Before the debut show of Firewind’s Immortals tour I had the chance to have a chat with the one and only Gus G who gave us some insight into the new Firewind record and much more!
Well, It’s been five years since our last club tour, some of the pre-fills on the tour are very encouraging. You’d expect after five years of absence to lose a lot of fans, and fans who lose interest but so far I can’t complain. It seems there’s going to be decent audiences everywhere. I think maybe some of our remaining fans have missed us so its a good chance for them to come out and see us play a pretty special setlist, we’ve prepared a very nice setlist with all the new songs. We’re very grounded about this, we were really not expecting any miracles. We’re just taking it day by day and see how this band restarts, and let’s see. We’re just happy to be here and doing this again.
Firewind has recently released a new album. How did the production of this album go?
Really good! Really smooth actually, we took our time producing it, there was no stress about it, we basically said “No deadline this time, we’ll do it whenever we’re ready”. So from that aspect we took our time to make it as perfect as we could and we’re very happy with the outcome.
How has it been working with Basse for the new record?
Really good, we’ve known him for ten years. He actually toured with us ten years ago so he’s a good friend. We’ve been on the road with him we know how to work with him, we’re good buds. We hadn’t done a record with him so that was like a big question mark there – “how is it going to sound? How is it going to be?”, but it was really good. I mean he’s one of the best singers. I didn’t anticipate any problems with him, and really I think the result speaks for itself.
What is the story behind this album?
It’s our first concept album and it is about Greek heritage and the ancient Greek wars, specifically about battles of Peloponnese and Salamis in 480 BC. So those who are not familiar with it, it’s about the same sort of theme as the film 300, with King Leonidas against 300 brave Spartan soldiers fighting against the Persians and King Xerxes. It’s a lot about that and the navy battle of Salamis.
How did the idea of this album come to you?
It’s just something we talked about for a long time, we just didn’t how to do it. Sometimes you need to have the right timing about these things. It’s very important to have the right kind of material and be in the right mindset. Especially creating something like a concept album, it can be a weird procedure because it isn’t like you’re writing about your feelings or something that you’re inspired about – it’s just historical facts, and it can be a dangerous thing to do, you can piss off people a lot. I mean, it’s like we’re making it up in our minds. It’s just something to which we wanted to pay tribute, for our backgrounds and where we come from. There are also strong messages throughout this history, strong messages about bravery, loyalty and you know all these kind of things go hand in hand with having a heavy metal album as the music.
Was it more enjoyable to write a concept album as opposed to a normal record?
To be honest I didn’t really deal with lyrics, I’m not the lyrics maker. I do the music and the arrangements and that’s why we hired a co-producer, Denis Ward, who is very good with lyrics and I told him what we wanted to do and the guy did his homework. He studied a lot, he watched a lot of movies, read a lot of history and he put it on paper and presented the ideas on each songs and we sort of went back and forth with him and told him “here’s another title we could use, this and that”. We went back and forth for a few months. It was very smooth actually, much smoother than I would have expected. The material also sounded a bit more epic this time so it was the right time to do it.
Did you want to do something different musically with this record?
Not really, just do more of the same thing. For me it was time to do a return to our sound. We experimented a bit on the last two records, but I think it was important to really praise what Firewind is all about, what the sound is all about, have all the elements that our fans loved about us in the first place and have a combination of all those things. It’s pretty clear to me that the whole philosophy behind this album wasn’t just to do that, just use the best elements of Firewind and go to the maximum; take everything up a notch. More melodies, more heaviness, more solos. If there’s an epic part make it more epic and not hold back on all the arrangements or vocals or hold back on the cheese. This is what it’s supposed to be, a power metal album is supposed to be cheesy, it’s supposed to be over the top with a bigger production so that was the whole idea behind it.
Absolutely, I am very happy with where we are today in our sound and style. This one of my top two favourite Firewind albums.
What are your favourite tracks to play and listen to from the new album?
I like the song “Live and Die by the Sword” because it’s a very epic song and there’s a special feeling about it. I really like to listen to that song. We haven’t played any of the new stuff live yet so I can’t tell you. Everything sounded really good at the rehearsal so far so let’s see what sounds good and what works with the audience. It’s still in the beginning stages with this new material, let’s play it a few times and see what people think and what interactions we get, what energy. Then I’ll have a better opinion about which song is my favourite to play live.
What gear do you like to use?
I use my signature guitars, Jackson guitars and a lot of signature gear. Blackstar signature amp, The only thing I only use live and not studio is a pedal board with delay, chorus and wah pedals. In the studio it’s just my guitar going into my amp and we add the effects later in the remix.
What advice would you give to power metal bands starting up today?
Oh, I don’t know, maybe try out a different genre! It’s the most uncool thing (apparently) to be playing live in 2017, but we don’t do it because it’s popular, cool or uncool, we do it because that’s the music that comes out naturally for us, cheesy or not. Everything in music goes around in trends so it really doesn’t matter anymore. Even the more extreme metal, some of that stuff is cheesy and that stuff is very gimmick based. We all have our opinions about it and the way we play and listen to music. So to me it’s always been that there’s good music and bad music without any tags put on it. If the song is good it’s just good, and if you believe in that then others will do as well.
Photos by Amy Harris-Abbott, CE Photography