FIREWIND Riding the Winds

Greek powerhouse Firewind returns with their new offering „Days of defiance“! Will they continue the path of success? What is the best face of Firewind? Can Gus G stand all the pressure that is put upon him? Bob Katsionis (keyboards, live guitars) gave us answers on those and some other questions.
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Hey there, welcome to the pages of Metal Sound? How are you doing these days?
Hello! It’s true that I’ve been more than busy with my recording studio and videoclip company, just finishing the new video for Greek thrashers Suicidal Angels. Other than that, I’m eagerly waiting for the Scorpions gig to take place here in Athens cause Firewind are opening for them and it’s gonna be a very wild show!

The most important thing about Firewind is for sure your new album “Days of defiance“! Me and a lot of other people I know think that your previous one „The premonition“ is the crowning jewel of your discography. So do you think that you have surpassed it, how are you satisfied with your new output?
We are very happy with the new album.we did it exactly the way we wanted, we have some of the best songs we’ve ever written,and to be honest for me is a better album than „The Premonition“ in a lot of aspects. But the thing is not to surpass any albums we did, but to keep making good songs cause today’s music industry really lacks of.

Did the success of „The premonition“ put a lot of pressure on your heads? Was it hard to compose “Days of defiance”
No, I wouldnt say that we were stressed, simply because we don’t consider „success“ what happened with the „Premonition“ or even „Allegiance“. In our minds we have really big plans for the band and the levels we set, so I can assure you that for us it was just a step forward in our career. We want to go really high and I hope that this day won’t be very far!

Let us go just a bit back in time, as I have said – „The premonition“ was very successful (in my opinion, Firewind is Power Metal band that reached the highest status in the last few years), can you look back a bit on that period and tell us your fondest memories and what it brought to the band?
I only remember myself touring and touring and then recording demos with Gus in my home studio and then off to Sweden for recordings and video shootings and back again… But that’s how we achieved to be a competing band in the melodic/power metal genre. We have a lot of great memories from touring the States with Arch Enemy and Dark Tranquillity, our visits in Japan, our European tours with Kamelot and Angra, and of course our amazing shows in Greece as printed on our latest DVD release „Live Premonition“.

Okay, you have got the new man on drum stool Michael Ehré, tell us what happened with Mark Cross? Where did you find Michael, are you satisfied with him?
Just different points of view and how we and him wanted to get the band to the other level. It’s nothing personal I guess, even if it was mainly between Gus and Mark, not me. We’re grown up guys and we can handle situations like this. Mark played all the drums in the album and then all this happened. Michael Ehre on the other hand seemed like an obvious choice, since he is German as well, comes from Metallium as well (!!!) and knew Gus from some jam sessions he did a couple of years ago in Frankfurt Messe along with Uli Jon Roth. Michael offered the place not only as a stand-in drummer but as a full and devoted member to the band and we all hope he will stay and climb that big ladder to the top along with us!

One huge thing happened for Gus G – the gig with Ozzy! Is it hard to balance between Prince of darkness and Firewind? Same question goes for Apollo who is playing with Spiritual Beggars – does those side jobs take away anything from Firewind?
For us it was a gift from God! We were all extremely happy and we all believe he deserved it and much much more cause he is a hard working dog, no one can stand in his way if he wants to achieve something, he’s a serious guy, very down to earth and because all of these then I should say that we trust him and we know he’s gonna make it. Ok, sometimes he might have all the stress of the world in his back but that’s what friends are for, we have to be here for him and support him.

Okay–let’s go back to “Days of defiance”… It seems to me that the album is a bit heavier than its predecessor and it is a bit longer.Can you elaborate a bit on musical direction on display?
Maybe it’s heavier, maybe it’s not. Definitely the sound is more „raw“, more 80’s and not so polished and modern with these blasting drums we had in the past. But we wanted it to be this way, more different than what’s been going around lately. Everything you loved or hated (!!!) in Firewind is here plus new interesting stuff with songs like „Cold As Ice“ or more modern stuff like „Kill In The Name Of Love“ or even the technical instrumental „SKG“. I’m sure that people are gonna love this album cause we put all our heart in it.

