Gus G. Discusses His Role as Ozzy's New Axslinger
Asked to name his favorite, Gus admits that, to him, one player stands out from the rest: “Tony Iommi. I grew up listening to him. When you first listen to it, his stuff doesn’t sound that hard, but later on I found out there are lots of small, hidden details.”
Co-producer Kevin Churko had completed most of the groundwork on Scream, including the basic guitar parts, by the time Gus arrived on the scene. Taking a backseat was a challenge for the guitarist, who is accustomed to writing and producing his own albums. But after recording the solos for Scream, Gus was pleasantly surprised when Churko and Ozzy asked him to come back and retrack all of Churko’s guitar parts. “Kevin’s not a guitar player, so he doesn’t think like one,” Gus explains. “What they needed was a real guitar player to lay down all the riffs and solos.”
Gus’ studio setup consisted of just his ESP signature series guitar through a couple of Blackstar heads. He got turned on to Blackstar amps during the sessions, when someone brought a 200-watt Series One 200 four-channel head to the studio. “Blackstars are made by a bunch of ex-Marshall amp builders, so there’s a connection there and a similarity in the tones,” Gus explains. “It has these big-ass KT88 tubes that sound really great. The EQ is exceptionally well balanced and the distortion has great crunch. The amp fits my style and sound perfectly.”
His basic approach for Scream was to record two rhythm guitar tracks through a Blackstar Series One 100 head and another two rhythm tracks with a Marshall JCM800. “We used a 4x12 cabinet with Electro-Voice speakers for the Marshall and Celestions for the Blackstar,” Gus says. “They created two different sounds that complemented each other very nicely.” The Blackstar 200 was his main amp for the solos. Onstage he uses six Blackstar 200 heads and 12 matching Series One 4x12 cabinets. “It’s very loud,” he says, laughing.
Having committed to touring and promoting Scream in 2010, Gus has had to put Firewind on hold and is now preparing to face an audience who will be comparing him to Ozzy’s longest-serving and, in many quarters, most popular guitarist. It’s a daunting task, but he’s pragmatic about it.
“My attitude is that I’m going to play the best I can,” Gus says. “There’s already been a lot of negative reaction on the internet, and initially it bothered me. But then I figured I could either walk away or just do what I have to do. If people want to throw shit at me for that…whatever.”