TONY HARNELL – Rock ‘N’ Roll has never ceased to evolve, neither has Tony Harnell, the lead vocalist for his very own and hand picked band – Tony Harnell & The Mercury Train. Tony’s Rock ‘N’ Roll history skyrocketed back in 1984, while being the vocalist for Norway’s Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band TNT. Being the lead vocalist for TNT and signed to a major label is what Rock ‘N’ Roll dreams are about. With nine studio albums and two live albums while with TNT, (from 1984 to 2006), some could argue that Tony Harnell had a stake in an impressive chunk of Hard Rock & Heavy Metal history.
In 1998, Tony Harnell formed the Hard Rock band – Westworld. A band that many critics and untold fans over the years consider as yet another shining Rock ‘N’ Roll star on Tony’s music resume. Short lived, Westworld still released three studio albums and one live release between 1999 and 2002. Tony Harnell formed Starbreaker, a Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band that was a side project for him while his career with TNT was coming to a close. Signed to Frontiers records, Starbreaker released two critically acclaimed studio albums, their self-titled debut in 2005 and “Love’s Dying Wish” in 2008.
Now that the Tony Harnell Hard Rock and Heavy Metal history has come to a close, a new chapter in his life has begun, as he so expresses in the following interview. “Round Trip”, released on July 2, in Europe and July 27, 2010, in the U.S., on Frontiers Records, is the debut album from Tony Harnell & The Mercury Train. A studio album which contains 14 songs that span the career of Tony Harnell, while with TNT and Starbreaker included. These are songs that Tony Harnell can justifiably call his own, stripped down and beaming with an Acoustic Rock revival that becomes more of an audio delicacy, the more times you listen.
Reflecting on the past, while not living in it and staying focused on the now… is exactly how Tony Harnell comes across. There are music influences that have shaped this vocalist into what he once was and is at this moment in time. Evolving within his own world of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Tony has cultivated The Mercury Train to roll in and create the sound that he wants representing him and his songs in 2010. Here is what Tony had to say:
HRH: Where did the name Mercury Train come from?
Tony: I was going through cool band names and I also had this list of weird names. Derek Mead, the designer of our album cover, did a really fantastic job on that. The orange shades on the cover he created I love, the digipak really shows how great it looks. He was coming up with a bunch of logo’s and band names, he is really talented at that. Derek kept sending me ideas, he came up with that one. I saw this Mercury Train name and said that’s it! That’s the one! The Mercury Train was a high speed train project dating back to the 1930’s. It was supposed to run between Long Island and Upstate New York, only it never moved forward. Derek really came up with a great band name.
HRH: What was the initial inspiration to revisit and rework songs from your past?
Tony: The funny thing about it, it was a very natural and organic process. These guys in the band are friends and it made it easy. I wanted strip down songs from my past to play in Manhattan clubs and I wondered would these songs sound strong or silly? Would these songs translate well? We were seen through shows by Frontiers Records. Frontiers approached me and asked if I would be interested in doing a live or an acoustic record. A cool, stripped down record is what I wanted to represent us, I wanted to make it very original.
HRH: How did you find yourself amongst musicians that are not Heavy Metal or Hard Rock players?
Tony: These are the people I mostly hang out with. I live in New York City, these are the musicians that live here and most aren’t Metal musicians. If I lived in L.A., I would have more friends that are Metal musicians than in New York City. It’s hard to find Metal guys that live in New York City.
HRH: Wow, Tony, that is hard to believe!
Tony: Even going back to the heyday of ’80’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal bands, there weren’t many here in this New York City area. There was White Lion, Danger Danger and Bon Jovi in New Jersey. In the 80’s there really wasn’t a lot of successful Metal bands in New York. Back in the ’80’s, there were so many Metal bands in L.A., you could times it by a thousand, ten times, compared to New York. As time moves on, I lose contact with Metal people and the clubs we used to play or they are out of the music business completely as well.
HRH: So the direction of your music for this album was already clear?
Tony: As we got into recording, this album took on a life of it’s own and it evolved. I was seeing my vision through. I told the band to take it as far as they want and they did. Some of the songs you will hear show that the drum beat, keyboards, and background vocals are much different. We gave the songs a totally new treatment, this was the catalyst and reason for my doing this. This album makes me appreciate the songs more. I didn’t want to compete with the original songs, instead I wanted to exploit the melodies and bring out the more obscure songs and give them attention. With this album, I’ve closed the door to a chapter of my life. Saying I’m done with ’80’s Hard Rock may upset a lot of people.
