Interview with Gus G - The guitarist of Ozzy and Firewind
Gus G. is a guitar prodigy from Greece. Well known for his services as the axe man behind Ozzy Osbourne since 2010 and the mastermind behind the Greek heavy metal band Firewind. Endorsed and having signature models by the most prestigious companies of the 21st century including ESP guitars, Blackstar amps and Elixir strings to name a few, awarded with the "Best Shredder" award at Metal Hammer Golden Gods ceremony in 2011, Gus is talking to us about his experience with Ozzy and the 7th Firewind studio album due to be released on May 21st in Europe and May 22nd in US and Canada.
Last time we've met you were on Ozzy's Scream world tour where we did an interview. What are your memories today from it.
Scream world tour was by far the best thing I've ever experienced so far in my life. It's the biggest thing I've ever done. I had the opportunity to witness what a few musicians can live or do. To be able to do a tour on this level was truly unbelievable. I remember every single second from it. It was just great! The best thing in my career.
You seemed to be so restless by looking at your schedule after the Ozzy tour. Getting on the road with Firewind again, doing a series of clinics, recorded a new album and all that in a very sort period of time. How do you manage that? Do you ever get on holiday?
I have a problem. I can never have holiday. I mean possibly I don't want to, it's not that I can't. If I have to stay home for one month I don't feel good. I feel that everything came to an end. To be honest I have a lot of spare time. For example Ozzy wasn't playing every night . We were playing 3 nights a week and we had 4 days off in the nicest hotels in any possible city around the world. I always had a guitar with me and I was playing or songwriting. I know that my schedule looks hectic and very jammed but the way our latest Firewind release happened was in a very calm and easy way because don't forget that our previous album "Days Of Defiance" was already done a year before Scream album came out and we were just waiting to see when is the right time for it to come out. With "Few Against Many" our contract with Century Media was finished and I didn't want to sit down and think the business side of things but I wanted to focus entirely on the music and be exactly how I wanted it to be. I said that to the band as well, I asked them to let me do the album as I wanted it because on the last album everybody wanted his own thing to be involved. I have written already anyway all the songs whilst on tour with Ozzy, I had the demos ready and I didn't speak to any labels or management ,booked the studio and done it. It was a stress free album and I really enjoyed it because when you are under a label and looking at the contracts and thinking you are running out of time, money etc. everyone gives you deadlines and I wanted to avoid that. I did it in my own terms. So we ended up talking to a few labels and Century Media was the one that understood us more because of our longterm relationship which builded us up in Europe and they wanted it to be released from them. I did my own label in America and I tried new things.
You recently did a couple of shows in Greece. Do you think that the financial situation has affected the response from the fans?
Look, we are very aware of the financial situation in the country. When I came back from the Ozzy tour the situation was bad already. We kept the ticket prices as low as possible. We knew that despite people not having money they want to go out and have a bit of fun in order to forget about the way their every day life is. The two shows we played in January in your hometown, Ioannina and in Athens went down really great. Both shows were packed and we all had a great time and we are looking forward to doing this again at some point.
Firewind - Losing My Mind - Live in Athens (Video by Rockoverdose.gr)
The sound and production of the new album sounds very different from the previous release "Days of defiance". Tell us a few things about it.
That has to do a lot with the songwriting approach. The style is a bit different and heavier than before. I didn't want to write "Fall into pieces No.3" or something like that. I wanted to write something more aggressive and in your face in a way. In terms of production we left from the European standards and mixed it in America with Jason Suecof who does different type of bands like Trivium etc. and gave the album this new fresh and powerful sound.
This album seems to be more guitar oriented with less keyboard parts. Was there a reason for that?
The writing process was different. Before joining Ozzy I had more free time in my hands and I could fly to Athens and co-write with Bob Katsionis, our keyboard player and second guitarist, a few things but now I was away for one and a half year so I wrote a lot of ideas on my own. On the back side of my mind I wanted it to be more guitar orientated anyway. In the past I had the keyboards in my head more during songwriting but now I wanted to focus more on the guitar. So it happened to end up this way.
We have heard a lot of rumours that you are going to be involved in the Ozzy & Friends tour. Is it true?
Yes it is. I'm included alongside everybody else who is mentioned in the list and I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be fun.
Ozzy and Friends
We've heard that Firewind are going to be touring with Leaves' Eyes soon. It looks like a strange combination, how did that happen?
I know it is a weird sort of package but that's what we wanted. Last time we toured with Wolf who are a straight heavy metal band and it went down really well but this time I thought of doing a crossover package. Leaves' Eyes are an old band with a good fan base, Liv Kristine is a very well respected front woman for many years now and we hope that their fans will like our music and our fan their music. That's what I thought, to unite our powers from two different heavy metal branches and make something good out of it. I now that in central Europe, ie Germany they don't think this is a "go power metal package" but I don't care about that. No matter what the metal magazines say I think that the fans are going to come down and have a great night because they are going to watch two very good bands.
What should we expect from you in the nearest future?
Tours. I'm going to do the Ozzy & Friends tour and then after that the tour with Firewind which is going to last until the end of the year and generally the rest of the year looks busy for me and after that we'll see.
FIREWIND - Wall Of Sound (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Thank you very much for talking to Live4Guitar. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for talking to me. I hope your readers will check out our new album and continue your great work. See you on tour.
Gus G and George GT Stergiou
Special thanks to Mik Gaffney and Factory music for getting us the interview
Cover photo by: Hatzakis Photography