Gus G Interview by MetalRules.com
Gus, you yourself are somewhat familiar to the readers of Metal-Rules.com as guitarist of the great new band Dream Evil (which we will get back to later in the interview) which has taken the metal world by storm this year. You are also in another great band by the name of Firewind. Can you tell us a little about Firewind? How and where it was started etc? A little about each member?
Gus G: I started the whole idea in 1998. I recorded some demos and sent them to labels. My demos got the interest of David Chastain and Leviathan Records. They asked me to submit more material and a couple of years later, I got my contract with Leviathan. David Chastain helped me to get the rest of the members, with the exception of Konstantine, who I brought in. The vocalist, Stephen Fredrick, is known from his work with Kenziner. Brian Harris(drums) also played with Kenziner and with other bands like My own Victim and Zanister. Konstantine is the only newcomer, although he's been around the Greek metal scene for years.
Can you describe the sound of Firewind for those who have maybe never heard your band?
Gus G: HEAVY METAL!!! That's for sure!! However, we play quite aggressive riffs, but they are combined with a lot of melodies and great vocals. Also, FIREWIND is a little more guitar oriented band.
Firewind is a great name. I am surprised it has not been used before. Where did you come up with the name and does it have any special meaning or significance?
Gus G: FIREWIND is the title of an Uli Roth album he did with Electric Sun. I always thought it was a cool name and I too, was surprised that it hadn't been used before haha!! Fire is a symbol of power, or a symbol of "inner fire" within a person, so I think it's a great name for a band.
Firewind has a new CD just released called BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL. Can you tell us a bit a bout the CD? Where it was recorded etc?
Gus G: This is our debut album and it is released through Leviathan Records in the US, Massacre in Europe, EMI in Japan and Rock Brigade in S. America. The album was recorded in 3 different studios. Guitars and bass were recorded in Greece, drums in Ohio and vocals in Atlanta. It was mixed in Sweden at Studio Fredman by Fredrik Nordstrom.
Guitar great David Chastain produced this CD and his label Leviathan Records released the disc. How did you become involved with David and Leviathan?
Gus G: Like I mentioned above, I just sent my demos to Leviathan and I got a reply from David. However, it wasn't an easy process to earn the record deal! It took me 3 years of hard work!
Mega Producer , Fredrik Nordstrom mixed BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL. Why did you choose him to do this? I know you are band mates in Dream Evil but was there any other reason?
Gus G: I didn't choose Fredrik to mix the CD because we're bandmates. I chose him cause he's the best!
A favorite song of mine on the CD is "I Will Fight Alone". Can you talk a little about that song and any other favorites you might have on the disc?
Gus G: Actually, that song was supposed to be a "love metal" song!!! That's the original idea I had. When Stephen came up with new lyrics and melodies, it turned into a monster metal track!! I'm grateful for that. Some of the songs I really like on the album are, Warrior, Tomorrow can wait, Firewind Raging and Oceans.
The cover art for the European and North American released of BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL are different. Can you tell why that is? Which do you prefer?
Gus G: I definitely prefer the European cover version. I don't like the American cover at all. However, it wasn't up to me to decide. And that's the original cover! Massacre came up with their own cover for the European release, cause they obviously hated the other cover as well.
Will there be a tour to support BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL? If yes, will you be doing any dates in North America and if no.. why not?
Gus G: We will try to tour for this album, but no confirmed dates yet. I think it would be very hard to play in North America, as the market for our type of music is very small.
If you had the chance to choose one band, any band in the world, for Firewind to open for on a tour who would it be and why?
Gus G: Probably the Scorpions. They are my favorite band!!
You are also a member of 2 other great bands. Dream Evil and Mystic Prophecy. Lets start with Dream Evil. How did you get hooked up with Fredrik Nordstrom for the Dream Evil Project?
Gus G: First of all Dream Evil IS NOT a project! It's a full time band and a touring band. I started the band with Fredrik in 1999, after I met him in Greece where he was on vacation. I took a trip to Sweden and we started writing some songs and it clicked from there. I believe this story is already familiar, as Fredrik has done an interview with Metal Rules.com
How big was your involvement with the "Dragonslayer" CD? Were you involved with the songwriting at all or were you strictly there to play guitar?
Gus G: All members of Dream Evil are songwriters and everybody writes in the band. I believe you're getting the impression that I was a "hired gun" in Dream Evil, but whoever thinks that, is totally wrong!:) Dream Evil has 5 equal in everything, bandmembers.
You are 20 years old? How does he feel playing in a band with older guys? Was it intimidating to play with guys like Snowy Shaw who have been around forever?
Gus G: I just turned 22 actually. I have always been hanging out with older guys than me, so it doesn't feel strange to play with older guys. I was always the young guy in every band I've played in my life haha!! In the beginning it was hard to believe that I was in the rehearsal room with Snowy Shaw, but now I'm used to it haha!! Anyway, we're good friends and we have a great time, that's another cool thing in the band: That we all hang out and we're a great company. We love to be on the road cause we have so much fun!
Dream Evil has played many of the major festivals this summer in Europe. Many of the writers here at Metal-Rules.com saw your performance at The Wacken Open Air Festival and said it was amazing. What was it like to play one of the premier metal festivals and how was it playing on the WET STAGE as opposed to the one of the larger stages?
