Yngwie Malmsteen Interview (1990)

Posted: March 1, 2015 in Classic Rock - Interviews, Deep Purple Family, My photographs, Retrofuture


This interview with Yngwie Malmsteen was conducted backstage at Ishallen (a 10.000 capacity arena in Stockholm) in early April 1990, so it´s been 25 years now. Being Swedes we talked in Swedish so this is a translation made now for this blog. I did reprint this in RETROFUTURE 2 back in 2010, so that´s my source now (the original tape probably exists somewhere). I´ve met Yngwie a few times and later on, when I had the DEEP PURPLE FOREVER thing going, he even promoted the magazines on film. So I like the guy, have no reason not to. Also, back in 1990, he was touring for the “Eclipse” album, which was one of my all time favourites. That day, Yngwie signed 600 LPs and 200 CDs at a place called Åhléns in Stockholm, so it was a busy day for the man. Quite a homecoming though. Enjoy!

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You are touring the world and then you´re back home where it all started. How does that feel?

– It feels bloody good! It feels like a small triumph, to be able to be back and to play Isstadion – actually, it feels like quite a triumph. I´m so happy with the new album and the new band so it´s great to be able to come back like this to show everybody what we´re made of (laughs).

I think that keyboardist Mats Olausson has done a tremendous job on the album. Do you feel that he´s added something to the band?

– Well, I think you know the answer to that question. I´m definitely the guy that is in charge, it has always been this way and it always will. Having said that, new people often bring fresh inspiration and there´s a good feeling in the band right now. People used to bitch and moan about everything, but it´s OK now. But the songs that you can hear on this album were written before this band existed. I told the old guys that it was getting stale. The new guys have added a positive feel to it all, but I already had the songs.

What was it like to work with Joe Lynn Turner? Was it difficult?

– Near impossible, I would say. Very negative guy, he´s a great singer but his voice didn´t quite fit my music. I think he should join Foreigner or somebody like that. Joe liked to say things behind my back, it was a lot of backstabbing going on. It was a pain to deal with.

So he was fired?

– Yes.

What do you think about him being in Deep Purple now?

– To be honest, I don´t like that. Deep Purple is Deep Purple with Ian Gillan, that´s it. It´s Rainbow now, I think. But I wish him well, he´s doing his thing and I´m doing what I need to do. It was never meant to be. But I´d love to hear him sing “Child In Time” (laughs).

Was it a conscious thing to put a Swedish band together?

– No, it was all fate. We tried out people in Miami, London, New York – all over the place. But this felt right. It took us two months to complete the record.

Have you sold Gold with any record in the US at this point?

– No, but “Odyssey” is close, about 470.000 copies now. The American record company has fucked everything up. I´ve given them records that could easily have sold Gold and Platinum but they have done fuck all to make it happen. They just ship the albums out and then they don´t care to promote it properly. All they care about is getting Bon Jovi and Def Leppard out there. It was their fault as well that “Live In Leningrad” was delayed eight months before it hit the stores. They just waited for Bon Jovi to go there. I mean, I had already been there and sold 240.000 tickets but still they couldn´t care less. Still, there´s new people at the company now in the US, maybe things will change for the better?

In which markets do you think that the company has done a good job?

– Sweden has always been good, and England and most of Europe. And especially Japan, but not America. They´ve ruined a lot for me.

How was it to play in Russia?

– Well, poor sods… What a depressing, tasteless, smelly fucking society that was. I mean, I was shocked. Poor devils, that´s all I can say. I mean, it´s not their fault but they are so in your face, so unintelligent. But the audiences were wonderful. It was a blast playing there. But we stayed for five weeks and that was just too much. It was like living in a black and white movie. Nothing to eat, nothing to do, nothing to see…

How well was it organized?

– Are you kidding me? It was a big joke. Like, nobody speaks any English, and they walk up to you and address you in Russian and still thinks that you´ll understand them. Even the hotel in Moscow, which is supposed to be the biggest in the world with 8.000 rooms and everything, felt like a prison. And the water made you sick, in the end we brushed out teeth with Scotch. One night in the bar, I accidentally ordered Whiskey with Ice and got so sick. Everybody kept asking me why I had recorded the live album there, but when I did nobody else had done it. But then the assholes at PolyGram decided to hold the release until Bon Jovi had been there, so by the time it came out it felt old.

Do you recall what it was like for you when you first came to the States from Sweden about seven years ago?

– I didn´t like it, I thought it was false and filthy. Los Angeles really is a bad place. I´ve been known to call it the armpit of America. I live in Miami now and you can hardly compare the two places. But I´ve lived in America for seven years now and I feel alright about it now. I still hang around Swede´s a lot and my visits to Sweden keeps me from missing the old country too much.

Do you warm up prior to every show?

– No, I go nuts right away (laughs). It´s full steam ahead. But I do play the guitar a few hours every day, yes.

What was it that made you dream about this life when you were young? Did you see Deep Purple and Rainbow here in town and said yourself “I want to do that”?

– Yeah, it was pretty much like that. But I never felt quite at home in the audience. I need to be on that stage, do you understand what I mean? I´m a performer, not a listener, I hate to see bands.

How big has the workload been since your arrival in the States?

– I´ve worked constantly ever since and I´ve never been on holiday. Occasionally, you feel that you just want to walk away from it all, and just watch some television or whatever, but I would be bored very quickly if I did. This European tour will keep me busy for a couple of months. We do Spain, Italy, the whole place. Then we do Japan, America and Australia. It´ll go on until February.

You´ve a song called “Judas” on the new album that is very good, and it sports good lyrics as well. Do you think you may run into trouble with religious fanatics with that one? Has it happened to you before?

– Yes, we had a song called “Desciples of Hell” that we couldn´t play in certain States in America. But “Judas” is actually about PolyGram, or the American office in any case. Same goes for “Devil In Disquise”, and “See You In Hell, Don´t Be Late”. It all comes down to my frustrations in them, and with old managers.

So what happens if they mishandle this album as well?

– Then I´ll take them to court. I´ll give them one last chance to get it right. I see this as a very artistic enterprise, it´s deeply emotional for me. It´s like cutting a piece of your heart out when you give them a new record, and then they just throw it in the bin. I don´t appreciate that sort of behavior. Look, I´ll be doing this 30 years from now and I´ll sell just as many records then as I do now. I´m not here to fizzle out, like pop stars do. And then you see them put energy behind artists that will only be one hit wonders. Why can´t they see that they are fucking themselves in the ass, basically?

What did you think of Rainbow´s appearance in Japan back in 1984 with a full orchestra (out on video)? Would you be interested in doing something like that some day?

– That was cool, but the sound they captured was not very good. I´ve thought about doing something similar, especially now that we´ve Svante Henryson in the band, who´s played in orchestras himself. Vivaldi comes to mind. We thought about it. It can still happen. Not sure if it would sound as good as I would like to, you can hear that on the Rainbow video. There´s a lot of Paganini in the new songs though. Listen to “Motherless Child” and “Demon Driver”. But having said that, there´s also more blues guitar in there now, and I like the mixture very much. Personally, I think that this is the best album that I´ve ever made.


Michael Eriksson (1990)

(No part of this interview may be quoted without permission)

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  1. […] (1988), GLENN HUGHES & JOHN NORUM (1988), BLACK SABBATH (1987-1989), STEVE LUKATHER (1989), YNGWIE MALMSTEEN (1990), JOE LYNN TURNER (1992), JOE LYNN TURNER (1993), JOE LYNN TURNER (1994-1995), RAINBOW (1995), GLENN […]

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