Sonisphere UK 2011 Interview: Firewind – Bob Katsionis

Firewind, the baby of Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G, may have been off the road for the better part of two years due to Gus becoming the new lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne but now with Ozzy taking a break, the Greek metallers are looking to make most of having Gus back in the ranks as they finally tour in support of their 2010 album ‘Days of Defiance’.

As part of their summer festival tour the band hit Sonisphere UK which gave me the opportunity to meet up with rhythm guitarist and keyboard player Bob Katsionis to talk about the band. Read on as we talk about the bands album, how Gus joining Ozzy affected the band and also their brand new material which is slated for a late 2012 release.

Catch the band on their upcoming four date UK tour:
Sep 09 – Talking Heads, Southampton, United Kingdom
Sep 10 – Manchester Moho Live, Manchester, United Kingdom
Sep 11 – Cathouse, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Sep 12 – Sub89, Friar Street, Reading, United Kingdom

Be sure to check out the bands official website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

European Tour Promo

EspyRock: How are you?

Bob Katsionis: I’m very good thank you.

Are you looking forward to performing later tonight?

Yes we are looking forward to playing. We will be performing a special song which is called ‘The Rain Dance’ because we are playing in the tent at the same time as Megadeth so if it rains then maybe more people will want to come see us [laughs] but this is fantastic. We had Sonisphere in Athens a few weeks ago with Iron Maiden and Slipknot and now coming here is just fantastic.

Were you performing at Sonisphere in Athens as I don’t remember the band being on the line-up?

No we didn’t perform at that one, I just attended but this one is just so much bigger than Athens. I can’t wait to see Metallica right after our set.

I was going to ask you if there were any bands you would like to see over the weekend so of course Metallica is one.

Yes definitely but the thing is I’m a Megadeth guy and I’ll miss them as we’re performing but I’ll see Metallica and they are always special. The Big One!

I think their set tonight is two hours so hopefully they will make up for you missing Megadeth.

Yeah and it makes sense as there always has to be a number one.

Your album ‘Days Of Defiance’ was released towards the end of last year but you haven’t really been able to tour on it yet because Gus has been working with Ozzy Osbourne.

That is true yes.

Are you glad now to some extent that he is back and you can finally support the album the way you would have if he hadn’t been working with Ozzy?

Yes we are and the main tour starts here in the UK on September 9th in London I think, I’m not too sure where it starts but we do four dates with one in Glasgow which you better be at! [Laughs] In Firewind we consider, this is true by the way, not interview shit, we consider the UK as our second home. We’ve played here a lot of times and we always have a great time when we are here with our family and fans. For us it is really special when we do shows like this because it is not like going to any other country, the market is different but it still holds something really special to us. Hopefully starting here in the UK will lift us for the European leg of the tour.

Firewind Band


Although you haven’t had the opportunity to properly tour on the album just yet, on the dates you have toured, how has the new material been received as you haven’t had much time to actually test drive it on the road?

The reception has been very good. Actually this album was a big turning point because Gus was ‘going through changes’ as Ozzy says [laughs]. It was a very critical album because after Gus joined Ozzy people were wondering ‘well what can he do now?’ but I think we were able to put together a decent album with a small change to our sound to make it a little more rough. People always appreciate good songs and I think that is a power we have. It doesn’t matter if Gus plays with Ozzy or if somebody plays somewhere else or the production, people will always appreciate good songs and I think we’re lucky enough to have good songs.

When you set aside the topic of touring on the album, how did it affect yourself and the other members in the band when he stated that he would be taking a break to focus on Ozzy and Firewind would become second for some time?

We actually had a very big and honest talk and we said that this is actually good for the band. We all know that Firewind is Gus’s child and he wasn’t just going to drop his first child after the second child was born. He made us all feel very comfortable with the situation regarding Firewind and we trusted him. Even if tomorrow he were to say that he has to quit Firewind for Ozzy then we would all respect his decision because it is a very big thing, it’s not like joining any other band, this is very big. We all hope for the best for his career and we’re all sure that he feels the same for us if someone were to ask him because we have this Greek brother thing, which is not gay by the way [laughs], don’t misunderstand what I’m saying [laughs] but we have this Greek brotherhood type thing and we look out for each other.

