Intervjui

Gus G, FIREWIND, Ozzy Osbourne - 'Ovu vrstu muzike ne svirate zbog slave i novca'
28.06.2016. | |

Momak iz Grčke koji je počeo karijeru sa bendom koji pripada jednom od najnepopularnijih žanrova, koji nije stajao, koji nije odbijao nijednu priliku niti se plašio marljivog rada, sada svira sa jednim od najvećih ikona heavy metal zvuka. Šta Gus G ima da poruči? Ne odustajte! Prilikom njegove posete Beogradu, gitarista benda koji predvodi Ozzy Osbourne i svog matičnog sastava Firewind govorio je za naš portal o aktuelnom solo albumu, budućim izdanjima, grčkoj muzičkoj sceni i drugim stvarima.

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

Pozdrav i hvala ti što si pristao na ovaj intervju. Krenimo od tvog aktuelnog solo albuma "Brand New Revolution". Mnogi gitaristi najčešće snimaju instrumentalne solo albume kako bi pokazali svoje umeće, kao što je slučaj sa uvodnom pesmom "The Quest". Ti si ipak oba albuma snimio sa gostujućim vokalima. Kako si se odlučio na ovaj pristup za svoj solo materijal?

Gus G: Nikad mi nije išlo za rukom da snimam cele instrumentalne albume. Snimio sam par instrumentala tu i tamo. Mislim da je kul kada na albumu imate takvu pesmu da biste ga začinili, da imate i vokalnih i instrumentalnih stvari, ali ceo album sa instrumentalima mi zvuči dosadno. Uvek sam bio tip koji voli pesme sa tekstovima, sa dobrim refrenima i dobrim vokalima. To je moja pozadina, zvuk u kome uživam. Mislim, volim i instrumentale. Volim Satriani-a i Steve-a Vai-a, Yngwie-a i sve te muzičare, ali sam uvek voleo da sviram sa celim bendom. Pored toga, razmišljajući o svojim solo nastupima voleo bih da budu višestrani. Ne mogu da zamislim sebe na bini kako 70 ili 80 minuta sviram instrumentale, to bi smorilo publiku. Osim ako niste Jeff Beck (smeh).

Pomenuo si već da si svoj drugi solo album snimao u dva navrata, jednom tradicionalno u studiju sa celim bendom, i drugi put modernom metodom snimanja jednog po jednog instrumenta. Koji od ovih metoda preferiraš? Da li voliš da uhvatiš tu živu magiju ili da radiš pod svojim uslovima?

Gus: Sviđa mi se ta sesija koju smo snimili u Los Anđelesu. Zadesili smo se tamo nakon jedne kratke turneje i producent Jay Tuston je predložio: "Hajde da okupimo bend i probamo da snimimo tako". Snimili smo materijal i ispalo je sjajno. Nakon povratka u Grčku završio sam rad na albumu. Ali trudio sam se da održim taj osećaj zato što smo već bili poučeni tim iskustvom. Naravno, prvo smo snimili bubnjeve pa onda sve ostalo. Ali ipak smo se trudili da stvorimo istu energiju. Već smo je imali, ostala je sveža. Znali smo da ne možemo da se vratimo u Los Anđeles da okupimo ekipu zato što smo bili u Evropi i trudili smo se da uradimo što bolji posao.

Koji metod mi se više sviđa? Zavisi od situacije i vrste albuma kakav želite da snimite. To je bila sugestija tadašnjeg producenta, koji je želeo da uđemo u studio i probamo nešto drugačije. I drago mi je da jesmo. Ponosan sam na to kako je album ispao.

Mnogo sjajnih pevača je nastupilo na tvojim solo albumima. Da li postoji neko sa kim bi voleo da sarađuješ u budućnosti, idol iz detinjstva ili neko koga ceniš?

Gus: Radio sam sa mnogo poznatih imena i sa ljudima koji imaju svoje karijere i zaista bih želeo da radim nešto sa nekim ko je nepoznat u budućnosti. Voleo bih da sam otkrijem nekoga, možda na Youtube-u ili na lokalnoj svirci i pružim mu šansu koju su drugi pružili meni. Voleo bih to da uradim nekada u budućnosti.

Okrenimo se malo bendu Firewind. Vredno radite na albumu koji će naslediti izdanje "Few Against Many" iz 2012. godine. Mnogo toga se promenilo u bendu u prethodnih četiri godina, prvenstveno činjenica da imate novog pevača i da ste bili na dugoj pauzi. Kako će sve ovo uticati na novi materijal?

