Yngwie Malmsteen: "I'm as crazy as I've ever been"

Malmsteen unleashes the fury...on guitar
Malmsteen unleashes the fury...on guitar

"I'm as crazy as I've ever been," says Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. "Probably even crazier when you get down to it. The only thing is, these days I unleash the fury on my guitar, not on people."

Malmsteen's reference to his infamous "You've unleashed the fucking fury" episode in which he went off on a fellow airplane passenger in the early-'90s couldn't be more obvious. In fact, the incident became such a cultural touchstone that the guitarist poked fun at himself by naming a 2005 album Unleash The Fury.

"That's the assumption people have of me - 'Yngwie Malmsteen, he's so serious, a total lunatic,'" he says. "The only thing I take seriously is my music. With music, I'm out of control. In real life, though, I'm very mellow, especially now that I live in Florida. It suits me too, being mellow. I'm so boring now it amazes me."

On record, however, the neoclassical wizard of the six-string still astonishes. His newest album, Perpetual Flame (out Oct. 14 on KOCH Records), will surely go down as yet another tour de force in a body of work that is full of them. Featuring 12 tracks of what the late Frank Zappa would call "impossible guitar" (check out Caprici Di Diablo for a stunning example), Perpetual Flame features the debut of ex-Judas Priest tribute band singer and ex-real Judas Priest singer Tim "Ripper" Owens on lead vocals.

"Making this album, I went extreme all the way," says Malmsteen. "Ripper fit right in. I'm so lucky to have him in the band because he can go operatic and he can go real hard rock. The guy's incredible. After such a revolving door of singers, I think I've found somebody I can really bond with for years to come."

Malmsteen, Owens, drummer Patrick Johansson, keyboardist Michael Troy and bassist Bjorn Englen will soon embark on a world tour to promote Perpetual Flame. On a day off from rehearsals, Malmsteen sat down with MusicRadar to discuss his new album, his new way of life, and what he views as a high honor: Fender's upcoming replica of his '71 'Duck' Stratocaster. And he was more than happy to answer your questions.

Part one - Yngwie on the new album, "going to extremes," working with Ripper, and the Fender replica model
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Part two - Yngwie talks guitar gymnastics, his new rock star routine, and answers your questions
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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.