Gus G - Firewind/Ozzy Osbourne - Uber Rock Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Eamon O'Neill   
Sunday, 19 July 2015 03:00

Gus G Masters Of Rock

 

Guitarist Gus G isn’t one to sit around waiting. With his ‘day-job’ boss Ozzy Osbourne absconded in an extended Black Sabbath reunion that began in late 2011 and which looks set to continue well into next year, the shredder is about to release his second solo album in as many years. Also a member of power metallers Firewind, the shredder clearly isn’t left wanting for ways to occupy himself in the downtime; “I can’t sit still – I get bored easily” he says. Here in an exclusive interview with Uber Rock, he talks about the new solo album, working with Ozzy on ‘Scream’, and how things are progressing for the next Osbourne release. He also shares his thoughts on Black Sabbath’s ‘13’. Hearing you scream: Eamon O’Neill.

 

How are you today?

 

Good, good! I’m in Gothenburg in Sweden. I’m here to shoot some videos for the album. Today I had a day off and of course we scheduled some interviews with the label.

 

You’re gearing up for the release of your second solo album ‘Brand New Revolution’. Are you excited to get it out?

 

Yeah man, very much so, yes.

 

How would you describe the album to those that have never heard Gus G?

 

It’s a hard rock album, but it’s got a lot of guitar in it, obviously. It’s catchy song writing with a lot of guitar, that’s what I would say.

 

The new album follows hot on the heels of last year’s ‘I Am The Fire’. You’ve been quite busy of late.

 

I try to stay busy, yeah. I’m the kind of guy where I just can’t stand still for too long. I get bored easily, so I always write music, and it’s either going to be for Firewind if I’m not playing with Ozzy, and if I’m not playing with Firewind, then I have to do something else.

 

 

The first single from the album is ‘Burn’ which is a heavy, melodic driving rocker that features Jacob Bunton on vocals. Why did you go with that as the first single?

 

We were aiming more for the American market actually, and we thought it was a good song for American rock radio. It’s a good rocker. It’s a song that has a lot of groove and drive, and it makes you move your head instantly and it’s catchy. You need to go out with a song like that.

 

Do you think the single is a good indicator of the album as a whole?

 

I guess so. With my albums, because I have so many guests and stuff, you really need to check out most of the tracks, if not the whole album. You’ve got to check out more than one track. It’s not like, if you’ve heard one song you’ve heard them all. I don’t really do records like that, I don’t think I ever have. They have a lot of variety. There’s an instrumental which is the opening track, and that sounds nothing like what ‘Burn’ sounds like. But overall, yeah, it could be a good indicator.

 

You’ve worked with some well-known names on this release including Jeff Scott Soto. What was it like working with him?

 

It’s easy. Like the other guys, he’s also a good song writer. The guys that I end up writing with on my albums are the guys that I write easily with. I like to write fast, I like to send people riffs and then get something back quickly. Jeff is like that, the same with Mats [Levin], the same with Jacob. I’ll send them a riff and in a couple of days I’ll get something back that's like, ninety-five percent awesome stuff, so we usually hit it off right away.

 

I would imagine that these days it’s a case of mostly emailing files back and forth, and that you don’t really get together in the studio.

 

It’s kind of easy to write like that. We all live in different places and we’ve got different bands and obligations. I guess I’m maybe one of the first guys that started that, like fifteen years ago or more. With Firewind, the first few records that I did was emailing back and forth with people I’d never even met, so I’m kind of used to that. I was never lucky enough to have me and three more guys from my town, and we were going to conquer the world together. That didn’t happen to me. So for me it’s nothing really strange, it’s all very normal actually to send files to somebody and write songs like that. But with that said, I have to say that we did get together and record this record ‘live’ in the studio.

 

Gus G 1

 

So the core of the band got together to record?

 

Yeah, me Jo Nunez [drums] and Marty O’Brien on bass. We got together when we were in Los Angeles after some shows. We booked the studio and in three days we cut six songs form the demos that we had. So we really went for that ‘live’, feeling, a more raw feeling.

 

Was that important to you to give the album an extra edge?

 

I had never done it like that before. Jay Ruston, who engineered, it was his idea to do it like that. He really liked what he saw at my show, and he thought that we should try and get that vibe into the record with a more stripped down rock band sound.

 

Have you worked with Jay Ruston before?

 

Yeah, he mixed my first album and engineered the drums and stuff. He’s a very good partner and he’s helped me with a lot of things. He’s helped me with meeting a lot of people. Through Jay I’ve met Marty O’Brien and Jacob, and he brought a lot of guests to the table for the first album, and his mixes are just some of the best in the business right now. The guy’s just phenomenal. He keeps growing, everybody goes to Jay now; he’s the go-to guy. If you want a killer rock record you go to Jay. He’s a busy man these days; he’s done everybody from Stone Sour to Steel Panther to Anthrax.

 

How do you go about choosing who you’d like to work with on an album?

 

On the first one, because I didn’t have a clear vision of who was going to be doing what, Jay helped me a lot. But on this one, I got the first experience out of the way and now it was more like a closer group of friends and collaborators, and that’s why we ended up writing most of the record with guys like Jacob, Mats and Jeff.

 

gusstudio550

 

I have to ask you a few questions about you ‘day job’. What’s Ozzy like to work for?

