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Yngwie Malmsteen: The Complete 1984 Alcatrazz Interview (Audio)
The Swedish Guitar Star's First In-Depth Interview in America
In the mid-1980s, Yngwie Malmsteen emerged at the forefront of a fresh, invigorating style of guitar playing that came to be known as “neo-classical” metal. In Yngwie’s superlative playing, the influence of classical composers, especially J.S. Bach and Niccolo Paganini, was as profound as that of Jimi Hendrix, Richie Blackmore, and his other rock forbears.
I’d first heard Yngwie’s playing on a hand-lettered demo cassette he’d recorded in Sweden, called “Rising Force.” His technique was stunning! Soon after that, Yngwie was profiled in Mike Varney’s “Spotlight” column in the February 1983 issue of Guitar Player magazine. Mike arranged for Yngwie to come to the United States to make a record with a band called Steeler. Yngwie only spent a few months with this group, and then stayed in the States and formed Alcatrazz with singer Graham Bonnet, who’d recorded with Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group.
There was a lot of buzz about Yngwie’s unique and brilliantly played neo-classical style, so in November 1983 photographer Jon Sievert and I attended what was supposed to be an Alcatrazz concert at a club in San Francisco. As fate would have it, Graham Bonnet was too ill to sing that night, so Yngwie played an instrumental set with a bassist and drummer. Jon and I went backstage afterwards. It was very crowded, and after a while Yngwie finally came out. He spotted me and rushed right over. “Jas Obrecht!” he exclaimed. “I learned English to read your articles in Guitar Player magazine.” I must have flashed Jon a look of disbelief, because Yngwie immediately said, “No bullshit. September 1980 B.B. King issue – you’re in the T-shirt ad on page 71.” Sure enough, that was true. As it turned out, Yngwie was a huge fan of the magazine.
We agreed to do an interview as soon as Yngwie had a break from touring. A few weeks later, Alcatrazz had ten days off, and I accepted Yngwie’s invitation to call him at his apartment in L.A. He was bright, articulate, upfront, and very passionate about his music during our 85-minute interview. I’ve posted the links to both parts below. As you’ll hear, Yngwie had a lot of information to share with guitarists.
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