I was going to ask about the line-up and how tight you are now as there have been some changes and right now Petros [Christodoylidis] is the second longest serving member and you are the third as you have featured on four of the six albums.

We are prepared to have changes if we have to. Something might change tomorrow and one of us may leave or next year, you just never know what will happen but the core of the band which is me, Gus, Apollo and Petros, we have a good relationship and like I said, it is like a brotherhood. Mark Cross, our ex-drummer, is a good friend and we still play together in Outloud, the other band I have, but there were conflicts and some misunderstandings and when it comes to it I just said fuck it, let’s move on. To me it is the music that matters, not the people or the personalities, the music is the key ingredient.

I know right now you’re working on new material and I’ve been talking to some bands about the control over the creative aspect of music and how important they feel it is to control that side of the music and let the business side of the things be handled by others. One thing that is noticeable with Firewind releases is that you change often from self-producing to bringing someone in to produce but even then you still have a strong hand in that side of things so what do you think brings better results?

This is actually tricky because we were actually thinking about having someone else come in to take a look at our sound because we want others opinions but Gus and I have a pretty certain idea of what we want to do with the music. Gus lays all the guidelines and I have a lot of technical knowledge so it is pointless at times to have someone come in and say ‘do this and do that’ when we are pretty sure about what we are doing. I think this is why we have somewhat of an original sound but of course it’s not the most original sound ever like System Of A Down.

But you can always tell it is Firewind when you hear it.

Exactly. You always know it is Firewind when it has these riffs and these keyboards and this can only happen if you produce your own band. So now we’re at a turning point were we think maybe we shouldn’t do something that sounds like an ‘Allegiance’ part four, maybe we should bring in someone else who can say ‘let’s try this and that’ and why not, we’re on our seventh album.

Track: World On Fire

Album: Days of Defiance

How is the new material coming along that you have been working on?

It has been coming along well. I can tell you that we have around ten new songs so far which we are working very hard on and we trade files with one another every day. We still don’t know what is going to happen but we know there is going to be a change whether it has a little more pop or death metal to the sound or whatever. We all have this feeling that we will need to change something and explore what is going on because we had people calling us ‘power metal’ but people don’t know what power metal is. We know what power metal is because we grew up with it but people just gave us a tag and then others followed. We want to do music in our own style and to do that maybe the arrangements will change or maybe the production will change but whatever happens we will release another good album with good songs.

From that point of maybe having to introduce more pop or death metal, what would you actually like to hear being brought into the Firewind sound if you feel it needs that change?

I don’t know and it is hard because we are five different people with three songwriters so it is hard to determine which way it will turn. I know in my mind but I cannot think of the way to describe it right now [laughs]. Aw it is on my tongue but I wish I could describe it [laughs], I just cannot think of the correct words but I suppose in a way a little more rock. We just really want to release good songs, that is the main goal and I don’t want to throw in all of my influences as I’m a Dream Theater fan and stuff like that. I don’t want to take my influences and put that into the band because it is useless. A lot of bands do it when they say ‘let’s play like this band’ and nothing good happens as you just sound like something that has already come and passed you by. I don’t know where it will end but we also feel a little pressure right now because a lot of heads have turned to Firewind because of Ozzy, he has helped turn heads to Firewind and we have to make sure that this is a very good album.

I think our time is just about up so the final question and it’s the same one I am asking all the bands across the weekend to finish up the interviews. If you could go back to when you first started out as a musician, what one piece of advice would you give yourself?

Fantastic question. Hmm advice, I’ve not made a lot of big mistakes but I think I would be more careful with the people that I work with so that everything we do is on the same page because in the past I was playing with bands who were not focussed and had completely different reasons to play music than what I did. Other than that I don’t know, I think everything worked out pretty well and I didn’t make many mistakes. Yes, maybe advice to, no, I think I’ve done everything correctly [laughs]. I didn’t do drugs and I didn’t buy expensive instruments which you know are the usual stuff you do when you begin as you always start with some expensive instruments, drugs and other stupid things but I didn’t do anything other than just play music. Then I hooked up with Gus who was doing exactly the same things as me. You know we are here and maybe we could be higher and be up there like Metallica but I’m happy where we are right now.

Thank you very much for your time.

Thank you and like I said, you better be at that show in Glasgow! [Laughs].


About ??

Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.


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