When Black Sabbath announced plans for a reunion album and tour last year, the metal world went into a frenzy. The legends were back! But then Tony Iommi announced his diagnosis with cancer, and the band scaled back its planned appearances to small number of dates. To fill the void left in the wake of some of the already-announced Sabbath shows, Ozzy Osbourne called up a few friends to do something really special: Ozzy & Friends. This European tour features Ozzy’s current band – guitarist Gus G, bass player Blasko and drummer Tommy Clufetos – with some very special guests: Slash, former Ozzy and current Black Label Society shredder Zakk Wylde, and none other than Black Sabbath bass legend Geezer Butler. Gus recently sent us a pic from rehearsals and we needed to know more, so we called him up late last week to give us an update on all things Gus: Ozzy, the forthcoming Firewind album, and his signature Gus G Fire Blackout pickups.
How are the rehearsals going for the tour?
“It’s okay! It’s been going really good! We did a few days in a row with just the band, then Ozzy came down, Geezer Butler came down for a couple of days, Zakk Wylde came down for a couple of days. Then today Slash was there. So we’ve been going through the songs that each guy is going to come up and do separately. And tomorrow is a day when we all get down there for rehearsal, so it’ll be one big meeting.”
I don’t think you should give away which songs you’ll be doing, but you got to play with Geezer?
“Yeah I did! That was amazing, man. He’s the best, heaviest bass players out there. No doubt. And it was great to hear those songs with the original bass lines.”
And Zakk Wylde – he’s been very supportive of you in the press.
“Yeah! He’s been really supporting me. That’s very nice of him. I’m a fan of the guy, and I really like the guy. We got to hang out a couple of times, and he’s really fun to be around. He’s got a lot of cool stories and he’s just a funny guy. He was down there for a couple of days. And Slash is great.”
So what guitar rig are you using on this tour?
“It’s the same thing, really. I have by Blackstar Series 200 heads and cabs, a bunch of my ESPs – both the Eclipse and the Random Stars. The only thing that’s actually changed lately is my pickups. Before I had standard Blackouts on all my guitars, and now I’ve switched. I still have some of the standard Blackouts, but my Random Stars all have my own signature pickups. They have such an organic sound. It definitely doesn’t take over. You can hear the wood and the harmonics of the guitar. You can hear the actual guitar, and at the same time it’s loud as ****!”
So why all the different guitars? Are some in different tunings?
“I use the Eclipse guitars for the Sabbath stuff and I use my Random Stars for the Ozzy material, and that’s it.”
I listened to Scream again last week for the first time in about a year and a half, and it really holds up well.
“That’s very nice to hear! You know what? I actually did the same just a few weeks ago. I put it on my iPod and I was like, ‘Hey! Two years later this album doesn’t sound bad at all!’ There’s some really good music on there.”
Yeah. Songs like ‘Life Won’t Wait’ sit up there with the best of the Ozzy stuff.
“That is a really good song, yeah. ‘Time’ is also another really cool ballad. We put a lot of hard work into that album. I’m glad to hear that a couple of years down the road people have not forgotten about it!”
Have you been writing for a future Ozzy release?
“I’ve written a bunch of stuff already. I have lots of ideas. The thing is, it’s not really up for discussion right now, because Ozzy was concentrating on the Sabbath thing, and the next Ozzy album might take a bit longer than expected, but as far as material goes I definitely have a lot of riffs. I wrote some stuff with Ozzy on the road as well that sounds pretty good. It’s just a matter of when we’re going to get together to do that.”
“Two days before the tour. It’s a very heavy album compared to the previous Firewind records. And that’s because we cut down a lot of the keyboards and there’s more guitar in it. So there’s a lot more riffing, and it’s a lot more groovy as well. It’s still like Firewind but I think that the power metal element is a bit more eliminated, so to speak. It’s a bit more of a straight heavy metal album. And I think it’s the kind of record where it could please fans from both sides of the Atlantic. It’s cool. You’ve got to check it out. We just released a single the other day, ‘Wall of Sound.’ It has a different sound as well, because we mixed it somewhere else. We mixed it with the guys from Audiohammer studio in Florida, Jason Suecof – he’s done Trivium and all those sorts of bands, and he really gave us a fresh sound. It’s much bigger. I tried out different tones in the studio. I’m very happy with the outcome and I can’t wait for people to hear it. And we start touring right after the Ozzy tour is done. We start doing festivals in Europe in July, and then in August we go to China for the first time, and Taiwan, and after that we go back home and we do a pretty extensive UK tour, then a mainland European tour. And I think after that we’re going to try to get over into America. So it’s going to be a world tour. The whole run.”
Ozzy & Friends Summer European Tour
May 23, 2012 Helsinki, Finland – Hartwall Areena
May 25, 2012 Stockholm,Sweden – Stockholm Stadium
May 27, 2012 Jelling, Denmark – Jelling Festival
May 29, 2012 Bergen, Norway – Bergen Calling Festival
May 31, 2012 Oslo, Norway – Oslo Spektrum
June 2, 2012 Malmö, Sweden – Malmö Stadion
June 4, 2012 Dortmund, Germany – Westfalenhallen
June 6, 2012 Prague, Czech Republic – O2 Arena
June 15, 2012 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain – Azkena Rock Festival
June 17, 2012 Clisson, France – Hellfest
June 20, 2012 Mannheim, Germany – SAP Arena
June 22, 2012 Dessel, Belgium – Graspop Metal Meeting
June 24, 2012 Milan, Italy – Gods of Metal
June 26, 2012 Vienna, Austria – Wiener Stadthalle
June 28, 2012 Belgrade, Serbia – Ušće Park
July 1, 2012 Athens, Greece – Rockwave Festival
Firewind – Live 2012:
June 10, 2012 Donington Park (UK) – Download Festival
July 14, 2012 Vizovice (Czech Republic) – Masters Of Rock Festival
July 18, 2012 Thessaloniki (Greece) – Mylos Open Air
July 28, 2012 Rotterdam (The Netherlands) – Roadgrill Festival
August 17, 2012 Dinkelsbühl (Germany) – Summer Breeze Open Air
August 24, 2012 Beijing (China) – Star Live
August 25, 2012 Shanghai (China) – Mao Livehouse
August 26, 2012 Taipei (Taiwan) – Hwa Sha Auditorium
Firewind & Leaves’ Eyes – “Few Against Many” European Tour 2012:
September 25, 2012 Paris (France) – Divan du Monde
September 26, 2012 Colmar (France) – Le Grillen
September 27, 2012 Bochum (Germany) – Matrix
September 28, 2012 Hamburg (Germany) – Knust
September 30, 2012 Berlin (Germany) – SO36
October 2, 2012 Aschaffenburg (Germany) – Colos Saal
October 3, 2012 Ingolstadt (Germany) – Eventhalle
October 4, 2012 Cologne (Germany) – Underground
October 5, 2012 Zwolle (The Netherlands) – Hedon
October 6, 2012 Vosselaar (Belgium) – Biebob