FIREWIND Interview with Gus G. by Rick Maloney for metal-rules.com
Firewind just got back from a tour of Japan. How was the band received by the fans in Japan?
Gus G: It was a very cool experience for everyone. While I've already toured there twice last year with Dream Evil, it was another dream come true for me to play in Japan with Firewind! Our fan base over there is growing really strong and it seems that they love us. I hope we will go back to Japan next year. Fredrick couldn’t make the Japanese tour and you replaced him with CHITY SOMAPALA of Avalon.
How did Chity fit in with the band and is Fredrick able to perform on any future dates that you might book?
Gus G: Chity fit in very well. He is a very talented musician and was aware of his role. He knew that he had to replace a great and very unique singer like Fredrick. However, He didn't try to imitate him, but rather add his own flavour to the songs. I understand that he had a hard job to do and under all cinrumstances he did a great job. Unfortunately, I recently found out that it's very hard for Stephen to go on tour. This means that a new guy has to step in and be a full time member of Firewind. We feel that Chity is that person. We are planning to go on a European tour with Chity on vocals as well as start working on new songs for our 3rd album. I'm happy that the lineup is finally stable.
Are there any plans for a European tour? How about the US or Canada?
Gus G: Yes, there are some plans for some European shows, but we're waiting for the confirmation. I don't think we'll be able to play in the USA or Canada yet, unless we get invited to play a festival such as Prog Power.
If you could choose any band to tour with who would it be? Any preferences?
Gus G: I always make sure that the bands I go on tour with, play in front of quite decent audience. That way we can get exposed to many metal fans and build our own fan base. That's always the most important thing for me. If you ask me which would be my dream tour, then that would be a support slot for The Scorpions or Iron Maiden.
Firewind has some new members. Can you tell me a little bit about them and why Brian and Konstantine are not in the band?
Gus G: Brian and Konstantine aren't in the band anymore cause they also had a problem to go on tours. They are both dedicated family men, which I totally respect. The new guys are Stian Kristoffersen from Norway (drums) and Petros Christo from Greece (bass). We also had a session keyboardist on our Japan tour. His name is Bob Katsionis who also has 2 solo instrumental CDs out on Lion Music. I think this guy will be the next keyboard hero in Japan!! :)
Firewind has a new CD called BURNING EARTH which has been out for a little while. What has been the reaction to the new CD?
Gus G: I think the new album has sold a bit better than the first one and the reviews have been really amazing all over the world. Our next goal is to spread the word by playing and touring everywhere we can!
The CD is a step up from your great debut BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL. What do you think makes BURNING EARTH a better album than its predecessor?
Gus G: I think the arrangement of the songs is better and also the performances are better. We were more knoweldgeable on how to do things this time around, so it was a much cooler experience. I also think that the guitar sound is far better than the debut.
The new disc seems heavier and more aggressive than your previous effort BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL. Was it a conscious effort to make the CD heavier?
Gus G: Maybe a bit. I didn't realize it, until I saw that all my pre production demos sounded really heavy and agressive. At the same time we added more keyboards, but only to give atmosphere and not to soften the sound.
You have also made a video for the track "I Am the Anger". It is one of the better metal videos that I have seen in awhile. Can you tell me a little bit about how you chose that particular song and who directed and came up with the concept etc?
Gus G: Thanx! We chose "I Am The Anger" cause it's propably the catchiest and at the same time heaviest tune of the album. The video was directed by two Greek guys, Angelos Lyrtzis and Argyris Vrettas. The cool thing about this video is that, while we had a low budget for it, the guys made it look quite expensive with all the actors involved and the whole story of the video. I'm very satisfied with it.
"Steal Them Blind" opens the album with a spoken intro that reminded me quite a bit of Orson Wells and his classic work with Manowar. How did you come up with the idea for the intro and who is the narrator?
Gus G: Wow, thanx!!! I love this Manowar comparison!! :) The narrator is Stephen Fredrick. If I remember correct Nordstrom tuned down his voice a bit on the mixing proccess. I think it sounds really cool. Originally I wanted to have a soundtrack type of intro before the actual song starts. Then David Chastain and Stephen came up with the idea to do this narration. I'm glad they did it.
