FIREWIND Interview with Gus G. by Rick for Metal's Den
The last time we did an interview (August 2002) was after the release of DREAM EVIL's debut album. Now, there is a third album in the making and you are promoting FIREWIND's second opus, "Burning Earth". Pretty busy as I can see!
Gus G: Well, yeah it's been quite busy lately haha!!! To be honest I haven't even had time to have a X-mas break!! But the bottom line is, that I love what I do and that's what's important.
FIREWIND plays a notch above your typical melodic power metal bands with a touch of neo-classical. According to you, what distinguishes your style with the mainstream that is played nowadays?
Gus G: I think, like you said, we play a notch above ur typical power metal bands. FIREWIND is a band that sounds quite different from all the rest. We sound heavier and darker on the new album and it seems that all this guitar stuff I'm doing is quite appreciated and stands out from the rest. Maybe that's because not many metal bands have good guitarists nowadays. Maybe that's one of the reason there's a lot of mediocre bands. But of course most of all, it's the vision, the atmosphere and the songs that a band needs to have, in order to be special. I feel that we have this in our band.
"Burning Earth" has great hymns like "Steal Them Blind" and "Waiting Still" What has been the reaction from the fans so far?
Gus G: We have been receiving amazing reviews mostly and the fans are very pleased with our new album. Everyone is telling us that the new album is much better than the first one.
Do you think that the people buying the FIREWIND albums are fans of the band or of Gus G. and they want to know what you will do next?
Gus G: I think it's both. FIREWIND has its own fan base, and I have my own fan base as a guitarist. I know that there's a lot of people that follow my career closely and buy everything I release.
How was it to work with an experienced singer like Stephen Fredrick?
Gus G: To be honest, I've never met the guy. I 'work' with him through David Chastain. David is the guy that I have the main contact with. And David is responsible for the vocal recordings and production. He works closely with Stephen on the vocal lines, lyrics, and all other vocal arrangements. He is his producer for sure. I have been very pleased with Stephen's performances on both albums. He's also a great lyricist. To me he has one of the best voices in rock/metal and a totally unique style of his own.
Was he enthusiastic to work with another young guitar god? (laugh) (In reference to his previous band Kenziner and Jarno Keskinen on guitar)
Gus G: I don't know about that. I always thought that Jarno was a good songwriter, but a lousy guitar player!
You have two new band members. Can you introduce them to us and tell us why the band had to go through this line-up change?
Gus G: We got a brand new rrhythm section: It's Stian Kristoffersen on drums. He's Norwegian and also plays with Pagan's Mind. The bass player is Petros Christo and he's an old friend of mine from Greece. The band needed to get a new drummer and bass player, as the previous guys couldn't go on tour and be full time dedicated in music. And since Firewind's purpose is to play live and tour, they couldn't continue with us.
Considering that you play in other bands like DREAM EVIL, NIGHTRAGE and MYSTIC PROPHECY, how do you juggle with the touring-writing-recording sessions?
Gus G: I have a time schedule that I work out 3-4 months in advance. I have to know when I'm supposed to go in the studio or do pre-production or tour, a few months in advance so I can make it. It's hard work, but I love it!!
Will FIREWIND be going on tour and if so, when and with whom?
Gus G: We're going to tour Japan with Rob Rock's band as support. Things are not that easy to tour in Europe, cause our European label Massacre, is unable to provide us with proper tour support, so we're missing a lot of chances here. It's a sad story actually, but we're trying our best and there's still a few chances to go on the road in Europe either in April or in May. We'll see.
FIREWIND is signed to LEVIATHAN RECORDS whose main man is none other than David T. Chastain, renown guitarist and producer. How did you hook up with him?
Gus G: I used to send him my demos since 1998. He always liked my material, but in early 2000 he showed more of a serious interest. That's cause before I was an all instrumentalist, and at some point I started writing vocal songs. The first Firewind demo I did, caught his attraction. We have been working since then.
Considering the many bands you are involved in and the various styles they are labelled to, in which kind of playing do you feel more at ease and which guitarist influenced you the most for each of those styles?
Gus G: Of course in Firewind you get 100% Gus G. so that's exactly how I want my guitars to be played and sound. Of course I don't have a problem with the other bands either, as I'm just being myself and play like I play. It's just the difference of styles that I always adopt to. My guitar style is influenced by many guitarists. Some of them are Michael and Rudolf Schenker, Uli Roth, Yngwie, Paul Gilbert, James Hetfield, Vinnie Moore and John Norum.
Would you like to add anything else for the readers of The Metal's Den?
Gus G: I want to thank everyone for the suppport!!! I hope they check out FIREWIND's new album "Burning Earth" and I hope they enjoy it!