HRH: “Round Trip” could easily been a more mellow album or perhaps heavier? How did you and the other musicians find that perfect in-between?
Tony: It’s all about the song choices and I was very conscientious of that. This could easily have been a ballad album. I had to choose key songs while keeping the record upbeat. “Lonely Nights” and “Satellite” are upbeat songs. These upbeat songs are scattered across the record in order to keep the album from being too boring. This album is vocal and melody driven.
HRH: “Anywhere But Here” has a Beatlesque quality about it, am I off base by saying this?
Tony: Probably not. Brandon Wilde (bass guitarist) wrote this song with me. Brandon is an incredible songwriter. The press release stated this song was written special for this album and that’s just not the case. “Anywhere But Here” was written and demoed three years ago. Brandon had mentioned to me that we have this song and I said yeah! The rest of the band is not on this track due to it being a demo from three years ago. Brandon and I will be doing the bulk of writing on our next album. “Anywhere But Here” doesn’t represent where I’m going in life, none of my songs represent per se where I’m going in my life.
HRH: Chris Foley on electric guitar really gives these songs on “Round Trip” that ’70’s Classic Rock tone and vibe. Is this what you were aiming for?
Tony: That is the music I grew up with. My heart lies in ’80’s bands and we were all in our early twenties in 1984 when we (TNT) were signed. We were taking that ’70’s music with us though. My heart also lies in the ’70’s music. Chris has that awesome, electric moody vibe in his playing. I did not want us to show one iota of TNT, not try to do anything like TNT, except chord structures and we even changed some of those.
HRH: Amy Harnell, what a voice! Where has she been hiding?
Tony: She’s my wife! The question really is, where have I been hiding her!
Tony: Amy was singing shows with me, doing background vocals. She is a natural and became a part of this project. Her maiden name is Amy Anderson and she was a world class ballet dancer. When we first got together, I happened to go visit her in Germany to see her performing, then I heard her sing, we have been together nine years since. Amy sung on TNT stuff, like “Song 4 Dianne” on the “My Religion” album from 2004. Amy also played the flute on this song. “Ready To Fly” on “Round Trip” really showcases her tone. Amy had the opportunity to do a video for us, “Northern Lights”, it was a thrilling opportunity, to really put her out there. Fans should check out our “Northern Lights” video. She has the voice and presence on stage that’s incredible!
HRH: Reworking these TNT and Westworld songs must have taken you down memory lane. What’s your greatest moment that happened to you thus far in your life?
Tony: For something non-music related, meeting my wife was a great moment in my life! Musically, there are many, many different moments. Making this record, “Round Trip”, was during a time of great adversity for me. Making a simple record equaled to a spiritual experience for me. This album represents a new chapter and a new beginning in my life. Receiving a worldwide record deal with TNT was something else, it was something my other friends were not able to do. For us to have done it as TNT was an achievement.
HRH: Do you see Tony Harnell & The Mercury Train as a representation of your fantasy band that couldn’t be pulled off 20 years ago?
Tony: No, it couldn’t be pulled off then. Twenty years ago I would have had a different idea of what I wanted in a band, a band with shredding guitar players! This is a very special project and still it’s not the end all and be all of where I’m moving forward. Brandon Wilde is not just a great bass player, he is an incredible songwriter, he has helped put this band together and he is a catalyst. “Round Trip” really represents what I wanted to do with these songs. A solo record is probably going to happen. There will be co-writers for the solo record and it will be recorded in different parts of the world. “Round Trip” will let these musicians in Mercury Train show what they can do and it’s not Heavy Metal. Led Zeppelin and the Beatles covers are in the realm of their ability though. I just did not want “Round Trip” to be a solo album, I wanted to separate the two.
HRH: Do you stay in touch with Magnus Karlsson?
Tony: Occasionally, yeah. We have not spoken recently though. We are great friends.
HRH Note: Magnus Karlsson was the guitarist and keyboardist for Tony Harnell’s Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band – Starbreaker, from 2005 to 2008. Magnus is currently a guitarist with the Power Metal giant – Primal Fear.
