Michal Roháč • Iovannis Livanos (photo)
The band Firewind is celebrating 20 years on the music scene, and to mark the occasion they played an anniversary concert, which was released on Blu-ray at the beginning of September. On this occasion, I prepared questions that were answered by guitarist and band founder Gus G. So, if you are interested in his musical beginnings, how he worked with Ozzy Osbourne and what he is planning in the near future, the following lines will tell you all about it.
The band Firewind has been on the metal scene for 20 years. How do you remember the beginnings?
The early days were fun and full of new discoveries. I was so green to the music business. I was very passionate about making it with my own band. The problem was, I couldn’t find musicians locally to join my band. So I was in touch w David T Chastain who owned a small record label, Leviathan Records, out of Atlanta. He was helping underground guitarists get off the ground and he saw potential in me. Eventually he signed me to his label, got me a great singer Stephen Fredrick and that’s how Firewind’s first recording lineup came together. I was very excited about everything that was happening.
Did you learn to play the guitar as a self-taught person, or did you also have teachers?
I had formal training. I went to a local music school for 4 years and later at a conservatory for another 4 years. Eventually I fgot a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston which I did, but decided to drop out soon to pursue my career.
Over the years, the band has undergone various line-up changes. Which line-up do you think was the best?
There was something magical in the band around 2006-2008 when we did the „Allegiance“ and „Premonition“ albums, that line-up worked very well for a couple of years. Unfortunately we got burned out quickly and the enthusiasm faded away. But besides that certain era which most fans discovered and loved Firewind, I’d say the current period feels like the best chemistry we’ve had since those days. This current line-up works great on stage and off stage which is equally important.
You have released 9 studio albums. How did you choose the songs for the anniversary concert? Did you go for songs proven over the years at concerts, or did you also choose longer songs or songs that hadn't been played yet?
Mainly we chose a best of, judging from which songs work well live, which ones are most popular and then we added a bunch from the latest self titled album, since we hadn’t had a chance to tour for it cause of the pandemic.
Organizing such an event is quite challenging. Mention the people who significantly helped you with it.
There were lots of people that were involved to make this happen. Our booking agent and TM in Greece, Elias Aravidis, our European agent Thorsten Sohn, who helped us with our light production, our promoters in Greece (Gimme Shelter in Athens and our friends at Principal Club Theater), of course our amazing road crew: Stratos (FOH), Jimmy (backline), Michael (LD), our special fx team, our travel agent, Yannis Nikolaidis and the film crew of OTSE. So many people that helped make this a reality. And of course our record label AFM, that believed and invested in releasing a Blu-Ray.
At one time he played in Ozzy Osbourne's band. It was definitely a great experience. Also mention something from this period.
It was some of the best years of my life. I learned so much playing at such a highly proffesional level. I’ll never forget my time w Ozzy, it opened up so many doors and made me so much better at my game.
You have been busy musically for the last 2 years. You were on tour with the band Beast In Black, you were seen with the formation G4. Do you still have any plans for autumn, or are you already composing a new album? If so, when will it be released.
Yes. At the beginning of the year we toured with Beast in Black and in the spring I also played with G4. Anyways....the new Firewind album is done, it’ll be our 10th studio album! I will do another short solo tour this October in Europe and then rest until 2024. Then we go back out w Firewind to launch the new album and world tour.
You devote yourself fully to music and the band without any other job, and tell us what you like to do in your spare time.
I have very little spare time. Firewind and my solo career is my day job. Not only I am the creator and guitarist, but I also manage my career. So I do a lot of „office work“ you could say. I oversee every part of the business around the band. Luckily I have my own home studio, so I work from my house.
In my spare time I chill with my wife and our cats and spend time w family or friends when possible. My life at home is pretty quiet.
Thanks for the interview. Do you have anything else you would like to say to your fans?
We love them all and we hope they enjoy the new Bluray release! Hopefully it’ll keep you good company till the new FIREWIND Metal anthems are unleashed!