Today I had the pleasure of having an exclusive interview with Gus G. Gus G for all those who don’t really know, is a famous guitar player , member of the metal band Firewind, but also Ozzy Osbourne’s own guitar player. He arrived to Stockholm this morning to do a series of interviews regarding his upcoming solo tour, part of his solo album release ” I am the fire” . We are sitting in Scandic Hotel in Stureplan, in a really cozy atmosphere , where me and Gus G are having a nice little chat. It has been my first time interviewing someone and the whole thing was really special to me. Our little chat goes something like this :
Irene : Hey dear Gus G! How are you?
Gus G : Hey dear Irene, Im fine thank you! And you ?
Irene : I’m fine! Well well.. You are starting your european tour in a couple of weeks and you are having 4 dates here in Sweden. What can we expect from the new tour?
Gus G : to be really honest I didnt really expect that we were going to have four dates in Sweden, we never had so many, not even with my band Firewind! The truth is that the swedish shows are going to be a little bit more special because I am going to have Jeff Scott Soto and Tara with me , and of course my solo band, and also we are going to be playing an extended set list with a lot of extra songs with my guests. And basically because the set list is going to involve songs from my whole carrier, with Firewind, and my solo album and I am thinking about adding maybe some Dream Evil songs, because I haven’t played Dream Evil music live for almost ten years now!
Irene : How do you feel about coming back to Sweden? We saw you last time in Stockholm rocks festival about a year ago, how does it feel to be back?
Gus G : It feels really good! You know I had been living in Sweden, in Gothenburg actually for some years, from 1999 – 2002. I have a lot of friends here in Sweden, and a lot of musician friends, I still collaborate with a lot of people here .Mats Leven for instance, who lives here in Stockholm. In general there is a lot of history here and a special connection with the swedish musicians, so I always like coming back here to play. And even though I lived in Gothenburg, Sweden in general brings back a lot of memories.
Irene : From all your recorded albums and all your guest albums, what would you say that has been the best collaboration that you have done so far? Whether it was another artist, vocalist, producer, anything.
Gus G : It is really hard for me to just say one name, but I would say that I really learned a lot from all the collaborations that I have done so far. Specially in my first years, there was a lot of people that marked my path in music. For instance Fredrik Norström gave me the chance to be in a studio for the first time and was the first person who taught me how to record on a proffessional level . My very first big live shows were with Dream Evil! Also my collaboration with David Chasten , that actually signed Firewind in the first place, in a small label. He was also one person that I really learned a lot from you know, specially in the production part, he really helped me becoming better. And somehow like that this I started building my first steps. These were the ”Key- people” , if we can call them like this. As regarding my whole carrier we can say that my collaboration with Ozzy would easily be the highlight in my carrier.
Irene : If we switch the last question a bit, is there any artist or producer that you would love to collaborate with in the future ?
Gus G : It is really hard to say! You know I don’t have a list full with names and each time I collaborate with someone I scratch his / her name out of the list! But in general I always love collaborating with people, this why I have done a solo album with so many different artists in it.. Hmm.. That’s a really good question actually! Maybe with a blues musician in fact. Maybe with Grace Potter, she is a blues artist most known in America and she has a great voice. I would be interested in doing something completely different yes. As regarding guitar artists, now that I think about it, I would like to have the chance to collaborate with Al Di Meola. You never actually know how things will turn up! But the most important part is to always be able to make new music and keep going, this is the way I see it. Even for my solo record I had so many names in my head, some of them worked out well , some of them didn’t but the most important part is the result. To be able to be satisfied with the result.
Irene : I totally get it. Moving on, what are your influences when you write music? Is it for example traveling, is it music in general, is it art in general, the people that you meet maybe ?
