Interviewers: Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS, Rick Wilson (of CRF) and the odd word from Jeff.
Date: Sunday, April 14th 2002
Venue: Malmsteen Management Offices, Miami Florida, USA
This is Metalliville's best exclusive so far - being given the opportunity to interview the most renown Neo-Classical Rock Guitar Virtuoso at his own Office is a pleasure of the highest scale. Yngwie took time out of his busy album production schedule. It was actually the last day of recording the drums, before his Swedish drummer, Patrick Johansson went back home. After entering the office we thanked Yngwie for agreeing to do the interview of which he said, 'No problem' and in turn greeted him with a warm handshake.
Yngwie came over immediately as an extremely friendly guy and asked us where we wanted him to be sat for the interview - to which we replied 'wherever you feel most comfy. At his desk the Great Man sat and armed with a dictaphone, notes and a can of coke each we experienced one of the best chats we'd ever had with a Rock Star.
Rick: So why (did you choose to live in) Miami of all places?
Yngwie: Because it's Paradise. I lived in LA but LA is not what it used to be. In the early part, I think that LA was a good place for opportunists but it's all gone away now - it's not there anymore. I've been living here for about 13 years now and I've no intentions of living anywhere else.
Jeff: It's better than Sweden?
Yngwie: Yeah - after 19 years in the f*cking snow - you wanna have a beach. I play tennis everyday, plus I drive certain cars - you know, you can't really drive in snow.
Rick: You do a bit of scuba diving don't you?
Yngwie: No - I'd like to though. Actually, most of the time right I'm now recording the new record.
Glenn: On the 'Best of' album, there's the Abba song 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme' - what was the reason for recording that?
Yngwie: Well what happened with that was there was this guy who was putting an album together in Sweden called 'Swedish Heavy Metal bands play Swedish Heavy Metal'. What happened was some guy was playing some of my stuff and they asked me to play some other peoples stuff. I thought about it and I went back and forth about. I was in the studio recording 'Alchemy' actually - wrapping that up - (I thought), I'll do an Abba song and make it - that's how I did it. That's what happened and that was meant to be just for a laugh and it become part of my Greatest Hits album, compilation album - whatever you wanna call it. More like a joke really.
Glenn: I think it's incredible - it's like when you put Lynyrd Skynrd's 'Freebird' on - it blows your mind every time.
Yngwie: Thank you.
Glenn: You'd never think it was an Abba song - sounding like that.
Yngwie: Yeah - it doesn't sound much like an Abba song. I think Abba were incredibly good. In that particular time - that era - I was listening to Abba a lot - that was '99-2000. They are so different to what I do but they inspired me anyway.
Glenn: Have Benny and Bjorn heard your version of 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme' and what did they say to it?
Yngwie: I don't know - I don't know what they think.
Glenn: In you career - what is the main reason why you have had different singers?
Yngwie: Erm, how do I put this. When you are the songwriter and you are the composer and you are sort of the driving force of the whole thing - which I was from day one in Sweden, when I was just a little kid, you know.
It's kinda hard to find people that exactly sink into what you do and that is not just taking an opportunity to get the name off - which unfortunately has at times happened at times.
It's like, "Alright now, I'll be announcing this band and I can become an a***hole and make it myself" - but they have been wrong every time. But basically, I'm not saying bad things about every member of my band - no - I wouldn't do that because that wouldn't be right to do that. But when it comes to singers specifically, they think they have an in-bred thing that because they are the singer they are more important than anyone else and I don't agree with that. I think the keyboard player, the bassist and the drummer is just as important - OK - and the fact that I do write all the lyrics - sometimes singers can't fit in with that, so you know, they start problems and therefore they have to go or they just go anyway. It's impossible to say why these things happen.
is that I think I have some really good musicians and singers in my band
and I don't wanna saying anything. I'm not that kind of guy to say things
- but unfortunately, the way I work, I work like a classical composer
and if Vivaldi or Bach or somebody else writes a symphony or they write
a concerto and the second cello man goes, 'I wanna play this note' - because
if he does he's out and I'm not saying I'm being a pr*ck about it - I'm
Yngwie: Last year we played The Astoria (in London) and they had to turn people away - that was the first time because we kept on playing the Astoria for the last five years or something and Rod McSween at ITB (Booking Agency) said to me, "Next time come along and go for the big Astoria". But if I don't I still like that venue very much - I always feel very good in there and no offence to anybody, it's just a fact of life - London audiences are probably the toughest in the world - you get them going and you know you're doing something right. I love London. I used to live there. I met my wife in London. She's been living there all her life.
