Greek power metal pioneers Firewind have cranked out several albums of high powered, high octave metal, anchored by founding guitarist Gus G. With their newest record Immortals they’ve given heavy voice to the passion of the warrior’s fighting spirit. They’ve dug into their roots, sporting Greek pride, recording a concept album about the great battles of Thermopylae and Salamis led by Spartan King Leonidas and the opposing Persian King, Xerxes.
Thermopylae is known as one of the greatest ‘last stand’ battles in ancient Greek history. Many people’s first exposure was the movie 300. It was a stylized Hollywood retelling of the battle, down to the Oracles prediction to Leonidas and the traitor Ephialtes betrayal, ultimately leading to the Persian victory.
Historically, the second wave of Persians were called The Immortals due to sheer numbers and training, but they were also slaughtered by the Greeks.
The record is named after the immortal fighting spirit of the Greek warriors that stayed and fought, defending Greece to the death.
The record’s first video Ode to Leonidas has the band on the CG battlefield playing him to war.
Recently Gus has also done apocalyptic guitar battle Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road in The Quest video for his Brand New Revolution solo record.
He’s made his fair share of videos with both bands from the hell and fire visuals of Firewind’s World on Fire to solo tunes What Lies Below with Elize Ryd (Amaranthe, Kamelot) and earlier tune Long Way Down featuring Eyes Set to Kill’s Alexia Rodriguez.
They’ve also experimented with different styles incorporating cellos by the metallically inclined Apocalyptica on Edge of a Dream.
Gus talks about The Immortals historical concept. “We love the movie 300; it’s not 100% [accurate] but Zack Snyder the director followed Frank Miller’s comic. The battle of Thermopylae is one of the most heroic ones with his message of bravery, loyalty and ideals. The battles of Thermopylae and Salamis, [they] were all separate kingdoms of Greece united against the Persian invaders. So, in a sense it was a new start for Greece and a good part of Greek history to give a nod to.”
They hope the movie and the record inspires fans to do some historical digging.
Gus has passed by the modern day area. “I used to drive to Athens, I live in the north part of the mainland, when you turn down to Athens, you pass that area and there’s a big statue of Leonidas. So I’ve seen it.”
Though the album is a concept, he encourages everyone to listen to each song as a separate story. “Look at each song as a snapshot. For example Lady of 1000 Sorrows is about Leonidas asking The Oracle’s advice. Or Back on the Throne is about King Xerxes and how he intended to invade Greece, or Live and Die by the Sword is the moment in battle where the Greeks [are] betrayed by Ephialtes showing the Persians the secret path, behind the Hot Gates.”
On the title Immortals, “It’s more about the bravery of how 300 Spartans stood up against hundreds of thousands of Persians. The next battle, Salamis, the Greeks won and the Persians retreated. Had the Persians won we’d probably be talking about a different Europe right now and probably a different world. That’s not what I’m saying, not my words, the historians said that. So, in the end it’s about a war that we won.”
“It’s not about those [Persian] Immortals. It’s more about the immortal spirit of the heros. I think those are the real immortals. The Persian army had The Immortals that were supposed to be undefeatable because they were so well trained but couldn’t stand up to the Spartans. The Spartans would’ve won that battle at the Hot Gates if they hadn’t been betrayed by Ephialtes and been surrounded.”
On the Spartans rigorous physical training, “According to history, the Spartans were the most hardcore soldiers, from the time they were born, they were trained to be a soldier. I don’t know how much is true, but I guess it must be. They were pretty badass.”
On getting Apocalyptica to play on The Edge of a Dream, “We tried to get them for the video but they were busy touring.” When Gus heard it he said there should be strings on it. “We need some cellos and they were like yeah, but where are we gonna find that? I said if we get cellos we should get the fucking cello players and reach out to the Apocalyptica guys. I always like to think big and try and make stuff happen. It’s one of the moments, my crazy dream came true, they were into it and they liked the song.”
Gus hopes to bring Firewind to the U.S. later this year.
Stylistically he keeps Firewind and his solo material separate, “Firewind is more of a classic heavy metal band. I get to experiment more with my solo project, where I do more metal stuff than classic, modern rock. It’s a little more on the hard rock side with my solo stuff and of course there’s the instrumental side where I do all these crazy shred instrumental things.”
On if he’ll use more female vocalist in the future, “If I feel the song calls for someone I’ll reach out, that’s what happened with Elize on my last record. I just thought that, that song What Lies Below would be a great collaboration. She ended up doing it and we became friends and she’s gonna go with me to Japan next month.”
On the Long Way Down song with Eyes Set to Kill’s Alexia Rodriguez, “They’re cool. I lost touch with Alexia. She was very busy back then touring with her band, she came out one day in the studio and we wrote the song together. She’s a great song writer, with a great voice too, I like her a lot.”
One of his newest video’s for The Quest is a tribute to his favorite sci-fi films, “It’s like a combination of Mad Max and Highlander. When I went to the director I said I wanna kill bad guys with my guitar. I want it to be epic. I wanna be on a mountain, the son of thunder and kill bad guys. They wrote the script obviously based on Mad Max and it’s a nod to the movie of course, it’s about The Quest. Both the bad guys and [I] are after something, that’s our quest in the end, to find the Holy Grail, which is my guitar, and [it] has magic powers. I get to it first and with the help of my spider robot, we get to kill those guys. It’s pretty cool.”
There’s constant movement in his solo career, “There’s a lot of stuff I wanna accomplish with that, I’m still developing that sound. There are always more things in development.”
On subgenre experimentation, “When I was younger, I played with Arch Enemy for a while. I used to play in a death metal band called Nightrage so you know I grew out of death and thrash metal pretty quickly. It was cool when I was 18. I respect those genres a lot but it doesn’t express me these days. I prefer being classical heavy metal or just rock.”
On meeting his idol Peter Frampton, “He was the reason I picked up the guitar. In 2010 I was rehearsing with Ozzy and the band in Burbank and he was right next door rehearsing. It was just us, the band, the guy in the studio said dude, Peter Frampton’s here. I said I’d love to meet him. 20 minutes later the door flies open and in he walks while we’re rehearsing Snowblind or something. We took a break and hung out with him. I told him the story of how I’m from Greece and I started listening to him and picked up the guitar. He was just a lovely guy, it was definitely one of my star struck moments for sure. “
There might be another concept album coming, “We could, we’ve talked about it, obviously Greek history is so huge, there’s different chapters and centuries it can be a new path for us. It’s definitely one of the thoughts.”
Gus love’s fan stories, “We get a lot of emails, a lot of touching things really. People tell us how they’re disabled or ill or something and how our music helped them. It’s just amazing and makes me realize that our music matters for something. I didn’t even think about it. Every now and then we get a very touching letter from someone asking for an autograph and some picks and of course we do that. Just hearing fans at shows tell us how a song changed their lives and how it inspired them to pick up a guitar similar to my story with Frampton. These people give us will to continue, if we can touch people like that it’s worth doing it.”
Band Website – http://www.firewind.gr/
Solo Website – http://www.gusgofficial.com/home.html