The Firewind/Ozzy Osbourne guitarist looks back into the past...
Hello Mr G! What a pleasure it is to welcome you to Sentinel Daily! Can you tell us a bit about your earliest memories of heavy metal – was it love at first sight/hearing? “Absolutely! My first memories of hard rock in general are watching Guns N’ Roses’ You Could Be Mine on TV and I was just amazed that Arnold Schwarzenegger was part of it as the Terminator! I immediately fell in love with the hard/heavy sound. That was probably back in 1991 or something”.
So what was the first metal album you bought with your own cash? “I can’t really remember, but the first Metal CD I bought was a tribute to Black Sabbath called Nativity in Black.
I remember it well! Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now & ask ‘what was I thinking’ ? “Not really. The only thing I tried out for a minute, was getting into Greek music, cause my Dad was singing at weddings and stuff, and I was exposed to Greek music since I was a kid. And I don’t mean the bouzouki stuff, more like the pop/rock stuff of the era. And that was right before I got into classic rock or hard rock/heavy stuff. I just felt like ‘why am I listening to this shit? Sabbath rules!'”
A perfectly natural reaction, and a very reasonable questio to ask one’s self! Who were the first band you saw live? “The first concert ever for me was The Eagles on their reunion tour in 1994. I was visiting my Uncle in Miami and he had tickets to the show. It was mind blowing!”
It certainly was. Although that admission probably rules you out of any possible auditions for Iron Maiden in the future… How hard was it growing up to get information on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “Not really. I mean there was Metal Hammer magazine and that was pretty much it. When I started getting into some underground shredders, like the stuff Mike Varney was releasing, it was impossible to get anything in Greece. I’d buy Guitar World magazine from specific kiosks that sold imported international press and that’s where I’d find out about guitar albums or even read Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen interviews, get tips for technique, et cetera”.
That being the case, do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today ? Do we know too much about our heroes in 2016? “The internet gives you the option to expose as much of yourself as you want. I mean if you wanna hang out live on Facebook with your fans every day, go do that. If you don’t wanna have any social media, you don’t have to. It’s really up to you. People don’t need to see your bathroom or how you look at 8am, these are things that people do themselves. If you use the tools you are given and put it to good use, I think it’s that’s a beautiful thing”.
Fair enough! Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “Not really. I don’t like being in huge public places much”.
How hard or for that matter easy was it for you to get to big gigs growing up? Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “I wanted to go and see Alice Cooper when he came to Greece on the Trash tour but I was way too young. Then Yngwie Malmsteen came to Athens, which was 500 kilometers away form my city and I was only 15. My dad took me to the gig. A couple of years after that, I traveled a couple of more times to Athens from Thessaloniki (where I’m from) to see some bands. I remember going to the Halford gig on his Resurrection tour, that was awesome! I’ve never hitched in my life though – train yes, plane yes, but no hitch hiking”.
Probably a very wise decision! What five albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “Black Sabbath’s Master Of Reality, Piece of Mind by Iron Maiden, Scorpions – Taken By Force, Metallica‘s Black Album and Trilogy by Yngwie Malmsteen“.
Last question – did you have a metal crush? I had lifesize posters of Lee Aaron and Doro Pesch on my ceiling in 1986… “Not really. When guitar came into my life, I didn’t think about girls up until high school. I was such a guitar nerd”.