guitar on and starts playing "Smoke On The Water" or whatever. And I'm going, "What the hell is this?" But I have to be honest with you, this Rock Band and this Guitar Hero, it's all been good for me! Because even if it doesn't say Yngwie Malmsteen, it is stuff that relates to what I do, and let's say ten years ago, the guitar was pretty much dead in this country. To me, this is fucking great! If the kid plays some game like Halo, or whatever they're doing, that's cool. But this is something that introduces them to music and good rock and roll. Not long ago I was sitting in the airport with one of my bandmates and this little kid, like six years old, goes to me, "Are you guys in the band?" and I go like, "Yeah, we're in the band." And he says, "I want to be in a band!" This is so cool because this didn't happen before. And all the kids you see at my shows now? So I think it's a good thing. I think it's cool. I was very skeptical at first but I think it's good now.
Read the entire interview from Rock Notes.
Yngwie Malmsteen perfoming live in San Antonio, Texas (2008):