Gus: Svakako će imati uticaja na materijal. Imate druge ljude koji donose svoju inspiraciju i unose deo sebe u miks. Iskreno, novi pevač i nije tako nov. Zove se Henning Basse i svirao je sa nama na turneji 2007. godine. Naši fanovi ga poznaju i kako nam je tada pomogao u veoma kritičnom trenutku mislili smo da je on najbolji izbor. U bendu Firewind ja sam oduvek bio zadužen za 80% muzike, tako da ne verujem da će biti toliko drugačije nego ranije. Ali naravno, novi vokal će doneti novu perspektivu zvuku, bez sumnje. Ali već smo prošli kroz sve to i nekako smo uvek uspeli da evoluiramo u nešto novo ali zadržimo srž koja čini bend Firewind. Uveren sam da će to biti slučaj i ovog puta, želim da kombinujem sve dobre elemente iz prošlosti i sa Henning-om za mikrofonom otvorimo novo poglavlje u istoriji benda.

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

Tvoji solo albumi su naginjali ka hard rock i AOR žanrovima. Da li će novi materijal benda Firewind naginjati u istom pravcu sa dosta uticaja progressive zvuka ili planirate da se okrenete korenima, kako je Henning power metal pevač?

Gus: Očigledno, pošto sada imam solo albume da snimam šta god mi padne na pamet. Mislim da Firewind treba da ostane dobar power metal bend, najbolji power metal bend koji možemo biti. Mislim da smo napravili grešku u prošlosti kada smo probali da poreknemo to da smo power metal bend, zato što naši fanovi vole taj žanr. Nismo stavili tu etiketu na sebe, drugi su to učinili. I to je kul, nije mi bitno. Mislim da će novi album biti više power metal od power metala. Na kraju dana, kada se zapitate "Da li može da bude više power metal od ovoga?" odgovor će biti "Ne može". Ne može biti više power metal od toga.

Verovao ili ne, nadovezao si se na moje sledeće pitanje. Kako gledaš na power metal scenu danas? Da li misliš da je žanr mrtav i da ga održavaju samo veterani koji su započeli taj pokret kao ste vi, Stratovarius pre vas ili Helloween na samom početku?

Gus: Mislim da je power metal bio najmanje kul žanr dugo, dugo vremena. Ovu vrstu muzike definitivno ne svirate zbog slave i novca. Svirate je da biste se osećali dobro. Ali publika je iskrena i verna. Iako nismo nastupali tri godine, naši fanovi su i dalje tu i čekaju. To je ludo kada malo bolje razmislite. Razmislite o svetu u kome živimo i kako se sve brzo odvija. Ako gledate film, zaboravite šta ste gledali istog trenutka kada izađete iz bioskopa.

Da, posebno sada kada se muzika sluša na internetu.

Gus: Da, muzika se sluša preko interneta kao brza hrana, kao da idete u McDonalds. I iznenađen sam što su fanovi i dalje tu i čekaju na nas. To je blagoslov. Nisam siguran kakvo je stanje žanra danas. Svi stariji bendovi su i dalje tu, i dalje sviraju. Mislim da niko nije velik kao pre 20 godina, ali kao što sam rekao fanovi su odani. Za mene je to mnogo važnije od toga da budete hit meseca. Ako ste trenutno popularni ne znači da imate sigurnu karijeru narednih 20 godina. Ono što mi radimo je drugačije. Sviramo već 15 godina i nastavljamo i dalje. Za mene je to izuzetno važno.

Nedavno ste imali par nastupa. Kakav je bio prijem?

Gus: Da, svirali smo na krstarenju 70.000 Tons of Metal i bilo je stvarno zabavno. Imali smo dva nastupa i bilo je fino zato što je bilo opuštajuće. Jasno mi je zašto su takvi festivali na brodovima toliko popularni, zato što muzičari i fanovi imaju isti tretman. Svi imaju svoju kabinu, ne morate da se probijate kroz blato i prašinu, ne morate da kisnete, možete da pogledate nastup i da popijete nešto ili da se istuširate i gledate TV. Možete da odete nazad do kabine ako ne želite da ikoga vidite. A ako želite da se družite možete da odete do bara gde su svi super. Stvarno je fino. I nastupi su bili jako zabavni.

Planirate turneju po Evropi početkom sledeće godine. Šta fanovi mogu da očekuju od ovih nastupa?

Gus: To će biti best-of lista koja će se najviše oslanjati na naše najprodavanije albume "Allegiance" i "The Premonition". Sviraćemo i par novih pesama.

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

Stekao si dosta slave svirajući u bendu koji predvodi Ozzy Osbourne. On je veteran na sceni i profesionalac. Koja bi bila najvrednija lekcija koju si naučio radeći sa njim?

Gus: Dosta sam naučio radeći sa njim. Naučio sam da više cenim vežbu i probe nego ranije. On je verovatno najdoslednija osoba na sceni. Uvek dođe ranije i nikada ne propušta nastupe osim ako se ne razboli. Ali ja nisam video da je ikada otkazao koncert. I zaista ceni što se nalazi tu gde jeste. Mislili biste da te velike rock ikone rade sve zbog novca i da ih je baš briga, ali to nije istina. Imao sam sreće što sam se našao unutar toga i video koliko strasti još uvek ima u njemu. To me veoma inspiriše, zato što ako izgubite tu strast sve ostalo nestaje pre ili kasnije. On je pritom izuzetno vredan. Nikada ne staje. Ima skoro 70 godina i još uvek ide na turneje. Nakon ove turneje sa bendom Black Sabbath siguran sam da će se vratiti da uradi još jednu solo turneju. Nastaviće da svira do poslednjeg dana, nadajmo se za nekih 30 godina. (smeh) Ali naučio sam dosta od njega, zbog njega želim da se još više ostvarim kao gitarista.