Gus G has mentioned that the album’s lyrical concept is more aggressive this time as well. Can we hear something about that themes as well?
Yes, that’s true. Most of the stuff was written on the road where you are more close to yourself, in a different reality and you see the world through different eyes. But I would prefer to let Apollo talk about his lyrics. They are his „children“…

The album have virtuosly done instrumental, speedy scorchers, anthem rock songs, ballads… is that versatility carefully done, do you see it as important feature? What face of Firewind is the best one in your opinion?
Very, very good question my friend! I think that we are starting to establish some styles of composing and arranging and we are happy to see that other bands/artists are beggining to follow and work on these! Versatility is definitely what made the band climb the stairway to the top faster and definitely it is a tool we have in our hands which helps us to write better songs, better music. We have the classic „Firewind style Phrygian Riff based songs“ and then we have the keyboard driven melodic songs with that big chorus, all of them combined so equally that give a clear direction and signature to the band. I don’t know which „style“ to choose… For sure if we do an album with only one kind of songs it will be boring and half of the fans will be pleased, half of them not…

I have the information that „World on fire“ is available in video game “Rock band“. What do you think about that? Do you think that it can bring any kind of benefit to Firewind?
That’s right! Along with „Head Up High“ and recently „The Fire And The Fury“. It definitely brought some $$$ in the band (!!!) but apart from this I believe that it’s a new way of entertainment for the kids and maybe some of them might come closer to our music through these games. I support this a lot.

Also one more cool thing is Firewind’s feature in „Eternal descent“ comic book. Since I haven’t seen the copy myself, can you tell us something about that?
Yeah, that was amazing, maybe someone’s highlight of his career,haha! This guy Lexi Leon was hired by ESP to design some of their guitars and make a comic out of some of ESP’s endorsees. We hanged around a couple of times with him, he learned about us, how we talk, what we say and the nature of our characters and then he did a very interesting story about a Firewind show where Apollo gets possesed by some evil and during the lyrics of the „Angels Forgive Me“ song he gets inside him while on stage but the almighty Gus G wins a battle over him and sets his soul free! Or something like that! It’s very well made and it’s a must for every Firewind fan! Don’t miss it!

Your previous outing was supported by hectic touring, what will be the scedule for „Days of defiance“? Is maybe the tour with Ozzy possible, so Gus can double every night?
I am sure that Gus is gonna do whatever possible to get Firewind on tour,but on the other hand it’s not easy for him. Up till now we have arranged some select dates in Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus and England and we are working on some dates in Europe as well as our Japan tour for early 2011. Regarding touring with Ozzy in some Ozzfest… well, it seems obvious to everybody and if you want my opinion I would like it to happen this way. I prefer to have Firewind play as Firewind and not as the band of the guitarist playing early in the morning… if you know what I mean. And maybe it would be not so good for Gus’s reputation. You see, this double identity sometimes can makes you lose your own identity 😉 But if it happens and we go out on tour then.. it wouldn’t be that bad for me!!!

While we’re at it, do you remember Firewind’s show with Kamelot in Belgrade? You were very warmly welcomed and many people said that you stole the show from headliners.
Of course I remember that show and the wonderful day we had, strolling through the sunny streets until… it started raining like hell!!!! Fans were amazing, also the people from local bands were very good and I only have great things to say about that gig. It was also the first gig where the headliner’s management used some tape on the stage and wrote „Kamelot Only“ so we couldn’t step anywhere making the stage tiny for us. This thing pissed us off so much that we did our best and..yes,that’s why as you say „we stole the show“… 😉

I would also like to hear your comment on your “Live premonition”, are you happy with that release?
Magnificent night, amazing crowd, great film and sound quality and in general a great release which I’m very proud of. I only wish it was the last and not the first show playing the „Premonition“ stuff…. we were very stressed but you can’t see this on the dvd! There’s also some cool on-the-road footage,very funny!

OK, I think that we have covered everything. I wish you all the best with „Days of defiance“, leave your last message…
Give a chance to listen to our album.It’s some very honest music we did and we really need your support to get to the top. See you soon in Belgrade!!!! We love you all!

  • Answers by Bob Katsionis
    Intervie was done by Slobodan Trifunovic