Gus G Interview by Cameron from Power Packer Zine
If you do not by now know the name Gus G. and you consider yourself a power metal enthusiast, then you must be living under a rock. Gus has quietly become one of the most sought after guitarist within the metal scene. The first time I heard of Gus was when listening to the last MYSTIC PROPHECY album. Then he again popped up in a band known as DREAM EVIL. Now Gus is back again with his own band named Firewind. Busy busy man he is! To get the scoop on his newest offering to the metal world, Power Packer contacted Gus G. about his band Firewind and the bands new album Between Heaven And Hell.
On everything Gus has done, he has always abbreviated his last name. Actually, it's just the letter g. First thing I had to ask was if we will ever know Gus' full last name. "I don't know. Maybe in the future, but not now." There goes my exclusive. Anywise, as I mentioned before, Firewind is Gus' own band. Gus tells us of those that helped him make the new album complete. "Firewind is Stephen Fredrick on vocals (ex-KENZINER), Konstantine, who is an old friend of mine from Greece and an exceptional musician, on bass, Brian Harris on drums (ex-KENZINER, ZANISTER), and me on guitars. When I signed my record deal with Leviathan Records, my producer and label boss, David Chastain, suggested Stephen and Brian for the band. I thought this was a great idea, despite the fact that they live in the US and I live in Greece. Those guys are great musicians and they were definitely the right people to work with. I brought in Konstantine later."
With Gus mentioning that David was his producer, I felt this was a good time to ask how he and David got together. "I was sending David my demo's since 1998. He sent me some letters back telling me that he liked my style and that I should keep working on it for the future. When the time came and my material was more focused and mature, he told me he wanted to help me put the band together and produce my music."
I would assume this is part of the reasoning for the band being signed to Leviathan Records here in the US? "Well, that was exactly the reason. Firewind's label is Leviathan worldwide. However, they have licensed the album to different labels in different territories of the world. Massacre Records has released it in Europe, EMI in Japan, and some other labels in other countries that I don't remember."
Does it ever get confusing and frustrating for you because of the band being on three different labels? "Not at all. I collaborate with our labels from Europe and Japan very well and there are no problems. They are nice people and they want to help Firewind to become a great band, so we work quite well. It's not frustrating at all."
Now if you remember, Gus had mentioned that some of the members of the band live in the US and he lives in Greece. I remember the album booklet stating that the album had been recorded/mixed in four different places; guitars and bass in Greece, vocals and drums in the US, and the mix in Sweden. I asked Gus if this was a necessary thing to do, or would he have rather had everything done in one place. "I would rather had done it all in one studio, but I think at the time it was necessary to do it that way. It actually worked out pretty well. I think we will continue making records like that. It's a very unusual and non-stressing experience, as long has everyone does their job in some studio in their country or city. Everyone is expected to do their job right, and they do!"
The conversation then turns towards the new album. Gus clues us in on what sounds one will hear on the album. "Firewind plays pure heavy metal with roots from the 80's. However, the way we play it and our sound is more contemporary with lots of cool guitar stuff and great melodic vocals." Satisfied with the outcome? "Yes, we are very satisfied. We feel that we've made a very good debut album."
Favorite song(s) from the album, and why? "I like all the songs of the album, however I think some of my favorites are 'World Of Conflict', 'Warrior', and 'Tomorrow Can Wait'."
Included within the album are not one but two instrumentals. Any reasoning for including two instrumentals? "Not really. I just had those songs and I thought they were both very cool, so I decided to use them. Leviathan didn't have a problem with it and that was very cool."
The next question may be of some interest, depending on which country you live in. Believe it or not, there are three different album covers for Between Heaven And Hell. The US cover depicts a boy staring out over the horizon where there is a yellowish-orangish object within the clouds. When I first looked at the cover, my first thought was of the object as being an atomic mushroom cloud, but I wasn't to sure. So I asked Gus if it was a mushroom cloud or the sun. "You're right, it's suppose to be an atomic bomb. However, the Japanese version is the same cover, but instead of the atomic bomb, there's a sun. I think that cover pretty much sucks, so what's the difference?"
I would assume you like the European cover the best? "The European cover has much much better art and is much closer to the band's sound and style than the American one. It was never up to me which cover we should use."
Why the three different covers? "EMI chose that cover with the boy for the Japanese release and Massacre chose to do their own artwork and cover, which was fine with us."
Within the past three years, you have been part of three different bands (MYSTIC PROPHECY, DREAM EVIL and FIREWIND). How are you able to keep up with all three bands, especially since you also contribute with the musical writing within all three bands? "Well, with MYSTIC PROPHECY things have been kind of slow the past year or so, as we have finished our second album. It took a very long time until it was mixed. It's now being shopped to labels. I have mainly been busy with DREAM EVIL and Firewind the past year. I am working with music full time, so I have enough time to dedicate to all three of my bands."
Did you ever expect your guitar services would be so wanted and sought after by fellow musicians? "I didn't think that at all a couple of years ago. I just wanted to play music and I wanted to play in a band that made albums and toured, that's all. It's very cool that I've quickly become a respectful musician and people ask me to play with them. I never imagined I would play with some of my favorite musicians. I recently did two solos on the upcoming album from OLD MAN'S CHILD with members of DIMMU BORGIR, Galder and Nick Barker."
Ending the interview, I asked Gus if he had a fear of running out of original musical ideas, considering he's been writing and contributing so much within the past few years. "It's very hard to be 100% original these days anyway, as anything you will come up with has been done before in one way or another. I hate that! Making music is no problem for me, especially when I sit down and write with talented people. Then I feel inspired. I feel that I've just begun and I also feel that I have a lot to give as a musician and artist, so it's kinda early to start thinking that I might start running out of ideas."