Yngwie Malmsteen: "I'm always pushing myself, attempting things which are more extreme"

A shot of Yngwie Malsteen sat in a window holding a guitar
(Image credit: Mark Weiss)

After more than 40 years in the spotlight, Yngwie Malmsteen has a reputation as a perfectionist. Sure enough, when lockdown arrived last spring, the Swede vowed to use all of the time at his disposal to create his new album, Parabellum.

“I always try to push myself, attempting things which are more extreme than previously,” Malmsteen says. “But being unable to go on the road because of the pandemic meant I could take much longer in the studio, both to write and record. I haven't had that luxury for more than 20 years, but I suddenly had no pressure at all, and the album has benefited enormously as a result.”

Despite having far more time on his hands, spontaneity was important. “I don’t like to do take after take after take of any track,” Malmsteen reveals. “If something isn’t to my satisfaction, I’ll move on. But there were occasions when I dismissed something because I thought it was a stinker. I went back a couple of days later, listened to it and wondered why I thought it stank in the first place! That’s the beauty of having everything available through Pro Tools. Nothing is lost. Things were changing all the time. Song titles, tempos. Everything was fluid. I would listen to a part I had done for one specific song, and realise it worked better if I transposed it into another track.”

Stockholm-born Malmsteen relocated to the United States in the early 1980s, playing first with Steeler and then joining former Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet in Alkatrazz. But from 1984 onwards, over the course of 21 solo studio albums, Yngwie has almost become the living definition of a solo artist. He writes and arranges the songs, produces the music and having butted heads with a series of vocalists for the past few years now also handles the singing. 

Four of Parabellum’s songs feature vocals. The guitarist doesn’t map out those choices in advance, revealing: “I listen back to what I’ve done in the car. Sometimes I find myself singing along to what was supposed to be an instrumental. That’s when I realise a song does need vocals. The opposite happens as well.”

Parabellum is Latin for ‘Prepare For War’. “There's a track on the album called (Si Vis Pacem) Parabellum which translates as: ‘If you want peace, then prepare for war’,” explains Yngwie.

As the world prepares to exit isolation, Malmsteen hopes the fans will share the joy of his creation. “The bottom line is the passion I feel for the music,” he says. “I’m a person who lives in the moment. I wanted this album to have a joyous, spontaneous atmosphere. This must never sound as if it's been rehearsed so much that it becomes routine. I hope people will put on this record and listen from start to finish. I recorded it as a singular piece of art, not a collection of 10 tracks to hear in any order. Parabellum has a natural flow; it’s not to be cut up into little pieces. I want fans to experience the delight I had in making it.”

Parabellum is released via Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group on July 23. Find out more about upcoming Music Theories Recordings releases on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages  

Yngwie Malmsteen album cover art

(Image credit: Mascot)