Gus G on the Evolution of Firewind, Coronavirus and What’s Next – Interview

2020-06-03

Firewind – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo

Gus G talks with Anne Erickson about his new album with Firewind, the current coronavirus pandemic and how it impacts the music world and more in this in-depth interview

Powerhouse guitarist Gus G recently released his ninth studio album with heavy metallers Firewind. Aside from doing press for the new album, he’s dealing with the coronavirus pandemic like the rest of us– by staying at home and looking for a light at the end of this tunnel.

“We’re staying in and monitoring the news every day, seeing how things go and hoping for the best,” Gus G tells Audio Ink Radio. “I really hope everyone can do their part, not only my country but everywhere. We all need to do this and stay home now.”

Gus G spoke with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink about what makes Firewind’s new album special, how he’s dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and when he thinks things will get back to normal. Read the full interview below, and listen to the chat via the Audio Ink podcast on Apple Podcasts here and Spotify here.

Anne Erickson: Congratulations on your new, self-titled record. This is Firewind’s ninth album. Why did you decide to go with a self-titled record this time in Firewind’s career?

Gus G: It totally made sense to have a self-titled record now, because the way I approach this, this is a rebirth of the band. I decided to push the reboot button. We went through a big lineup change. Not only did we change the singer, but we went from a five-piece to a four-piece, so it was time for me to re-imagine the band and how we would move forward. I feel like the new record is a collective of all the past elements of our past records, so it really made sense to have the self-titled album, because we never did that on our debut, so why not now on the ninth record?

How would you say your sound has evolved over the years, and how is that represented on the new album?

Like every band, we go through our different phases. Especially for us, having quite a few different singers in the lineup in the past, each guy brought a different vibe and different things to the band. I think on this record, you’ll hear elements from all our past records, especially with our new singer, Herbie (Langhans), because he reminds me a lot of Stephen Fredrick, our first singer. But this album also has a lot of variety, and that might remind fans of albums like (2006’s) “Allegiance” and (2008’s) “The Premonition.” But, then again, we’re not trying to be retro or nostalgic or copy those albums. We’re moving towards the future. The way I see it, there’s always a new song to write. Every album, I try to make better songs, play better guitar, try different tempos, write in different keys. There’s always things you can experiment with in the studio.

One of my favorite tracks on the new album is “Overdrive.” What was the inspiration behind that song?

That song, the way I looked at it, it’s a different track for Firewind’s style, and other than that, it’s a classic type of anthem like a heavy metal track. My influence on that song comes from stuff like Black Sabbath, the “Heaven and Hell” era, or Dio, “Holy Diver,” that kind of vibe. I sent it to Herbie and said, “Check this out. It’s a little bit different, but maybe we can make this into an anthem type of thing.” He thought, why not make a song about our celebration of our music and heavy metal and the fans that support, it and how we feel the drive to do this? I wanted an anthem that everybody raises a fist in the air at the concert and everyone sings along.

Let’s get into the coronavirus situation. How are you seeing it impact those in the music business who rely on touring income and tours to make a living?

The touring industry is basically shut down right now. There’s nothing happening. That is the big question. Nobody knows what will be left of it when all of this is over and which venues will still be open and able to pull though this. It’s going to hurt a lot of people– venue owners, promoters, musicians, crew members. Everybody is out of work right now. It’s tough. I don’t know. I’ve been hearing opinions left and right that maybe we can start doing small shows again or something. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I think about the festivals, as well. There’s probably not going to be any festivals this year.

Absolutely. All of the spring festivals got canceled right away.

Same here. The big metal festivals in Europe like Download and Hellfest are done for the year. Nobody can really predict right now. You can only speculate, like, maybe not now– maybe next year… We’re staying in and monitoring the news every day, seeing how things go and hoping for the best. I really hope everyone can do their part, not only my country but everywhere. We all need to do this and stay home now.

Do you have any plans for a new solo album?

Not any immediate plans right now, because I was so focused on getting this Firewind album together and we went through so many difficulties with production and changing members in the middle of it, and basically we had set up the whole world tour. We were supposed to start in May in the States with Symphony X and Primal Fear, and that tour was postponed to next year. So, I was planning the rest of the year for me to be on the road with Firewind and then see what I was going to do with a solo record, but maybe now, I’ll have more downtime to write more stuff for it. I’m actually thinking of doing an instrumental record next time for my solo effort. I think it’s about time to try and do that, because I’ve done all the collaborations and stuff on my first records, and I think that’s what people expect from me, as well, when I put out a solo record they wouldn’t expect it to be a guitar record…kind of let the guitar be the voice. So, I think that will be the next project for me.

You spent years as Ozzy Osbourne’s lead guitarist. I’m wondering, how is Ozzy doing with everything going on with his health these days? Do you guys keep in touch?

Like everyone else, I’ve been reading all the updates online and on various websites, and he went through a pretty rough year, and I saw he had to reschedule his tour a couple of times. I actually reached out to Sharon (Osbourne)– I sent her a couple of emails during this year and just wanted to say, I wish Ozzy to get well soon and that he was in my thoughts and everything, and I heard back, and she said thank you, and that Ozzy was happy to hear from me. But other than that, we haven’t really kept in touch. It’s not like I call him every day or anything. But, it’s good to say hello and see how they’re doing, of course, and I’m glad that he’s recovering. That’s the latest I saw. He’s making a lot of progress with his recovery. And, I was also very happy that I saw him being creative again, and he finally put out an album after 10 years.

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