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Gus G - Guitars for Firewind

Date: 04/03/07
Interviewed By: Rich Catino



1. “Allegiance” is the fourth Firewind record and the lineup is on its third singer. Is changing vocalists something you would like to do?

GUS: Well we don’t do it because we want different vocalists on every album that’s for sure, I mean it may seem like that but its not. Its hard to find the right people really to both get along with well in a band as well as finding people who want to tour a lot. We want to be a touring band and our first singer Steven Fredrick didn’t want to tour at all, then we had Chitty Somapala who came in for the third record “Forged in Fire” but that was more of a personal problem and I think I may have rushed that decision. But in regards to Apollo I hope things work out and he sticks around, we already started writing some material together for the next album. I mean even though he had a family problem and had to drop out of one tour he’s still gonna join us for the rest of the 07 tour schedule. I mean we’ve always had great singers but I think Apollo is really the highlight so far.

2. I think with “Allegiance” it is Firewind’s strongest collection of songs and definitely the most cohesive album. So what has attributed to that?

GUS: Well thanks I appreciate that and I think “Allegiance” is our best as well so far also. Well I worked with everyone in the band on this record and everyone contributed to the writing. Bob our keyboard player and myself co wrote at least most of the album, Mark Cross our drummer also came up with a song. I made sure everybody was involved this time and I think the chemistry was just right this time around. I think also I was more relaxed this time around since I only had to worry about Firewind’s music. Not that it effected my playing before when I worked with Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy or Nightrage, but I just didn’t have so many things on my mind. In that respect maybe some Dream Evil material maybe could fit on a Firewind album but other than that I always wrote songs which were specific to those bands.

3.Do you write all the music and then other members come in and add their ideas and who writes the lyrics?

GUS: Bob and I mostly wrote this one and then pur dummer Mark came up with one and we all worked on it in the studio. Apollo and I wrote most of the lyrics on this album and Mark also helped out on some parts.

With this record its also the first time we rehearsed ahead of time before going into the studio. We worked really hard on the dynamics and arrangements unlike before where I would just write everything and send them to the guys.

4. Now are you officially done working with Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy and Nightrage?

GUS: Yeah, its been like a year or so since I started dedicating my time to Firewind.

5. I hear a variety of different influences in guitar playing but mostly hard rock/heavy metal players. Can you tell us about some of your influences? What about the players from the 80’s where many guitar shredders came from?

GUS: Yeah I like a lot of different types of guitar players but like you say my favorites are the hard rock/metal guys like Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, Uli Roth from early Scorpions and Michael Schenker from UFO. You can hear the Scorpions influences on a track like “Where do We go from Here?” from “Allegiance”, it has that “Big City Nights” vibe Haha, that’s actually an Apollo song.

And the guys from the 80’s like Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Paul Gilbert, Marty Freedman have all had a big impact on my playing. I love those kind of players.

6. I have read that, maybe this was a rumor, that Firewind was in talks to do a U.S. tour with your former band Dream Evil?

GUS: Actually the Dream Evil guys are good friends of mine and their guitarist Fredrik Nordstr�m and I were talking about doing it. But they are not really a band that tours much and was actually one of the reasons why I left the band. But as far as I am concerned I would love to do it.

7. How did you get the opportunity to play ProgPower USA?

GUS: That came through our booking agent actually and I know we have been trying to do it for a couple of years but we always came in a bit late until now. I am very happy to play it and I know its an important festival. I think that festival sells our like every year and we get to play sixty minutes this year so I am excited.

8. So has the new record “Allegiance” taken Firewind to the next level of success and recognition?

GUS: Yeah I think it has, what do you think, I think we have achieved more success and record sales have already doubled since our last release. I think if a band does get the opportunity to play the States that just means that things are kind of happening. So I think things are happening. This U.S. tour is the first step to see what kind of fan base we have in America and what kind of people we can appeal to. I know our label said Headbangers Ball has been playing our video for “Falling to Pieces” maybe every other weekend so that’s all good. We are already talking about doing a second video for the song “Breaking the Silence”. I just saw some ruff cuts and its looks great so far.