Gus G : It is everything actually! I consider inspiration everything around me actually. It can be a person that you meet and the things you are going to talk about, it can be a movie, it can be a feeling, it can be a color, it can be a certain sunset that you might have seen in a certain place on the planet. It can be so many different things and for me, I get inspired by anything, you never know how your music will turn out to be. And I really hope it would come to me every day! Because you know, you don’t really feel inspired every day. Sometimes I just grab my guitar but I don’t really feel inspired. The inspiring moments are very specific so I try to take advantage of them while I can. And I really believe that most musicians feel that way. But the thing that excites me the most is what a lot of producers do nowadays and this is to make songs by request. To actually have an appointment with a producer and to make a song. And then the next day this certain producer will have another appointment and make a song on another yet request. I have actually done sessions like this. It gets really hard sometimes, but these people know exactly how to do it and the reasons behind that. Let’s just say that you record a song that is going to be promoted on the radio or for other purposes or anything like that really. It is something really interesting to me. I don’t think I would be able to do this thing myself but I have done it sometimes and it worked out really well. But in general I prefer to embrace the inspiration whenever and however it comes along, so that it comes out of you true and with no pressure.
Irene : I completely agree with you. What is the last thing that you think about before you hit the stage ?
Gus G : ”I have to go to the bathroom!” (laughs) No, but seriously it is this adrenaline that takes over and you really think ”I really have to go pie! ” The fact that you don’t really know if there’s going to be enough time, if you are going to make it to the bathroom and then all of a sudden we are up on the stage. But it is really this excitement that you feel, and it is a really good thing to be actually able to feel it.
Irene : What are the reactions that you love seeing in the audience ?
Gus G : What I am about to say might sound a bit cliché, but the truth is that if you don’t feel the energy coming from a crowd, you are really not able to give energy back. But it depends really. There are nights when you play in front of an audience that is really quiet. You might think that they are not really enjoying the show, but they actually are, and in the back of your head you think ”but they didn’t really seem so excited about it” ..And there are also crowds that automatically share the excitement and your performance turns out to be ten times better. It really depends, from the areas, the countries, the days that you are playing. I am always happy when I see people in my shows. I don’t really pay attention to the amount of people. And of course I know that not everyone is going to enjoy the show. We all have been to different shows, some of them we loved, some of them not so much.
Irene : Is there anything special that you might want to say to your swedish fans who are going to check out this interview ?
Gus G : yeah of course! I am really excited to be able to play here in Sweden, because as I said before I have never done a headline tour here, not even with my band Firewind. Of course I have played a lot of times here but this tour will actually be my first headlining tour in Sweden. And of course the fact that we are going to have a lot of extra guests makes these shows here even more special. Also it will be my first time playing in Jonköping, I have never played there before. But you know in general I feel that Sweden is a bit of an unknown territory regarding the live shows. I have done of course huge shows with Ozzy here, but not on a club level like now with my band. It will be really interesting to see how it turns out!
Irene : Super! Well, the next question is going to be our last one and I would love to hear your reply mostly because I am really interested personally in hearing a professional’s opinion on this matter. What would be your advice to a young kid who wants to get inloved with the music industry? Whether they are musicians, or want to work in this industry in general.
Gus G : I really like this question! And my answer might actually be very long! Well, music industry as you may know, keeps changing so much almost every six months. We see things that existed twenty years ago, that still exist but in a totally different way. People’s interest keeps changing ,too. In the social media for instance we see that twitter was so much bigger a couple of years ago than it is now. Basically in my opinion, you have to be a really open-minded. And basically music nowadays keeps on being a DYI (Do it yourself) thing. It is of course great to be able to have help from others but in general you have to keep yourself and mind open and not to wait for your label for example to do everything. There is a lot of rules that we see that have been broken in the music industry these last years. We all know that the record labels are not like they used to be, they don’t really have the power that they used to have and the music market has actually opened for every individual. Nowadays the artist himself has way more power than they used to have before. You can really give your music to people so easily with just a click. Basically the interested people should just make sure that they catch up with the latest changes and see where it is all heading to. There are not really any rules any more, for instance about how a record should be released or about what a record should be like, whether it is going to be and EP or a single. U2 for example gave their last record away for free via apple. Everyone basically does however they feel like. I know a lot of young kids specially in Greece that ask me about signing a record deal and about having a big record label name on their albums etc etc… but I think that the most important part is not really signing a deal. Basically all the young people should first wonder why they want to do this,then how they want to do this and just think smartly. Of course it is helpful to have a marketing plan but you don’t really need to be a businessman to do it. My best advice would probably be to dare to do something different. Not something that everyone else does. Not something that we have seen before.
Irene : Thank you Gus G it’s really been a pleasure meeting you!
Gus G : Thank you too, I really enjoyed it!