Da li možeš da nam ispričaš neku interesantnu anegdotu koju si doživeo tokom rada sa njim? Ozzy važi za jednog od najinteresantnijih likova na metal sceni.

Gus: On je prosto smešan tip. Ne možete sedeti sa njim duže od dva minuta a da vas ne zasmeje. Pritom, ne zato što se trudi da bude smešan, jednostavno je takav. On je rođeni komičar.

Jedna anegdota koje se uvek setim je kada smo nastupali u Finskoj pre par godina. Znate da je tamo veoma mračno zimi, a da su dani dugi tokom leta. Bili smo tamo i čekali svoj let. Ozzy se pojavio u avionu i pitao sam ga "Hej, jesi lepo spavao sinoć" na šta mi je odgovorio "Ne, nisam uopšte spavao". Pitao sam ga zašto, na šta mi je odgovorio "Probudio sam se i pogledao na sat, bilo je 9.15 ujutru. Ustao sam, istuširao se i spakovao kofer." Međutim kada je povukao zavese, video je da je napolju mrak. Pomislio je "Šta se jebeno dešava", a ispostavilo se da je stavio sat naopako, i da je u stvari bilo 2.45 noću. To je tako klasičan Ozzy Osbourne. Zamislite lika koji ode u krevet u 1 noću, probudi se u 3, istušira i čeka tako celo jutro.

Ozzy je trenutno zauzet oproštajnom turnejom benda Black Sabbath. Ima li priče o idućem solo albumu? Da li si radio na nekim idejama, ili si trenutno okupiran drugim stvarima?

Gus: Nemam pojma. Ja samo sviram gitaru (smeh).

Koliko uticaja si imao na konačni ishod albuma Scream i da li će se to promeniti na idućem albumu? Koliko je Ozzy-ev tim otvoren za tvoje ideje?

Gus: Kada sam ja ušao u bend ceo album je već bio gotov. Nisu imali solo deonice, pa sam komponovao sve solaže i presvirao ritam gitare zato što ih je snimio producent. Trebao im je neko ko će moći da doprinese da to zvuči kao bend što je više moguće. Bilo mi je pomalo čudno, zato što sam navikao da komponujem stvari na kojima sviram. Ali morao sam da dodam svoj stil ali zadržim ono što je karakteristično za Ozzy-ev zvuk. I dalje sam ponosan na tu ploču, s obzirom da je moj zadatak bio težak u tom pogledu što nisam pisao taj materijal. Jesam svirao solaže, ali želeo bih da radim na nečemu sa Ozzy-em od nule.

Da li osećaš neki pritisak kako se bliži rad na novom albumu kada pomisliš na komponovanje i iznošenje svojih ideja i pesama?

Gus: Znaš kako, ljudi imaju svoje ideje i očekivanja. Ako pitate 10 različitih fanova dobićete 10 različitih mišljenja kako to treba da zvuči. Ako pitate izdavača ili producenta oni će imati drugo mišljenje. Za mene, na kraju dana, to treba da zvuči kao Ozzy. Bilo da je zvuk moderniji ili retro, to mora da bude Ozzy-ev stil. Naravno, ako on peva preko matrice zvučaće kao Ozzy bez obzira na sve. Nismo još uvek vodili diskusiju oko toga gde ćemo se kretati i ko će pisati materijal sa Ozzy-em i ko će sve učestvovati na albumu. To nisu moje odluke.

Da li zaista veruješ da je ovo kraj za bend Black Sabbath. Bili smo svedoci toga da su bendovi kao što su Judas Priest, Scorpions, pa čak i Black Sabbath najavljivali oproštajne turneje i vraćali se nakon par godina.

Gus: Mislim da ovo jeste kraj. Verovatno će imati i par nastupa 2017. godine. Ne znam koliko će se to odužiti, ali verovatno do proleća. Ali više-manje verujem da je to kraj benda Black Sabbath. Pričali su o tome već neko vreme. Imali su svetsku turneju kojom su promovisali album "13" i sada ovu oproštajnu turneju koja mislim da će biti njihova poslednja. Ali opet, nikada se ne zna.

Nije uklesano u kamenu dok god su živi…

Gus: Mislim da je tako dok god su živi i dok god 10 hiljada ljudi plaća karte da ih vidi. Čujem dosta njih kako kažu "Odustanite. Penzionišite se". A da li biste vi to uradili? Da imate 65 ili 70 godina i da ljudi vole da vas gledaju i slušaju dok svirate svoje pesme i punite arene i stadione. Ne možete reći nekome da se penzioniše. Mislim, pogledajte bend Rolling Stones (smeh).

