Elliot Levin of the NY Hard Rock Music Examiner recently conducted an interview with FIREWIND/OZZY OSBOURNE guitarist Gus G. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: Talk to me about setlists. Do you prefer to pick a setlist and follow it the whole tour, or do you like to mix things around from show to show?
Gus: I like to stick to one setlist. Usually, we’ll work out a setlist for the first couple of shows and then we’ll talk about it, figure out what we should change here or there, and we’ll make adjustments and go from there, and more or less stick with it ’till the end of the tour.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: Do you consider FIREWIND a power metal band?
Gus: No, not really. I mean, I guess in this day and age in the music world you have to be tagged somehow, you have to go by a name, but that’s what people say, what press says about us, but I don’t feel that way. Because power metal is kind of a thing that started in Germany in the late ’80s, it’s still popular over there. I could see why people would call us that, I can see the similarities sometimes on some of our songs, especially our faster stuff. But I think our influences come more from traditional heavy metal — IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, or even ’70s bands like BLACK SABBATH or THIN LIZZY. Things like that, you know?
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: FIREWIND is probably the best known Greek band, honestly the only one I can think of offhand. Greece has been in the news a lot this past year because of the debt and austerity measures. Do you follow these economic developments personally?
Gus: Well, I haven’t been home much lately because I’m on tour so much, but whenever I’m there, I see what’s going on; a lot of people going out of business, people out of jobs. So it’s been tough there, you know? What can I say about these things; I don’t really get involved in politics. My job is always to entertain people and make them forget about their problems.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: So obviously you caught a huge break when Ozzy picked you to take over for Zakk Wylde, and I’ve personally seen how quickly fans cheer for you at the Ozzy shows, usually right about when you take your solo is when everyone in the crowd starts saying, “Oh yeah, this guy can totally stand up to what Zakk has been doing.” Do you feel a lot of pressure to live up to previous Ozzy guitarists?
Gus: When I first started off, that first year, of course, there was pressure there, but it was something that I really embraced, to be honest, because not only am I fan of those guys, all of those guitar players that have been there before me, but also because I thought this was my one and only chance to show my skills and prove why the hell I was practicing for the last 20 years. So I told myself, this is your time now, just go for it, show them what you got. I’ve gotten a really great response from Ozzy‘s fans, so thanks for that.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: Do you find that the Ozzy publicity and exposure is bringing more fans to FIREWIND shows?
Gus: I think slowly. I see more Ozzy shirts now and then at the gigs. I think people who have followed more closely, they’re aware of it, and I think more people are getting into it, so I think in the long run it will [help] us. So yeah, I’m seeing more people getting interest like that.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: Could you ever see FIREWIND opening up for Ozzy on tour, or is that too much for you?
Gus: I don’t know how that would work out. I wouldn’t want to get tired before the Ozzy show, but if it was like an Ozzfest, where FIREWIND could go on earlier, for example if there was a big break in between, then I’d love to do it. But if it was an indoor arena where I’d have to go on right before Ozzy, then I don’t think so.
Read the entire interview from NY Hard Rock Music Examiner.