Guitar wizard Gus G (Firewind/Ozzy Osbourne) visited London recently, Chris Tippell met up with him and they had a friendly chat about Firewind, Gus’ adventures with Ozzy Osbourne, some of his guitar heroes and other sources of inspiration and much more.
Hello, nice to meet you.
Yeah, you too.
You’ve been in London for a couple of days now, have you got a chance to see much of London at all?
Well, went out shopping when I got here, Oxford Circus and…*checks* Carnaby Street.
You’re here because Firewind have a brand new album coming out called “Few Against Many”. Is there anything you’d like to say about the album at all?
Erm…it’s a good album *laughs*…It’s a different album actually compared to the previous one I would say.
Oh ok, different how so?
…Lots of things are different actually: the production is different, different sound, it’s a heavier record, it’s a different approach to songwriting, to arranging…I don’t think any of the songs really remind us of any of our past stuff so much. Just trying to play around with different beats and grooves and riffs.
It’s quite a battle cry sounding statement for the title, is there a deep meaning behind the title at all?
The overall concept is about fighting any kind of battle really, like for us it could be the struggle to really break the band to a bigger, larger audience, and like your always battling, when you feel like you’re on your own against the world, and you struggle so much you know, and get so little in return. Urm…or it could be something that people can relate to personally, you know, depends on who, anyone’s life situation: it could be about family, it could be about something personal it could be about a relationship it could be about your country or it could be about shit that’s going on. Someone said yesterday to me actually saying is it about the metal community, or about us being on the side I guess or compared to what their society is or just being left out somehow, that’s another way to look at it. So it’s a general title you can relate to.
Ok, is this an album that you think can push Firewind to a higher status?
I hope so, I think this has all the right elements for it.
Is there a level you hope you can reach?
Yeah, well everyone wants to reach as high as possible obviously, and that’s what we’re aiming for.
You’ll be heading out on tour in Europe later in the year with Leaves Eyes. Are these guys you are really close to?
Not at all actually no *laughs* no we don’t know them, but we have heard they are nice guys, they are a good band and they are well respected band for years. And we wanted to cross over you know, not doing the just getting another band that plays a similar style like us, so yeah the idea is them bringing their fans, us bringing our fans and hopefully both can gain a new audience after this tour.
And you have festival appearances coming up as well, like Download Festival…
Download, got a bunch of festivals in Europe, not too many but quite a few still, yeah.
Can fans expect anything new from these shows?
Well, we’ll be playing new songs obviously so…that should be about it really. I’m really excited to play the new songs and see how they go down because we played a couple of the new stuff in Greece a few months ago and the fans loved it so, should be interesting to see how the reaction is.
And of course your playing guitar for Ozzy Osbourne now. Do you still have to pinch yourself over that on occasion?
*laughs* Yeah, of course man!
Do you think being with Ozzy has opened doors for Firewind?
I think so yeah, I mean we definitely get more attention from press from promoters from festivals, from all kinds of people in the business so yeah it’s definitely opened up a lot of doors. There’s lots of new fans interested as well in the band, the more people that find about me for example and from Ozzy they will check out the band. So yeah it’s a good thing, and I think in the long run it will be even better.
How different do you find writing for Ozzy than for Firewind?
Well, I’ve not really written much for Ozzy because on the last album I joined when it was done, so was playing the stuff that was already written. So we’ll have to see what happens when I do get to do a new album with Ozzy. But obviously it’s different, it’s two different things. It’s still heavy metal you know but its two different situations.
How different do you find playing with the two as well?
Erm… Well, it’s different songs isn’t it, and with Ozzy you get to play all the classics really…with Firewind it’s just our stuff and it’s a natural thing to play our stuff because I’ve been doing that forever. So yeah, very different situations but also equally enjoyable.
Are there particular classics you prefer playing?
I don’t know, erm…*thinks* I like to play ‘I Don’t Know’, I like to play ‘Bark At The Moon’ a lot, I enjoy ‘Shot In The Dark’, ‘Mr Crowley,’ stuff like that.
The album “Scream” has been out for a couple of years now, how do you think it stands with the rest of his back catalogue?
I don’t know, you can’t really compare to “Diary Of A Madman” “Blizzard…” you know people will always have that as at the top, and the rest just follows or whatever. The good thing about that album was that it was, one of the reviews I saw when it came out was saying it was his best album since “No More Tears” so was really good to hear that kind of reaction to the album.
Erm, I don’t know what people will say about in 20 years from now for example, but you never know you can only hope. I think songs like ‘Let Me Hear You Scream’ you know is one of his best tracks, I really like to do that live as well and, actually that was his second song that went to Number 1 in America, ever, the first one was ‘I Don’t Want To Stop’ so…yeah there’s some solid tracks there, stuff like ‘Time’ the ballad on there, you don’t know how that’s going to stand the test of time. We’ll have to wait and see.
Do you think you’ll always be considered the new guy?
I am the new guy *laughs* compared to the other guys. Or the last guy. *laughs* Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t get treated like a new guy the treatment is very nice. I guess I am the new guy even though it’s been 3 years now.
Is there any news on a new Ozzy album you can tell us at all?
No, last I heard there was a new Sabbath album in the works. Not really a lot I can tell you, there’s no plans.
Are there any new guitarists that have really impressed you at all?
Erm… No… *laughs* No but there is a lot of good guys out there you know *thinks* I don’t know *laughs* but there is a lot of good guitar players out there, my mind has just stopped. I’m in a different mind frame right now because of the new album so I don’t really think about it but there is really really good guitar players out there for sure… I like Joe Bonamassa but he’s not a new guy really, he’s very popular now but he has been around for a long time and he’s not a heavy metal player he is more a blues rock player.
Oh, are you into Black Country Communion then?
Yeah, I listen to it a lot lately. So yeah, that’s one guy who, isn’t new but is making a lot of noise that I really dig.
Is he someone you looked up to when you were starting out?
I didn’t know who he was, I just heard about him a few months ago.
Who were your main idols?
There was Yngwie Malmsteen and Michael Schenker and Gary Moore, Uli Roth and Tony Iommi, guys like that.
Well, thank you so much for your time!