When you get an invitation to interview one of the most talented guitarists in Metal you rarely turn down the opportunity and without a doubt Firewind/Ozzy Osborne axe man Gus G fits the bill perfectly. So SoT's Mark Davies sauntered down to the U.K's capital, London, to speak all things six string, Firewind and Ozzy with the fret ripping Gus G!
With a brand new Firewind album Few Against Many released, including a world tour, a quick stint playing with Ozzy as part of his 'Ozzy & Friends' set at European summer festivals, Gus G is a man very much in demand at the moment. Waiting in the marble soaked foyer of The Russell Hotel the P.R guy leads us to a room where the interview will take place, in saunters Gus as natural, composed and relaxed as you could be. "What do you think of the new album" he asks, I reply by saying it's certainly heavier that their last efforts. Firewind have managed to take it up a notch or two for Few Against Many a point Gus is only too happy to make.
"We wanted to go heavier; cut down on the keyboards a lot, bring the guitar to the front, play around with a lot of new grooves, stuff like that" He seems very happy with the results and justifiably so, for too long now Firewind have been tarnished with the Power Metal tag but they are so much more than that.
"This overall project is just different you know the whole vibe and feel of the album, the arrangements and production we didn't really want to copy our stuff and do the same album "says Gus.
With some excellent standout tracks like The Undying Fire Gus really let's rip on the fret board showcasing exactly why Ozzy Osborne made that elusive call for him to be his right hand man. A collaboration on the track Edge Of A Dream with cello wielding Apocalyptica also proves that Firewind are not afraid to take the odd risk and branch out to uncharted territories.
"We sent them the demo and they replied with yeah we'd love to be on it, just like that".
"I mean they're really cool guys, easy to work with. It's something that our fans would not expect; they're a very much respected band among metal heads and musicians".
This is why Few Against Many truly stands out as a statement of intent and wants to hold its head high on its own merit in the sometimes over critical world we live in.
Sighting Peter Frampton's 'Frampton Comes Alive' as an early influence that really sowed the seeds for his budding guitar athletics, conversation quickly turns to metal bands who would have a 14 year old Gus thrashing around his parents living room.
"Frampton is what got me playing guitar, then Metallica the Black album, a friend of mine gave me a cassette copy of Black Sabbaths Master Of Reality and that was a whole new world for me".
Asking what it feels like to be cited as an influence himself to a younger generation of guitar player, Gus quickly becomes humble and accepting.
"Of course it's an honor and good feeling, I guess everyone has their own heroes it's a cool thing, it's good to have new players around who will hopefully influence players themselves"
However I soon state that unless you have an action figure of yourself you've not quite 'made it', Gus can come close though having been immortalized in comic book form as a buffed up muscle rippled caricature of himself. Along with 'Bobbleheads' you're not fully immortalized as a guitar hero unless you have one on the shelves of the local comic book store. He quickly turns to his manager, who is also called Sharon "We should get those things, little Gus dolls" he says jokingly with a certain irony in his voice.
As if becoming Ozzy's axe slinger wasn't recognition enough as to Gus's long overdue credentials he was also voted 'Best Shredder' at last year's Metal Hammer Golden God Awards in the U.K.
"That has significant meaning for me because this was a contest voted by the fans and this means people have appreciated the work that I've done and the music I've contributed to. I take it very seriously that it's the fans that gave this to me".
It quickly becomes obvious that he certainly appreciates the out pouring of love bestowed upon him from the metal community and fans alike, a rare attribute for a guy that could command respect but evidently chooses not to.
So what's left for Gus G to achieve?, He's played in numerous bands, been the right hand man for metals favorite Godfather toured the world several times and is adored by his many fans where ever he goes. "I love to maybe sometime do a solo record. That could be an interesting project for me". I quickly punch in with the question whether he would follow his Ozzy predecessor, Zakk Wylde and cover the vocal duties himself.
"Yeah I'd give it a shot, I'm not sure if it would come out good, I do all the backing vocals live, plus you don't have to worry about singers. I would try that or get a bunch of different people on board, we'll see, it's something I've been thinking more and more about". At this point I have to admit the prospect for a Gus G solo record sounds extremely exciting with a chance for him to let loose on his many influences.
For now though I decide to wrap up the interview and kick in with a 'Quick Fire Round' to test his reactions.
Metallica or Megadeth?
"I was more of a Megadeth guy".
Randy Rhoads or Zakk Wylde?
"Arrghh fuck c'mon man you can't really mean this question (laughs). You know what I'm gonna pass on that I love them the same. I know Zakk doesn't get the credit he deserves he's always second to Randy Rhoads and I think that's unfair for Zakk because he's been there too long he's written classic songs with Ozzy as well and I think he's up there with Randy".
Vinyl or downloads?
"You know I never got to buy many records on vinyl it was just as it was on its way out I only have a few vinyl's at home, I prefer downloads I buy my stuff from itunes because it's easy".
Tea or coffee?
Club gigs or festivals?
"Club gigs, more intense".
Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin?
"Black Sabbath dude".
It had to be really!
And on that note we complete my quick chat with Gus G and exchange pleasantries before he's quickly ushered onto the next interview. What strikes me most of all is how genuinely appreciative he seems with his situation and how much admiration he has for his fans, as much as they do for him. Firewinds new album Few Against Many is released on 22nd May, a full world tour follows.