About Me

Interview with Firewind

Formed in 1998 in Greece, Firewind is a power metal band founded by guitarist Gus G., renowned for his collaborations with the legendary Ozzy Osbourne. With a dynamic career marked by intricate guitar work, swift riffs, and melodic vocals, Firewind has established itself as a prominent force in the metal scene. Through lineup changes and evolving styles, the band has consistently delivered albums like 'Between Heaven and Hell,' 'Allegiance,' and 'Days of Defiance.' Now, with a solid musical legacy, Firewind continues to captivate audiences with their epic and energetic sound, making them a staple in the realm of melodic and power metal.
Gus G. took some time to talk to us about the new live album and future projects.

M.I - You are launching a new live album to commemorate your 20th anniversary. Why a live album?

Actually, to be honest, there was no plan to release the 20th anniversary album. It just happened. We were just doing two shows to celebrate 20th anniversary of the band. In Greece, where we are from, we did a show in Athens and then a hometown show in Thessaloniki which is where I'm from. And we really had no plans to record all this until the guys from this film company approached me and they said they could film this if we wanted. And they were the same company that did our DVD 15 years ago, when we did the “Life premonition”. So I thought, yeah, sure, why not? Let's film it. You know? Why not? And then I got the footage and it looked good, of course, and we recorded everything and then I started thinking, what should we do? Originally, my thought was to put up the whole show on YouTube, on my channel, and then I put it on. I decided to put a couple of songs or three songs and people started asking me: When are you releasing this? When are you putting it out? Is the DVD coming? and all that.
That's when I started thinking about maybe. Yeah, maybe doing something more special.
I didn't know. You know, I think people might not be interested that much in this. I don't know. And then I talked to AFM records and they thought it was a really good idea to do this package of Blu-ray and double CD or something. So here we are. This is why it's not the best stuff. Sorry to say I'm making a long answer here, but you mentioned a best stuff release actually and the original recordings are with Century Media of the back catalogue, so we don't own them, they do. So the only way that we could reissue we could these songs again with another label was to rerecord them.

M.I - Did you think that you would still be around after 20 years?

When we think 20 years, it's a lot of years, yeah, and I mean it's half of my life pretty much. On one hand, yes. And then no.
Like I expected you know, because I always envisioned this, that I would be doing this since I was a kid. So if you envision something, if you have a vision about something, I guess and you have the drive to do it, then you do it. No matter what, but then of course, you have to take into account that not everything might go your way and we definitely have had a lot of ups and downs as a band. Yeah, so it's pretty crazy on one hand that we're still here and we're still making records and somehow have a place in the modern heavy metal world.

M.I - So, you must have a lot of stories to tell about these past 20 years. Can you share some?

Oh yeah, if I start talking, we will need like 3 or 4 days here. I mean there have been so many things that happened to us, you know, funny and not funny.
Normally it's good times on the road, you know?! We were banned at tours a lot. We've been around the world quite a few times. We've seen a lot of different cultures. All kinds of funny things have happened. One time our singer almost missed the gig because he was at the cinema, he kind of forgot that was the time that we had to play the show. I'm like “who goes to the cinema in the middle of the day?”. Another time I got out of the bus to go to the bathroom and the bus forgot me there and left.

M.I. - And which concert did you like the most? Because you said you tour a lot and you have seen lots of cultures, different cultures. What are those that marked you the most?

I don't know. I don't have a specific concert. That it's, you know, we've played many great shows in many countries. We've done great shows in Europe and America. We went to South America five years ago for the first time and it was incredible. I remember the show in Colombia, in Bogota. Back then, it was tragic, but now it's funny. I can laugh about it now! The promoter couldn't find his wallet to pay the venue. And the venue was like “if you don't pay us now, we don't open the doors” and there were fans outside waiting. And I'm like, what's happening? And all of a sudden, somebody pressured him and he found his wallet mysteriously, he paid the venue and then they opened the doors and it was a stressful time because we had missed our flight that morning and we barely made it to the venue. Anyways, in the end, that was an amazing show. And I remember the show in Bogota. The show in Buenos Aires was amazing. And there were many good shows this year on the road that we just did. We did a tour with Beast in Black, there were some amazing shows on that one as well.

M.I. - I was going to ask you now, what was it like to play to an audience after the pandemic, that kept us stuck at home for 2 years? What is it like to play again?

I know it was crazy. I mean the first few shows were wild especially when we did this tour with Dragon Force in America and it was wild. It was like if somebody let the dogs loose, like wild animals or something. People were really excited and we were excited, too. I felt like I was 20 years old again. I think that people are enjoying more things now. We stayed so long trapped in our homes that now we just want to party. In a way, our freedom was taken away from us so I think everybody went back to normal life with a different mindset, yeah.

M.I. - You released a cover for Maniac, from Flashdance and it is on the live album. Who had the idea to cover this song, which by the way, is amazing!

Yeah, this is actually a song that we recorded 15 years ago. So it's on an album called « The Premonition », and it was back when we had a keyboard player, Bob. And it was his idea. We were in the studio and it was late night in the studio and we were thinking we needed one more song for the album to be completed and we didn't have another song and we said « ok, let's do a cover ». And I said “yeah, but what cover?” And then Bob said “Let's do this. Something wild, something 80s or something”, and he suggested Maniac and we checked it out. We hadn't heard it for a while and then we were “Oh, good idea !”
It was like a joke in the studio. Basically, we just laid down the rhythm tracks really quickly and we just did it for fun, and it became basically our biggest song on Spotify. We never did a video to promote it. Never. We never really played it on stage. We played it for that tour back then. But then we stopped playing it for 10 years because we thought it was not so metal, but I think nowadays, I appreciate that song a lot more and it really gets the mood going when you play it.

