Gus G

I knew it! Gus G and Dennis Ward worked great onstage, so a studio recording was bound to be equally great. Gus G released his third solo effort, “Fearless”, and METAL KAOZ got the opportunity to squeeze in Gus G’s packed with interviews schedule and had the nice chat you read below.

Gus G - Interview

Hi Gus G, thank you for getting the time to talk to us!
Thank you, Dimitris, for helping me out catching up with the schedule. Some interviews went longer than planned, so I need to get back on track.

Don’t worry, Gus, we’ve got your back, so I will start right away. How were the shows with FIREWIND in Latin America?
It was a great experience and, to be honest, I consider this as a milestone for FIREWIND as we had been trying for a long time to play live there but without success. We played in a lots of places like El Salvador or Guatemala and beforehand we did not expecting much; I mean, we did not expect to see FIREWIND fans in some places. Of course, some shows were better than others but it was a great experience for the band.

That's great! So, let’s talk about your new solo LP “Fearless”; how did you work with Dennis Ward?
As we discussed the last time we talk together, it was pretty much the same way we worked on “Immortals”; I was writing the music and sending the material to Dennis, and then, he would send his ideas back to me. I have to tell you that 9 out of 10 times there was nothing to talk or debate about as Dennis understood what I wanted to do with a song and he was always sending back the best ideas. What happened with this album is that after finishing “Immortals”, I kept sending him song ideas to ask his opinion, and through this process, we finished 7 to 8 songs.

Do you have songs or even song ideas you did not use in “Fearless”?
I don’t think we left something out; there might be one song idea but I did not feel that it was a good fit for the album. In fact, I think this would be better for a FIREWIND album as it is more Power Metal and Prog. For “Fearless”, we wrote 8 songs with vocals, we did the DIRE STRAITS cover and then, there were three instrumentals, and that is what we had.

Since that you mentioned FIREWIND, listening for the first time “Let It Go” and especially the way it starts, it made me think of FIREWIND.
Yeah, you are right, this could easily be on a FIREWIND album like in the first one. It sounds more like the old FIREWIND.

Having Power Metal in mind, Dennis really impressed me with his vocals.
You are absolutely right. Dennis sounds great and, in fact, when we were recording the demos with him singing, the plan was not having him as the singer. He knows how to record the vocals for demos, the so called ‘pilot vocals’, for the singer to use during the actual recordings.

There are parts where his vocals remind me of Kip Winger, Jeff Scott Soto…
He has all these elements and for this reason we started thinking that whoever we would find to be the singer, he would have a hard time recording. And Dennis proposed to make this band as a trio, and at that time, this idea had not crossed my mind. Although, I liked this idea I had to ask him if he would be able to support this by going on a world tour. In fact, the show you watched in Joliet, IL was like an experiment for us.

I think this experiment was successful because there was a great chemistry within the lineup.
Yes, and once we returned from that tour, we finalized the mixes and the masters having solidified in our minds that this can definitely work.

Awesome! You mentioned the DIRE STRAITS cover and although I am not a guitarist, I was intrigued to ask you how did you approach Mark Knopfler’s finger picking technique for “Money For Nothing”?
I used fingers in the beginning of the song like he does, and during the heavier part, I switched to guitar pick.

And I had a laugh with the small changes Dennis did in the lyrics…
We wanted to make it a bit ‘modern’ as nowadays we have LCD TVs and DJs are rockstars and not guitarists (laughs).

You posted in FB the guitar solo from “Hotel California”…
Did you watch that?

Yeah, I did, so does this mean you are working on a cover on that song?
No, I was just jamming playing different solos and the idea of doing solo-covers came to mind just for fun.

Why did you name the album “Fearless”?
In the beginning, this title idea started with the instrumental I was working on. This was a song title that I had in mind for a long time and also I like the concept behind this word. I mean, fear is something that stops us from doing or even trying to do things in life. Fear is one of the biggest obstacle in one’s life; there is the fear of failure, of disappointing people around you, the fear that you feel from not believing in yourself and so on. In the beginning, I thought of using this title for this track as it was too technical demanding and I was not sure if we could make it work (laughs). After actually using this as the title for the instrumental, I started liking this as an album title.

After the show you did with Vinnie Moore, and seeing you playing with him onstage, I asked you if there were any talks of doing something with him…
We talked about doing a 'part two' of that tour in September. The first part was only in the East Coast, so we want to expand it to the West Coast. Although, I think your question had to do with doing something together in the studio, right?

Exactly, although I would ask you about doing more live shows, so you have answered that question already.
It would be great to record something with Vinnie, although I am not sure I have the time for another band (laughs). Seriously though, it would have been great to work with him in the studio. Don’t worry, I have kept in mind what you told me, so in the future this may happen.

Great, and I will keep in mind that you will return to the US in September.
Yes, although it would be in a different package.

What about FIREWIND? You have a couple of festival shows, so are you planning to add more?
We may be adding some shows but not much. We have finished the touring with FIREWIND and I won’t be doing lots of shows during the summer. I want to take some time off since in September I have a lot of things planned until the end of this year.

Gus, it was great talking to you again! See you in September.
Thank you Dimitris and also thank you for your album review. See you then!

Hi Gus, thanks for doing the interview via the phone.

No problem Dimitris after all health comes first, so take care of yourself.


Thanks, but let’s get into business right away; so my first question is about the recent tour in Canada. The weather was pretty harsh, right?

Indeed it was! We were in the middle of a snowstorm but we did make it to the venues in Montreal and Toronto, and the shows were great. There were a lot of people in both shows.


That’s awesome. Let me ask you the obvious question; is Apollo out of the band or this is something temporary?