One of my favourite songs from the CD is "Brothers Keeper". It is very melodic yet fits perfectly with the darker themes that run through the whole CD It is definitely a high point of BURNING EARTH. Can you tell me a little bit about that song?
Gus G: Brother's Keeper is also one of my favourites. It was actually the first song I wrote for BURNING EARTH. I thought it sounded quite pop/rock and maybe could be used as a CD single release. It's very Scorpions inspired. :) I think the lyrics are really cool and Stephen's chorus melody sticks in your mind with the first listen.
What is your favourite song on the CD and why?
Gus G: I don't have only one favourite song off the CD. I like most of them the same. I think each song is special and has its own aura.
The CD closes with the dark and melancholy "The Longest Day" which is dedicated to the "innocents of war". Who wrote the lyrics and do they deal with a personal experience of the writer or is it just a general view of our world today?
Gus G: Those lyrics are written by David Chastain. I always thought that David was a great lyric writer. The lyrics are just a general view of our world today with all the wars. We were thinking that this song could be the anti-war anthem of our times.
The cover artwork is again excellent. Who did the work and does "BURNING EARTH" have the same cover for its release in each territory?
Gus G: The cover was made by Japanese artist Kazuo Hakamada. He has done covers for Symphony X in the past. Yes, the cover is the same on all territories of the world this time. I didn't want this CD to have different covers like the first one.
I think I read somewhere that you have never met David Chastain face to face. Do you think the fact that you have never met personally hinders in any way your ability to work with each other and get your ideas across to each other?
Gus G: Yes, it's true that me and David have never met. While it might sound funny to some people, we work great together from such a distance!! We are both open to all ideas and we have a very friendly relationship. It's very easy to work with David. He has helped the band a lot for sure.
Dream Evil is working on a new album. Can you give the readers an update on how the recording sessions are going and what your feelings on the new CD are?
Gus G: The new Dream Evil album is finished and it's called "The Book of Heavy Metal". It's supposed to be released before the summer. To be honest, I wasn't so much involved on the new album cause I was very busy with Firewind. However, I wrote a couple of songs and they came out great. My general feelings are that we made a very good album and I can't wait until it's released to see the reactions.
What do you see as the big difference between Firewind and Dream Evil?
Gus G: Well, Firewind is a more serious band for sure. Despite its success, Dream Evil is more like a hobby band. I think this applies to the music of the 2 bands too.
Do you have a hard time trying to find time to devote to all of your bands. Do you think there will ever come a time that you will have put one or more of your bands on the back burner so that you can concentrate on the others??
Gus G: That's very possible and it could happen very soon. However, I'm happy and fine as I am right now, so no worries.
Are you working on anything else now besides the new Dream Evil? How about a new Mystic Prophecy CD?
Gus G: Yes, there's a new Mystic Prophecy CD in the works too. We are planning to record it in May/June and looking at an October release. The new MP album will complete the Trilogy that started with "Vengeance" and followed by "Regressus".
What is the story with Nightrage? Will there be another album??
Gus G: Yes, there will be and from what I know Marios is already working on the new songs. I'm happy to announce that I will go back and play a few guest solos on their new album. we're also planning to use some songs that me and Marios wrote a couple of years back.
Gus, you just signed an endorsement deal with ESP guitars. How did you get in contact with ESP and will there be a signature series guitar for you?
Gus G: Actually ESP got in touch with me when I was on a promotion tour in Japan last September promoting BURNING EARTH. I met with their staff and since I'm not satisfied with the way that Washburn was treating me, I decided to sign with ESP. They are really proffesional and cool people. They're planning to release my signature series guitar at the end of the year. I'm very happy for that and it's another dream coming true for me. :)
You seem to move easily around metal circles. Have you seen or heard any new bands that have caught your attention?
Gus G: I really like The Darkness. I think they brought the good old hard rock sound back to the mainstream. It's the perfect mix of Queen, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC. Really cool band for sure!
Do you have anything you would like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?
Gus G: I wish them joy and health and I hope they will check out FIREWIND. I promise you that I will try my best to get over to the US and Canada with FW as soon as possible!!!
Stay METAL my friends!!