HRH: I have always and still consider you a premier vocalist. Who has been your vocal influences throughout your career?
Tony: There are a lot of obvious ones. I’m sure people won’t flinch when I say Rob Halford. I was obsessed with early ’70’s Priest and early ’80’s music. I’m a ’70’s Priest fan. “Stained Class” personally, is my most favorite and it’s the most interesting and artistic record I’ve ever listened to. “Stained Class” had very overlooked production up to that point in time, maybe not as good as later records by Judas Priest. “Hell Bent For Leather” is a Priest album that is very close to me, very influential in my early years. “Hell Bent For Leather” and “Stained Class” are my dual all time favorite! Going backwards, there was Folk, Country and a lot of Beatles played in my house as a kid. My mom was an opera singer! There was Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and John Denver came later for me.
HRH: That’s some diversified exposure, which is great.
Tony: There was so much cool 60’s music being played when I was a kid. Crosby, Still and Nash, I absorbed all that stuff! When I started to buy records, it was David Bowie, Elton John and Led Zeppelin. Today, it’s the ’60’s and ’70’s music that influence me. Ironically, as I got older, Rob Halford isn’t as strong an influence as say, twenty years ago for me.
HRH: You’ve changed artistically, Tony.
Tony: I don’t want to belittle Heavy Metal music, it’s just that I could not continue on with a band that has just cult status. Yet, if you are a successful Heavy Metal band, that’s great. If it’s Heavy Metal, it’s not in my heart anymore, there’s no living in it for me.
HRH: Tony, you will always have some Metalhead in you, won’t you?
Tony: Of course I will.
If you have been a regular reader at HardRockHideout.com, you have heard me carry on more than a few times about this awesome new band from Northern Ireland called The Answer. Hard Rock Hideout recently had the pleasure of speaking with The Answer’s Cormac Neeson. We talked about the history of The Answer so far, the bands’ current tour with AC/DC, and their soon to be released album. Take a few minutes, and get to know The Answer!
The Answer is:
Cormac Neeson – Lead Vocals
Paul Mahon – Guitar
Micky Waters – Bass
James Heatley – Drums
HRH: Tell us a little about the history of the Answer. How long have you been together?
Cormac Neeson: We have been together close to eight years. We got together. Originally it was Paul Mahon’s idea to get a band idea together to play this hard rock like we are currently playing. They have been in out of different bands from fourteen years of age. They wanted to do it right this time. They got in touch with me. I was back in America at the time. I was working in a pizza place in New Jersey. They sent me a letter and said if you are coming home any time soon to look them up and get the band up and running. As luck would have it, I was heading home a month later to enroll in the University. As it turns out I was in the same class as Paul, which was quite a bizarre twist of fate. So we got a practice organized and got James on board on drums, and after that we haven’t really looked back since.
HRH: It almost sounds like it was meant to be.
Cormac Neeson: It sounds like it yeah, I am afraid so. (laughs).
HRH: Who are some of the key influences in your music?
Cormac Neeson: Key Influences would included a lot of late 60’s and 70’s rock and roll bands, like Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Rolling Stones and stuff like that, but also I suppose The Black Crowes and a lot of varying influences. Paul is into the 80’s metal. We all have different influences, but the music we play is kind of where we all meet in the middle.
HRH: Are you listening to any of the current artists that are out there today?
Cormac Neeson: I suppose today we are into bands like Queens of the Stone Age, The Raconteurs. Any bands that are playing the hard style of rock and roll we would be in to.
HRH: How do you think the music scene differs in the United States as compared to Ireland?
Cormac Neeson: I think there are a lot more choices in America. I think a lot of that has to do is the number of radio stations playing the different genres of music over here. At home everybody listens to two or three of the same radio stations and thats about it, you know. Definitely there is a lot more diversity, which is very healthy, I think at home. A lot of people kind of fall into specific categories that are heavily influenced by whatever radio DJ they are listening to. Over here you have so much choice. People tend to make up their own minds, which is a very good positive thing I think.
HRH: I first found out about The Answer when you won Classic Rock Magazine’s Best New Band of 2005. What was it like receiving such a cool award, and how has that affected your career so far?
