Yngwie Malmsteen graces the October cover of Guitar Player. Yes, that Yngwie — of the sweeping arpeggios and unbuttoned baroque shirts. That Yngwie, who wields such phenomenal technique, and such a phenomenally bad reputation for being a colossal ass. I’m not sure what compelled me to read the interview — perhaps morbid curiosity, or perhaps fond memories of listening to his neo-classical Concerto Suite album during my high school shred phase. In any case, I’m glad I did, because it seems Mr. Malmsteen has undergone a personal and professional transformation worth noting.
Don’t worry, he’s still wearing the shirts and copping Paganini licks on the scalloped frets of his white Strat. However, if the remarkably restrained interview is to be believed, Yngwie has come to terms with the excess of his first three decades of rock stardom. He’s quit drinking, embraced a healthier lifestyle (if you want to see a train wreck, check out G3: Live in Denver from 2003), and — most importantly — found some humility. Rather than endlessly talking up his own skills, or tiredly bemoaning the weak compositional skills of lesser mortals, he has a good-natured back and forth with author Bryan Turner on his career highlights, development as a player, and admirably consistent Fender/Marshall guitar rig. Importantly, Yngwie owns up to mistakes and expresses understanding with those who might have been alienated by his past behavior. He finally sounds like a guy you might want to meet and talk guitar with.
While I’m not necessarily inclined to catch up on Malmsteen’s back-catalog (N.O.S. followers probably know by now that shred is not my bag), maybe I’ll give Concerto Suite another spin for old times’ sake. Hell, even my mom liked that album. Which is probably a testament to Yngwie’s sound and commitment to connecting metal fans with western music’s classical past.