9. Do you see the market for melodic Heavy Metal improving here in the States? When you were on tour here playing with Arch Enemy for Ozzfest were you able to meet some fans of Firewind?

GUS: Well a lot of people had already known of my reputation from the other bands I have played in especially Dream Evil. But I think things didn’t really happen for Firewind in the States until this new record. I think Arch Enemy fans would be the wrong crowd maybe to talk to because they are a heavier more extreme band and they appeal to the more Ozzfest type bands. But yeah I think I did get to make some new fans being on the road with Arch Enemy and they went on to check out Firewind music as well.

10. What are your thoughts on other bands from this sound you are similar to like Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Angra, Stratovarius, and do you like their music?

GUS: Actually I am not really into the Euro Power Metal sound, I like some Stratovarius but was never really into a band like Blind Guardian. I am really a traditional guy, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, I come from that background. Yeah I do hear a bit of the Power Metal sound in our music like the fast songs, and our keyboard player Bob is really into those bands like Angra. But our vocalist Apollo is not a high pitched singer and he has a more hard rock voice, a bit more rock n roll and I like that.

11. Plans to tape any shows for a DVD?

GUS: Really I don’t know yet. We have this UK tour and I know we will record some stuff but filming I don’t know. Really maybe when we start to do more headline tours is when I would like to tape something with a bigger budget to make it a proper production. But we are recording some stuff because you never know when you are gonna use it.

12. How about instrumentals. �So far there have been one on each Firewind album.� Do you find those important for your records and will you continue the trend in the future?

GUS: Well maybe its not important but it has become a kind of tradition so far for Firewind and on each album they get good reviews. Like “The Fire and the Fury” off “Burning Earth” is pretty much what the band is known for and there are a couple videos of it online too. I think its cool and its become part of our stage show. And the new one “Before the Storm” off “Allegiance” is good too kind of ballady Garry More type thing. It’s the calm before the storm, hence the title.

13.So I know you have the American shows coming up in September, so what else does Firewind have planned for 2007?

GUS: Next month were doing a UK tour, some festivals this summer in Europe, a couple shows in our home country (Greece), and then the plan is go to Japan after the US dates. Then take a month off and at the end of the year start recording a new record.

14. Have you written any music for the next album?

GUS: We haven’t done any demo stuff yet but I will go to Bob’s studio next week and start some preproduction. There’s a couple songs that have a Thin Lizzy feel, Garry Moore for another one. We are gonna have a couple heavier ones too you know we are gonna mix it up.

15. What about yourself as a guitar player. At this early stage in your career you have been already regarded as a new young guitar hero. So what are your thoughts on that?

GUS: Nooo I don’t think like that, I know a lot of kids look up to what I do and I am flattered by the recognition. That term is more for players like Paul Gilbert, Yngwie, you know the big masters. I don’t know I have to see what happens down the line. I know its cool because the new younger generations are always looking for great players and maybe through me talking about these guys like Richie Blackmore and having these kids read my interviews they can learn more about these legends.

16. What about newer guitar players, who do you like?

GUS: Man there a lot of them….I like Alexi from Children of Bodom, Mike Amott from Arch Enemy is very good and he is enjoying a lot of success right now for his playing. I think Jeff Loomis from Nevermore is really a great player, aggressive, very melodic, great technique.

17. Tell us about your appearance at the NAMM music convention in California and your signature guitar that was revealed?

GUS: That was the first time I was there and it went great. I did an ESP singing at their booth for my signature guitar. It was a high exposure thing. I got to sit at the booth with Michael Wilton and Will Adler from Lamb of God so hopefully some Queensryche fans will check out Firewind now (laughs).

Official website: www.firewind.gr
ESP website: www.espguitars.com

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