Upravo o tome se radi. Gledao sam Judas Priest tokom oproštajne turneje i bilo je sjajno, nastup od dva i po sata. I kada su se vratili, ta sledeća turneja bila je mnogo bolja. Halford je zvučao kako nije godinama.

Gus: Upravo. Kada vam sat otkucava i shvatite da svirate svoje poslednje koncerte, ti ljudi se verovatno zapitaju da li zaista žele da odustanu. I dalje stoje, i dalje mogu da sviraju. Razumem to. Mislim da niko ne bi trebalo da se penzioniše osim ako ne oseti da ne može više da izdrži. Morate da ostanete dosledni sebi pre svega. A svi oni, oni su i dalje žestoki.

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

Nedavna studija sprovedena po podacima preuzetim sa sajta Metal Archives tvrdi da u Grčkoj ima 162 benda na milion stanovnika. Vi ste među najbolje rangiranim zemljama u Evropi posle Skandinavskih zemalja. Oni imaju oko 600 bendova po milionu.

Gus: Šest stotina!? Ali njihova populacija je mnogo manja. Mislim, Finska ima oko pet miliona stanovnika.

Da. Ali i Grčka je visoko na toj listi. Znamo da su Grci posvećeni fanovi, ali kakva je situacija kada je u pitanju stvaralaštvo? Da li je tlo toliko pogodno kada se toliko novih bendova rađa?

Gus: Mislim da jeste. Očigledno, tokom 90-ih black metal pokret je bio jak, sa bendovima kao što su Rotting Christ i Scepticflesh koji su i dalje prisutni i uživaju kultni status.  Onda imate nas i… Pa mislim da zapravo nema toliko power metal bendova u Grčkoj, ili ih je bilo ali ne postoje više. Mislim da smo mi jedini melodičan bend koji je probio granice i inspirisao nove klince. Sada su klasična i stoner rock scena jake u Grčkoj. Takođe i thrash metal bendovi kao što je Suicidal Angels, koji tek šire svoja krila i organizuju sopstvene turneje, što je sjajno.

Mislim da je scena zdravija, pogotovo u protekle dve godine i sa svime što se desilo u vezi sa ekonomskom krizom. Ljudi u Grčkoj vole da idu na svirke, imamo ogromnu i lojalnu bazu fanova. I ne samo fanova metala već raznih žanrova. U poslednje vreme nakon što je izbila ova kriza ljudi su odlučili da neće da plaćaju 35 evra da bi gledali bend iz Engleske ili Nemačke, već da će radije platiti 10 evra da gledaju lokalne bendove. I domaća scena je procvetala u proteklih pet godina. Ljudi su počeli da preferiraju domaće stvari. Svi uvek gledaju ka Americi, Coca Cola, burgeri i sve mora biti američko (smeh) ili uvezeno. Sada ljudi prihvataju ono što se proizvodi lokalno. Ako odete u bar možete videti znakove na kojima piše "Služimo isključivo grčko pivo". Mislim da se to dosta prenosi i na muzičku scenu.

Pretpostavljam da i to što se trenutno događa ima uticaja. Metal je oduvek bio platforma da umetnici izraze neslaganje sa društvenom situacijom i svime. Metal je oduvek bio glas naroda i nije se stidio politike.

Gus: Mislim da je to česta zabluda o metalu. Ljudi sa strane to ne shvataju. Oni misle da je sve vezano za Satanizam i ta sranja, ali neke od najsmislenijih tekstova i značenja, teme kao što su ljudskost i osećanja, neki od najboljih tekstova su u hard rock i metal žanrovima. Najbolje ljubavne pesme su rock balade. Poslušajte bilo koju pesmu benda Scorpions. A tu ima i dosta politike. Politika i religija su dve stvari koje ne volim da diskutujem u javnosti. Mislim da ako ste muzičar ne bi trebalo da u to zalazite. Nikoga ne treba da bude briga za koga će neki gitarista glasati. Oni su ovde da sviraju i da vas nateraju da zaboravite na svoje probleme. Svi imaju svoje mišljenje. Neki odluče da ga izraze, i to je u redu.

Da, ljudi su skloni da prate mišljenje slavnih ličnosti. Lako možete uticati na masu ako to želite. Stalno vidimo naslove poput "Randy Blythe je rekao…" ili "Corey Taylor misli…" i mnoštvo drugih muzičara koji svoje mišljenje iznose javno. I ljudi zapravo padaju na to. Pomisle "On je moj idol, radiću isto što i on".

Gus: Da, stvari poput "Donald Trump je sranje" ili "Donald Trump je sjajan". Kako god. Svakom svoje. Mišljenje je kao šupak, svako ima po jedan. A moje mišljenje je da se toga treba držati podalje. Volim da muzika i umetnost govore umesto mene. Izrazite se kako najbolje umete kroz muziku i umetnost. Nisam vrstan govornik, nikada ne bih seo na čelo tribine i diskutovao politiku. Užasavam se toga. Ali sam dobar na gitari, i to je ono što volim da radim. Znam da muzika nije najbolje sredstvo da skrenete pažnju na sebe danas, ljudi ne mare za muziku kao nekada.

