Gus G Interview by Rock Brigade Magazine
YOU HAVE BEEN KNOWN AS ONE OF THE NEW 'GUITAR HEROES' OF HEAVY METAL. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BE A GUITAR PLAYER? AND WHO ARE THE GUITARISTS THAT INFLUENCED YOU THE MOST?
I started playing guitar at the age of 10, after I had seen Al Di Meola perform on TV and after hearing Peter Frampton's live LP. I thought it was so cool to hold a guitar on stage and be able to play all this cool music and rock solos, so I asked my father to buy me a guitar. Of course, when I saw Jimmi Hendrix, that was a total new experience for me as well, even if it was the early 90s and the guy was from the 60s!! Later on, when I was 14 or 15 I heard Yngwie's "Trilogy" album from a friend and I was shocked!!I couldn't believe my ears! I totally got into that style of playing, but a couple of years later I discovered the guitarist that has influenced me most: that was Michael Schenker. Around that time, I also got heavily into Uli Jon Roth. So, basically those 3 guys have had a big impact on me, since I was very young.
WHAT'S YOUR MUSIC BACKGROUND?
I've studied in a Conservatory in Greece for 4 years. When I was 16, I was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of music. After I attended a summer program at Berklee, I was awarded another scholarship, to study full time. After 2 weeks of studies, I dropped out of Berklee, cause I wanted to start a band and focus on my career in music. Except the FIREWIND debut album, I have also released albums with Dream Evil and Mystic Prophecy. I have also released a solo CD only thru the Internet and I have done a few guest appearances on albums with bands like, Exhumation, Raise Hell, Old Man's Child, Dies Irae and Dragonland.
AS WE KNOW, YOU HAVE A LOT OF INFLUENCES, LIKE CRADLE OF FILTH AND ARCH ENEMY. ARE THERE ANY CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THESE BANDS AND THE MUSIC THAT YOU PERFORM?
Those bands you mentioned are not an influence on me. I just like some of their albums and sometimes I listen to them, that's all. The only connection with those bands, is that I know personally some of the guys, that's all. When it comes to music, I'm mainly influenced by the Scorpions, MSG, Iron Maiden, early Manowar and stuff like that.
THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT FIREWIND IS A MELODIC HEAVY METAL BAND BUT IT SOUNDS HEAVIER THAN A LOT OF ANOTHER MELODIC BANDS. DO YOU THINK THAT IT HAPPENS BECAUSE FIREWIND USES MUCH MORE GUITAR THAN KEYBOARDS?
Of course, that's one factor.....there's a lot of guitars and no keyboards. But I was going for a heavy guitar sound. And I also like to make very heavy riffs, almost like death metal sometimes, cause I want to deliver the heaviness and rawness at the same time with the melody.
FIREWIND IS A 50% AMERICAN AND 50% GREEK BAND. DO YOU THINK THAT IT INFLUENCES FIREWIND MUSIC IN ANY WAY?
actually, I compose all the music and make all arrangements. There's a lot of influences in my music, there's some "American" sounding stuff and then there's a lot of "European" melodic metal stuff. It's a good blend I think. I have total artistic freedom, so I write whatever comes out, I don't worry and I don't care if it sounds American or European........I just make my music and try to make it sound as good as possible.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS DAVID CHASTAIN AS THE PRODUCER OF THE ALBUM?
David's work was very important. He helped me to find the other members, through David I met Stephen(vocals) and Brian(drums). He also directed the whole project from the very beginning, as you can imagine that it's quite hard to make this whole thing work, when I was in Greece and the other people in the USA. He has put in countless hours of work. FIREWIND will definitely work with Mr. Chastain as producer, on our next albums.
DO YOU AGREE THAT YOUR GUITAR RIFFERAMA PLUS THE SPECIAL VOICE OF STEPHEN FREDRICK MAKES FIREWIND AN UNIQUE BAND WITH AN UNIQUE WORK?
Definitely. Stephen has a very special voice and totally lifted the band up with his vocal parts!!! On the other hand, I think my music is classic heavy metal, but with modern elements and sound, so I think the combination of the 2 makes a unique band.
SOME LYRICS WERE BASED ON THE ATTACKS OF SEPTEMBER 11TH . WHICH WERE THEY?BY THE WAY, AFTER ALMOST AN YEAR OF THE ATTACKS WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THESE TERRIBLE FACTS?
Stephen wrote the lyrics, so he should know more about that, but I think it's on "World of Conflict." It's true that the world was never the same after the attacks of September 11th.I'm still thinking about it like it was yesterday.... a very tragic moment in history, I think. I don't understand why humans have to be self-destructive. I guess, it's in our nature, but that's a sick thought!! I hope there won't be any more terrorism, no more war!!!
'BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL' IS A VERY STRONG NAME. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE IT FOR THE ALBUM?
We chose it for the reason you just mentioned! It is a very strong title. There's no special meaning or a concept behind it, everyone can make up their own interpretations. For example, maybe there are times in our lives, where we are in situations that feel like we're between heaven and hell and really don't know what to do......Or maybe the world of today has become such a crazy place, that it could be Between Heaven and Hell where we are right now!!!
ALMOST EVERY HEAVY GUITARISTS PREFER GIBSON GUITARS BUT YOU USE FENDERS. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THEM?
Almost every guitarist plays Gibson??? I don't think so.....:) The Fender you see on the band photos, is my first electric guitar. It's a great axe and I have it since 1994.I really like the sound and shape of the Stratocaster, I mean it's a classic, you just can't go wrong with Fenders or Gibsons!!! However, nowadays I am endorsed and use exclusively Washburn guitars! I am excited about my new guitars, I use this new model CP-2003. It's a black Explorer guitar, they look really cool and have great sound. I also have endorsements from Randall amps and DR Strings.
DID YOU DO A PROMO TOUR AFTER THE RELEASE OF THE CD? AND DID YOU MAKE SOME SHOWS ON SUMMER FESTIVALS?
I haven't done a promo tour, but I have had a heavy promotion schedule following the release of Between Heaven and Hell and it's going very good. I have already performed at some big summer festivals in Europe, like Wacken open Air, Sweden Rock and 2000 Decibel festivals, but it was with Dream Evil. Unfortunately, the Firewind album was released too late in the summer, so there was no time to do any festivals. Hopefully, we will make it next year.
IS THERE A CHANCE FOR A BRAZILIAN FIREWIND TOUR IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
We are open to any offers for any tours. It would be great to tour in Brazil and South America. Thanx a lot for the interview and stay METAL!!!!!