Yngwie: Yeah April. I have my own pub there.
Rick: You do.
Yngwie: Yeah - in Kensington - The Goat Tavern.
Rick: I'll have to remember that one.
Yngwie: It's mine. It's mine - I'm telling you (all laughing). No the thing is, is that it's the one I always go to so I call it mine - it ain't really mine. I like Kensington mind you, I love that part of London. But right now of course, I'm tryna finish this record and today is the last day of drumming. So we are finishing the drums in the other studio, then I'm bringing in the keyboard player in 2 weeks, then have all my guitars done in 3 weeks and I'm shooting to get it out to do some of the Summer festivals but it looks a little tight. The record company needs about 8 weeks before we can actually get out.
Glenn: For Promotion?
Yngwie: Right. Now I have to go to 'The Goat (Tavern)' before that too.
Yngwie: No - I'm gonna work on them for a bit - right now I'm using all Marshalls but I did try it out and it sounds really good and I also have a new signature model pedal - the DOD YJM308. That's absolutely fantastic - that's what I use. I don't use the old ones anymore. I use that one.
Rick: Is that different?
Yngwie: No. What happened was that the old grey ones from the early 70's could be one really good one and one that was rther worn and I just can't find 'em anymore. These yellow ones have become easier to find but they don't sound nowhere near as good as a grey one. So we found a really good grey one and we mould the black one to through the white pedal after that. So each one, it doesn't matter how many I have - I can have a box of them - they can't all sound the same whereas my old Marshall Gold-strap - my old VOD things, they have their own life or something, I don't know - so whatever sounds good that day I use.
Yngwie: How ? How ?
Rick: Yeah, where did you discover 'em because you seem to have so many of a similar age and era.
Yngwie: No that's just all that you see - I have every colour there is. Actually, I have one of the ten first Strats ever made - first month, first year, March '54.
Yngwie & Rick
Rick: What colour is that in?
Yngwie: It's black with a white pick-up and it might be re-painted because I don't think they made black ones to begin with but the neck has a pencil written in. It's not a stamp, it's a pencil 3 54. First month, first year - which means that from October 54, they started making 'em by machines. So from March to September they made ten a month. They were still building machinery - to make 'em by machine. Then I have loads of other guitars - I've got lots of Flying V's, Gibson Les Pauls and SG's, ES 335's and loads of basses. I love them. They are very good - mostly Fenders. I also buy Rickenbacker basses.
Rick: How have you actually come across them over the years?
Yngwie: Well, what I've done is like sort of a path. If I have a day off in some old town, it doesn't mean it has to be New York or Miami - it can be a small town - like a little town in Sweden, whatever. I usually go and I say, 'Where's the guitar shop? and they usually don't know what the hell they got and I look at it. But the Malmsteen model Fender is an exceptional guitar - it's exactly the right way, like my guitar is. I can pick up one of those and do a gig with it - no problem. I mean it's that perfected and they're all the same whereas like gold ones are never the same at all ever.
Yngwie: Well that was something I was working with and trying to achieve and that was just something that was in conjunction with my old management that I fired about 2 years ago because there was some really foul play going on. They weren't doing anything to promote my career or nothing and at the same time it didn't seem to be a smart idea but I have the trademark and everything like that and no-one else can have it - 'Baroque and Roll' is my thing and so instead of being so blindly ripped off I'm trying to get back to that thing - and to have good distribution in America which I didn't have ten years ago - I'd settle for that, for now. I also have negotiations and stuff going on - but outside of that I'm more into making sure that the albums are good.
Glenn: What would you say are your favorite songs on your new album?
Yngwie: The brand new one?
Yngwie: Well you know - some of them don't have titles yet but I don't know what the hell happened man. I came back from South America last year and started writing and I'm so exited with the songs. I think they have a very strange combination of typical Malmsteen and maybe some stuff that may be perceived as a more modern sound - but not really ahip to now modern.
Glenn: Like the nu-metal?
Yngwie: No, so I don't really wanna say that but it's got a fresh sound - they don't sound old - they have a lot of energy. I'm up to 19 tracks now but I can't really put 19 tracks on the record - 19 full length songs and 4 interludes. That's what I have right now as we speak.
Rick: A double album.
Yngwie: Yeah - that'd be a double album - so I can't do that - well I can but I don't know if the label will take it or if the fans will pay the extra money on it. I just take the crème de la crème stuff you know. I like to keep it that way.
