Still in Melbourne, Australia – decided to stay an extra week after the Firewind-gigs. It’s been absolutely crazy the past two weeks, to say the least. And it’s only now that I’m getting a chance to sit down in peace and quiet and write about it.
So, let’s get in the time-machine and set it to October 25, 2013. The Swedish Metal Convention was taking place that weekend (Oct 26-27) and the guest of honor was Gus G (Ozzy, Firewind).
He was to arrive on Friday and the convention promoter Pontus and I went to pick up Gus, and Andy from the management, at the airport in Copenhagen.
Gus’ flight was slightly delayed so we went to Starbucks to have a coffee and just chill. The topics of conversation were bands and tours, and we got so much into that whole discussion that we somehow managed to miss Gus arrival (ooops…!). He found us – and off we went, across the bridge over Oresund and to Malmo, Sweden.
We dropped them off at the hotel – I went back home to just relax a bit until it was time to drive the gentlemen to a photo-shoot and then later on, to dinner. As it turned out, I didn’t have to take them to the photo-shoot as the guy picked them up himself – so suddenly I had spare time on my hands.
I get bored pretty quickly, so I called Sweden Rock-Mark who I knew was setting up the Sweden Rock-booth at the convention. Figured he might need some help or use some company. He was done and on his way home though, so I called Pontus – and he needed help to set up the VIP room as nobody really had time for that. Perfect. I went over there to make myself useful.
These events are funny, because I always meet people I know. It’s home to me.
The convention host – Anders Johansson (drummer for Hammerfall, Rising Force among many others…) was setting up his drums while talking to Jonas Hansson – who is mostly known as the guitarist for Silver Mountain here in Sweden (Ander’s first band, or at least one of his first…). He was one of the first guitarists to play in the technical / neoclassical style, a style that also made Yngwie a superstar.
Anyway – I’ve known Anders since ages. His mom used to work at the same magazine as me, and she liked me, so she would always help me set up interviews with either Anders or Jens and even with Yngwie himself. Back in those days I had access to some really exclusive stuff, and I owe it all to her. She was a tough, intelligent and cool lady, I’m guessing the guys all thought of her as “mom”. :)
Anyhoo… We were going out for dinner later that evening, so once I had finished yapping and setting up the VIP room, I went to pick up Gus and Andy to take them to the fancy Michelin star-rated restaurant we were going to.
The evening didn’t last long for mr Paul DiAnno (first voice of Iron Maiden) though…. The snobby restaurant wouldn’t allow guests to wear caps in there so Paul pretty much told them to go *beeep* themselves and was out the door before anyone even had much of a chance to react.
Apart from THAT little incident, the rest of us had a great evening. Drove back to the hotel, and since it had been such a good chemistry between people, we decided to continue the evening in the hotel bar. So Jorn, Gus, Andy, Pontus, Stanley (ex-Nasty Idols drummer), me and later also Tallee Savage (known to some as Yngwies teenage love – nowadays as a talented makeup-artist and photographer) hung out till pretty late. It was nice, a very relaxed and laid back way to finish the day.
Next morning, I drove to the hotel 11-ish to pick up Gus and Andy again, as the plan was to start the signing around 11.30. However, once we got there, it was obvioius that the rockers of Malmö hadn’t crawled out of bed quite yet, so we ended up at Starbucks instead. God knows we all needed the caffeine…!
When we got back, Pontus ran over and said that several people had already been asking for Gus, so we got him out there to his assigned table.
It was nice to see fans getting their stuff signed, looking very happy about it – and getting their pics taken with their guitar hero. :)
That’s the beauty of conventions – it’s a relaxed environment where fans and artists get to meet under organized circumstances.
Apart from the signing – and people getting their pics taken with Gus by leaning across the table – there was also a more organized version where fans paid a small fee to get their picture taken with Gus by a professional photographer.
After the signings and the photos, it was time to get down to business: Guitar Clinic and a Q & A session, hosted by mr Anders Johansson. That turned out to be a great, relaxed and funny part of the 2013 convention that was appreciated not only by the visitors but definitely also by the participating musicians – Anders and Gus, who have a history of touring together – wayyy back in the early days before Gus even had a name with Firewind.
Check out the talk (the first part of it, before I had to change memory card) and Gus clinic-part:
Q & A + CLINIC AT SWEDISH METAL CONVENTION 2013 in Malmö, Sweden, [Saturday, October 26, 2013]
The clinic went so well that the time was extended – people loved it, you heard people giggle every five minutes, a perfect unpretentious conversation between two musicians (quite different from a conversation musician-journalist actually – in a good way).
We were all starving, there had been all work and no breaks, so the Crucified Barbara-girls who had the table next to Gus, asked if they could tag along if we decided to go someplace to eat. I started calling a few restaurants to book a table, but it turned out to be nearly impossible.
It was Saturday evening, and people just got their salaries, so it was fully booked everywhere. One girl even laughed a little when I asked if I could book a table for 7 people. “Oh, haha, you’re optimistic aren’t you!”
Gus getting a present from the Crucified Barbara-ladies, a t-shirt:
In the end, we just had to give up and realize that the restaurant-thing wasn’t happening, so Andy’s idea to try the hotel restaurant, was brilliant.
It certainly wasn’t fully booked, it was convenient (no searching for parking spots), people could just go straight back to their rooms after their meal and the prices weren’t any different from anywhere else in town so it was settled.
Gus and Paul DiAnno:
Tallee and her sister joined us, super nice ladies. It’s just so refreshing when you meet new people and the chemistry is so perfect that it feels like you’ve known eachother a very long time. Just a great conversation, lots of fun and a funny waitor. ;)
Once again, it was such a good evening that nobody really wanted to call it a night, so we made a last minute decision to go to the official afterparty at Club Distortion. It was sold out and Crash Diet was playing – but a few phone calls took care of it and they got us all in the back way.
It wasn’t just the convention afterparty – it was also a Halloween-evening so you had all kinds of weird creatures of the night down there in the dark, hot and sweaty, crowded club. It was jam packed. I thought I was gonna pass out, it was just SO freaking HOT and combined with my lack of sleep, I didn’t need booze to feel dizzy. Gus somehow managed to find a spot right under one of the air conditioning-things, which saved us all.
Everbody had a good time though, and that’s the main thing. :)
It got pretty late – or should I say early – and we didn’t get back to the hotel until maybe 2 am. Wouldn’t have been a big deal if it wasn’t for the fact that we were supposed to go to the airport at 4.30… I didn’t sleep at all that night (either). Just stayed up uploading videos and pics before I went back to the hotel to pick up Gus and Andy. Might as well make good use of that time.
There was no traffic at all so we made it to Copenhagen airport in no time. I was absolutely beat but I had to go home and pack and try to clean the apartment the best I could. Once again, not too much sleep. And a trip to Sydney – Australia lying ahead the next day! Phew. Nobody could ever accuse me of not doing stuff to make the days of my life count. :)
No rest for the wicked – I got my little carry-on packed in the last minute and it was time for the next adventure! Firewind in the land of the koalas: AUSTRALIA….
Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, Rising Force) – fan and Gus in the VIP-room