Featured Interview: Yngwie Malmsteen by Matt O’Shaughnessy
Sweden’s guitar icon Yngwie Malmsteen talks with Rock Show Magazine’s Matthew O’Shaughnessy as his North American ‘Spellbound’ Tour is raging through cities in the US.
Over the years, the citations and awards for Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar mastery have been quite prominent, including being hailed as “One Of the Top 10 Electric Guitar Players In The World” by Time Magazine. I recently caught up with the living legend Malmsteen while at home in Miami Beach.
Matt O’Shaughnessy: You have always gone on record that very early on in your career Jimi Hendrix was an influence on your playing.
Yngwie Malmsteen: That’s right. I was just a little kid I saw him burning the guitar and I thought this was cool! Then, obviously, I was more classically influenced as time went on; Bach, Paganini, etc. But we all started with Deep Purple, Hendrix and others.
Matt O’Shaughnessy: Your playing has been described as neo-classical metal and you are on your North American Tour supporting your latest release, Spellbound. What does the legendary Malmsteen set-list look like?
Yngwie Malmsteen: That’s like the best question ever and the toughest one to answer! The funny thing with the shows that I do is that right before we go on I make up a set-list and once we hit the stage I play something different anyway! (Laughter). I keep the guys in the band on their toes. It’s going to be songs we all know, and some new stuff - a good mix.
Matt O’Shaughnessy: You’ve been at the forefront of electric guitar playing for over three decades. What’s changed in music during that time?
Yngwie Malmsteen: It seems when I go in and out of fashion a lot, you know, I blatantly ignore that; I ignore the fashions. Now it’s back again, it’s really hot!
Matt O’Shaughnessy: What were the very early days like for you; were they easy, challenging? You’re a living legend now.
Yngwie Malmsteen: It’s been a journey for sure! I have a book out, my memoirs, called ‘Relentless’ so if you really want to know it’s in that book. But no, I don’t regret anything. It’s been a lot of work. The book is a window to what’s been going on in my career. I feel the most focused now. I’m very happy right now.
Matt O’Shaughnessy: You’ve been planning your memoir for six years.
Yngwie Malmsteen: I had to re-write it a few times. It’s really the real deal and doesn’t hold anything back! It explains everything the good and the bad.
Matt O’Shaughnessy: How did you find the actual process of writing Relentless?
Yngwie Malmsteen: It was a labor of love. You’ve got to do it when you are inspired. It’s like with music too; I don’t do it unless I feel inspired. I don’t go into the studio unless I feel inspired. If I go onstage, I am automatically inspired every time because the crowd just gets me going. With the book, I almost had to let it just let it write itself; a natural thing.
Matt O’Shaughnessy: You’ve sold over eleven million albums to date and have forever transformed hard rock and heavy metal guitar playing to an all-time high. What’s the secret to your passion and longevity?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I think it’s a combination of a couple of things; I never really cared about fashions and trends. I do things from the heart and really feel strongly about what I do. I really feel strongly about what I’m doing and I think it comes across and I think the fans can pick up that and people dig it. More is more; turn it up to eleven! People catch on to the fact that this is real and not fake and they can dig it.
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