Gus G Interview by Julio from Rock Connection
1. How did the band start ? How did you know one another ?
The idea started in late 1998 when I recorded a demo CD with some friends and I named it FIREWIND. I sent out my demos to labels and I got interest from Leviathan Records. After making more songs and more demos, I got a contract with Leviathan. David Chastain, who also produced the album, helped me to find the rest of the guys to complete the line-up. Through David I met Stephen (vocals) and Brian (drums). I brought in the band Konstantine, who is an old friend of mine from Greece.
2. Why did you choose Firewind as the name of the band ?
Well, I am a big Uli Jon Roth fan, and Roth had released a few albums with a band called Electric Sun in the 80s. One of those albums was named FIREWIND and it's a great album! I thought that it's a very catchy and strong name, so I used it for my band. Uli Roth is a big inspiration.
3. Describe your music to someone who has never heard it before ?
It's pure heavy metal!!! It's very melodic, but also aggressive. The guitars are raw-sounding, but the band's sound is very punchy overall.
4. Are you satisfied with "Between Heaven And Hell" ? Is that something that you would like to change, after it was ready ?
The only thing I don't like is the cover that was used for the American and Japanese release. I believe it doesn't reflect the band's music, sound and direction. I wish we had the European cover released worldwide, but that was not up to me. I'm very pleased with all the rest, in regards to performances, production, songs, image, etc.
5. About the album, how was the composition and recording process?
I write all the music in the band, and I worked very hard for these songs. It took me many months to complete the compositions and pre-production work, but I wanted to get the best results! The recording process was quite crazy, as the guitars and bass were recorded in Greece, the vocals in Atlanta and drums in Ohio, while the CD was mixed in Sweden!! Quite cool and unique experience I think. As far as I'm concerned, I had a very relaxing time in the studio, as I had plenty of studio time, so I'm very happy with my performances and with the performances of the others of course.
6. Which are your future plans with Firewind and Dream Evil ?
To rule the metal world!! More specific now, Dream Evil will support Blind Guardian on their Swedish tour and in October we will tour Japan. With Firewind we're currently checking touring opportunities and hopefully we'll end up in a good European tour package. I will spend a lot of time next year on working on the new FIREWIND material and head for the studio later on.
7. Tell me the news about Dream Evil ?
Dream Evil has just returned from the summer festivals and it was a total success!! Like I mentioned above, we have the Blind Guardian gigs and a Japanese tour coming and some more festivals. We're also writing new songs for the next album. We're planning to enter the studio sometime in January-February 2003.
8. How old did you start to play guitar and have you taken guitar lessons or did you learn by yourself ?
I was 10 when I started playing guitar. Now I'm almost 22, so that's more than half my life. I've taken formal lessons at a conservatory in Greece for 4 years, and I was lucky to have a great teacher. Of course, I've done a lot of personal musical research on my own as well, the school was helpful only up to some point. I've also been to Berklee College in Boston, but I didn't like it there and I left after 2 weeks of studies haha!!!
9. What are your influences ?
I'm influenced by a lot of music that I hear. Of course, I'm a fan of classic heavy metal bands like Judas Priest, Saxon, Dio, Manowar but my favourite band is the Scorpions. As far as guitarists goes, I'm mainly influenced from Michael Schenker, Uli Roth and Yngwie Malmsteen.
10. What the guitar you like the best ?
I love the Stratocaster!! Strats are excellent instruments I think and my very first guitar is a Fender Stratocaster, it's the one that I've recorded all my albums with and it's on the band photos as well. I also like Gibson Flying V's a lot and the Explorers. I have a guitar endorsement with Washburn and I play a very cool Explorer model nowadays, called CP-2003.
11. Do you have some warm up exercises ?
Yes, I mainly do chromatic exercises to "wake up" all my fingers. After that, I play scales all over the neck slowly to stretch a bit. But at this point of my playing, I don't practice at all, I just grab the guitar and play. I just do a little warm up before I go on stage. But I suggest these exercises to every guitarist, cause it's very dangerous to play without warming up, you can damage your hands big time!! So, be careful!!
12. Now I'll name some bands and you tell me what you think about them ?
Deep Purple / The Ultimate Monsters of Rock!!!
Steve Vai / "Out of this world" guitarist. Not particularly my style of music though.
Chastain / "Cult" guitarist and underrated to my opinion. His riffs were a big school to me.
Van Halen / Legend
Joe Satriani/ Strange Beautiful Music
Jason Becker/ Lifted up the standards of shred guitar!! A true master! I hope he'll play again soon.
13. Leave a message to your new brazilian fans?
A big THANK YOU to everyone of you for your support! We hope to come to Brazil soon and Rock your brains out!!!!! The time of the FIREWIND is coming!!