30 Jun 2015

Gus G

With his second solo album “Brand New Revolution” almost a month before its release, Gus G is on time for our Skype call and talks thoroughly about his new work, his guests and his collaboration with them, as well as the future of Firewind. Gus is in a good mood and pleasant to talk to as always, while he deals some of our notices with humor. Interview: Yiannis Dolas

Rockpages.gr: It seems that every summer we will be talking about a new album of yours! This time you have less guests than the first one. Did you decide to keep a core of players and contributors and limit the “outsiders” for a specific reason, or it just happened?

Gus G: I guess that’s how it happened. I was composing some songs last year and even though I had a lot of collaborations on “I Am The Fire” I kept writing music with specific people with whom we kind of gelled, such as Mats (Leven) and Jacon (Bunton). Also, I played some shows with Jeff (Scott) Soto, we wrote some songs for his album, and I suggested we did a couple of songs. So, I guess I didn’t do that on purpose, but it kind of came out like this…

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Rockpages.gr: So, now Jacob is your muse? Since, he’s got a lot of songs on the new album…

Gus G: (laughing) my muse? That’s a good one! Well, there is definitely chemistry with Jason, whenever we write together something good comes out. So, I sent him some ideas. In general, I think our styles gel well together. I write well with all of them, it’s just that everyone is different and their voices are distinctive, they all have their different style, so depending on the song I chose the suitable singer.

Rockpages.gr: Jacob’s voice is great, when I listened to him singing for Adler I was amazed, and I enjoyed his one song on “I Am The Fire”. In my opinion, “We Are One” is the best song of the album.

Gus G: Cool… generally, Jacob has some great ideas, he is an amazing song writer, he writes for other American bands, but he also writes for several pop artists, that’s his job, he is a songwriter and I like working with that kind of people… I learn a lot working with people like that who work in this kind of environment, that can go to a session and write a song within a couple of hours. It’s an art. There are several tricks to that. I am intrigued by it and that’s I wanted to write songs with Jacob…

Rockpages.gr: Don’t worry, there’s always your third solo album…

Gus G: We’ll see about that…

Rockpages.gr: Also, the two albums releases were too close…

Gus G: Well, I don’t think so, there is several artists that release an album per year…

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Rockpages.gr: I don’t think that this applies to rock and metal though, on the other hand you’ve released two solo albums per year so far, it’s not that you’ve been doing this for a long time…

Gus G: Well, it depends on how you see it… that’s what I got with Firewind, they used to tell me the same. I wrote “Brand New Revolution” in September 2013. I was thinking about using it on the first album, but my company was like “no, you’ve got already some strong material, keep it for your second one”. I’ve already got material from when I was working on the first record, and it happened that I had a lot of spare time. I toured a lot, but my year wasn’t as busy as I was expecting, so I stayed a lot at home and I kept writing. I was in a creative mode…

Rockpages.gr: This time you have only one instrumental track, “The Quest”. What’s your quest about? What are you seeking?

Gus G: Yeah, on the first one I had two, now I have one (laughing)! It’s my quest for the perfect instrumental (laughing)! I don’t think I am good at writing instrumentals, and that’s why I am not putting a lot of them in my albums. The ones that I do include are very special, and have some distinct elements. Generally speaking instrumentals can trap you to just use a backing track and keep soloing, and although I am a guitarist and I love soloing, I don’t want to include this kind of songs in my albums, I like to have complete compositions. Instrumentals always give me a hard time more than “ordinary” songs, which I find easier to write. It’s easier for me to write riffs and add vocal lines on top. So, if I have an instrumental that I think is special and deserves a place in the album, I’ll put it in there, and “Quest” was one of those…

Rockpages.gr: And it has an acoustic outro, which is missing from this album, as compared to with “I Am The Fire”

Gus G: My previous album was almost acoustic (laughs)! It had a lot of ballads. I don’t know why, maybe because I wrote a lot of song on an acoustic guitar and there were several acoustic themes, while this one was written on electric guitar riffs…

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Rockpages.gr: And this one is calles “Brand New Revolution”, which is about some kind of revolution that should take place? Or, has it already taken place? What’s behind the album title?

Gus G: Oh, no there is nothing behind it, it’s just a good album title I think. But, everyone can give whatever meaning they like. Is this a good thing or not? I think it’s a good thing. It could mean anything for everyone. It could be a personal revolution that someone should do in his life. If that’s the meaning he is getting from the album, then it’s fine by me… if it’s a revolution that our country needs, and it’s inspiring, that’s fine too! Whatever! A revolution can be political, social, personal…

Rockpages.gr: If there was a revolution in music, what would it be about?

Gus G: (laughing) Musician’s rights!

Rockpages.gr: Well, there is something like that happening now with iTunes and Apple…

Gus G: Yeah, I followed that, I read about it. That’s good. I haven’t read exactly what’s happening, what percentage are for the musicians to receive for the trial period, but I think that, despite the advance of technology in the last ten years, we are still in a transitional period. It’s still confusing what’s going to happen and who is going to get revenue from streaming, downloading etc. obviously, some artists are stronger than others. For example, Taylor Swift can address an open letter and be heard, but there are also the smaller fish that are happy just to put their music on Spotify for people to listen for free.

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Rockpages.gr: Talking about record companies, rights and product, “I Am The Fire” was released as a deluxe edition with bonus material. Is there a similar plan for “Brand New Revolution”?

