added: 21 May 2012
interviewed by: Jennifer Palmer-Violet
Greek guitar god Gus G is back on the road with Ozzy Osbourne before heading off to tour his band Firewind’s new concept album. It’s all go but he’s more than happy to put the hours in, he tells Music-News.com
“You have to be ready for anything in this business,” says Firewind’s main man, Gus G, who meets Music-News.com in the reception of his London hotel, straight out of one interview and ahead of another. “It’s not like a regular nine-to-five job. I could get a call at midnight saying I have to fly somewhere.” And anything could happen for Gus G. In fact the last time Music-News.com interviewed him, in September, he was on the verge of a European tour, his singer Apollo Papathanasio having dropped out at the last minute because of a family issue. “I always say the show must go on and Apollo had to do what he had to do,” remembers Gus, who seems very cool and collected though admits he probably had too much else to think about at the time.
Although Firewind is clearly a big part of Gus’ work – “that's the stuff I've been writing and working on for years and that’s my natural musical evolution” – he has a lot more going on, such as designing guitars. “I’m into the whole gear thing more and more these days and working with the amp companies.” He’s also played many a guest slot, most recently and famously touring with Ozzy Osbourne, a “life-changing” experience that became a priority for about three years. “I’m grateful I have all these things happening,” he says. “I like it because I get bored when I’m at home for two months. It’s good to see the wife, the cat and the family, but then I'm like, this is it? Are we done now? I always have to keep on doing something.”
Today, Gus is focused on promoting Firewind’s seventh studio album, Few Against Many. He’s flown in from Greece for an organised but busy two-day press trip, and music journalists have been bombarding his PR with last-minute interview requests. It’s a non-stop 48 hours for him, but he knows it is all part of the job, which is one he loves. “I’m happy that people want to talk to me,” he says with candour. “What do I say? I don't want to do it? I'm talking about my favourite subject – me!” he laughs.
Gus certainly has plenty to say for himself but far from being self-absorbed, he’s frank and unassuming. The 31-year-old might be several albums into his career and one of Ozzy Osbourne’s choice guitarists, but he’s not resting on his laurels. Discussing the Ozzy tour, he says the days off, which he would snatch to practise playing, provided time to reflect on his talent. “I started asking myself what it is that makes me special enough to be in this band and for the man [Ozzy] to pick me, because there are tons of guitar players out there who are killer.”No egos allowed
He learnt a lot on the road with Osbourne and applied some of these things to Few Against Many. “I realised what we’re missing is probably the more heavy parts. I realised we should bring out the whole guitar elements and that whole groovy part more. That’s what drove me to do this album: just go for a more modern touch and more guitar-based stuff.” And something else he took away was the importance of choosing your colleagues carefully. “In Ozzy’s camp, everybody from the crew to everybody in the band was super nice. Everybody respects each other and everybody has a good time. There are no egos or bullshit going on.”
No longer Osbourne’s new boy, Gus has returned to the fold for the latest Ozzy and Friends tour, but Firewind’s schedule kicks in soon after. Download festival is coming up followed by dates that take in Europe and Asia. His band are also heading for the US, relatively virgin territory for them, where they’ve signed a deal that allows more artistic control. “It is definitely more work,” he says, “but I thought it would be better to try and handle it ourselves instead of handing it to somebody and not being happy. It’s exciting at the same time to put something together.”
As someone who needs to keep occupied, Gus G should have enough going on for the foreseeable future. At the end of the day, he knows he has to put the time in so it’s a good job he wants to. “This is a business like any other business. Instead of selling sports shoes, we’re selling music,” he says. “If I didn’t do this my alternative would be to sell hamburgers or something on the street [but] I'm glad I’m playing rock ‘n’ roll!” I’m sure the many rather than the few would agree. Few Against Many
is out now on Century Media
Firewind play Download in June and tour
the UK in September
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