"Interview with guitarist Gus G and Producer David T. Chastain"
Questions for David T. Chastain about Firewind
1. How did you find Gus G , a very talented guitarist from Greece ?
David T. Chastain: Gus was a student at Berklee where Joe Stump teaches. Of course I have been working with Joe for nearly 10 years on his releases. Joe said "He thought I should check out Gus." While originally the stuff was a little raw I saw the potential in Gus. He had an earlier incarnation of Firewind that I released through my web based label Diginet Music. Gus sent me music for a few years and I always encouraged him to continue in his musical direction. Little by little he built up an album's worth of great music. Then we had to shape the music and find the perfect musicians to fit the vision we had for the band.
2. How were the songs composed and produced and how long did it take to complete the album ?
David T. Chastain: Some of these songs have been around for a few years. Originally we were going to put together the band around people Gus knew in Europe. However something was missing and that was the great vocalist. Since I have worked with Stephen Fredrick for years and years I knew he could add that extra something to put the band in the major leagues. Gus had written lyrics/melodies to most of the songs but we let Stephen rewrite most of it and he did an incredible job. I also knew we needed a world class drummer and Brian Harris was the answer. He did great work for me in a few other bands I produced; Kenziner, Zanister and Vainglory. Gus knew bassist Konstantine from Greece and the band was set. We had to arrange some of the tracks to make them fit with the overall picture. I would let Gus know that I thought he would need a certain kind of song and he would write something that would turn out great. Overseeing the recording of the vocals was my most important job on the Cd. Stephen and I worked for many weeks in the Leviathan Records Studio to record all of his tracks that explode on the Cd. Stephen has a very unique, powerful and emotional voice that I have learned through experience can produce incredible results if handled the right way. The entire recording process from start to finish probably took 6 months on and off. The guitars and bass tracks were recorded in Greece. The vocals in Atlanta Georgia and the drums in Cincinnati Ohio. The final mix was done by Fredrik Nordstrom in Sweden. Mastered by Goran Finnberg also from Sweden.
3. After completing the album, upon a suggestion from Japan, you chose to ask Fredrik Nordstrom to remix the album and the choice was great. What was your point to decide the remix to be done by him?
David T. Chastain: Actually Fredrik was suppose to originally mix the album but he is very busy and we could not arrange a time frame that would work. So we had the Cd mixed in the US and then shopped the Cd around the world. Some companies wanted a remix and others liked the raw sounding original mix. Finally Fredrik had an opening in his schedule so we had him remix the Cd. Everyone seems to be very happy with the final results.
4. Are they going to start touring in Europe?
David T. Chastain: First we will have to see the reaction of the fans. If the Cd does as well as everyone anticipates then the band will tour as the demand dictates. Of course everyone in the band is very anxious to tour.
5. What are the release plans?
David T. Chastain: The Cd will be released most likely by Leviathan Records in the US, Toshiba/EMI in Japan, Massacre Records in Europe, Rock Brigade Records in South America and a few smaller labels in other territories around the world.
6. Why did they chose to cover Scorpions song "Pictured Life" ?
David T. Chastain: Both Gus and I are fans of Uli Roth. Originally he wanted to cover the old Uli Roth song "Firewind" but after I heard the song I thought we should pick a song that was a little more recognizable and fit the band's style. While Uli is a great guitarist he is not the best singer and it would be hard to showcase Stephen's vocals on the old Uli song. It was decided that the Scorpion's Uli-era track "Pictured Life" would fit the Firewind sound and it was a well known track that everyone would recognize. Of course the final decision was based on if the band could do justice to the original. I believe the band did a great job on the track. While Klaus is a great singer, Stephen adds a little more power.
7. Where did the album title come from ?
David T. Chastain: It comes from the track by the same name, "Between Heaven and Hell." We actually felt that there were many great song titles on the Cd that could have been the album title. However "Between Heaven and Hell" leaves so many abstract interpretations that we decided to go with that one. It is a very strong and powerful title especially in today's world of insanity.