Yngwie: I think that they come in two counts because there are the bands that I heard earlier who blatantly ripped off my guitar playing but it wasn't anything really anymore than that - that's all it was - you know like you put it in a Xerox machine you know - not as good as the original - so I didn't think much about that - I was kind of annoyed about not being given credit.
But there's new really cool bands coming out of Europe and from the (United) States that are obviously influenced by the Neo-Classical vibe that I sort of started but I have mixed feelings about that because I think some of them are really good and you know what, I'd rather hear that than them trying to copy Pearl Jam !! I mean what can be bad about that - I mean trying to be a little more symphonic, a little more melodic maybe try to be a little more interesting and I would like to say that I think it's also flattering but it's also great people are still wanting to put some effort into what we do - instead of banging out 3 f*cking chords and singing 'let's shoot ourselves'. In the last couple of years I've been hearing loads of bands coming out.
Glenn: I know about a label in Finland called 'Lion Music' that has similar sorts of bands.
Yngwie: I've not heard of that one - unfortunately that hasn't seeped into the states yet - it's non-existent here, but you go to Europe and some parts of Japan - you know - here it's nothing - it's Kid Rock. Kid Rock Rules !!
Glenn: No - no way.
Yngwie: I don't know - he's got something that works whatever it is - if it works for him then let him do it - God bless the guy.
Yngwie: Oh, they're all dead - Bach, Paganini, Vivaldi - I even named my son after Vivaldi. Vivaldi Antonio.
Rick: How's he doing?
Yngwie: He's big now.
Rick: Has he picked the guitar up?
Yngwie: He's interested in all sorts of things but I decided I wanted him to be a kid first. I love him.
(Back to the Interviewing hero's answer). The big classical composers I mean - I'm not saying that I have lots of 'em. I mean my rock influences are obviously (Deep) Purple and Queen. All the people that I really admired and still like are all my pals now like Brian May, Ritchie Blackmore, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Al Demiola - I know them all very well, everyone you know. There's so many bands like Cream and The Who - Classic Rock - those guys - The Rolling Stones throwing TV sets out the window - you know that'll just never come back man.
Jeff: Yeah - The Golden Era. Led Zeppelin, Floyd....
Yngwie: Yeah - the Golden era, Purple, early Queen - the whole nine yards.
Yngwie & Jeff
Glenn: You know what Yngwie - this is a credit to this country - there's a Classic Rock station in every State and we don't have that in Britain.
Yngwie: Yeah - there's 105.9. Have you put that on there.
Yngwie: 105.9 - they play all Purple and such like.
Jeff: Yeah - we don't have that over where we are - There's no Rock Stations.
Yngwie: You know in Europe and Germany - Neo Classical Metal is really big.
Jeff: We don't have any of that - it's all Robbie Williams, S-Club 7....
Yngwie: Well, thank God for the pub.
Glenn: We do get some good bands playing Nottingham Rock City though.
Yngwie: Nottingham - yeah - I played there. Last year. Do they have the Marquee and all that? I played the original Marquee.
Jeff: Yeah - and the Astoria.
Yngwie: Yeah - there's a good vibe in The Astoria - it's not too big - it's alright, you know. There's some clubs you play that don't have a vibe, there's just none. Unfortunately that's just the way it is.
Rick: Do you often go back to Sweden?
Yngwie: Yeah - every year one way or another to do Press or see family and friends.
Jeff: Plenty of Heineken?
Yngwie: Yeah sure - why not?
Yngwie: Skol or Falco - Yeah. Before I go to Sweden, I need to get back to the 'Tavern.
Yngwie and Glenn
After which we had our pictures taken in turn with Yngwie and agreed we'd have to check out the Goat Tavern - Yngwie's favorite Pub in Kensington, London. Make sure that you do too.
In the smaller office Yngwie signed some of his CD's. 'Let me show you a trick', he exclaimed and showed us how to open them up if they were sealed - Nice trick Yngwie !!! After a quick chat we thanked Yngwie for the interview.
The vision of Yngwie, Tom Fletcher (his Engineer), and drummer, Patrick Johansson in the large blacked out SUV pulling out of the car park is something that we'll treasure in our memories forever - especially the humour aspect that we shared with him about drinking loads of Skol, Steller and Heineken.
Keep on Rockin' Yngwie and God Bless America !!
Look out for the new album 'Attack' out soon plus forthcoming tour dates.