Gus G

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: GUS G.

Photo: Akis Douzlatzis

Name: Gus G
Instrument: Guitar
Bands: Firewind
Link(s): https://www.gusgofficial.com

To start off, let’s rewind to the very beginning and talk about how you first discovered your interest in music.
It must have been through my father’s record collection. Originally through listening to some Greek folk music at home, but every now and then some rock vinyls would be played at the house. I remember loving that guitar sound since I was a young kid.

Was guitar always your one and only option? What got you hooked on the instrument and which are some of the players that you think helped shape your sound?
Yeah it seems so. My father turned me into Al DiMeola and Peter Frampton when I was eight or nine and that was a revelation to me. I wanted to be able to play like that. Especially when I heard Frampton’s talkbox effect that blew my mind.

Today, which guitarists do you think stand out (in any genre)?
There are so many and there are guys that are doing amazing things in totally different genres. From blues guys like Eric Gales and Jared James Nichols to modern metal guys like Andy James, Angel Vivaldi, to fusion guys like Stephen Taranto, Alex Hutchkins, or Mike Dawes on the acoustic guitar front. There’s just so much talent out there and so many great individuals doing their own thing. It’s wonderful that the guitar community has to offer all this in 2021.

What does your creative process look like? Do you set aside dedicated “on the job” writing time or do you write when inspiration strikes?
I do a bit of both. Sometimes I’ll sit down and start with a blank Pro Tools session and just come up with stuff on the spot and just track it really quickly. Other times I’ll pick up the guitar and see if inspiration strikes. If not, I’ll just put the guitar down.

Out of everything that comes with being a professional musician – writing, recording, jamming, touring, traveling (the list goes on)…what is your favorite part and why?
I’d say writing and performing are my favorite things. I love creating music and writing songs, but after I’m done with the production I’m eager to go on stage and play my songs for people. I’m not particularly fond of traveling much these days, I’ve done way too much of that in my life. But of course it’s part of the process so I accept it for what it is.

In 2009, you received an email from Ozzy Osbourne’s camp inviting you to hop on a flight to Los Angeles to audition for his band. You ended up getting the spot and toured with the band for a few years. If you had to recap your tenure with Ozzy, what was it like? What are some of your biggest takeaways from the time?
It was an experience of a lifetime. It was great to be in one of the biggest bands in the world for a while, be part of a worldwide hit record and tour at such a huge level. I learned a lot of things, I became a better professional, better performer and learned not to take anything for granted. Ozzy was really good to me, so was Sharon and they pushed me to develop my guitar hero persona. I’m grateful for all the times and memories I’ve had with them.

Having been a member of Firewind, Nightrage, Dream Evil and Mystic Prophecy, you’re coming up on 20 years as a recording artist. What would you say are some of the highlights for you personally along the way? Any milestone moments that stand out to you on a personal level or that you for other reasons will always cherish?
There have been many highlights, as well as some low points. It happens to all artists and bands. I’m proud that Firewind is still standing here and still around after 20 years, that band has been through a lot, but also broke down several barriers. Being a metal band from Greece isn’t exactly the coolest thing in the world, but we managed to build a worldwide fanbase that has supported us for 20 years! And of course my involvement in Ozzy’s band is definitely a personal highlight, as well as the fact that I keep doing my thing after my exit from his band.

You just released your fourth solo album “Quantum Leap.” What’s new and different with this one compared to your earlier work?
The main difference on the new album is that it’s all instrumental. My previous albums had collaborations with singers, but this one I’d say is the first 100% Gus G album as there are no outside writers, producers, etc. I composed, arranged and recorded it all in my home studio during the lockdown of 2020. It’s my most personal album yet.

What’s new in the Firewind camp?
Well, lots of exciting things. We just played our first gig in almost two years last week in Switzerland and it was fantastic to be back on stage! We also just released a new single called “New Found Power.” It’s actually a one-off track that is part of our label’s 25th anniversary release. Other than that, we’re heading back out on the road next year celebrating the band’s 20th year since the debut album. We will play our longest set ever and European dates are now on sale. Hope to see you all guys out there! Tickets: https://bnds.us/663bll 

What is a regular day “in the life of” Gus G like (when you’re not on tour)? What does any odd weekday entail?
It’s usually lots of email work, catching up on the business side of things as I’ve been self-managed for a few years now. So, besides the music I take care of the business too. This can mean meetings, phone calls, planning, email work, etc etc. All the boring stuff that no musician wants to think about, haha! But I enjoy my DIY approach, I’ve always been like that. And working like that from home is a bonus, because I have my own home studio and I can record whenever I like. Plus, I get to be with my cats all the time!

Do you still practice your instrument regularly? If so, what does your routine look like?
I haven’t been practicing as much as I’d like to lately, since managing my career takes up so much time of the day. With that said, though, I do set time aside to practice at least twice a week and I go through my scales, chords, I try to pick up something new, maybe from YouTube. Lately I’ve been getting into chords and refreshing my memory a bit on my jazz harmony, I hadn’t studied that since my years at the conservatory. I try to make it fun and enjoyable and learn something new.

Walk us through your guitar setup live and in the studio!
My setup live is very simple. I play Jackson Gus G signature Star and San Dimas models, loaded with Blackfire Pickups. Amp-wise I rely heavily on my amp which is my Blackstar SeriesOne 200 signature “Blackfire” head. If I don’t use that, I’ll usually plug in through a normal Series One model. As for pedals, it’s pretty simple: wireless, tuner, wah & delay pedals. That’s it. In my home studio I use plugins 99% of the time. It’s just convenient plugging into the interface and get your tones fast and easy. Toontrack has been great in the studio for me, for ten years now!

Finally, which Toontrack products do you use and how do they help in your process of writing, recording, producing?
Toontrack’s EZdrummer and EZmix packs have been very important for me, as I use them to create all my songs, make all pre-production demos, but also use lots of the sounds on my albums too. I also use the Metal Gods 4 pack, which I had the honor to contribute with some of my own sounds, so that’s very convenient while creating and getting your tones on the spot. But I also love some of the Colin Richardson guitar tones. Finally, lately I’ve been getting into EZkeys as well, there are some really cool synth sounds that I’ve used all over the latest Firewind and my solo albums.

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