Gus G: No, that’s not happening this time. We had several songs last time and it was the company’s idea to re-release it later with some bonus material in case there was a lot of interest about it, like a tour edition. In the end it didn’t work out because some tours got canceled. It was a great package for my hardcore fans, but it was a limited edition, there were only 2000 copies of that… it was a great piece of work. I personally took care of it choosing the videos, and the tutorials on the DVD which had good quality bootleg material, the live songs were shot with three cameras etc. It was a good collector’s item.

Rockpages.gr: Have you decided for which song you are going to make a music video?

Gus G: On Saturday (June 27th) I am going to Sweden to film two videos for “Brand New Revolution” and “What Lies Below” with Eliz (Ryd)…

Rockpages.gr: “What Lies Below” I don’t know why reminds me of summertime in a club that’s about to close early in the morning and people feeling weary from staying up all night…

Gus G: (laughing hysterically) OK! That’s a GREAT DISCRIPTION! Haven’t heard that one before! Like everyone is wasted and the club is closing…

Rockpages.gr: How did the collaboration with Eliz come up?

Gus G: I wanted to do something with Eliz and I was thinking about it. I wanted to work with a girl, as I did on the previous album and I thought of her because I like her voice, which I consider distinctive, and I also like her performance skills and her choreographies. I think she is one of the best nowadays. Actually, I didn’t know her and I got in contact with her through a common thread, director Patric Ullaeus. I sent her the song and asked her to sing on it and she liked it very much.

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Rockpages.gr: “One More Try” reminds me of “Goodbye To Romance”…

Gus G: Yes, basically we did that on purpose stealing “Goodbye To Romance” line. The truth is that Jacob and I wrote this song with the intention to give it to Ozzy at some point, but because things are very uncertain at the moment in his camp and there are no plans for a new album yet, I thought that it’s a great song and I didn’t want to keep it shelved for I don’t know for how long. So, I was like “put in on the record now, and we’ll see”.

Rockpages.gr: You also played “Goodbye To Romance” on a recent Randy Rhoads tribute, “Immortal Randy Rhoads: The Ultimate Tribute”, was that by chance?

Gus G: Yes, it was completely by accident, because I think I was the last one to be added in this tribute album and I was offered with two songs. It was either “Goodbye To Romance”, or a Quiet Riot song that I didn’t know, so I picked Ozzy’s song. It was my only option in a way, because I never listened to Quiet Riot. Personally, I would have chosen a different song, not that “Goodbye To Romance” is not a great song, it is! That’s how it happened…

GusG06Rockpages.gr: Like on your first album the same thing happened with the second, Racer X came in mind with the song “Burn”… I don’t know if I am right, or wrong…

Gus G: Listen man, let me get this straight to you, because that’s I’ve been told in many interviews, not specifically for Racer X, but a lot of journalists are like “this song reminds me of this and that etc”. I am indeed a huge Racer X fan, I’ve got the vinyls since I was a kid and I am a fan of Paul Gilbert… on the song you mentioned I cannot see a similarity, but you know everything is something (laughing)!

Rockpages.gr: I don’t know, maybe it’s Jacob’s voice too, but that’s something personal, somebody else might tell you something different…

Gus G: That’s true, somebody once told me that one of my riffs reminded him of Exodus! And I am like “dude, I’ve never listened to Exodus”! People just hear things…

Rockpages.gr: And that’s why music is so great, because what you like and what you don’t it’s totally subjective.

Gus G: Sure, I definitely have that specific influence of Racer X though!

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Rockpages.gr: Overall I thought that “I Am The Fire” was a bit catchier than “Brand New Revolution”, which needs more listening. What’s your opinion about that?

Gus G: Well, my songs are usually three minutes long (laughing)! I don’t think that my music is difficult. Actually, I see a lot of my fans getting angry because sometimes my songs are very simple, but surely I don’t know. It depends on everyone’s taste and listening I guess. The most technical song on the album is “The Quest”, the rest are very “to the point” songs…

Rockpages.gr: What’s your next move going to be? Solo, Firewind, Ozzy?

Gus G: I haven’t thought about that yet. The truth is that I want to do something with Firewind by the end of 2016, but it depends, I don’t know what this is going to be. Would it be some shows first, or new music? I don’t know what we’re going to do. Plus, I have no idea how much is this album going to keep me busy, maybe something crazy happens and I had a lot of offers to play live, so in that case I will be touring more.

Rockpages.gr: I’ve read somewhere that you have found the new Firewind singer, and that you are working on new material. Do you confirm that?

Gus G: Yes, I have found a guy and we are working together. It’s not totally official, and that’s why I haven’t revealed his name yet. We take it day by day. At this point I don’t have a lot of time to deal with Firewind, but I managed to work on this two, or three months ago. We wrote a song that sounds great, it’s very strong and if we keep it up like this we are going to have a dynamite album!

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Rockpages.gr: What’s Gus G’s next level? How do you imagine that, or what do you want?

Gus G: I think that everybody imagine how their work is going to grow, it doesn’t matter who you ask, they all going to tell that they want to be more successful… well, I don’t know maybe some may tell you that they don’t want this, and that they prefer to remain underground… my goal is always to play my music to the audience I want my shows and my production to be the best possible, given the circumstances of course… these are my goals…

Rockpages.gr: Some say, experts or not, fans or not that everything has been played on rock and metal guitar. Do you agree with that?

Gus G: No, I don’t agree with that. I believe that music never ends. I mean that my motive every day I wake up is to play the guitar, because I believe that I can be better. If I thought that the whole thing was over I wouldn’t have kept playing. In general, I think that there is a new generation of guitarists that they have something modern to offer, while lately I see that 8-string guitars is coming into fashion. It might not be my cup of tea, but you can’t ignore or respect it. It’s an evolution…

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