Gus G: Playing in Wacken was a dream coming true!!! I didn't really care that we played the smallest stage, as it was packed with people anyway and we had an amazing crowd!! I'm not worried about playing the larger stages, the time will come soon for that too!!!
I just read that Dream Evil is in pre-production for your next CD. How is it coming along and will it be any different from your last release?
Gus G: Yes, we've added some hip hop elements in our music for the second album.......I hope you didn't buy that haha!!!!!!!! Anyway, it's too early to make further statements for the new material, all I can say is that it's gonna be very METAL!
You are also in another band called Mystic Prophecy. Is that band still active and if so do you plan on releasing a follow up to VENGEANCE from 2001?
Gus G: Yes, that band is still active, and we have our second album finished. It's titled "Blod Omen" and we're currently looking for a new record deal.
You are in three bands, all quite similar in style, all in the last year or so. Do you feel you might be spreading yourself too thin in terms of time to commit to each band for touring and writing?
Gus G: FIREWIND and DREAM EVIL are my full time bands and priorities in life. Mystic Prophecy is a project that we do, whenever we have time, as the other guys are in other full time bands as well.
Do you consider either one of these bands takes priority above the other 2? In effect do you consider one of Firewind, Dream Evil or Mystic Prophecy your main band?
Gus G: Oh, I just answered that above......
How long have you been playing guitar and are you self-taught or did you take lessons? Did you practice a lot to become so good?
Gus G: I started playing guitar when I was 10. I took formal lessons in a conservatory in Greece. I also went to Berklee for a while, but I dropped out. Of course I practiced a lot to become good!!! I actually didn't leave my room until I was 17 years old or something. I was always practicing!!! My parents must have thought that I have a serious brain problem after a while haha!!
What other guitar players, musicians and bands have influenced your guitar playing and was their one musician who made you want to learn to play guitar?
Gus G: I picked up the guitar because of peter Frampton and Al di Meola. However, when I was 14, I was playing Sabbath songs and cool stuff like that, but when I heard Malmsteen's Trilogy I was floored!!!! I couldn't believe my ears! So, I guess Yngwie was one of the main reasons that I practiced like a madman for years.....Other great guitarists I love are Michael Schenker, Uli Roth, John Norum, Vinnie Moore, Gary Moore and of course Jimi Hendrix
You just finished recording a solo CD for Leviathan Records? Can you speak a little about that CD and how it came about?
I haven't recorded or released any solo CD for Leviathan Records. You must mean the Diginet Music Guitar Masters Cd.
When some of the guitar players on staff heard that I was interviewing you they wanted to know what kind of gear you use? What brand of guitars and what effects, amps etc that you use both live and in the studio?
Gus G: I endorse and exclusively use nowadays Washburn guitars, Randall amps and DR strings. I don't use any effects, I just plug in and play. I have 2 Washburn CP-2003 Explorers and a Randall 200 Watt head full stack. My string gauge is 10-13-18-28-38-50. In the studio I have used different amps and guitars. I have recorded most of my albums with ENGL and Marshall amps. Before the Washburns I was playing a Fender Stratocaster classic Floyd Rose model, which is my first axe, by the way.I have used it on all of my releases.
This is something I don't usually ask but again the guitar players wanted to know if you could rate the following players and make a comment about each if you wish.
Yngwie Malmsteen - 10/10! I think he saved the guitar world back in 82.
Steve Vai - 9/10. Totally out of this world guitarist! I love Passion & Warfare.
KK Downing - 7/10. Not a great player, but he's in Judas Priest damn it!!
Glen Tipton - Same with KK.
Adrian Smith - 8/10. The best guitarist Maiden ever had.
Kai Hansen - I was never a fan of his, I'm not really familiar with his style, therefore I won't rate him.
David Chastain - 9/10. A true cult guitar hero! For those who Dare still remains one of my favorite albums! Very underrated guitarist, to my opinion.
Joe Satriani - 9/10. Brilliant guitarist and great musician!
Stevie Ray Vaughn - 10/10! One of the best!!!
Steve Stevens - Not familiar with his music or style.
Randy Rhodes - 9/10. A true master! His work with Ozzy is classic.
Eric Clapton - 9/10. Never a big fan of his, but he's one of the best in his genre.
Jimi Hendrix - 10/10. Simply the man who invented Rock guitar.
Jeff Waters - 9/10. Schizofrenik!!!
Fredrik Nordstrom - Definitely more old school player than me, but he plays excellent hard rock style in the vein of AC/DC and Scorpions.
You are from Greece yet you have lived the U.S. and currently reside in Sweden I believe? Do you see a difference in the popularity of metal between Sweden and Greece and what are the differences in the metal scenes in both countries?
Gus G: I think in Greece we have a warmer and bigger fan base, but not so many active bands or very famous bands. In Sweden it's total opposite: They have a lot of great bands, but not such a strong fan base. Weird, huh? I think that's about it for now Gus. Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?
Gus G: Yes, a big THANK YOU to everyone for your support, it means a lot!!!!!
Thanks for your time!