Ipak, moram da se okrenem na vašu pesmu "Tyranny". Zar nije ona po malo politički nastrojena, ili je ja loše tumačim?

Gus: Jeste, ali je tekst napisao naš tadašnji pevač Chity. On je poreklom sa Šri Lanke i verovatno je dosta toga izrazio kroz tu pesmu, svo tlačenje kome su bili podvrgnuti. Bili su britanska kolonija, i bilo mu je teško u životu dok nije uspeo da se odseli u Nemačku. Ta pesma nije napisana sa specifičnom namerom, poruka je prosto "ne treba nam tiranija". Ne morate da izaberete stranu da biste shvatili šta se dešava u svetu. Posebno u Evropi. Toliko politički nastrojen mogu da budem. Ja sam čovek iz naroda, samo jedan od likova koji gledaju šta se dešava. Ovo sranje utiče na sve nas. Bilo da zarađujete više od nekoga pored vas, neko u vašoj porodici verovatno to oseća na svojoj koži. Ja imam članove porodice koji su imigrirali u Nemačku zato što nisu mogli da plate račune. Te stvari dotiču sve nas zapravo. Ali ne bih išao u tu krajnost da biram levo ili desno krilo.

U vašu odbranu, pesma ne zvuči kao propaganda. Ja zapravo obožavam tu pesmu zato što je to prva stvar koja me je navukla na bend Firewind. Zapravo sam prvo video spot. Kada nismo imali Youtube ili metal na televiziji imali smo CD-ove sa narezanim sranje spotovima koje smo razmenjivali, i kada ih sve pregledate nađete ono što vas interesuje.

Gus: Imam jednu smešnu priču vezanu za to. Nakon što smo snimili taj spot, izdavačka kuća mi je poslala mail u kome su pisali: "Čoveče, sinoć si bio na nemačkoj televiziji u udarnom terminu, 9 sati". Mislim da je u pitanju bio kanal Viva. Odgovorio sam "Sjajno. Šta je to, emisija o metalu?" na šta su mi odgovorili "Ne, neka večernja emisija. Tema je bila 100 najgorih spotova i vi i Manowar ste bili jedini metal bendovi" (smeh). "Ali ne brini, to je dobar publicitet", uveravali su me.

Samo da razjasnim, kada sam rekao "sranje" mislio sam sranje kvalitet (smeh).

Gus: Ipak, naš spot je bio u 100 najgorih spotova u Nemačkoj. Sa druge strane, šta Nemci znaju o ukusu?

Da, videli smo njihove spotove (smeh).

Gus: Upravo (smeh).

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

Lično sam veliki fan tradicionalne grčke muzike pa moram da pitam: kako si rastao u Grčkoj, da li je tradicionalna muzika imala uticaja na tebe kao muzičara?

Gus: Ne baš. Moja pozadina je isključivo rock ’n’ roll, ali kako sam rastao u Grčkoj to podsvesno postane deo vas. Možda način na koji sviram reflektuje to, dosta orijentalnih tema koje sviram. Naravno, slušao sam dosta neo-classical muzike i rastao sam uz muziku koju su snimali Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert i Vinnie Moore. Ali taj orijentalni zvuk i te skale koje je svirao i Ritchie Blackmore su mi nekako prirodne zato što u Grčkoj koristimo dosta tih skala. Ne umem da sviram ništa od toga, ali nekako mi je prirodno.

Relativno nov bend Tri-State Corner je bio ogromno otkrovenje za mene sa električnim buzukijem, a njihov pevač je sada bubnjar nemačkog benda Rage.

Gus: Da, znam ih. Lucky (Vassilios Maniatopoulos) je moj dobar prijatelj.

Kakvo je tvoje mišljenje o muzičkoj industriji ovih dana, posebno kada je u pitanju tvrđi zvuk? Mislim na stvari kao što su to što se muzika radije skida i stream-uje nego kupuje, novi žanrovi se rađaju i scena deli, svi su u stanju da šminkaju svoju svirku i sve što ide uz to.

Gus: Ne bih znao. I dalje ima muzičara koji prodaju dosta ploča. Teško je suditi o tome. I dalje vidite kako neki muzičari prodaju gomile albuma, ne milione i milione ali oko pola miliona. To je itekako mnogo. A iza njih je haos, ništavilo. Ja sam tip koji živi od svog hobija. Sve to je uticalo na mene, ali sa druge strane ne pripadam onom dobu kada su bendovi imali ogromne budžete i prodavali na hiljade ploča. Uvek sam snimao albume uz pomoć štapa i kanapa, uvek sam se snalazio sa manjim budžetima i to me ne pogađa toliko. Doduše to utiče na turneje, zato što sve više bendova organizuje turneje. Ne znam, pretpostavljam da morate da nađete načina da izađete na kraj sa tim. Postoji i dosta konkurencije tako da morate da postanete bolji i snimate bolje albume. I dalje ima mnogo dobre muzike koju ljudi ne cene. A ima i mnogo sranja, i ljudi se izgube u svemu tome.

