Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen rose to fame in the 1980s by combining classical music with heavy metal while outplaying virtually all his contemporaries in the process. When we caught up with him to chat about his current Guitar Gods tour, which pairs him with Gary Hoey and Guns N’ Roses’ Bumblefoot, he was a man of few words—he always lets his guitar do most of the talking, anyway.
Have you ever had any injuries from shredding too hard?
I had a little bout of tendinitis when I was, like, 20 years old, but it just went away.
Are your fingers just as dexterous at 50 as they were at 15?
No doubt about that.
Do you still practice a lot?
I don’t really have to because I have to play so much. I do play guitar when I’m at home, but I don’t practice.
Have you reached your peak in terms of technical abilities?
There’s never a peak. Technique goes to a point, and after that it’s what you do with it. It’s all about what notes come out and how they sound.
Let’s run through some guitar gods, and you can weigh in on each. Slash?
He’s great. Quintessential rock-&-roll guy.
Oh my god, he’s one of my favorites. I love him. He’s an amazing guitar player.
I love him.
He doesn’t stand out as a guitar player per se, but I think what he does with [U2] is very, very good.
Great songwriter and great band.
He has a great ethic.
I don’t know him.
He’s a jazz guy. Do you listen to jazz?
Not really, no.
Eddie Van Halen?
I’ll never forget when I heard him for the first time. I still think he’s fucking incredible.
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN With Gary Douglas Band. Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151, showboxpresents.com. $31.50 adv./$36.50 DOS. 8 p.m. Thurs., June 26.