The NAMM Show 2017 Interviews – Gus G. of Firewind
The NAMM Show 2017 Interviews – Gus G. of Firewind
Gus G. is a world class guitarist who continues to enrapture fans all over the world with the mighty Firewind as well as his epic solo endeavors. After a few years in silence, Firewind has returned with an all-out vengeance, unleashing the glorious Immortals to the world at large through AFM Records. We caught up with Gus G. at this year’s edition of The NAMM Show, where the axeman extraordinaire was promoting his new line of Fender Jackson signature guitars. Read on as we discuss the new Immortals magnum opus. endorsements deals, his very first gig with the legendary Ozzy Osbourne and other raging topics of intrigue…
What are you promoting here at NAMM?
Here to promote my new signature guitars from Jackson. We’re unveiling my new models and that’s about it.
What is it you like about Fender the most?
I grew up playing Fender Guitars. My first guitar was a stratocaster. It’s so cool that Jackson is under the Fender home now, along with other great brands. It’s just a privilege for me to work with such legendary companies.
Firewind has a new album out, Immortals. Is there any overall story or concept behind the title?
It’s a concept record itself. It’s about ancient Greek battles taking place in 480 BC during the second invasion of Greece. It specifically talking about the battles of Thermopylae. Also known as The Hot Gates and the Battle of Salamis. You might have seen the movie 300, that’s what it’s all about basically. It’s about King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans.
What was it like to write an entire album with your producer Dennis Ward?
It was a good experience. Me and Dennis Ward, we collaborated really well on this record. It was a real smooth process. I did the music, he did the lyrics and the vocal lines. He also recorded and mixed the album, just between me and him we got the whole project done together. Now of course the guys all recorded their parts and all that in the band, it was really cool.
Henning Basse is back in Firewind. He’s been on tour with your solo project also…
He was mainly our touring singer ten years ago when he did the Allegiance World Tour with us. From there we lost touch, he did other things and then I called him up two years ago to help me out on some of my solo gigs. One thing led to another and we started talking about Firewind and he was still looking for a band. We were looking for a singer. So there we are.
How do you decide what goes on a Firewind album and what goes on a solo album?
Firewind is a power metal band, so anything that has the fast double bass or melodic stuff that sounds more euro-metal, I think that would definitely end up on a Firewind record. Whereas my solo stuff is a bit more on the hard rock side of things and I can experiment with other types of music and other types of vibes on my solo records. I’ve done more mellow stuff, instrumentals and I’ve done more classic rock type of tracks, active rock kind of shit. It’s kind of a mixed bag in my solo stuff.
You’ve done a lot of touring with your solo material…
The last two years I have, yeah. Still trying to establish that. Still in its early stages, I’m still developing that sound and my show and everything.
When are we going to see Firewind here in the States?
I don’t know, man. We have a tour booked in Europe now, and we’re talking about going other places like Russia and South America. I’d love to come back to The States.
The first time you played with Ozzy, where were you and what was going through your mind?
It was here in Anaheim, actually. August 2009. It was at a convention center, not this one. Another one. It was the Blizzcon, it was the video game convention. Because Ozzy had done something with World of Warcraft, he was in some commercial of that and he was a surprise guest for them that night and that was my debut show with him. It was a big gig, it was televised on Pay Per View. So no pressure there for me. [laughs] It was a crazy moment for sure.
So with members coming and going, what do you think has kept Firewind so alive and thriving after all these years?
I think it’s first of all the friendship between us in the band. Sometimes when bands take breaks, they don’t talk to each other. Guys go on and they don’t talk to each other, move one and do other things in their lives. We keep in touch. I think friendship is a very important thing. Number two, of course, which is as important as the friendship is the love from the fans. If it didn’t have fans asking us to come back and do another record, I think we wouldn’t have done it.
What advice would you give a young musician seeking an endorsement deal?
To me, an endorsement deal has to be done for the right reasons. A lot of people are looking for free instruments, I don’t think that’s the right way to go about it. It should be something that you really believe in. An instrument and an amp, if you’re a guitar player, that defines your sound and playing. It’s a big part of who you are so you really have to find what that is. Or what brands represent that and go with that, rather than just get a free instrument out of it.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Joe Schaeffer)