GUS G – I want the heavier, more old school sound of Firewind back, which doesn’t include a keyboard player in the cards

by Loris Clerico

Italian version

Particularly known for having played with Ozzy Osbourne from 2009 to 2017, instead of Zakk Wylde, his officially debut with the ex leader of Black Sabbath happened at BlizzCon in 2010, and he also recorded the album “Scream” with the madman. To this day he plays in his power metal band Firewind, but he has also taken part in several bands such as: Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy, Nightrage and Arch Enemy. In addition to his career with various groups, he also published 4 solo albums, with various guests such as: Matz Levén (Street Talk, Yngwie Malmsteen, Candlemass), Jeff Scott Soto (Malmsteen, Journey, Sons Of Apollo), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Will Hunt (Evanescence, Vasco), Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Unisonic), to name a few.
If you are looking for an innovative, virtuoso and powerful guitarist, Gus G is here!

Hi Gus G! Welcome on Metalpit! It’s a pleasure to interview one of my favorite guitarists of all time. How are you? How’s going in Greece about Corona virus?

Hello Metalpit readers! Thanks for the interview opportunity, I hope everyone is staying safe these days. In Greece we handled the covid situation well in the beginning, but after the summer unfortunately came the second wave. Since then we’re on a strict lockdown, I haven’t left the house in almost 2 months. It’s pretty depressing at the moment, so I’m trying to stay creative at home.

How do you compose a song and balance it more on the “technical” or on the “melodic” side, and how you understand if at that particular moment you need a guitar solo or keyboards solo?

Sometimes when I write too technical stuff I feel there’s something missing. Then I add melody and everything changes and the song becomes much stronger. Other times I start writing based on a melody. Those are the easiest songs to write, cause they basically write themselves. So, melody is key and it’s important to remember that. The technical part is just ego most of the times. It’s good to include it a bit, if you have a certain technical ability, but it shouldn’t be the main focus.

I really like your song “The Quest”, I like the way that is composed, the structure of the song, the video was crazy. How did you came up with the idea? And what about the video?

I actually wrote most of that song in my head! Which is crazy. I heard that intro arpeggio in my head and just executed it on the guitar. The rest of the parts came easy cause I had a strong chorus. The middle heavy riff actually is one of the very first riffs I ever wrote as a teenager. I always liked it and never used it, so I thought it would fit well as a middle part on this song. As for the video, I wanted to do something crazy. I went to the director and said “let’s do an 80s style superhero type video! I want to summon thunder with my guitar and kill the bad guys with it haha”. They presented me the video script which I thought was brilliant. We shot  everything in Belgrade, Serbia.

Did you ever think about a record with all female voices? I really like your “What Lies Below” with Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), i think she’s would be a great singer for your solo record.

Funny you should say that cause I’ve had this idea to put together an album with female vocalists and write a song inspired by each singer, maybe call it “Muses”, but right now I don’t have the material or time for it. Since you mentioned Elize, I should say that she’s one of my favorite singers and I’d love to do a full collaboration album with her, maybe Elize / G type of studio project. But I know she’s very busy with Amaranthe & I’m also very busy with my own bands too. Who knows? Maybe someday…

How did you made the song “I Am The Fire”? The fire it’s my favorite element, it’s yours too?

It’s a riff I had in mind, originally I had Lzzy Hale of Halestorm in mind for the collaboration. I guess I was listening to them for a bit and maybe this song was the outcome of that type of hard rock vibe. Anyways, my product manager at the time, suggested to work with the band Devour The Day and it was a great idea. I love the song to this day. And yeah, fire is my favorite element.

Will you do a solo tour with Jeff Scott Soto? It’s one of my favorite singers of all time.

There’s no such plans, but Jeff is a good friend and if our paths cross again, I’m sure we’ll do something together.

Will you replace in your future setlist live, songs like “Blame It On Me”, “Summer Days” and “We Are One” ? Miss so much these kicking ass songs!

Haha! Ok, I’ll think about it.

In the 2016 you made “Ode To Leonidas” video with your band Firewind, it’s fantastic, how did you made this song?

I actually wrote the song back in 2009 for a side project I was about to start with Dennis Ward & Michael Kiske. Around that time, I also auditioned for Ozzy and as I got the gig I abandoned that idea for the side project. Those guys made Unisonic. Anyways, fast forward to 2016 and I revisited those demo ideas I wrote with Dennis and “Ode to Leonidas’ was one of them. In fact that song inspired the whole concept for the Immortals album. The video was fun to make, as we were inspired by the movie 300.

I feel sad about Bob leaving the band, do you think you will looking for another keyboard player?

The split with Bob was a mutual decision. We were a good team on stage, but he’s also a very creative guy and he needed to put his ideas in other projects too. I’m very selective when it comes to Firewind as it’s my baby. Also, I know that Bob didn’t want to continue touring as much, so this was an opportunity for both of us to move on. There was no fights or bad blood, we’re still great friends. But since that happened, I reimagined Firewind totally different. I want the heavier, more old school sound of Firewind back and that doesn’t include a keyboard player in the cards. I’m 100% certain that we should continue as a four piece for the future, basically a power trio with a great frontman. Bob’s keyboards will still exist live on the songs he played on, but on a backing track. I have no desire to bring in another keyboard player.

Right now I’m living a though situation about my health problems, how do you face your difficult situation in your professional life and private life?

Really? I wish you a speedy recovery! Well for me, 2020 has been challenging like most of people out there and pretty much 100% of the musicians of this planet. Luckily, I’m a guy who has been saving for a rainy day. The reason I always did that, is cause I knew the music industry is not a stable business you can count on. In a way, I saw this coming and I was prepared for it. So, while I’m also being hurt big time, I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck on the road and made sure I could be able to provide for my family in a hard situation like this. It’s not easy, but I try to think positive.

Besides the music, do you like movies? Who are yours favorite actors and film directors?

Yes, I’m a big film fan! I love Riddley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorcese, Woody Alen. As for actors, I like a lot old school but also newer actors too. De Niro, Al Pacino, Dustin Hofman, Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, the list goes on. I like sci-fi and comedies mostly.

Do you play any sports? Do you know that in Greece lives Alexander Kazakis? he is a great pool billiard player.

I’m not familiar with him, sorry. I don’t follow pool, or sports much. I’m an athletic guy, I like to work out, but I just have no interest in watching sports on tv, unless it’s the Olympics.

What do you think about the future of the music business?

I seriously think that subscription based services is the future. Platforms like Patreon will be the archetype of how artists will be able to make a living from their music and their art. Also, everything is already digital and on streaming services, so this will be around for a long long time.

This was my last question, write what you would to your fans in Italy, hope to see you soon in my country and thank you for your time. Ciao!

I miss Italy and my friends over there! Please stay safe everyone, when this pandemic is over, I’ll be back to play for you, I promise! Merry Christmas!

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