Gus G may be well know for his work with Ozzy Osbourne, but he has more than a few other tricks up his sleeve. He has been playing with his successful power metal band Firewind since 1998. He also made guest appearances on countless albums for other artists including Old Man’s Child, Sigh, and In This Moment among others. G recently decided it wasn’t enough to be part of all of these kick ass projects, and began working on a solo album.
When we spoke with Gus G he was currently on tour in support of his first solo debut, I Am The Fire. I Am The Fire features guest appearances by many well-known metal musicians including David Ellefson, Billy Sheehan, Mats Leven, Michael Starr and Jeff Scott Soto. When asked how the tour has been going he replied, “It’s been great! I did a bunch of dates in my home country Greece and last spring I toured Europe together with Marty Friedman. I did four special shows in the U.S., mainly on the West Coast.” G will also be over in Europe in February and March 2015, which will include a special London show supporting Kamelot.
Since Gus has played on albums for so many other artists, one may wonder what inspired him to bring together all of these excellent musicians for his project: “I’ve been doing guest solos on other people’s records for years,” G explained, “It’s mainly been friends I have in the business, and they call me up whenever they needed a kick ass solo haha! For my album, I wrote a bunch of tracks with Mats Leven originally, and then did a song with Jeff Scott Soto. That gave me the idea to collaborate and co-write with different artists.” So how did he deiced which role each musician would fill? “I just tried it out and saw if it worked. For some songs, I knew that Mats’ voice would fit best, but there were some collaborations that were just tryouts. A good example is the title track with Devour The Day. My A&R guy at Century Media suggested that I work with them on it, and I’m glad the result came out so great!” When asked how his fellow shredders reacted when he asked for their help he replied, “Everybody seemed excited to be a part of it. It was fairly easy to get everybody on this, I thought it’d be harder. Jay Ruston who mixed my album, also introduced me to lots of musicians that ended up playing on it. For example he brought Jeff Friedl (drums, A Perfect Circle) on board and introduced me to great guys like Marty O’ Brien (bass, Lita Ford) and Jacob Bunton (vocals, Adler, Lynam). Jay also suggested Billy Sheehan and David Ellefson as well so he played a key role on this project.”
So one may wonder, why did Gus G decide to do a solo album and not another Firewind project? G has this to say on the subject: “Because with Firewind we’ve released seven studio albums in ten years plus two live albums! When our singer quit back in 2012, we still toured with a session guy, but I felt that I needed a break from this. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very proud of what we achieved with the band, but it’s always been a struggle and we never seem to have found the right singer for the band. So, it was a good time to take a break after ten years of nonstop recording and touring. This solo album made me excited again, it was something fresh and new for me.” So what is different this time around? “The cool thing with my solo shows is that I get to play whatever I want, “ G elaborates, “So, I don’t only play songs from my solo album, but I still keep Firewind music alive and play a few tracks, as well as covers that I always wanted to do, and I also throw in an Ozzy or a Sabbath tune in there. It’s a good mix.” Since he plays music with many different styles and influences, it is interesting how he decided what style works for the songs on I Am The Fire. G explains: “It was mainly a collection of ideas that I felt didn’t belong in a Firewind record. I had a lot of stuff written on acoustic guitar, some more classic rock style songs. I thought this would be a good chance for me to finally do a solo album.”
G has worked with varying types of bands, but manages to maintain his own style all the same. He describes this as always playing, “…the way I play in every project. I don’t change my sound or style. I am just being myself and try to play the right things for each project or song.” When it comes to being compared to the great guitar virtuosos like Yngwie Malmsteen Gus G says he’s honored by these types of statements. “I’ve always looked up to Yngwie since I was a kid, and many other guitar players of course. So, to be compared to them…I take it as a compliment.”
As for what is coming up next for G as far as his solo stuff, Firewind, and work other artists he says this: “Next year I’ll be doing some more solo shows and going back in the studio to record a new solo album. There’s no plans for Firewind at the moment, might be another 2-3 years till our next album. Ozzy & Sharon are putting together the Ozzfiesta in Mexico in May 2015. More info at www.ozzfiesta.com. It’ll be an awesome event, can’t wait for that one! I’m hoping there will be some more shows before he goes back to Black Sabbath, we’ll have to wait and see.”