YNGWIE MALMSTEEN: “I LOVE THIS COUNTRY MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD, YOU CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE HOW MUCH I LOVE AMERICA”
LRI: 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.
LRI: 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.
LRI: 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.
LRI: You are so influenced by classical composers and those strong melody lines and solos on guitar. Is it a challenge to come up with song titles or lyrics or vocal melodies or is that one and the same?
Yngwie: The melody lines are the first thing that come to me, before anything no matter who was in the band at any given time. In Alcatrazz I wrote all the vocal melody lines, all of them. To me, the melody, that’s what is natural to me whether it is on guitar or vocal or flute or whatever, a melody is a melody you know. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart said “Melody is music, music is melody” so I don’t come up with riffs and then work around them to get to a melody no, that is natural right away to anything I am writing. The lyrics are a little different, I wait until I feel inspired and there’s always gotta be a movie or a book or something I see on T.V. that can influence me. It could start with just a good phrase or a good rhyme that kicks it off and next thing you know, there it is. I wait until I’m inspired and then it just flows out really easily. I don’t try and do it if it doesn’t feel right which is pretty much what I do with everything.
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Yngwie Malmsteen’s Guitar Gods 2014 tour featuring Uli Jon Rith, Gary Hoey and Bumblefoot begins June 12th in Wilkes-Barre, PA and winds up in July 12th in Houston, Texas. Click here for complete dates.