Cormac Neeson: That was great. That was the first taste of success that the band had. We haven’t even released our first album at that stage, it was all based on a couple of EP’s that had been released before hand. I suppose more than anything else, it was a great boost and great encouragement, and obviously it got us a lot of positive press off of the back of it. It was a nice platform, from which to release our debut album and kind of take things from there. It was an enjoyable experience that I can look back on. I got to meet Jimmy Page that night. It was great.
HRH: Prior to your tour with AC/DC, you have played with Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, The Who and in front of 80,000 people with the Rolling Stones in Serbia. What has it been like playing with so many classic hard rock acts?
Cormac Neeson: It has been amazing. If I had to pick a favorite gig that we have played, that would probably be it. The sheer number of people, standing and clapping their hands. It was breath taking. It was as far as the eye could see. Up to this point, we haven’t managed to play for more than 80,000 you know. The fact that is was supporting the Rolling Stones you know, I mean The Rolling Stones and AC/DC are probably the two greatest rock and roll bands still currently touring. It was unbelievable and breath taking.
HRH: How have these bands reacted to your music? Have they given you any advice?
Cormac Neeson: Different bands react in different ways. Some bands like to keep to themselves. Other bands like to take us on, and take us in as part of the family. AC/DC is one of those bands. Brian Johnson is consistently coming in to the dressing room and making sure that we are all right, and having a good time. When we toured with Whitesnake we were made part of that touring family which was great, you know. A band is going to give you advice, it is always to keep our heads down, to not to do many drinks and drugs. The usual kind of stuff. It is nice to know we have friends in high places that keep an eye on our progress.
HRH: When did you find out that you landed the AC/DC tour, and what was your reaction?
Cormac Neeson: We found out literally, two weeks before we packed our bags and headed for America. It was a whirlwind. It was an unbelievable shock for the band, but obviously a great shock. One day we were in London recording B-Sides for a future single. He took us out for a pint and sat a paper face down on the table in front of us, and said boys, I have some band news. You can’t do the European tour that we had planned for you this November. I said “Why”, he said flip that page over and you will find out. There were 42 dates on the page with AC/DC for all of across America. It was a real cause for celebration. It happened so fast we really haven’t had time to step back and think about it all. We have a week and a half off at Christmas. We will take stock of where we are at. This is a great opportunity, and hopefully we will make the best of it.
Cormac Neeson: We were yes. That was the initial plan, but obviously you can’t turn down a band like AC/DC if they ask you to come on tour with them. Black Stone Cherry are a great band. We were very much looking forward to that tour, but it wasn’t meant to be.
HRH: How have the U.S. fans reacted to your live show?
Cormac Neeson: Very positively. I think the cold weather, the rain and the wind, helps get everyone into the arena. We are playing to 80 to 90 percent in arenas every night. We were told and warned in fact that the support slot for AC/DC is no easy task. They haven’t played here in 7 years or whatever it is. You expect crowds to be very impatient. We have been getting standing ovations every night, and a lot of hits on our myspace, and a lot of positive stuff. We seem to be really devolping a good solid fan base over here, which is great considering this is our first tour of America.
HRH: Last Christmas you performed with Paul Rodgers at the Planet Rock Christmas party, which you later turned into a live CD later on. How did that opportunity come together, and what was the experience like playing with Paul?
Cormac Neeson: It was a dream come true for myself. Paul Rodgers is probably my greatest influence as a singer. It all came together, just a lucky coincidence really. Paul Rodgers was supporting Led Zeppelin the night before our gig in London. He got word that we were playing, and said he wanted to come down. We suggested that he get up and do a song or two. He came down, and we rattled through “Mover” and “The Hunter” during soundcheck, and decided we would give it a go. We had a great gig from the offset, and the fact that Paul got up and did two songs with us was amazing. It was also great that we caught it on tape and could release it as an official bootleg. It was nice to have that part of history documented.
HRH: Why did you choose to release the Never Too Late EP instead of your CD “Rise” in the U.S.?
Cormac Neeson: Unfortunately we tried very hard to get our first album released over here, but we just couldn’t get the label to get a date over here in time to release it. By the time we released Never Too Late a few weeks ago, we have our second album ready to go with the released date of 17th of February. Rather than release two albums in such quick succession, we thought we will release an EP, and whet peoples appetites a little bit. Then we will hit them with a full album in February. People can always go back to Rise if they like what they hear. Our opinion is the second album is better than the first, so why not give America the best we have to start with. Then people can trace us back to our roots.
