Steve Vai spoke to My Global Mind and recalled when he collaborated with Yngwie Malmsteen for a supergroup. Also, Vai talked about their ‘Black Star’ performance in which he couldn’t play like Malmsteen.
Yngwie Malmsteen released his first studio album entitled ‘Rising Force’ on March 5, 1984, and it received very positive reviews from fans and music critics. The album was regarded as a genre-defining work for shred and neoclassical metal with its well-crafted sounds and riffs.
In addition, years later, one of the album’s songs, ‘Black Star’, was performed again after Steve Vai founded a supergroup Generation Axe in 2016, including Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, Tosin Abasi, and several other talented names. The band performed several tours and concerts all around the world.
In his interview, the journalist stated that Steve Vai played the second harmony of the song with his ‘own interruption’ rather than by mimicking Malmsteen’s neoclassical playing style. In order to explain the reason behind this, Vai stated that he can’t play like Malmsteen, and Malmsteen can’t perform like him.
Vai added that that part of the song was very challenging and fast-paced that’s why he needed more time to work on it. He highlighted that everyone has their own style, which is highly contributed to their collaboration’s success. The guitarist said that the Generation Axe members always encouraged each other to push their limits and be better, which really inspired him.
During the interview, Robert Cavuoto said the following:
“In 2018, I saw Generation Axe. You and Yngwie join forces for ‘Blackstar.’ You took the second harmony, and I expected you to mimic his neoclassical playing style, but you had your own interruption. Was that by choice?”
Steve Vai’s response follows:
“I can’t play like Yngwie; nobody can play like him. Nobody can play like me. Nobody can play like anybody. What I did was take the harmony or melody of the song and play it the way I would do it. It was challenging because there were a lot of little fast runs with his fingerings and his tonal center, which is different than mine.
I had to work on it; I could do it, but when it came time. As to playing against each other, I’m Steve, and he is Yngwie. That is one of the greatest things about that tour; they are all extremely confident in what they do. They don’t compete with you at what you do.
What happens is it forces us to compete with ourselves to be the best we can be. Zakk is being Zakk as best as he ever can be. We are all helping each other to push all sorts of aspects of being professional to stage appearance to communication to playing to off-stage etiquette.”
You can watch one of their performances below.