FIREWIND Interview For Heavy Metal Mania Webzine
Questions By Harry Shadowcaster Vlavianos
Q. Hello Gus, how are you?
Gus G: Hi Harry, I'm doing fine thanx!! Right now I'm in Gothenburg, Sweden working on the new Dream Evil album and doing some gigs with that band.
Q. Congratulations on your new album "Between Heaven And Hell." It is really difficult to find a good power metal album nowadays.
Gus G: Thanx for your nice words!! Glad to hear you liked the album. Yes, I agree with what you said, it's very hard to find a good metal album in general and not only in power metal.
Q. Since Firewind are a relatively new band, a short bio is in order.
Gus G: The idea of FIREWIND started in the fall of 1998 when I was at Berklee college in Boston. I dropped out of the school after 2 weeks of studies to record a demo CD with some friends. I named it FIREWIND and shortly after, I started looking for a record deal. My demos caught the attraction of David T. Chastain at Leviathan Records. After working hard on new material, I was offered a contract from Leviathan Records in 2001. David Chastain helped me to find the right band members. He hooked me up with Stephen Fredrick (vocals) and the outstanding drummer Brian Harris. Both of those guys played with Kenziner before. I brought in the band bassist, Konstantine. Our debut album Between Heaven and Hell is released with Massacre Records in Europe, EMI in Japan, Leviathan in the USA and Rock Brigade in South America.
Q. Besides you, there is another Greek musician in the band, Konstantine. Care to give me some more info about him? How long have you known him?
Gus G: I've known Konstantine for quite a few years now. He's been around the Greek scene and playing with different bands, the most notable was Medieval Death. He also fronts his own band now called IT. They play a style like a mix of Rammstein and Static X. Anyway, he's a very close friend and an incredible bass player, so he was the first choice for FIREWIND.
Q. David T. Chastain has handled the production of the album. How did you come in contact with him? Has he added any new ideas during the recordings?
Gus G: Like I mentioned above, I first sent my demos to David in 1998. David always liked my songwriting and playing and has been a major help for FIREWIND. I think he has done an excellent job in the studio producing Stephen's vocals. If I compare the vocal ideas and lines of the CD, with the ones I originally had, it's like day and night! I'm very pleased with his work and we will have him produce our next album as well.
Q. How would you describe your music? To me it sounds like classic Heavy Metal with modern production. It has a "crunch meets melody" approach. Do you agree with my opinion?
Gus G: Yes, I totally agree with this approach, cause that's the sound I was going for, from the beginning! Classic Heavy metal music, at times very heavy but always melodic.
Q. There is a Scorpions cover version, which is great! Was there as reason why you selected this particular song? Do you love the old Scorpions? What about the new?
Gus G: Yes, I'm a big fan of old Scorpions and Pictured Life is one of my all time favourite songs! I like their newer stuff as well. I think the album they did with the Berlin Philharmonic is excellent.
Q. What can you tell me about the lyrics of the album? Has the title anything to do with the lyrical concept?
Gus G: Not really. It's just a cool and strong title, that's why we chose to name the album like that.
There is no lyrical concept, some songs have fantasy epic lyrics, while others have more realistic strong messages. Songs like "World of Conflict" and "Tomorrow can wait."
Q. How do you feel about power metal bands that enrich their sound with many symphonic or progressive elements? Do you like this kind of power metal or are you closer to more classic Heavy/Power Metal sound?
Gus G: I don't know. I'm not a big fan of the symphonic sound and I wouldn't want to go towards that direction with my music. That doesn't mean that I don't like artists that play that style. I'm a big Yngwie fan and I think Symphony X is also very cool.
I just write what I feel. My influences come from classic metal bands like Scorpions, UFO, MSG and stuff like that, I don't really listen to power metal whatsoever.
Q. What kind of feelings do you think your music brings out to the listener?
Gus G: I hope people feel good when they listen to Firewind's music and I think the lyrics are pretty easy to understand, so maybe it's something that people can relate to and get in the song's mood.
Q. Why has the European version a different and better cover than the US version?
Gus G: Cause when Massacre Records saw the cover that our Japanese label chose for the release, they said they were gonna go with a different cover and actually that made me very happy. I totally hate the cover that's on the Japanese and American release!! However, it was not up to me or up or Leviathan to change that. We licenced the album to EMI, so they had the right to use the cover they wanted. And Massacre has the rights for the European cover, so we couldn't use it in the American release either.
Q. Since you've lived in the U.S.A. for quite long you must know how the metal scene is over there first hand. Is it really the way it is said to be? Has the condition changed over the years?
Gus G: I left the States in 1999, so I don't know what's going on there today, but I can assume that it's pretty much the same rap metal shit and hip hop.
Q. You are currently the guitarist of Mystic Prophecy, Dream Evil and Firewind. Where do you draw your inspiration from to be able to carry out your duties successfully in all three bands?
Gus G: I don't know, I just keep writing music. With FIREWIND actually, I have the hardest work to do, cause I write all the music and make all the arrangements, so that takes up a lot of time. In Mystic Prophecy and Dream Evil I co-write with the others, so songs are made up and arranged much easier.
Q. Weren't you and former guitarist of Exhumation Panos Giatzoglou planning to form a new band in Sweden? That is old news and I haven't heard anything since then. What happened?
Gus G: Firstly, you heard wrong, it's me and Marios Iliopoulos from Exhumation that started that band. The band is called NIGHTRAGE and actually we are entering Studio Fredman to record the debut album in a few weeks!!! This album should come out sometime in 2003. We haven't signed with anyone yet, as we will shop the album after it's finished.
Q. Is Firewind a project or a real band? Which of the three bands is your priority?
Gus G: FIREWIND is a real band. You can say that mainly it's my musical vision and everything is centered around me. My priorities are FIREWIND and DREAM EVIL. With MYSTIC PROPHECY we have a second album ready to release, but that's more like a cool project that me and the guys have on the side. I hope things will go great with NIGHTRAGE also, but that's more Marios' dream, I'm just following him, cause I like his music a lot.
Q. How did you get started in music, and what led to your selecting guitar as your primary instrument? What are your influences?
Gus G: I started playing guitar when I was 10 years old after I heard Peter Frampton and Al di Meola. I thought it would be really cool to play rock guitar. By the time I was 14, I got heavily into practicing and it was my dream to be a rock musician ever since.
My influences as far as guitarists is concerned, are Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen and Uli Jon Roth.
Q. Will you have the chance to tour with Firewind? Are there any confirmed dates?
Gus G: No confirmed dates yet. However, we're currently working hard to place FIREWIND on a good European tour. We'll see what happens. I think that things will be better with a second album, but it's very important to tour for this album as well.
Q. Well, I don't want to tire you any more with my questions. Do you have any last words?
Gus G: Thanx very much for the interview and support!!! We hope to play in Greece as soon as possible!!
Q. Thank you for your time.
Take care and STAY METAL!!!!!!!
Firewind's "Between Heaven and Hell" cover art.
Firewind's European "Between Heaven and Hell" cover art.