HRH: Do you foresee Rise getting a release in the United States at a later date?
Cormac Neeson: I am sure it will be released later on down the road. We don’t want to short change our audience. We will keep putting out fresh material. If there is a demand for it, we will put it out there.
HRH: You recently had a couple of your songs used in the video games Guitar Hero World Tour, and Pure for the Playstation 3. How did that come together?
Cormac Neeson: To be honest, I don’t really know, their must be somebody in the gaming industry that likes the band, and puts our songs in those games. That is an unbelievable opportunity to get our name out there. Guitar Hero sells millions and millions of copies worldwide. In fact on the AC/DC tour, coming in every day, I hear “hey man I was playing your songs on Guitar Hero last night, drinking beers”. Between that and that AC/DC tour, and our new album, it is all coming together nicely for us.
Cormac Neeson: I have my fingers crossed. (laughs)
HRH: You have a new album coming out in February. What will the new album be called?
Cormac Neeson: The new album will be called Everyday Demons.
HRH: What was the writing process like for the new disc?
Cormac Neeson: It was very positive, and completely different from the process of the first album. Obviously, every bands’ first album is going to be a collection of tunes basically dating right back to the very beginnings of the band. In our case we had three or four years worth of songs to choose from. In contrast, this album was written in six months just before last Christmas. As a result it is a lot more consistent, and a statement that we are trying to make is a lot more fluent. The band is captured where we are right now in our song writing, musical ability and everything like that. It is a true statement where The Answer are currently at. It is good.
HRH: How long did it take you to record it?
Cormac Neeson: It took us two months. We did 5 weeks in L.A., we did a couple of weeks pre-production before we came to L.A. and then Paul did some more guitars in London for about a week and a half on the way back from America. It was very intense and very hard work and not a lot of breathing space, but the end result was well worth it.
HRH: With so many cool videos under your belt already, do you have videos planned for the new record?
Cormac Neeson: We actually just made a video for a song called On and On, which is the third track on the album. It is going to be the first single on the album. We had a gig in East Rutherford, New Jersey recently. We had the day off the next day, and went to Brooklyn to a big studio and set up a lot of different backgrounds, and shot a video for On and On. It was great you know. I got to a lot of work with a with a beautiful model which is never a bad thing.
HRH: Do you know when the single will be released?
HRH: What do you feel are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Cormac Neeson: Nothing is bigger than the current tour we are on, but as we already mentioned the Serbia gig with the Rolling Stones, we got to meet them as well, they are living legends you know, signing with Paul Rodgers and supporting Paul Rodgers in the Albert Hall was amazing. We always really enjoy getting out on tour for ourselves. We would like to be playing for an hour forty or an hour fifty minutes, getting to really entertain the audience for long stints of time. We did a couple of tours in Australia and Japan which was a great experience. It is always great to get back to Belfast at the end of a long tour to do homecoming gigs.
HRH: How long do you expect to be on the road with AC/DC?
Cormac Neeson: We honestly don’t know, we are hoping that they will give us some of the European bits. Nothing has been confirmed yet, so we can’t really presume that we are doing that. We are on tour with them until the end of January all across America. If that is all we get, we will be happy with that, but obviously if we get some more gigs, we will be even happier. (laughs)
HRH: If not, hopefully you can come back to the U.S. and do a tour of your own.
Cormac Neeson: Absolutely, as soon as we come off of tour with AC/DC, we are going to start having to do tours of our own in America, and Europe and Japan and Australia. It is going to be a very busy couple of years.
HRH: What would you like to tell all of your fans?
Cormac Neeson: I would like to say keep your ear to the ground, and don’t forget about us. Check us out. If you are into your rock and roll, we are a good honest hard hitting rock and roll band. I think you will enjoy us very much. I hope to see you very soon at a gig of our own, where we can entertain you for a couple of hours, and have a few beers with you after the show.
