Neo-classical guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen looked back at his career and discussed how he never really was a person for collaborations. As he said in an interview with Nippertown, he never had that “Paul McCartney-John Lennon” kind of connection but preferred to do things on his own.
The topic came up when he was asked to recall some of the best musicians that he worked with. Instead of naming any names, Malmsteen said (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):
“I think that I’ve had a chance to play with a lot of people that are very, very good, and they’re incredibly talented in their own right.”
“I never had a Paul McCartney-John Lennon moment. It’s all been great, but it’s a temporary sort of thing. It really doesn’t change what I do, no matter what. That’s why I haven’t used producers and stuff.”
Speaking of producers, Yngwie then recalled one of his earliest contacts with producers. Although he didn’t mention who it actually was, Malmsteen said that it was around the time when he just came from his home country of Sweden to the United States. And, the producer in question wanted him to do another take, this time a slower one.
As someone who isn’t a native English language speaker, there was a language barrier for young and talented Yngwie which, ultimately, turned out into somewhat of a running gag in the world of guitar. He continued:
“In fact, I’ll tell you a hilarious story: When I first came to the States, I was recording a guitar solo, and there was this producer sitting next to me. And I did the solo take, and the guy goes, ‘Hey, it was great. It was really good. Let’s do one more take, but a little slower. Remember: less is more.’”
“I spoke fluent English, but I never heard that term before. So I said, ‘Oh, you mean more?’ I honestly thought he misspoke. Obviously, he didn’t.”
Sure, the “more is more” has often been associated with Yngwie. However, he seems to be fine with it:
“So that has become a joke now — ‘more is more,’ but that’s a true story. It actually happened, you know? And I never understood it.”
Yngwie then said that he does understand what that means but it’s just not the way he sees things with his original music. He concluded by saying:
“No, I do actually; I do understand the function of partnerships and so on, because it’s great for a lot of other people, and God bless them for that. For me, this is the way I do it.”
While it’s not completely certain who the producer in question was, we could look into his recording history and single out Steeler’s self-titled debut album. After all, producer Mike Varney worked on this record and he’s apparently one of the people responsible for bringing Yngwie to the United States. However, according to some of Yngwie’s previous stories on the matter, it was the producer for Alcatrazz, most likely Dennis Mackay, who said this, although the band’s manager Andrew Trueman was also credited as a co-producer.
Elsewhere in the interview, Malmsteen was also asked whether there are any bands and musicians today that he’s really into. However, as he says, when he’s not recording music, he’s doing other things and not actively listening to anything. Yngwie replied:
“So there are probably a thousand bands that I would really like, but like I said, on purpose, I don’t listen to music. It’s just that when I don’t write, record, or tour, I do other things, like, I play tennis and run around in my cars. I’m a car freak, you know?”
Of course, this isn’t the first time, and probably not the one either, that Malmsteen is so adamant about “more is more” and “less is more” not really being a thing for him. In an interview from last year, the Swedish virtuoso claims that this was his approach since his very beginnings. Asked to share the story of his first gig, Malmsteen said:
“I was about eight. I had an electric guitar with a little amp, and although it wasn’t a good one, it made a lot of noise. It was at my school in the cafeteria, which had a sort of a stage.”
“I had asked one of my school friends to play drums, but he said he didn’t know how to, so I showed him how – so we could play the gig, which we did.”
“I was on stage doing my shit, throwing my guitar around and being crazy onstage. I’m an extremist in everything I do. More is more in everything.”
When Malmsteen appeared on the scene, he was a force to be reckoned with. In fact, we’re sure that almost all of the guitar players back in the 1980s who heard him were at least a little bit terrified of his technical skill back in the day. For instance, as Steve Vai recalled recently, he wasn’t really feeling too confident about replacing Yngwie in Alcatrazz. As he said:
“When Yngwie Malmsteen hit the scene, he blew us all away. I mean, he floored us. And when he was leaving that band, I thought, ‘This is an opportunity,’ and I auditioned for the band.”
“I didn’t think I was gonna get the gig because I didn’t sound anything like Yngwie. But I really liked the guys, they were really good guys.”