SROMaginc.com recently conducted an interview with Gus G., well known in rock and metal circles for his work as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist and as leader of his own band FIREWIND . You can now listen to the chat below.
On his upcoming activities with Ozzy:
"We're doing the Ozzfiesta next year in Mexico. So we're gonna do that show over there. And I don't know if there's gonna be more stuff; we'll see. I know [Ozzy is] also gonna go back in the studio with SABBATH. I think probably there's gonna be another Ozzy [album] after the next SABBATH record, or it depends whenever they decide to finish it up. It's not up to me."
On whether Ozzy will ever retire from performing:
"You never know with Ozzy, man. You never know. That's the thing. You can't predict that. I think he's one of those guys like Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger; he'll be doing it until he's 80 or something. I think so.
"I'll tell you what: He taught me a lesson about fuckin' stamina and energy up on that stage. He jumps up and down more than any 20-year-old I've seen. I mean, he's 65 and he's still doing frog jumps. [Laughs]"
On how he approached playing with Ozzy when he first landed the gig in 2009:
"It's one of those gigs… it's that exact gig that you just shit your pants as a guitar player to get that spot. For me, it was the happiest day of my life, and, at the same time, the most nerve-racking day of my life. But you've just gotta rise to the occasion. It's one of those things where I got called up to do this now, so I'd better practice twice as hard. You just have to approach this gig with a lot of respect for the guys that were there before you and just be yourself, basically. I mean, you can't replace those guys — guys like Zakk Wylde or Randy Rhoads or Jake E. Lee — you can't replace them, you can't be them. They are their own guys, they are their own legends. So you've just gotta bring your own thing to the table, but at the same time, you have to respect those songs and play them as they are."
Gus G. has tapped Jeff Scott Soto (TALISMAN, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, JOURNEY, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN) to sing for Gus' backing band on his North American West Coast tour, which kicked off on October 15 and concluded on October 19. Joining Gus and Jeff on stage for these dates were Marty O'Brien (bass; TOMMY LEE, WE ARE THE FALLEN, LITA FORD) and Jo Nunez (drums; FIREWIND, NIGHTRAGE).
A special expanded edition of Gus' solo album, "I Am The Fire", will be released in Europe on November 3 (digitally in North America on November 4). This limited CD + DVD digipak will feature four bonus tracks and a 62-minute bonus DVD (including the album's four official video clips so far, plus three live tracks, six guitar tutorials, as well as an EPK and track-by-track commentary).
Greg Prato of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with legendary guitarist Michael Schenker. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Songfacts: How do you find that you write your best songs?
Michael: I just do it the same way over and over. I love to play. I play and discover on a regular basis, so when I bump into a great piece of something that I think, "Wow, I should capture that" — and it's usually just 5 seconds, 10 seconds long — I'll put it on the cassette recorder in its raw form and I'll just leave it there. When it's time to make a new record, I listen to what I have selected, and then that inspires me to write the additional parts to it. So I never really know what the song is going to be until the album's finished. On this album in particular, I was looking for more of a balance: Not too many mid tempos, but enough fast songs and many different elements in it that keep it going and keep it interesting. It's like putting a puzzle together and never really knowing what comes out at the end.
Songfacts: How did the songwriting work in the band UFO? Was it more of a collaboration?
Michael: Well, when I joined UFO, they were a psychedelic band. They were playing very different music. But I was attracted to them being British, since that's where the music that I fell in love with came from: [LED] ZEPPELIN, BLACK SABBATH and Johnny Winter. Well, Johnny Winter was American, but a lot of the music that we were listening to at that point in time when I was 15 years old was coming from there. When I toured with UFO and SCORPIONS, the guitarist from UFO lost his passport, so in order to continue the tour, I had to play for both bands. That was when I was 16 years old. I opened up with the Scorpions and then I played with UFO for a couple of days. And that's when they asked me to join them. I always told the SCORPIONS that if a British band would ever ask me, I would go just to get to a country where there was the interest for rock and roll. In Germany, it was dead. It was disco music and it wasn't very interesting what I was doing. So I was more than happy to go over there. They invited me over and I took the offer. When I got there I just laid down a riff and another one and another one, and Phil [Mogg] did his vocals to it and it just became a totally different band based on the pieces that I gave them, which every song was built on. I wrote that way right from the beginning, and it's still how I write today. But because I had just joined them, we were more in the mode of making a record, touring, making a record, touring, making a record, touring. Because we were doing everything in the short amount of time, we spent a lot of time at the rehearsal studio. Some very early songs, like "Rock Bottom", were very spontaneous. We were just sitting there looking for an additional song, and when I played "Rock Bottom", the riff, that's when Phil jumped up and said, "That's it! That's it!" So we started putting it together and putting it into form. But in general, I would always come up with some riffs, give it to the singer and he would find something, too. Then we'd go into the rehearsal studio and work on it. That's basically how we used to write.
Songfacts: How close did you come to joining Ozzy Osbourne's band after Randy Rhoads' death?