8. Which track could be the "lead track" from the producer's point of view ?
David T. Chastain: I chose the track "Between Heaven and Hell" as the lead track because I felt that it showcased everything great about Firewind. Great vocals, guitar playing, drumming and of course a great memorable song. Once again there could have been many others lead off but the Cd flowed really well with the final track order.
9. Track by track comments?
BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL
A strong opening track featuring great vocals and fast double kick drumming. Drummer Brian Harris did an incredible job on this and every track. A good melodic song that definitely represents FIREWIND's sound.
One of the heaviest tracks of this album, if not THE heaviest of all! I was listening to a lot of Death metal bands like Obituary & Death when I was making this song. However, it's definitely not lacking melody. Stephen is amazing at how he blends aggressiveness & emotional melodies. One of my favorite parts on this song is the melodic bridge, right before the solo.
WORLD OF CONFLICT
A very melodic tune. One of my favorites too. Originally, I wanted to give this song a folk vibe to it, but in the end I think it turned out to be something unique. Once again, Stephen rips! Check out the pre chorus guitar harmonies and Stephen's outstanding multi-tracked vocals over the chorus!!
A fast melodic power metal song. One of the early songs I composed for FIREWIND. It goes without saying that Brian once again powers the track.
A nice acoustic instrumental break, from the metal madness that's about to follow...... This little tune is very melancholia & beautiful. It was written for a woman. The solo is a one-take and I believe it's my most expressive lead to date.
TOMORROW CAN WAIT
One of my favorite tunes also. I really love mid-tempo rocking songs. I was inspired a lot from The Scorpion on this one. Konstantine really provides the foundation for this track. Stephen's performance is incredible and he really delivers the message of this song: LIVE FOR TODAY......
I have always been a huge Scorpions & Uli Jon Roth fan. Their early albums are my favorites. Pictured Life is taken from the Virgin Killer album. This is my tribute to both Scorpions and Uli, as Uli has influenced my guitar playing to a big degree, as have The Scorpions influenced my way of songwriting. The name FIREWIND was also inspired from one of Uli's albums.
Another fast & furious power metal track. I really like the riff right before the arpeggio section, because it sounds very dark & heavy. Also, check out the guitar solo...... It's pretty technical, but cool!
I WILL FIGHT ALONE
A mid tempo pure melodic heavy metal track. Strong riffs, catchy vocal melodies, solid chorus and grooving drums is what this is all about.
This is an instrumental. I wanted to make an instrumental that would contain more melodies than just showing off my lead skills. I'm very happy with the way this tune turned out, and I especially like the main melody arpeggio theme.
One of the earliest FIREWIND songs I wrote. This song is about the inner fire & will that one must have, in order to achieve his goals and purposes in life. It is a song of power. The solo is really cool, I think..... I like to solo over Phrygian Major scales, I find them very exotic.
WHO AM I?
This is a ballad and like any ballad, it's a love song. Stephen's really capturing the vibe and feeling of a love song and delivers perfectly! The classical section in the middle of the song, is borrowed from one of J.S. Bach's violin concertos. One of the few moments in the album, where my classical influence can be heard and surely Bach is my favorite classical composer.
END OF AN ERA (Japan only)
The day that I was informed that I needed to record a bonus track for the Japanese release, was the day I heard that Chuck Schuldiner(Death), had passed away. I have great respect for Chuck, because apart from being a pioneer in Death metal, he was also a great personality, musician & songwriter. This track is dedicated to him. I composed and recorded it the day I heard about his death. Rest In Peace, Chuck........
10. Your/band's message to the fans Gus:
"On behalf of Firewind, I would like to take the opportunity and thank each and everyone of you that bought this album. We hope that the fans will like the music of FIREWIND. We have tried to craft a Cd that features excellent vocals, drums, guitar, bass and most importantly great songs. We are confident the fans will appreciate our musical goals in FIREWIND."