 

It’s very cool man. If you can call it a job, then it’s the coolest job on earth. I mean, you get to play with the ‘guy’, with the ‘man’, and you get to play the fucking bible of heavy metal, so it doesn’t get any better than that. You learn a lot of things. Doing things on such a big level, it’s such a mind-opening experience. It brings so much more out of you.

 

With such a high profile gig, was it difficult stepping into those shoes?

 

Yeah, of course it was. But at the end of the day, you can’t let that take over. You have to do what you’ve got to do, what you’re there to do, and respect the people’s shoes you’re filling. Basically, you can’t try to be any of those guys - you have to be your own guy, it comes down to that. That’s the only way you’re going to survive a gig like that.

 

It must have felt pretty special to join that elite line of guitarists that Ozzy’s worked with such as Tony Iommi, Randy Rhodes and Zakk Wylde.

 

Yeah, because I’ve never really looked at myself in that way, like I could be one of those dudes, you know? Those are some of my heroes, guys whose posters I had on my walls, growing up and listening to them and learning their stuff. And when that time came and I got the gig, I thought; now you have to step it up, because obviously he [Ozzy] thinks you’re pretty good. [Laughing] So, I kind of had to start believing that too. Like, I never had done a guitar solo on stage on my own before. I was always like, the ‘band’ guy; I stood on my side of the stage and did my thing, but within the band. And now it was like, you have to create this ‘big’ kind of guitar player personality. Somehow that has to come out, you have to find out what that is. I gave it a lot of thought, but at the end of the day you just have to do it, go for it, you know?

 

How do you view the ‘Scream’ album now, five years after it was released?

 

I love it man. It’s a great album and I’m honoured to be part of it. It was a different album for me because not only is it an Ozzy record, it was the first time that I played on something that I didn’t write stuff on it. I had to create the solo parts and I had to create the guitar parts on songs that somebody else wrote and still put my mark on it. That was the most difficult task, but all things considered it came out great.

 

The original title for the album was ‘Soul Sucka’. This was changed after an internet backlash.

 

Yeah, I remember that. It’s Ozzy’s record, he can call the thing whatever he wants. You don’t question that, it’s like, yeah, of course he’s going to name it whatever he wants, it’s his record you’re just happy you’re part of it. I like ‘Soul Sucker’, it’s a great song, and I had that idea to do the talk box over it and almost like try and create kind of like ‘Iron Man’ with that kind of mechanical voice.  

 

Gus G 2

 

Are there any plans for any Ozzy Osbourne activity at present?

 

Yeah, we’re doing some ‘Ozzy And Friends’ shows in August. We’re doing Mexico, two shows, and we’re doing a festival in New Orleans at Halloween, and we’re doing Ozzfest in Japan so that’s all I know for this year.

 

Were you happy to see Black Sabbath get back together for the ‘13’ album?

 

Yeah of course, I’m a huge Sabbath fan. I saw the band twice on that tour and they fucking killed it. I love the album. They didn’t make a conventional album, they just did an album that you need to listen to over and over to get it, and it’s pure doom, which is what you expect from Sabbath.

 

Have you any thoughts on Bill Ward’s absence from the line-up?

 

No, not really. That’s something that’s between them. It’s not my place to say what I think, but I think that since they had to get another drummer, I don’t think that anybody could have done a better job than Tommy [Clufetos, drummer for the Black Sabbath reunion tour and Ozzy’s solo band]. He’s a great drummer and I’ve played with the guy for years and he’s just phenomenal. So it was just great to see him behind the drum kit since Bill couldn’t be there for whatever reason. I don’t think anybody was disappointed - the show went on, you know what I mean? He brought an amazing energy to the band, he kicked that energy in. Of course it would be great if Bill joined them, and they talked about so many things, but there’s too much drama with all that stuff. I don’t pay any attention to it. Those guys are old friends since their twenties, and they should sort it out if they can. But it’s not my business.   

 

Going back to the new album, and have you plans to take it on the road?

 

Yeah, I’m doing a big European tour starting in September, but I’m doing some festivals first in July. We should be announcing the tour soon actually. I won’t get to the UK on this round, but I think early next year I am.

 

Brand New Revolution

 

What’s next for Gus G?

 

Well you know, I take it one step at a time. I have some thoughts about next year, and I want to keep on touring this album as much as I can, so if I can look into the next eighteen months I’d really like to tour this album and build this as much as I can. But I really don’t know what’s around the corner right after that. We have to see how this evolves and what happens. So far the feedback has been great, so we’ll see what happens. Maybe another Firewind album at the end of 2016, but like I said so much can change from now until that time.

 

Finally, are there any plans for a new Ozzy Osbourne album?

 

Not officially, really. I mean, we talked briefly about it when we were on a plane ride to Brazil a couple of months ago, but he’s probably going to do this Black Sabbath thing [rumoured new album and farewell tour in 2016] and then he says he’s going to go back to his solo career. I think, yeah of course he has to do a new album. He’s probably playing it smart. He’s very careful about his releases and he doesn’t put out albums so fast any more. So every time he comes up with an album it’s a big event. I mean, the last album had three solid hits, so let’s see what happens for the future.

 

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Gus G photography courtesy of Joe Lester

 

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