Michael: That was around '81. Graham Bonnet just came over and we started writing and doing things, and then I get a phone call in the middle of the night from a very devastated Ozzy Osbourne telling me what happened [Rhoads was killed in an airplane accident, on March 19, 1982]. I said, "Okay, it's the middle of the night. I'll let you know, but I have to speak to Peter Mensch" and so on. And then I had to look... I was tempted to do that, but at the same time I was in the middle of doing "Assault Attack" and it was going to be the second album with Cozy Powell. We were getting ready, and I had to look at my situation. Then I heard some crazy stories about Ozzy dragging people across the stage by their hair and stuff like that. And then some other horror stories that didn't sound too good. I was tempted to do that, but something tells me, you know what, Michael, first of all, the SCORPIONS, my own brother, he asked me to play, to help the SCORPIONS and to join them and tour with them. And I couldn't do it because I'm not made for copying people. I love to invent things, to express myself, and so my vision is a different vision. Sometimes you have to battle a little bit with your true vision and temptation. Same with AEROSMITH: It was a good thing it didn't work out, because again, I would have not enjoyed myself. I know that. At the end of the day, I said, "I can't do that." It came to the point when I stretched it for so long that I think Cozy Powell took it over and told them, "He's not going to do it." And that was that. It was a very strange situation.
Read the entire interview a
Guitar virtuoso Gus G., well known in rock and metal circles for his work as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist and as leader of his own band FIREWIND, has set a March 18 release date for his debut solo album, "I Am The Fire", in North America. The CD will be released internationally on Century Media Records, and will come out March 17 in Europe.
"I Am The Fire" track listing:
01. My Will Be Done (featuring Mats Levén)
02. Blame It On Me (featuring Mats Levén)
03. I Am The Fire (featuring Devour The Day)
04. Vengeance (featuring David Ellefson)
05. Long Way Down (featuring Alexia Rodriguez)
06. Just Can't Let Go (featuring Jacob Bunton)
07. Terrified (featuring Billy Sheehan)
08. Eyes Wide Open (featuring Mats Levén)
09. Redemption (featuring Michael Starr)
10. Summer Days (featuring Jeff Scott Soto)
11. Dreamkeeper (featuring Tom S. Englund)
12. End Of The Line (featuring Mats Levén)
The cover artwork, pictured below, was designed by Gustavo Sazes (ARCH ENEMY, KAMELOT, DREAM EVIL).
A first song from the album can now be heard via the video for the album's opening track, "My Will Be Done" (featuring Mats Levén), which was produced by Patric Ullaeus of Revolver Film Company, who has previously worked with DIMMU BORGIR, LACUNA COIL, IN FLAMES, SONIC SYNDICATE and KAMELOT, among others.
Says Gus G. of the song and album: "I hope you all enjoy the first taste of things to come.
"'My Will Be Done' is a cool rock track with a modern edge to it...
"Looking back, I can't believe all the great musicians that got on board for this album. Everybody brought in their unmistakable style and talent and they really lifted the songs! Check it out and enjoy the music!"
Gus G. will attend the 2014 NAMM convention, which runs January 23-26 in Anaheim, California. In addition to signing sessions at ESP Guitars (January 24 at 2 p.m.) and Blackstar Amps (January 25, 1 p.m.), Gus will also appear as guest at the Randy Rhoads Remembered tribute concert at The Observatory in Santa Ana on January 25. Other guests include Nuno Bettencourt (EXTREME, RIHANNA), Phil Demmel (MACHINE HEAD), Marty Friedman, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (GUNS N' ROSES) and more.
Gus handles all guitar, bass and keyboards on "I Am The Fire", and is joined by a roster of friends and guests that help bring his vision to fruition: drummers Jeff Friedl (A PERFECT CIRCLE, PUSCIFER, DEVO) and Daniel Erlandsson (ARCH ENEMY), bassists David Ellefson (MEGADETH), Billy Sheehan (MR. BIG, DAVID LEE ROTH) and Marty O'Brien (TOMMY LEE, WE ARE THE FALLEN, LITA FORD), and vocalists Mats Levén (CANDLEMASS, ex-YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, THERION), Blake Allison (DEVOUR THE DAY), Michael Starr (STEEL PANTHER), Alexia Rodriguez (EYES SET TO KILL), Tom S. Englund (EVERGREY), Jacob Bunton (ADLER) and Jeff Scott Soto (TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, TALISMAN, ex-JOURNEY, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN).
"I Am The Fire" was mixed by Jay Ruston (ANTHRAX, STONE SOUR, STEEL PANTHER) and was recorded between Los Angeles and Gus' home country of Greece through the latter half of 2013. A few of the album's tracks include "Eyes Wide Open", "Redemption", "End Of The Line" and "Blame It On Me". The album showcases a well-balanced mix of active rock, classic hard rock, traditional metal and guitar-driven instrumentals, taking listeners on a diverse journey and opening doors to Gus G.'s soulful playing.