Interview: Gus G.

Dan McAvinchey: Gus, how did you all get started in music, and what led to your selecting guitar as your primary instrument?

Gus G.: I started playing guitar at age 10. I don't know, one day it just hit me in the head that I wanted to be a guitar player, especially after hearing the "Frampton Comes Alive" LP and watching Al Di Meola on TV. I was amazed by Frampton's 'talking guitar' on "Do You Feel Like We Do", so my dad got me a classical guitar, and at age 14 I got my first electric guitar.After that I started practicing 8-11 hours a day for the next three and a half years or so!

Dan McAvinchey: You attended Berklee here in the U.S. for a while. What did you get out of that experience and why did you decide to leave the school?

Gus G.: Well, the only good thing that came out of Berklee was meeting Joe Stump. He was the only one who could understand what I wanted to do. I was given a $5,000 scholarship to attend but I returned it after my second week of studies! I decided to drop out of school and try to build my career in music. I guess Berklee couldn't give me what I wanted; it was just a school to me, nothing more. However,I had had formal training in music the previous years in a conservatory in my homeland, Greece.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you think are the most important things Joe Stump has taught you?

Gus G.: Joe certainly made me look at guitar playing with a more extreme approach. And I think Joe's not only a great player, but a gifted songwriter too. He's one of the few instrumentalists out there that writes actual songs and doesn't just play a bunch of licks! At least that's the way I look at it. Making good music comes first to me.

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us about your musical gear and how you use it to get your sound.

Gus G.: Well, my sound set-up is pretty basic. Just a guitar, a stomp box and an amp. I use ENGL and Marshall heads and cabinets, ususally with a Boss Super
Overdrive pedal to boost it up a little. That's about it. My main axe is my Fender Stratocaster Classic Floyd Rose series, with 2 humbuckers (DiMarzio FRED at the bridge and PafPro at the neck) and a single coil in the middle. I use GHS strings with gauge 0.09-11-16-30-40-50. Lately I've been checking a few endorsement deals, but there's nothing that I like, so I'm sticking with my Fender. But I think that the real sound comes from the hands. There's no other explanation of how guys like Yngwie or Schenker or Satriani get their tones. It's their fingers, the touch that produces this unique sound and style.

Dan McAvinchey: You've got a new CD out just recently, "Vengeance", describe the music on it for us.

Gus G.: Yes,we released "Vengeance" last January in Europe with my band Mystic Prophecy. This is a German based band, with members of bands like Valley's Eve, Stormwitch and Raise Hell. Our German label (B. Mind Records) just
licenced "Vengeance" in the US. The CD will be out in the USA in August through Pavement Music. The style we play is melodic power metal, but most reviews here in Europe, say
that even though we're a German based band, we sound very American, some even
compare us with Nevermore. I don't know, all I can say is that the CD contains some very heavy riffs, with great vocals, and quite fast solos! We're also trying to go on a US tour this fall, I hope we make it. So, check out "Vengeance" when you get a chance!

Dan McAvinchey: How did you hook up with David T. Chastain and Leviathan Records?

Gus G.: I had been sending David my demos since 1998 and he always encouraged me to
work on my sound and style. So, I kept sending him demos, until one day he decided he wanted to work with me. I thought that was cool, as last year I started working on material for my own band, Firewind. He liked Firewind's material, and hooked me up with Kenziner vocalist Stephen Fredrick, who's absolutely amazing! Firewind has just signed
with Leviathan Records. I finished the guitar recordings and the rest of the recording (vocals, drums, bass) will take place over the summer, with David T. producing. It's a little early to announce further info; Leviathan will follow up with updates on this, once everything is finished.

Dan McAvinchey: You work with a number of bands at the same time. How do you manage to find enough time to juggle your responsibilities between each group?

Gus G.: I believe there's enough time to do anything! Actually, all of my bands are newcomers, only Mystic Prophecy has released CD so far, my third
band from Sweden, Dream Evil,will release it's debut this fall and I don't
know any release dates for Firewind yet. So, the responsibilities aren't too many right now. Who knows how things will be in a year from now or so? I hope I will always have time to do all these projects, because that's what I wanna do in my life, play music!

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Dan McAvinchey: Do you find it a challenge to get the press to notice your CDs?

Gus G.: Of course! For me it's the biggest challenge to stand out from the rest of the bands out there. The market is so full of bands out there these days! There must be at least 100 new albums coming out every month, just for metal music. So, imagine how hard it is to make a difference! Mystic Prophecy's "Vengeance" was accepted warmly in Europe and that's very important for us. We hope the response will be similar in the US, although I know things are much more underground for metal music over there.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you have planned for the next year or two?

Gus G.: Right now, I'm finishing up the recordings in my home studio for a rock
instrumental CD. The CD will be an internet only release, for David Chastain's
new Internet company, Diginet Music. Next year will bring the second Mystic Prophecy album, the release of the Firewind album, and hopefully as much touring as possible.

Dan McAvinchey: Are their any guitarists out there that you'd love to work with on a recording project?

Gus G.: It would be cool to work with John Norum one day, I really admire his playing and style! I also hope I can do something with Joe Stump in the near future, that would be really cool! Steve Vai would also be cool to work with, even though what he does is pretty far from my style. But he's weird, so it would be a lotta fun, ha ha!

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Gus G. is a very busy guitarist from Greece who is currently undertaking a number of projects. Last January he released a CD with a power metal band from Germany
called Mystic Prophecy, entitled "Vengeance". Gus has also signed with David Chastain's label's Leviathan and Diginet. He released a CD on Diginet under the band name Firewind and the second CD will follow on Leviathan. And Gus' third and final band hails from Gothenburg, Sweden and it's called Dream Evil.

Dan McAvinchey caught up with Gus to talk about his various projects and his plans for the future in the melodic metal / power metal genre.