Gus G Interview by Torch at ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
RHP: First of all Gus, it's wonderful to see guy in their early 20's playing guitar like this! At what age did you know you wanted to play guitar?
Thanx for the compliment!!! I grew up in a family of musicians, as my father's a singer, so I was attracted to music since I was a baby. When I was 7 or 8 years old, I saw Al DI Meola playing on TV and I was amazed! I had also heard Peter Frampton's 'talking guitar' on Frampton Comes Alive LP, so when I was around 9 the idea hit me that I wanted to be a guitarist. When I was 10 my father got me my first guitar, and I started taking classical guitar lessons. At the age of 14, I switched on the electric guitar and that was it. I wanted to be rock guitarist since then.
RHP: Tell us about growing up in Greece and what the music scene is like over there? Do most of the guys your age still listen to Heavy Metal?
I am fortunate to have the best parents in the world, so I grew up in a nice environment with major help and support from my family on my effort to become a musician. The music scene in Greece is quite small and unknown, with the exception of a few black/death metal bands that made this country known to the heavy metal world. The problem here is, that there's no market for metal music. People my age here are more into Greek music, than anything else. So, there's not an actual audience that can buy our records, with the exception of a few thousands of people. Therefore, the chances in making a rock career in Greece are pretty limited!! So, I decided to move out of this country. I lived in the USA for a year and now days I'm living in Sweden.
RHP: Talk about some of your favorite guitarist and how they have influenced you?
I grew up listening to Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker and Yngwie Malmsteen. I don't think that metal guys in my age are so much into Roth or Schenker, but I was attracted to those guitarists because they are so unique. Schenker has such a high quality tone and feel, and the things he plays are amazing! I was really influenced from him as far as melody and great leads are concerned, and it's the same with Roth. Yngwie's style and technique are totally out of this world and the most important thing that I picked up from those guys, is that apart from great guitarists, they are great songwriters and that's the most important thing.
RHP: Along those same lines, how do you try to separate yourselves from the great guitarists to make a sound of your own?
Since my hard practicing days, I was always trying to play the licks and tricks I would learn, in my own way and always tried not to sound like somebody else. Obviously, that's a very hard thing to do and you have to mature as a person and musician to get to that point. I believe the thing that makes my playing noticeable and different, is that I have a certain way to play my melodies and that makes it sound more passionate and melancholic, but at the same time it's quite aggressive too. So, I think it's a good blend there.
RHP: Onto Firewind, is this your first official CD, and how did you hook up with these guys?
Yes, this is the first official CD of FIREWIND. There are some old recordings with another Firewind line-up, but those songs were never released, as it was more of a learning process for me. David Chastain from Leviathan Records hooked me up with Stephen Fredrick (vocals) and Brian Harris (drums). I was a big fan of Stephen's vocals from the Kenziner albums, so when I heard that he was interested in joining the band, I was very happy. I had other people helping me in the past to record my demos, but it was obvious that I couldn't find a great singer. Thanx to Chastain, I achieved that. Konstantine, the bass player is an old friend of mine from Greece, so I asked him to join the band, as he's a great player.
RHP: How did this album get written and put together? I can imagine the distance between you and Leviathan Records was difficult!
Well, the only difficulty was that it took time to put everything together. I was writing the material for the album for a long time. I wrote many songs before we chose the best. The recording process took almost 6 months, as it was recorded in 3 different studios: Guitars and bass were recorded in Greece, vocals in Atlanta and drums in Ohio. We mixed it in Sweden at studio Fredman with Fredrik Nordstrom. It was very time consuming, but we get along very well with all the guys and especially with Chastain who directed and supervised the whole thing. Everyone was very happy at the end of the day.
RHP: I don't know how your English is, but were there any barriers you had language or culture-wise with the other member of the band and with Leviathan Records?
Not at all. I speak English fluently and I have lived in America before, so even though I come from a different culture, there were no communication problems.
RHP: Greece, Italy and France are finally getting some attention for having some amazing musicians, for example, the new guitarist in Dokken is a younger guy from Italy, has there always been good players in this region or is this something that has come about in more recent years?
I thought that John Norum was the new guitarist in Dokken. Anyway, there have always been many great musicians and bands from Greece. However, it takes a lot more than being a good musician to make A career in music. You have to have certain goals and know what you're doing and where you're going at all times and most importantly to be willing to sacrifice a lot of things for music, something that most musicians in Greece (and not only) wouldn't do.
RHP: You actually have heavier musical tastes than what Firewind is, what are some of the bands you enjoy listening to?
It's true that I have heavier musical tastes, but I like whatever sounds good to my ears. Lately, I've been listening to Dimmu Borgir, Carnal Forge, Soilwork but also "softer" bands like Lacuna Coil and HIM. I've also been listening to Metallica's "black album" lately, which I think is one of the best metal albums ever!
RHP: So now that Firewind is out there, have you thought of what you'll be doing next? In today's music world, it seems everyone has numerous projects, are you working on other things?
I would really like to tour with Firewind as much as possible and we're already working on that. Other than that, I'm always working on new music and I've already composed a few songs for the second FIREWIND album. I'm also a member in Swedish hard/heavy band, Dream Evil and I'm currently doing festivals with that band. I have also been working on a melodic death metal project which will be recorded soon. Stay tuned, cause I plan to release some great music next year and I'm very excited about that!!!
RHP: Again Gus, it's great for the true Metalheads to have young guys out there carrying Metal into the new millennium, I wish you all the best! Is there anything you'd like to add or say to the fans?
Thanx a lot for your support..it means a lot!!! We hope that people will enjoy our debut album 'Between Heaven and Hell' and we hope to see everyone on tour soon!!!!!! Stay METAL!