We’re a few days into 2014 already and I never really had time to do the usual look in the rearview mirror to summarize what 2013 was like for me.
Compared to the past 5 years, it was less eventful than usual, and a lot of it has to do with my father’s passing. I cancelled some gigs I had planned to go to and well, just wasn’t in the mood for anything really, but there were still a few highlights in 2013.
January started with Gothenburg Sound Festival where I met up with FIREWIND-drummer JO NUNEZ who was playing with NIGHTRAGE.
Shortly thereafter, I went to the US to see a few FIREWIND-shows and meet up with the new singer KELLY SUNDOWN CARPENTER for an interview at the Gramercy in NYC. Went to Atlanta and the Masquerade as well, pretty cool venue.
Got stuck in a blizzard the day I was supposed to fly home from JFK via Toronto, and made it home in the very last minute. Drama!
Swedish bands CRAZY LIXX & H.E.A.T played at KB, show got interrupted by the fire alarm and the club was evacuated.
Went to beautiful ICELAND with my friend Henny, that was a trip I won’t forget anytime soon – Iceland is a fairy tale country and I hope they never let the ways of the “outside world” change what they’ve accomplished. It’s amazing.
[This isn’t even Photoshopped – it actually looks like that!]
Gigs, there were a few. IRON MAIDEN played at Malmo Stadion, I spent all day in line to get a front row spot. Well worth it!
MEGADETH played at Vega in Copenhagen, they had just released Super Collider and played the title track from that album live for the first time. Dave Mustaine also brought a kid up on stage, not a usual sight at Megadeth shows. :)
STEVE HARRIS and his British Lion played at KB in Malmo, and although the attendance was low, to say the least, it was insanely cool to see a musician of his caliber that up close! I got dust from his sneakers in my face when he stomped on his monitor, he was THAT close. It wasn’t as bad as people say, the band had a good time and that’s what I remember the most.
Another memorable gig was PAUL GILBERT in Gothenburg, at Sticky Fingers. Been a fan since forever, Paul is amazing. There are some fantastic shredders in the world, but Paul is unique. I love his goofy style, his dry sense of humor, his playing, his way of interacting with the crowd… It was a great show.
After Apollo Papathanasio’s departure from Firewind, I decided to keep track of his other projects, so I went to Hamburg, Germany to visit my friend Su and see Apollo with SPIRITUAL BEGGARS. A few months later made a last minute decision to see the band in Thessaloniki, Greece as well.
Apollo also visited me in my home in Malmo for a video interview and a nice lunch. Awesome dude.
Of course, there were a bunch of FIREWIND shows this year as well. Rock in den Ruinen in Germany, SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL, and of course, the tour of AUSTRALIA. I opted out of all other shows because I needed the $$ for Australia.
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL was a weird festival this year, it was only days after my father’s passing, but I had to go to fulfill my duties to Sweden Rock Magazine and also to my friend Su who was visiting from Germany, SRF was her bachelorette party.
Memorable interviews: DAVID COVERDALE (WHITESNAKE), love the man, he rocks!
[A short clip from that interview]
And finally meeting LITA FORD for the first time ever. She was great, I’m glad she didn’t turn out to be a bitch.
Also saw her shows in Gothenburg ad Sticky Fingers and Malmo, KB.
Went to the UK twice in May to see WHITESNAKE, Thunder and Journey. I could see Whitesnake a million times and it still never gets old. :)
GUS G came to Malmo for the SWEDISH METAL CONVENTION, had a great time with him and Andy R, thanks to Pontus for bringing him to the convention. Also met Tallee Savage and her sister Amanda, Jorn, Anders Johansson (YNGWIE, HAMMERFALL) and a bunch of other people.
(Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, Yngwie), Pekka and Gus in the VIP-room)
Gus G and Paul DiAnno:
Straight after that…business class with Emirates to Sydney via Dubai, went on a safari, met koalas, saw the first Firewind show of the Australian tour, continued to Brisbane, met up with Clint, flew to Adelaide and then finally Melbourne. Stayed there for a week after the band had left. Met a few more koalas and then some really nice people at his BBQ party.
The free BAR in business class at my Emirates-flight to Sydney. :) It didn’t suck. ;)
Came home, got another tattoo and saw BLACK SABBATH in Copenhagen.
An old friend, singer of the Swedish sleaze-band NASTY IDOLS, Andy Pierce, passed away at the age of 45, something that I still can’t quite grasp…
Finished my year in the US visiting friends and checking out two gigs that I wrote about in my previous blog, both Savatage-related.
That was it – in a nutshell. Less travel than usual 2013 but I’m already looking forward to the Steel Panther European tour in the spring and Gus G’s solo-debut! Welcome 2014!
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
It was announced yesterday:
Gus G will be visiting Malmo, Sweden in October to attend the Swedish Metal Conventon.
Needless to say, considering that I’ve seen this guy all over the freaking GLOBE with either Ozzy or Firewind the past two years, I’m definitely happy about his participation at the convention.
It’s a great event, cause usually top-notch musicians do clinics – but people who aren’t musicians themselves (just fans of their work) may feel misplaced at a clinic.
Then there’s the VIP-meet-and-greet packages, that…. well, never been a fan of those. I absolutely understand the reason behind them, as people are downloading music for free nowadays and it’s more difficult for artists to get paid for their work. Money has to come from somewhere, it’s not free to tour or to make albums. Hence the VIP-packages. But, not something that I would do personally.
The convention however, is open for all metalheads and for the curious. Fans and artists get to meet in a very relaxed atmosphere – eventhough there are enthusiastic and stoked fans standing in long lines to get their CD’s signed, say a few words to the visiting artists or take a photo. :-)
There are still the more niched segments to enjoy at the convention as well – the Q & A, clinics or like last year when Mike Tramp did a very down-to-earth acoustic set in a small conference room. When would you ever get the chance to see something like that elsewhere? :)
Gus is an amazing guitarist and performer, and on top of that also a really nice guy. And as icing on the cake, there will be at least one album-release this year: The Firewind live CD from the 10-year anniversary shows in Athens and Thessaloniki (those were amazing by the way), and maybe – just maybe, also Gus G’s first real solo album. And I KNOW that I’m not the only one looking very much forward to that.
[Gus with OZZY – Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany last year]
But, first thing’s first. Going to Dortmund, Germany to see Firewind at the Rock in den Ruinen festival now in April – and then there’s of course Sweden Rock Festival where you’ll find Firewind on the 4Sound stage (also more known as the classic Zeppelin-stage) stage June 7th (Friday) 13.45 to 14.45.
See you all there!
[From the anniversary show in Thessaloniki back in December where Gus decided to take a dive into the crowd ;P]