Gus G Interview by Brett from Transcending the Mundane
1. How do you feel about the debut Firewind disc?
I'm very happy and pleased with the way things turned out with this album!! I'm very excited about this debut release of ours and so is our label, Leviathan. Let's hope that great things will come our way.
2. How have you grown and changed as a guitarist since your days in America?
I find myself getting better and better every day. I've worked with some of the greatest producers/musicians in the business at such a young age, so I have matured and learned a lot of things very quickly. The recording environment was a big school to me. I believe that's where most of my sound and style was built and developed; by doing many recording sessions (I recorded 4 albums in 2 years). I'm still learning so much though. Now, I've started playing live as well, so live is a totally different thing from the studio and I have to become good in a short time as well, cause there's important gigs coming.
3. Why did you choose to study here in the US at Berklee for such a short period of time?
Berklee College was definitely not what I was looking for. I have had formal training before and I got to the point where I got sick of it. Fortunately, I realized that I didn't wanna go to school early, so dropping out was a pretty quick decision for me! I wanted to start a career in music and meet some cool people to start a band, and not go to some school to learn how to become a hired studio musician and pay $ 100.000 for it! However, I met Joe Stump at Berklee and that guy helped me a lot in my beginning, so I'm grateful for that.
4. Do you feel you have developed your own style as a guitarist? You've mentioned influences from Schenker, Malmsteen and Roth- what role does their style have in your own? What have you learned from them as players?
I can say that I have my own way of delivering a message through my guitar. I definitely have something to say and I know how to say it. I don't know if this also means that I have my own style- propably not. I guess there are a few signature licks that I play on my records, but my style will develop and mature more and more. Time will tell. Through Malmsteen I learned how to make my guitar scream and be extreme. From Schenker I learned how to create a solo and how to talk with my guitar, in other words, how to play the right notes at the right time. And from Roth I have adopted the passion in the melody. His playing is so passionate and musical, especially the way that he plays his melody lines.
5. It appears that David Chastain had a big hand in putting together Firewind- what has he contributed to Firewind?
Sure, David has been more than a producer or label so far! He helped me to find the right guys for FIREWIND, he hooked me up with Stephen (vocals) and Brian(drums). I have learned so much from him- he has helped me with my music, directed and guided me through this project and has worked countless hours! Plus, he got the band good deals worldwide, so what else can I say to him, but THANK YOU !!!
6. How do you approach your songwriting and playing while preparing for a particular album (whether it be Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy or Firewind)? What makes Firewind special?
When it comes to songwriting, I have a lot of ideas that are in different styles, so my speed/power/thrash ideas will go for Mystic Prophecy, my classic hard/heavy ideas will go for Dream Evil and my melodic heavy songs go for Firewind. The thing with the other bands is that, I co-write with other band members. In Firewind I write all the music and do all the arrangements. The same goes for my playing: It has different sides. It can be very thrash or ultra heavy, or totally melodic. I know what kind of sound each band should have, so I know how to get that sound and how to play, without changing my identity of course. You can say that I'm like a chameleon. What makes Firewind special I think is not the style, because we're not breaking new ground here. I think it's the blend of agressiveness and melody and the way Stephen's vocals fit into the music. I also believe that Firewind can stand out there from the rest, because our music and style have very good quality and I think that people will appreciate that.
7. It was nice seeing Snowy Shaw involved with power metal again- what is your opinion of him and his Notre Dame project?
Snowy's an incredible musician and drummer. I have great respect for him as a musician and a person as he's very dedicated in what he is doing. I'm also a big fan of Notre Dame!! I have all of their releases, I think it's so cool that Snowy's doing all this horror black metal thing. It fits his personality I think, cause if you go to his house, you'll see coffins instead of furniture and stuff like that!!!! Despite all that, we're good friends, he still hasn't tried to suck my blood hahaha!!!
8. Are you still working on your Nightrage (death metal) project?
Yes. We've just finished the preproduction of the album and I think that we will enter the studio this fall to record the first album. This will be something totally different from what I do, as apart from sharing the guitars with Mario (x-Exhumation), I'm doing the vocals as well!!! I can promise you that there's gonna be some very cool guitar stuff in there!!!
9. Why do you think your parents have been so supportive of your musical career?
Because my parents want me to be happy in my life, and making music is what makes me happy. My parents are definitely the coolest guys around!!!
10. It appears that you have spent a lot of time in different countries- do enjoy travelling? Do you consider Sweden your home?
I love to travel to different countries, meeting new people and seeing different cultures. I consider Sweden as my second home. All my close friends live there, my DE bandmates are there. Sweden is a very beautiful country, although a little too cold for me haha!
11. You've worked with a lot of older, more experienced musician through the years- obviously they all respect your talent- but does this also mean there aren't many younger people/ teenagers into metal as much as you are?
I don't really know, there are teens that are into metal and young musicians that are very talented, but I wouldn't really know, as most of my friends are older than I am, so I don't really hang out with people in my age.
12. Explain how it feels to hold a guitar in your hands and make it "talk".
It's an incredible feeling, if you can talk with any instrument. I believe that music is the universal language, so it feels great to be able to reach many people through my music and my playing.
13. What have you learned from working with Fredrik at Fredman Studio?
I have learned how to think fast, as Fredrik thinks very fast!! So, I have learned how to keep my brain awake. I have also learned how to work and act more professional. You know Fredrik is like my big brother, and whenever I need my ass kicked, he does it haha!
14. What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I'll be touring and playing live with Dream Evil and hopefully later on, tour with Firewind as well. Also, I will continue my songwriting and preproduction for the second Firewind album.
15. When will the new Mystic Prophecy be released?
The new MP is already recorded and is currently mixed in Germany. We plan to release it either in the end of 2002 or early in 2003.
16. Final comments? Thanks so much for your time, please add anything we missed in the interview.
Thanks a lot for the interview and for your support!! We hope that the fans will enjoy Between Heaven and Hell and we hope to see everyone on tour soon!!! Pedal to the Metal!!!!!!