Take a space suit — because he's gonna go all the way out.
That was the message guitar god Yngwie Malmsteen had for hard rock fans in advance of his Unleash the Fury World Tour, which hits the Taipei City Hall Auditorium next Saturday.
"People should realize that very rarely do I get the chance to come out so far away," Malmsteen, 43, said Monday in a phone interview from his Miami home. "I'm gonna make it count. I'm gonna make it really special."
The Fender Stratocaster-wielding Swede — whose first name is pronounced Yng-vay — rewrote the rules on what was possible with the electric guitar when he stormed the US heavy metal scene in the early 1980s. Bedroom soloists the world over were floored by his signature shred, which combined the volume and pageantry of hard rock with the speed and virtuosity of classical music.
His first solo album, Rising Force, made No. 60 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart and remains the last word on neoclassical metal. His 1988 album Odyssey hit No. 40. Even after Seattle grunge made hairspray and extended solos decidedly un-hip in the early 1990s, Malmsteen continued to release albums — two-dozen at the last count — many of which went gold or platinum in Europe or Japan.
"What I do is give 5,000 percent. If it was two people or 200,000, I play everything I play like it was the last fucking note I was gong to play," Malmsteen said. Quoting his favorite musician, Italian violinist Nicolai Paganini, Malmsteen added: "'One must feel strongly to make others feel strongly.' And that's the truth. I believe that I take people with me when I go on stage … . I take them on a song through a journey, a space trip because it's all crazy, it's high energy."
What: Yngwie Malmsteen's Unleash the Fury World Tour 2006Where: Taipei City Hall Auditorium's Family Theatre (市政府親子劇場), 2F, 1 Shifu Rd, Taipei (台北市市府路1號2樓)When: 7pm on Saturday, Nov. 11Tickets: NT$1,400 and NT$2,000 tickets are available online through ERA ticketing, visit www.ticket.com.tw
Malmsteen has always been a controversial figure in heavy metal. He quickly outgrew his first two bands, Steeler and Alcatraz, because he had a vision that could only be realized if he had total control; former band members say he had an ego problem. Legions of fans never tired of Malmsteen's baroque tone and onstage antics: tossing his guitar over his shoulder, throwing it under his legs, playing it with his teeth. But critics have always dismissed him as a Guitar Magazine cover boy who indulges in theatrics and fancy picking at the expense of soul and originality.
"I think I was born into the wrong century," Malmsteen said. "I approach everything I do exactly like a classical composer would or a painter like Da Vinci or someone like that. I don't collaborate. I compose everything you hear, every word you hear. The reasons for this is not because I'm a control freak, it's because this is how I express myself. I have made records in the past where I allowed people to come in and add on lyrics or their ideas. Every time, without fail, I walked away from it unhappy."
“I've been doing this for more years than a lot of people in this business and I am pretty sure that the reason that I keep on doing this — and people keep on showing an interest in what I do — is that what I do is the real thing. I'm not copying anybody, I'm not trying to be anybody else, I'm not following trends. I found out that what I'm doing seems to work and I'm not going to change it. And I think that's why I'm still around. All the bands sold more records when I first came out. What are they doing now? I was there then and I'm here now, so go figure.”