Tradicionalan način da promovišete svoju muziku je da svirate koncerte, i to nikada neće nestati. Morate da se dokažete na bini. Svako može da izgleda dobro u spotu, svako može da zvuči dobro kada se našminka preko Protools-a. Svako može da izda album, odradi skupo slikanje i kaže "Evo mene, izgledam kao suvo zlato". Ali da li zaista možete da svirate, da oduvate ljude i pružite im nezaboravno iskustvo. Ali ne bunim se. Ima dana kada pomislim "zašto se kog đavola bavim ovim" ali i dana kada se osećam blagoslovenim. A od svih ljudi ja bih ponajmanje trebalo da se bunim zato što sviram sa jednim od najvećih imena na heavy metal sceni ikada. To mi je otvorilo mnoga vrata, ali na kraju dana morate da se ovim bavite iz pravih razloga i da volite ono što radite. Morate da uložite dosta truda. Mnoge obeshrabruje sve ostalo da su zaboravili da ulože trud.

Mnogi novi bendovi koji su danas popularni imaju neku foru, bendovi kao što su Ghost, Babymetal, i tako dalje. Da li misliš da je to danas jedini način da neko privuče pažnju na svoju muziku?

Gus: Verujem da pomaže, zasigurno. Pomaže da imate prelepu devojku na čelu benda ili da se obučete kao Papa. Sa druge strane, nikada nisam mario za te stvari. Za mene Babymetal zvuči veštački. To je suprotnost svega što je heavy metal predstavljao, muziku za odbačene. Kada niste pripadali nijednoj grupi slušali ste rock ili heavy metal. I mrzeli ste tinejdžerske bendove kao što su N’Sync i sva ta sranja zato što su veštačke tvorevine. A šta je Babymetal? Matrica im je jebeno sjajna i ti likovi umeju da sviraju, ali ne mogu da svarim vokale. Tri 15-godišnje devojčice u kratkim suknjicama je po meni malo perverzno, i definitivno nije za mene. Ali hej, ako se ljudima to sviđa ko sam ja da bilo šta kažem? Prodaju više albuma nego ja.

Japanska kultura je definitivno neobična.

Gus: Ali to više nije samo u Japanu, proširilo se na Ameriku i Englesku. Ogromni su svuda.

Ne, mislim na tu kulturu "Idola", to što od malih devojčica prave zvezde.

Gus: Da, to postoji oduvek.

Gus G., gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

Pomenuo si da su neki od tvojih idola Yngwie Malmsteen i Ritchie Blackmore. Da li postoji neki mlađi gitarista, mlađi i od tebe, koji te je inspirisao ili fascinirao?

Gus: Ima mnogo sjajnih gitarista na sceni. Dosta njih koji te teraju da ostaneš u formi. Ritchie Faulkner iz benda Judas Priest je sjajan gitarista i dobar prijatelj. Njegov stil je blues rock na steroidima. Kiko Loureiro iz benda Megadeth. Mislim, nije mlad i na sceni je već 25 godina, ali konačno dobija priznanje kakvo zaslužuje. Andy James je sjajan. Chris Broderick takođe. Ima baš mnogo sjajnih gitarista.

U Beogradu si bio dva puta. Jednom sa bendom Firewind a drugi put sa Ozzy-em. Znam da nije do tebe, ali da li bi voleo da se vratiš ako bi ti ponudili priliku da nastupiš sa bendom Firewind?

Gus: Voleo bih to. Mislim, komšije smo i moraćemo u nekom trenutku da svratimo (smeh).

Da li se sećaš prethodnog nastupa benda Firewind? Imaš li nekih dragih sećanja na taj nastup?

Gus: Sećam se da je koncert bio rasprodat i da je bila ludnica. Super su nas prihvatili. Nisam očekivao to, mislio sam da niko ne zna za nas. Ali mislim da smo ostavili dobar utisak.

Mogu ti reći da je bilo dosta njih koji su došli isključivo zbog benda Firewind. Ne mnogo, ali power metal je oduvek bio popularan u Srbiji, dok odjednom nije iščezao.

Gus: Tako je svuda. Bendovi kao što su Helloween i Gamma Ray su oduvek bili popularni u Grčkoj, i onda je sve samo utihnulo.

To je sve za ovaj intervju, imaš li poruka za čitaoce u Srbiji i sve čitaoce Nocturne Magazina?

Gus: Drago mi je da sam ponovo ovde, nadam se da će sledeći put to biti zbog koncerta. Hvala!

