I had a chance recently to talk with Gus G. about his upcoming U.S. Tour, some of his influences and his fantastic new solo album “Fearless”. Gus G’s incredible resume includes paying with Dream Evil, Ozzy Osbourne, Firewind, his three solo albums and a host of other bands and guest appearances. He was very easy to talk to and I really appreciate the time he took with me. On to the interview.
Gus G. first start by talking about how he started playing guitar, “I started playing at 10, and one of my main influences was Peter Frampton. He was using a voice box with his guitar and that really fascinated me. My Dad was really into rock music and owned the vinyl which was pretty rare in Europe to be listening to Peter Frampton. After hearing that I knew I wanted to play guitar.”
Being from Seattle, I had also read that Gus G. has been influenced by Jimi Hendrix and wanted to know more. Gus G. had this to say, “Jimi Hendrix was definitely an influence like he is to most guitarists I imagine. He was such an Incredible guitar player that would still be great today. Doing things like lighting his guitar on fire while playing was so crazy and had never been done. His riffs and melodies along with those massive solos were so great to listen to.”
Next up Gus G. talked about the new album and working with Bassist / Vocalist Dennis Ward, “For the last Firewind album “Immortal”, Dennis and I had some unfinished songs laying around that we had worked on about 9 years ago before I joined Ozzy. A lot of those songs went on to that album. We just really started working together again about two years ago. Dennis is known more as a bass player with bands like Pink Cream 69. He was going to co-produce, play bass and we would put all the songs together. He does most of the lyrics. I would send him music tracks and he would lay down the pilot vocals. After we wrote everything I did not have a vocalist. He asked about using his vocals and being a power trio. I asked if he could do the tours and he said yes. So here we are now. Will Hunt did the drums, but since he is the drummer in Evanescence we will have a different drummer for the tour. It was a bit of a challenge for Dennis to learn how to play bass and sing at the same time”
We moved on to talking about the style of metal album that Fearless is. Gus G. had this to say, “The whole point is it sounds different from Firewind or what is the point in doing it? We wanted the album to sound more like a band effort then my first two solo albums. It was fun to experiment with different people on those albums, and it was cool for what it was. I wanted to establish my style as a solo artist. It was the right time when I found a co-writing partner like Dennis to keep the same people playing and writing on the record.”
Now we move on to the band being a power trio which you do not see too often, “It was a really good experience. It makes things a lot easier with traveling and costs wise. It is something really different than Firewind. It also gives us a different sound and I have a lot more freedom on stage. It is also a different type of energy on stage. It felt a little bit strange in the beginning, but I really enjoy it now. We have a minimal crew and less of an entourage. It really is just a lot simpler. Tour buses and crews cost a lot, plus production. When you are playing the club circuit it can be rough. The simplest things on tours you have to think about. It is a relief to be just us three and we do our thing.”
The new album has two or three instrumental songs on it, depending on what version you listen to. Gus G. talked about doing instrumentals and had this to say, “With the song Fearless, it was more like a failed attempt to write a vocal song. It was too busy to have vocals, but I loved the riff in it, so I just added all these crazy guitar parts to the song and made it an instrumental. The second instrumental on the album Thrill of the Chase was meant to be an instrumental from the get go. I had the main melody and just added the riffs to it. There was a track I had on my first album Vengeance, and I just couldn’t find anyone to sing over it. It had some great existing guitar parts, so I just added more to it and made it an instrumental. I am not sure if that is the proper way to write instrumentals, but I am still trying to develop that since I have not had a lot of them. I am really more used to writing for vocals. I would like to do more instrumentals in the future.”
Gus G. then talked a bit about what it is like writing songs as a guitarist and keeping a good balance on the album musically and vocally, “To me it is all about having good material. It needs to have a lot of guitar, but I also have to have strong songs. I am looking for hooks and catchy lines for each song. That is really what it is all about to have a complete song.”
Finally, we talked about the upcoming U.S. tour, “I think the U.S. is a really big country so it can be a hit and miss depending on the area. I always enjoy playing in the U.S. and the fans are so loyal. A lot of people have been following me for a number of years. I really appreciate that and love to play for them. Of course, I want to expand my audience. As a solo artist I am still in my baby steps and I am still growing. I am always excited to tour. We did a few tours with Firewind there six or seven years ago and it didn’t seem to be working, but that seems to be changing now. At some point we will come back with Firewind. There also seems to be an interest in guitar players again and I really enjoy doing these solo tours in the United States.”
Purchase “Fearless” HERE.