Watch Yngwie Malmsteen Discuss Blues Influences, New Solo Album

Yngwie Malmsteen has shared an eight-minute video in which he discusses his new album, Blue Lightning. In addition to talking about the inspiration behind many of the songs on the blues-influenced record, Malmsteen also discusses his history with the blues.

“When I started playing the guitar, I started playing the blues on the guitar,” he says. “So the blues came first. Then I became more and more...incorporating classical elements to my style.”

As for his influences in that style, he continues: “The blues' impact on me is B.B. King, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, those bluesy guys. Hendrix, too.”

You can check out the full video above.

Blue Lightning is due March 29 via Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group. Regarding the album, which finds Malmsteen paying homage to the blues, the guitarist said: “I grew up in a classically trained family, and people know me for playing in what is called a neo-classical style. But when I got a guitar for my fifth birthday, what I would try to emulate were John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers—I would jam along to what they did on record with Eric Clapton. That's something people don't realize about me—I do have a strong interest in the blues. So, when Mascot came to me with the suggestion of doing an album of songs in this style, it didn't faze me at all. In fact, it seemed so natural.”

Discussing the cover tunes on the new record, he continued: “There were songs that were immediately clear I wanted to do. These were the likes of ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Smoke on the Water,’ which I have been playing since I was a kid. But then I also went for something like ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ which I wasn't sure I could do. In this case, it's about trial and error.  I am delighted that I was able to do justice to the original.”

Malmsteen also talked about his cover of Eric Clapton's “Forever Man”: “I heard this on the radio, and honestly I didn't know whether I could do it for this album,” he said. “But I sat down and tried things, and they worked out. I had to rise to the occasion and am delighted to have done exactly that."

Blue Lightning also includes four original tunes that bring to the fore Malmsteen's love for the blues. “I have always featured songs with a blues groove on albums,” he said. “So, having my own material in this vein was very natural for me.”

The complete track list for Blue Lightning is: “Blue Lightning,” “Foxey Lady,” “Demon’s Eye,” “1911 Strut,” “Blue Jean Blues,” “Purple Haze,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Sun’s Up Top’s Down,” “Peace, Please,” “Paint It Black,” “Smoke on the Water,” and “Forever Man.”

Pre-orders for Blue Lightning are available here. 

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.