FIREWIND Interview by Shawn Gould of PITRIFF.COM
Gus, Your current project FIREWIND is called power metal by most people, but I see it more as a straight up old school metal band. Is that how you see it?
Gus G: I will agree with you on that. I never listened to power metal, I grew up listening to Maiden, Sabbath, Metallica, Saxon, etc. However, people tend to put tags on the music they hear, so I'm fine with the power metal tag too. If that's how they wanna call it, then so be it. :)
Which style do you prefer?
Gus G: I'm not sure I understand your question completely, but I prefer the style that I'm playing with Firewind.
FIREWIND's releases have been produced by David Chastain, how did you guys hook up? What does he add to the album to leave his mark?
Gus G: David has produced all vocals and has worked closely with Stephen's performance and vocal melodies. He has also suggested to me arranging ideas from time to time. I think that David writes amazing lyrics and you can hear this on songs like "The longest Day" and "I Am the Anger".
Is FIREWIND currently out on tour in support of the new album? Who are you playing with?
Gus G: We just came back from our Japan tour. We toured there with Rob Rock. Soon we will start planning some European dates.
Being a member of 4 metal bands has to be exhausting, how in the world do you keep it all straight?
Gus G: Hard to say exactly, but I keep a good schedule of my activities 3 or 4 months ahead, so that I know what the hell I'm doing! :)
Tell us a little about how you became involved in each project. Is that what you set out to do, or did you just seize the oppurtunities as they came to you.
Gus G: To be honest, I just grabbed every chance that was given to me. I never expected that all 4 of my bands would be known that fast or even some of them even get a record deal. But I'm happy with the way things turned out, cause I get to work with some of the most amazing musicians in the world and play the music I love. Back in 1999 I was doing some Firewind demos which I was sending to Leviathan. At the same time I got 2 more offers to get involved in bands. The first one was from Fredrik Nordstrom with whom I started Dream Evil in late 99' and the second one was from R. D. Liapakis of Valley's Eve. He asked me to record the guitars for his new band, Mystic Prophecy as a session guy. So, I started working with those people and at the same time I was writing material for the Firewind album. In 2000 my close friend's Marios Iliopoulos band Exhumation split up. Marios was feeling very bad for a few months and since he's also one of my favourite guitarists, I asked him to write a few songs together. So, that's how Nightrage was born too.
Obviously you don't become a member of 4 bands if you aren't a talented guitarist, how do you assess your talent?
Gus G: Thank you. I just keep practicing and playing music every day and try for the best in my career. Music is everything to me.
Does it bother you that guitar magazines tend to ignore European players like yourself?
Gus G: Yes, it does to some degree. I think it's not fair. Magazines like Guitar World are entertainment magazines, so their goal is to sell 100.000 copies a month. So, it's natural that you will see the guitarist from Korn on the cover instead of me or Michael Amott or David Chastain. However, I'm very happy that my talent gets appreciated in a country like Japan where I get continuous exposure from Young Guitar and such magazines.
At what age did you start playing guitar?
Gus G: I started playing at 10. However, it didn't get dead serious for me until I got my first electric guitar when I was 14.
What players from that time did you look up to? Was David Chastain one of them because like yourself he was a player who wasn't satisfied just wearing the hat of band.
Gus G: My main influences and my guitar gods are Michael Schenker, Uli Roth and Yngwie Malmsteen. I love and respect many others too, like Paul Gilbert, George Lynch, Marty Friedman and of course the classic guitar legends like Hendrix, Gilmour, Peter Frampton, Santana and Jimmy Page. I always liked David Chastain's style cause he was one of the few that mixed exotic twin guitar melodies with really heavy riffs. For me Chastain's "For those who Dare" album is a masterpiece.
What other guitar players from today are you impressed by?
Gus G: I'm not impressed by many new guitarists to be honest. I think the guy from Nevermore is really good and I think an underrated guitar hero is Marios from Nightrage. Also Soilwork's Peter Wichers is very good.
Besides FIREWIND, MYSTIC PROPHECY, DREAM EVIL, and NIGHTRAGE, what other project have you sat in on?
Gus G: I haven't done other projects, except some guitar solos as a guest. I've played on the latest Rob Rock, Old Man's Child CDs, as well as did a solo for Joacim Cans' upcoming solo debut.
What is the next band you will be focusing on?
Gus G: For me up next is the new Mystic Prophecy album and I will try to combine the preproductions with the Firewind European tour. My main focus has been Firewind for the past 8 months or so, and as we have a new singer in the band, we will concentrate on writing a great 3rd album.
If there was one band in the world that called you and asked you to join on the condition that you play for them exclusively, could you do it and what band would it be?
Gus G: I wouldn't do it for many bands. Propably if the Scorpions called me, I'd be there tomorrow haha!!
Would you ever entertain touring with some other guitar players like Satriani and Vai do? Do you feel it was a big step for the G3 tour to include a European player like Malmsteen last year?
Gus G: I don't consider myself an instrumental guitarist, so I don't know if I would like the idea of a G3 including myself. But I think this year's G3 with Yngwie included must ave been the best one ever!! I can't wait until their live album and DVD is out!
Do you get compared to Malmsteen a lot, and does it bother you or is it a compliment.
Gus G: I've gotten nice comparisons with Yngwie and definitely haven't been called a clone of his whatsoever.That doesn't happen cause simply I have my own style and i don't sound like him. But whenever my name is mentioned along with guitar legends such as Yngwie, I must say that I take it as a compliment.
Will you be touring the United States anytime soon?
Gus G: Not that I know of. I know we get a lot of questions from fans, but it's quite hard to tour the US these days unless you have reached some sort of status.
Is there a market for power metal in the states right now?
Gus G: I really don't know, but I would say that if there is such a market it's pretty small and underground still.
What does it feel like on stage in front of a huge rock festival and you know that every eye is on you come solo time?
Gus G: It feels great!!! I'm born to do this you know, so playing live and getting all eyes on me and my band is the best feeling!! :-)
What is your favorite guitar album of all time?
Gus G: That must be Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force. I think that was a very inovative album for its time and I think that Yngwie saved the guitar world in 84' after the great Eddie Van Halen of course.
In closing is there anything you would like people to know?
Gus G: I hope they check out our brand new album "Burning Earth" and also check out our homepage at:
Thanx for the interview and support, hope to see you on tour soon!
Stay METAL my friends!!