It isn’t every day when you get to talk to a guitar legend like Yngwie Malmsteen. I have listened to his music since I was a teenager, and never imagined that I would one day get the honor to talk to him. I have heard lots of unpleasant things about Yngwie over the years, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I interviewed him. What I found was a person who was very easy to talk to, and at times quite humorous. He was a total class act during our interview session. We talked about his new album “Perpetual Flame”, his history and influences, and his opinion on music today.
HRH: How did you start working with Ripper Owens?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Well, what happened was I did this album a little different than normal. Normally you have like a cycle where you make a record, you go on tour for that record, then you come home and start writing songs for a record and do another tour. This time around I was just writing songs as I was touring for the last album. I eventually had enough music to cut real songs. I went in recorded like 30 songs. Then I went back on tour and so forth. The songs all sounded different when I came back. Everytime I came back I wrote some guitars, I wrote some bass, I wrote some lyrics. Eventually the songs started taking shape so much that they had names and they were finished. Songs like Death Dealer and Live to Fight (Another Day) and so forth. I realized that the singer that I had at the time (Doogie White) he would not fit the new songs, so Tim’s name came up. I invited him down to Miami. I said hey do you want to come down and sing with me a bit. He came down, I showed him a couple of songs, and that was it.
HRH: You worked with him once before on the Bat Head Soup CD right?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Yeah, but that was different. I was in one studio and he was in another one.
HRH: Ripper’s voice really seems to compliment your style of playing. “Death Dealer” and “Red Devil” are two of the coolest songs I have heard by you in quite some time. What was the recording process like for Perpetual Flame?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Thank you. It was a little different because I needed drums. I went on tour. I came back, I had guitars and bass recorded and lots of lyrics. I came back again added keyboards. I had my Pro tools on my laptop and I was hanging out with a guy who had a string section who put some strings on it. All of the recording was done and Tim came in and just sang the lyrics I had written, and that was it. It was pretty simple. It was done in sections.
HRH: How does Ripper compare to past singers that you have worked with?
Yngwie Malmsteen: His voice really fits in with almost exactly what I hear in my head. When I write songs like “Death Dealer” and “Damnation Game” I know what I am looking for. That is why I decided Doogie wasn’t going to cut it. I feel that Tim fits right in.
HRH: This album is a lot heavier than the last couple of discs you have put out. Was that your intention when you were writing the music?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Not in the beginning, but the songs started coming together, and I knew that is what we were going with. In the beginning, I was kind of letting it flow . That was one of the reasons why I changed singers too, because the songs were starting to get so heavy, that there was no way that Doogie would have fit in.
HRH: You have a pretty large collection of guitars. Which guitars did you use while recording Perpetual Flame?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I used a lot of different ones. Fender Strats, and different bases of course and two Marshalls. The Fender guitars I used on this album from the late 60’s and the Marshall amps are also very old.
HRH: What are your Tour plans for the new album?
Yngwie Malmsteen: We have done Europe in the summer, not so much for the album, but we just toured. We did five weeks in America, by no long shot was this complete tour but it was good. We will be going to South America, Japan, Australia, America and Europe again. It is going to be a big tour.
HRH: There are quite a few festivals popping up in the United States. Do you see yourself performing at one of the new musical festivals like Rock Gone Wild, Rocklahoma or Rock the Bayou?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Yeah, sure why not, that is always cool.
HRH: The number of guitarists that cite you as an influence is pretty much endless. Who inspired you to pick up the guitar and make music such a huge part of your life?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I grew up in a very musical family. My older brother and sister they were very good musicians. I was the youngest. I got my first guitar when I was five years old. On the news they showed the day that Jimi Hendrix died. They showed him setting his guitar on fire at Monterey Pop. I saw him burn his guitar and I knew that is what I wanted to do. I started playing the guitar the same day. A year later or so I got a record from sister. She gave me the Deep Purple Fireball album. I thought it was very cool. When I grew up in Sweden there was nothing there. It was completely empty from rock and roll and music or anything like that. There was classical and Jazz, but nothing like what it was here. The impact of hearing Purple was very big on me. I really like that. The biggest influence on my music are Bach, Vivaldi and Niccolò Paganini. If you listen to my stuff you will hear it.
HRH: If you could give advice to any young guitar players out there, what would you tell them?