Gus G, FIREWIND, Ozzy Osbourne - 'You are definitely not playing this music for fame or money'
28.06.2016. | |

A guy from Greece who started off playing one of the most uncool genres, who never stopped, never turned down an opportunity, and never shied away from hard work now has the honor of playing with one of the greatest icons in heavy metal. What words of wisdom does Gus G have for you? Never give up! During his visit to Belgrade, Serbia, Ozzy Osbourne and Firewind guitarist spoke to us about his latest solo record, what the future holds for him, the Greek scene and the state of the scene and lots of other topics.

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

Hello and thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Let's start with your latest solo release "Brand New Revolution". Most guitar players usually record instrumental solo albums to showcase their playing, basically like the opening “The Quest”. But you’ve done both albums with guest singers. How come you decided to take this approach to the solo stuff?

Gus G: I was never really good with doing full instrumental albums. I’ve done a few instrumentals here and there. I think it’s cool when you have an album to spice it up and have vocal songs and instrumentals, but a full instrumental album is a bit boring for me. I was always a kind of guy who liked songs with lyrics, with good choruses, a good voice. I guess that’s my background, the sound that I dig the most. I mean, I love instrumentals, I love Satriani and Steve Vai, Yngwie and all these guys but I always liked the band vibe more. Plus, thinking about my solo show I’d want it to be an all-around thing. I can’t imagine going out there and playing 70-80 minutes of instrumentals, it’s going to be tiring for the audience. Unless you are Jeff Beck (laughs).

You’ve mentioned that your second solo album was done in two sessions, one done traditionally in the studio with the entire band, and the other with you laying everything over the drum track. Which method do you prefer? Do you like to capture the live magic or work on your terms?

Gus: I like the live thing we did in LA. We happened to be there after a short tour I did and Jay Tuston said "Let's just get the band together and try it out". And we did and it was really cool. And then when I was in Greece I completed the record. But somehow we kept that vibe going, because we already had a little bit of that experience. Of course, we recorded the drums first and then the rest. But still we tried to create that type of energy. We already had that, we were fresh off of that. And we knew we couldn't go back to Los Angeles to get the guys back again and do that again because we were all here in Europe, so we tried to get the best out of it.

What do I prefer? I think it depends on the situation and what kind of album you are trying to make. That was a suggestion by the producer at the time, who wanted to get me to the studio and try something different. And I'm glad I did it. I'm proud of it, and I like the way the album came out.

You've had a lot of great vocalists perform on your solo albums. Is there anyone you would like to invite in the future, a childhood hero or someone you admire?

Gus: I've worked with a lot of people who have their names and their careers and I would really like to do something with an unknown guy at some point. I'd like to discover a guy myself, maybe from Youtube or a local band and give them an opportunity like other people gave me the opportunity. I would like to do that sometime in the future.

Let's turn to your mother band Firewind for a while. You are hard at work on the album that’s going to succeed 2012’s "Few Against Many". A lot of things have happened in the last 4 years with you and Firewind, mainly the fact that you are working with a new singer and you’ve taken a pretty long break. How will all of this affect the new material?

Gus: Well it will affect the material. You have different players and they all bring their influences and put their soul into the mix. The new singer is not actually that new. His name is Henning Basse, and he was our touring singer in 2007. Our fans know who he is and he helped us in a very critical moment back then and we thought he was the best choice. In Firewind I have always been 80% in charge of the music, so I don’t think it’s going to be that different from the past. But of course a new voice is going to bring a new perspective to the sound, without a doubt. But we’ve done that a few times already and somehow we always manage to evolve into something else but still keep the main Firewind sound. I’m confident this time is going to be like that too, I want to combine all the good elements of the past, and with Henning’s voice open a new chapter for the band.

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

Your solo albums were leaning more towards the hard rock/AOR side. Will the new Firewind material go in the same direction with a groovier and full sound of progressive power metal or do you plan on revisiting your roots, since Henning is a power metal vocalist?

Gus: Obviously, now I have my solo records to experiment and do whatever the hell I want. I think Firewind should just stick to being a good power metal band, the best power metal band we can be. I think it was a mistake that in the past we were trying to deny that we are a power metal band, because our fan base likes that kind of genre. We didn’t put that tag on us, everybody else did. And that’s cool, I don’t care. I think the new album is going to be more power metal than power metal. At the end of the day you'll ask yourself “How much more power metal can it get that that?’’ And the answer will be “none”, it won't get more power metal.

Believe it or not, that was the next question on my mind. How do you view the power metal scene nowadays? Do you think that the genre is dead to all but the veterans who started out playing it like Firewind, Stratovarius before you and Helloween, going further back in time?

Gus: I think power metal has been the most uncool genre for a long, long time. If you play this kind of music, you are definitely not doing it for fame or money. It’s just a thing that makes you feel good. But the audience is true, and the audience is loyal. Even though we stopped playing for three years, our fans are still there, waiting. That’s insane if you think about that. Think about the world we live in and how fast everything is. If you watch a movie, the moment you leave the theatre you forgot what you saw.

Yeah, especially now when music is streaming.

