Yngwie Malmsteen Australian tour to start on 5th Feb
Yngwie Malmsteen really doesn’t need an introduction with more than 25 albums, chart successes and Grammy nominations he had it all. In this interview he gave me an insight into why he is still going at that pace after all those years.
Marc: It has been a busy year for you in 2014. You played the ‘Guitar Gods’ tour in the US with Bumblefoot. How did that go for you?
Yngwie: Very well. It was interesting. I thought it was really cool. It was a big guitar theme going on and everybody loved it. It was great. I really enjoyed it.
Marc: You also played the ‘Marshall 50 Years Loud’ concert in London at Wembley Arena. That must have been an awesome experience?
Yngwie: Absolutely. It was fantastic. I was honoured with a Malmsteen Marshall. Some guitar players out there say that they are Marshall players but I have played Marshalls since I was ten years old. In my studio I have 43 Marshall amps. So I am a little bit of a freak. The show was great. I had an awesome time.
Get tickets for the upcoming Australian tour here
Marc: On top of all the touring you did worldwide you also released the ‘Spellbound Live’ CD and DVD. What is the story about these releases?
Yngwie: I put two things out. The CD is from Tampa and the DVD is from Orlando. They are only two days apart. The reason why I released it this way was that I didn’t want to make it the best of the best and release one video. I thought we take the Tampa show and make it audio and we take the Orlando show and make it a video. I made this decision after the shows were filmed. We filmed both shows. The reason is that it really shows – if anyone pays attention – what I do. Every time I get on stage I play a different show. It’s the same songs but it’s a different show. Every solo, every intro, every nuance is different. The reason why I do this and this is the reason why I am still doing this after 35 years is because the risk and the challenge is what gets me going. If I was just to go on stage and do the same thing it would be completely pointless to me. So to me it is a challenge. That’s why I decided to release two different things. The shows were recorded two days apart but there is not one note the same from the solos and the acoustic solos. They are not the same.
“I was honoured with a Malmsteen Marshall. Some guitar players out there say that they are Marshall players but I have played Marshalls since I was ten years old.”
Marc: Your Australian fans are very much looking forward to seeing you on stage in Australia again in February. Why is now the right time for you to come back?
Yngwie: The last live shows I played in Australia were in 2006. I was in Australia in 2013 for a clinic tour. Now we’re gonna play a full tour. It is going to be good.
Marc: What can the Australian fans expect from the upcoming shows?
Yngwie: As far as the material goes they will be very familiar with it. I will play what is probably considered to be the classics. But you know, the thing is I wouldn’t want to do it unless I played it a little differently. Let’s say there is a long intro or a long solo or whatever I do it completely differently. The set list is never the same as well. I do the set list as the last thing before I go on stage. I tell the guys, ‘Come into my room. Here is the set list’. And then we go on stage and perform. I can’t say we’re gonna do this, this and this song in this order because I never do the same thing. Sometimes the set list changes during the show. Sometimes I throw in a little thing or I might skip something. The reason why I do this is because this keeps it fresh and exciting after all those years. If I would just perform like a jukebox and play everything the same – which, I mean, I could do it – but it would be so empty to me. There wouldn’t be any challenge in it. There wouldn’t be any excitement. I like the feeling of ‘wow, let’s see what’s gonna happen tonight’. I wanna take risks.
“I have the luxury to do things when I feel like it.”
Marc: In order to do that you must feel very confident and comfortable with your current band. That means you’re gonna take the same band on tour that you have been playing with in the last couple of years?
Yngwie: The band stays the same but I will know when we do the rehearsals. At the moment I am making a record right now. And people ask me ‘What’s the name of the album?’. That’s gonna be the last thing I’m gonna do. The name is really the last thing after everything else has been done. So I like to keep things flowing and feeling really natural.
Marc: Do you know when the new album will be released?
Yngwie: I am shooting for March or April 2015.
Marc: So we might be the lucky ones that get to hear one or two new songs during your Australian shows?
Yngwie: It’s possible. Maybe I use a theme or so. I cannot play full songs before the release.
Marc: So next year will be busy again then with the new album.
Yngwie: I have the luxury to do things when I feel like it. I am sitting in the studio right now and even here I do things when I feel like it. That’s the beauty of having your own studio. I remember the old days when I had the pressure of doing things straightaway which I don’t like at all.
I have plenty of material. I probably have material for five or six albums right now. I gotta weed it out and make it the best album.
Marc: You have consistently released albums, 25 over 35 years. You had all the success, chart success, Grammy nominations and so on. What keeps you driving at that pace in regards to studio work?
Yngwie: It’s the same approach I have when I am in the studio. I go into the studio and pick up the guitar or play the drums or whatever. I just do something and something comes out that inspires me. Then I carry on with it. I wanna have it happen like an inspired thing. Then I just put it down and listen to it in the car or wherever and I think ‘oh, that sounds great’. I mean I play it back a week later or so and I don’t even remember doing it. Then I go like ‘wow, that’s great’ or ‘wow, that’s shit’. This is important to me because at that stage I am listening more like a listener. Then I take that further and make it into a more complete thing. I found that this is the best way for me. That makes it exciting and inspiring. That’s why I’m still doing it.
Marc: Doing some research for the interview I notice that each and every of your albums has ranked in the Japanese charts. Do you have a special relationship with your Japanese fans? What makes you so successful there?
Yngwie: (Laughs) I think I have a couple of ideas. One idea is that when I first came to Japan 30-something years ago it was with Graham Bonnett. He had albums out with Richie Blackmore and Michael Schenker. Both were very popular in Japan. So I think they thought whoever he picked as a guitar player has to be really good. Then they really like my stuff. So I took off right away from day 1. They gave me a solo deal which later became a worldwide release. So it all originated there. Then in the 90ies I was there like two times a year. Now I haven’t been there since 2013. I did a big festival there.
Marc: Do you have already some tour plans for after the release of the album?
Yngwie: Not yet. Maybe something in Europe because I haven’t done anything there for a few years. It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment. I don’t wanna plan a tour because that means I have to finish the album by a certain date. I wanna finish the album when I feel like it’s finished. I don’t think it will take that long but I don’t wanna have that thing hanging over my head. But of course there will be tours in 2015 but I don’t know where yet.
Marc: Is there actually any chance that you will revive your work as part of the G3 at any time in the future?
Yngwie: I spoke to Joe (Satriani) at the Marshall day. We were talking. We are still very good friends Steve, Joe and I. I’m up for it any time but there are no definite plans. I would be surprised if it won’t happen at some time. I am totally up for it. That would be great.