No, this time Apollo is out of the band for good.


Was this a joint decision or did he just say “I quit”?

This was entirely his decision. But we had problems with Apollo in previous tours when he had to step out, so now we realized that he can no more follow the band’s schedule. He has some issues back home with family and his job, so a heavy touring schedule was out of the question. I think he will continue with SPIRITUAL BEGGARS and do some occasional shows and that’s all.


So, being in a band as a full time member is not an easy task, right?

No, it is not. Things are not as good as most people think. This requires many personal sacrifices and of course a lot of time away from home. Anyway, I think this was the best decision for Apollo.


And was this the best decision for FIREWIND too?

I think this was the best for FIREWIND too, since having someone who is not able to follow the band by falling behind is not something one can work with. So, we need to find someone who is able to keep up with the band’s schedule and this is way better than just having Apollo for some shows. This is also not good for the fans.


Did you have enough time to find a replacement singer or did this happen in a short notice?

This time we had plenty of time since we knew about Apollo’s decision since November. So, we listened to some singers and we decided Kelly Carpenter was the best choice for FIREWIND, at least for the time being. And up till now, Kelly has done a great job.


I know Kelly from his days in BEYOND TWILIGHT where he did an amazing job. I think his singing style fits FIREWIND like hand in glove. Is it in your mind to keep him as permanent singer?

Sure, we have thought about that, but honestly we have not discussed this with him. After all, this is just the first week of the tour, so it needs time to get to know each other. He is getting better with each show and the band looks tighter every night. But to tell you the truth we are not in hurry to make a decision. We want to be 100% sure when choosing the next singer for FIREWIND and that he will be fully dedicated to the band.


There seems to be an issue between FIREWIND and singer…

(laughs) Yeah, we have changed enough singers during the band’s history but amazingly FIREWIND is still on a rising course. I think this is due to the fact the fans love the music first, even though they can eventually get connected with the singer.


Well, the truth is that Apollo had been with the band the most time from the rest of the FIREWIND singers.

You are absolutely right. After all, Apollo had been the singer in FIREWIND for seven years and we did with him four out of seven albums. We had a solid lineup for many years and this is why we won’t rush to make a decision about the next singer.


Of course, and you have a live album coming out soon, right?

Yes and it is on the mixing stage…

How many songs shall we expect in this one?

We haven’t decided yet. We have many recordings on our disposal and we have to choose the best ones because there are some issues to some of them.


Does this mean that you will be re-recording parts that were not that good?

No, because we have a lot of material and we will just leave outside whatever is not good enough. We did not record only the Greek shows but we recorded almost all the shows in the previous European tour with LEAVES’ EYES so we have a lot material to choose from.


That sounds like a lot of work.

Yeah, it is a lot of listening. After the shows in December I got in the studio and started listening to all the tapes and picked the best songs to use. A week ago I listened to the final mix and I liked it a lot except from some songs, so we have to put some additional work on this.


Do you have a release date in mind for the live album or even a title?

The plan is to release this sometime during this summer and there are some ideas regarding the title but nothing solid to tell you. We are working on the final mix, the cover artwork while being on the US tour, so I think the entire project will be completed after this tour.


So, after the US tour there are some summer festival and then what?

There is nothing planned and there is a good possibility for FIREWIND to take a break for a while after summer. I am also working on my solo album that I am thinking of releasing it sometime during this autumn.


Will you release this via Century Media?

I have not decided yet but I am in the talks with Century Media for a possible collaboration, but I am open to possible propositions. I haven’t signed a contract yet.


Will this contain instrumental music?

It will be half with vocals and half instrumental.


So, do you have singer for this?

I have singers… (laughs) I have already recorded some songs with a couple of singers but I cannot tell you the names. I want to have everything confirmed before making announcements. What I can tell you is that there are some surprises here.


How many songs shall we expect in your solo album?

I have completed 11-12 songs but I most probably have to write some more because I am not sure if all of them will make it in the album.


And what about the music; how would you describe it?

It has nothing to do with FIREWIND and it is more Hard Rock oriented. To give you an idea I’d say that if FIREWIND is more DEEP PURPLE then this one will be more LED ZEPPELIN.


That sounds very interesting. You also performed in a Jason Becker benefit show and shared the stage with Uli Jon Roth and Steve Morse among others.

Yeah, this was a benefit show to support Jason Becker with his medical bills. This was a great experience and I had the chance to meet Jason and this family; amazing people. It was a moving experience and the show felt more like a family, despite the fact I did not know everyone.


How did the show go?

It was sold out and as I heard from Jason’s friend this was the one of the two benefit shows that they made money out of it and helped supporting his treatment. From all the shows that had done in the past they did not make a buck.


That’s awesome indeed. Now let me ask you about Ozzy; do you have any news from this camp?

There are plans and some ideas for the next Ozzy album but everything depends on the BLACK SABBATH schedule and on Iommi’s health condition. But I have no other input on this; it’s like taking things as they come.


Let’s go back to FIREWIND; I imagine that you are using a specific setlist since there was not enough time to rehearse many songs, right?

Well, in this tour we are playing 40 minutes sets and this is very good for us. It’s a long time since the last time we did 40 minutes sets apart from festivals. We have two songs from “Few Against Many” and a ‘best of’ from the previous albums. This tour gives us the opportunity to play in front of different crowds that have no idea about FIREWIND. And this is the reason why we chose this tour and make a crossover in different audiences.

Ok, Gus, these were my questions and I have once more to thank you for taking the time to do this.

No problem Dimitris and I’m sure we will meet again, because you always come to FIREWIND shows. So, get well!