Yngwie Malmsteen: It all depends on what they want to achieve. If they want to achieve greatness and be like something that is out of the ordinary. It is a lot of hardwork. There are no shortcuts to that. Obviously, if they wanted to learn how to play, they can learn bits and things and carry on. It all depends on what they want to do. If they want to be serious, there is a lot of hard work involved.
HRH: There have been a lot of classic hard rock and metal acts reunite over the last few years. Ron Keel has recently announced the reunion of KEEL for several live shows next year. Can you see yourself doing a Steeler or Alcatrazz reunion in the near future?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I have been contacted a lot about that. I don’t know. I will never say never.
HRH: What is your opinion on the current guitarists of today?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I haven’t really kept track of them. I am so extremely busy with what I am doing myself. When I am not playing music I am usually doing other things. Playing around with my Ferraris and playing Tennis and things like that. What I understand there is a new group of kids that are very serious about playing which is great, I think that is a good thing.
HRH: Are you still a big Ferrari Fan?
Yngwie Malmsteen: (Passionately) Ohh Yeah!
HRH: Have you seen the new Spider Model that has just been released?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Yeah, but I am more into the vintage Ferarris.
HRH:Why do you think hard rock/metal was able to maintain it’s popularity in Europe and Asia but not here in the states?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I am not even sure about that. What I do know is Rock and roll and metal never goes away ever. It took the back seat in America in the 90’s. In Japan and South America it was still really big. I never followed trends so I don’t know the exact function of them. I think there must be somebody in league to changing things. When the glam metal thing of the late 80’s became to glammy, then instead of having two bottles of hair spray in your hair, it became better not to wash your hair at all. To me its all trend stuff. I don’t follow that stuff. I just do what I feel is the right thing. I don’t know what the reason is for that. Its not fashion.
HRH: Did your involvement in the G3 Tour with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai help get your music back out there in the U.S.?
Yngwie Malmsteen: It had some impact, sure, yeah. I think that it helped all three of us, but I think the most important thing now, that you can see nowadays are kids are being introduced to this music through video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. This seems to be a big influence on kids. Its a new thing to them.
HRH: What do you think about the new generation of music fans being introduced to hard rock and metal through games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band?
Yngwie Malmsteen: When we were younger it was Radio and MTV. It is just a different way of getting it. If they have a game that has rock and roll in it, that is going to introduce the kids to the music. That is good. It is cool.
HRH: Are their any plans for your songs to be added in future editions of the games?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I think so yeah. I am pretty sure that is happening right now. (A few days after our interview, it was announced that some of the songs from Perpetual Flame would be available for download in the game Rockband.)
HRH: Your son Antonio is 10 now right? Has he taken on your passion for music yet?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Yeah, Not in the same way that I did. When I grew up there was no TV, nothing. The guitar could be my whole life. The kids today have internet and TV and games and all that stuff. When he does pick up the guitar, he is a natural for sure. For sure he is going to play. I was so extreme, I was playing 24/7 all my life. That was bizarre anyway, kind of like a (laughs) a circus freak you know.
HRH: There is a new line of Yngwie Malsteen Play Loud tribute guitars from Fender coming out next week. What you can you tell us about those?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Fender had made my guitars for 20 years now. The model has been improved on and updated. It is just fantastic, that is why I love to play it. This is a special series of just 100 pieces that is an exact replica of the guitar that I brought with me from Sweden when I was a teenager. It has the exact same rust particle scratch, feels the same, smells the same. It is amazing. I have never seen anything like it my life. It is scary, it is frightening. It is limited to 100 pieces.
HRH: I saw how the even mimicked your bite marks on the guitar, and wondered how they did that.
Yngwie Malmsteen: I wondered if they had some witchcraft going on there. (laughs)
HRH: You were recently inducted to Guitar Center’s Rockwalk in Hollywood, what was that experience like?
Yngwie Malmsteen: Very Bizarre (laughs). I have time to reflect on it now. Apparently it is in the street already. The next time I go there I will see it. I remember walking those streets as teenager. Its amazing. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you, I am honored.
HRH: Is there anything you would like to tell your fans in closing?
Yngwie Malmsteen: I would like to say thank you. I would like everyone to check out my new record Perpetual Flame. If they have heard my stuff before they will dig it. If they haven’t I hope they will dig it. Thank you for the support for twenty years. God Bless You All! God Bless America!