M.I. - And do you plan to make any other covers? And if you would, what would they be?

We have done one more cover, actually. We recorded one for the new album that's coming out next year. It's another 80’s song, but it's not a disco song or anything like that, but it's a cool track, I think.
People will recognise that it was a hit. I can't tell you what it is yet, because we were struggling with finding a cover that bands haven't done, we were thinking of a lot of songs from Rocky’s soundtrack. But everybody has done those, so yeah you'll have to wait a little bit more for the album to come out.

M.I. - And how is the process of songwriting for the albums? Everyone contributes?

Uh, no. I mean, it's mainly me and Herbie that write everything. I do all the music and some lyrics and stuff. And Herbie does vocal lines and lyrics as well. We have our coproducer, Dennis Ward, who's been involved in the past two albums, who writes as well on this new album. He didn't write as much, but he contributed with some valuable ideas. So yeah, the songwriting team is basically me and Herbie and Dennis, the producer.

M.I. - What were you biggest influences through all these years, especially when you come from some different backgrounds. How did that influence your sound?

Everything is an influence really. I mean when it comes to music of course. I always draw influences from my favourite bands, you know from Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Metallica and all that, yeah. But I mean, nowadays I don't really think in those terms. You know, I just play guitar and riffs come out. It comes a time when you just have your own sound and you just don't need the influences anymore. I mean all our influences live in the back of our head somehow, subconsciously. But it's as you go, you know? As you grow older and you develop a style and a sound that becomes your thing and I guess that's how I do it nowadays.

M.I. - So we know you are working on a new album now as you said previously. When will it be released?

I think it's going to be released in February or in March. I'm not sure. It's finished now. So we've delivered the album. We're waiting on the artwork to finalise stuff. So, the album should be out by early 2024.

M.I. - And are you going to do a tour for this live album?

No, we're not gonna do a tour for the live album. We just did some festivals last year. Basically, this summer we did 2 shows in Greece to celebrate the release. Basically. 
We played in festival shows and we’ve done one festival and we did another one. It was like a own headline show that turned into a festival. We played in this big open air show in Athens. And that's it. And we had one more show in Switzerland at the end of September.

M.I. - So you were talking about the artwork for the new album and for this live album who thought about the design of the cover?

Yeah, it was done by our graphics guy that has done our previous albums, his name is Gustavo Sazes. He's a Brazilian guy. He lives in Portugal, actually. And you know, it was a combination of also having some photos from the show. So, you see the crowd, that's the actual crowd shot from the show and then you have all the cool colours and our symbol in orange.

M.I. - And was it hard to choose the songs that are on your 20th aniversary album ?

No, we put the whole set list actually. We put the whole set. We recorded the whole show and that's the whole show. The only song that we left out was Allegiance. We did a song Allegiance and we had Yanis from Beast in Black as a special guest and we could not use that one for some strange reason that Yanis couldn't do it. So we had to leave out one song, but the rest of the show is there.

M.I. - If you had to choose a band to open your concert and that you had never played with, which one would you choose and why?

I don't have anybody specific that comes to mind. I mean, usually when we do tours, when we headline sometimes the opening bands come from local bands, from promoters, or sometimes we make a package. I mean, we're working on a nice coheadline tour for this year, so that will be announced.

M.I. - So being around the music business for so long, how do you see all the changes that happened in the music industry, especially the digital platforms to promote the music ? Do you think it's a good thing?

I think it's a good thing in the sense that it's very accessible and we have instant access to music. And of course it has bad things, it has killed some of the romanticism in music. The fact that you were going out to go record shopping and buy something and hold it and actually put a thought into an album when listening to it. So we have lost some things. We have gained some things, we live in a very instant world. And of course, one of the bad things is that you get million streams or something, but the money is like a joke for the artist.
On the other hand the big argument is that you can either have this or you can go back to piracy because as technology evolves, you cannot turn back, you always go forward. So, music has become a thing that is just air. I think I was watching an interview and they said that music used to be valued $0.80 or $0.90 per song or something on a CD or a dollar and it had some kind of a metric value. Nowadays you value music with time like how much of your time are you going to give me to listen to my music. 
So it has changed a lot. You know, people don't have so much time anymore, not much attention span, so we value music with time, with people's time. Which is an interesting concept.

M.I. - So you have played in Portugal before and what do you think of Portuguese fans?

They're great. I mean we were just there back in March 2023 and that was an amazing show. That was a great night. Yeah, Portuguese fans, you know, they always remind me a little bit of Italy or Greece, because everybody's so outgoing and they sing along. You guys are very expressive, which is great, we love to see that !

M.I. - And did you have the time to visit the city ?

We played in Lisbon. I didn't see anything because it was the first day of the tour, so we just landed that morning, we flew in and we went straight to the venue and we had to do so many things, you know, to make sure, all our gear had arrived and make sure everybody's ok and figure things out. You know, it was the beginning of the tour. So we didn't do any sightseeing, any walking around, we just stayed in the venue. We made sure everything was working. Played the show and then we left.

M.I. - Do you have any plans to come back to Portugal for concerts? Maybe for the new album.

Not yet. Nothing has been booked so far from what I see unfortunately, but hopefully that's it I'm hoping.

M.I. - And, last but not least, do you want to leave any message to your Portuguese fans?

Well, yeah. Thank you for reading this. I hope they can check out the new live album and I had promised that it was not going to take us 15 years to come back to Portugal and I stand by that. I will do whatever I can to bring Firewind back as soon as possible, hopefully this year. Let's see. And until then, enjoy the music. That's it.

For Portuguese version, click here

Listen to Firewind, on Spotify
Questions by Isabel Martins