Gus: Yeah, music is streaming and it is like fast food, like going to McDonalds. And I’m surprised that the fans are still out there, waiting for us. It’s a blessing. I don’t know about the state of power metal today. All of the old bands are still out there, they are still doing it. I don’t think that anybody is as big as they used to be 20 years ago, but like I said the fan base is loyal. And to me it’s more important than being the flavor of the month. Being something that is current right now doesn’t mean that you will have a career for the next 20 years. While the stuff that we do is different. We’ve been around for 15 years and we can still go on. To me that’s extremely valuable.

You’ve actually played a few shows recently. How was the reception?

Gus: Yeah, we went to the 70.000 Tons of Metal cruise and it was really fun. We played two sets there, and it was nice because it was very relaxing. I see why those boat shows work, because it’s the same for both the musicians and the fans. Everybody has their own cabin, you don’t have to walk through the dust and mud, you don’t have to get wet in the rain, you can go watch a show and have a drink, you can take a shower and watch TV. You can go to your cabin if you don’t want to see anybody. If you want to hang out you can go to the bar and everybody’s cool. It’s very nice. And the shows were a lot of fun.

You are planning a European tour at the beginning of next year. What can the fans expect from the shows?

Gus: It’s going to be a best-of set, mainly focused on our best-selling albums "Allegiance" and "The Premonition". We are also going to include some of the new songs.

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

You gained a lot of prominence playing with Ozzy Osbourne. He’s a veteran in the scene and a professional, and if there’s one important lesion you’ve learned from working with him what would it be?

Gus: I’ve learned a lot of lesions from him. I learned to appreciate practicing and rehearsing a lot more than I did before. He’s probably the most consistent person in the business. He always shows up early, he never misses a show unless he gets sick. But I’ve never seen him cancel a show. And he really appreciates where he is at. You’d think that these big rockstars do shit for the money and don’t care, but it’s totally wrong. But I’ve been lucky to be on the inside and see how passionate he still is. That’s very inspiring for me, because if you lose that passion everything just fades away, sooner or later. And he’s such a hard working guy. He never stops. He’s almost 70 and he’s still touring. And after this Black Sabbath thing, I’m sure he’s going to go back and do another solo tour. He’ll keep going until his last day, hopefully for another 30 years. But I’ve learned a lot from him, and he made me want to be a better guitar player.

Do you have any interesting anecdotes to share from that experience? Ozzy is certainly one of the most interesting figures in the metal scene.

Gus: He’s just a funny guy. It’s impossible if you sit with him that he won’t make you laugh in the next two minutes. Not because he wants to make a joke but because that’s who he is. He’s a natural comedian.

The one anecdote I always remember is when we were in Finland a few years ago. You know it is very dark there in the winter and the days are longer in the summer. We were there and had a flight to catch. He shows up in the plane and I ask him "Hey man, did you sleep well yesterday." And he said "No man, I didn’t get any sleep." I asked him what happened, and he said: "I woke up and looked at my watch, and it was 9.15 in the morning. And I get up, take a shower and pack my bag.” And when he pulled the curtain to see what it was like outside and it was still dark. He thought "What the fuck was going on?" It turns out he put on his watch upside down and it was 2.45. That’s so classic Ozzy Osbourne. Imagine a guy gets to bed at 1 AM, woke up at 3AM, took a shower and waited like that all night.

Ozzy is currently busy with the Sabbath farewell tour. Any talk about his upcoming album? Have you worked on any ideas for it, or are you in a different mindset now?

Gus: I don’t know. I just play guitar (laughs).

How much input did you have recording "Scream" and is that about to change on the new record? How welcoming is Ozzy’s team to your ideas?

Gus: When I joined the whole record was finished. They didn’t have the solo parts, so I came up with the solos and replaced the rhythm guitars because they were recorded by the producer. They needed somebody who could make it sound like a band as much as possible. It was a bit weird for me, because I’m used to writing the records I play on. But I had to put on my style and keep the Ozzy sound there. And I’m still proud of that record, considering my job was a bit difficult from that aspect: I didn’t get to write stuff. I wrote the solo parts but still I’d like to do something with Ozzy from scratch.

Do you feel any pressure for the next album, getting to compose and to get your own songs and ideas out there?

Gus: Well, people have their ideas and expectations. If you ask 10 different fans, you will get 10 different ideas. If you ask the record label or the producer they might have a different idea. To me, at the end of the day, it still has to sound like Ozzy. Whether it’s a more modern or a more retro sound, it has to have Ozzy’s style. Of course, when he sings it still sounds like him, no matter what. There hasn’t been a discussion where we are going to go and who is going to co-write with Ozzy and who will be involved. These are not my decisions.

Do you believe that this really is the end for Black Sabbath? We’ve seen a lot of bands like Judas Priest, The Scorpions and Black Sabbath before this say goodbye, and come back in some years.

Gus: I think so. I just think that they are going to stretch it and do some shows in 2017. I don’t know how long they are going to stretch it, probably until spring. But I think more or less, that’s it for Black Sabbath. They’ve been saying it for a while now. They did a world tour for the "13" album and now this farewell tour, and I think that this is really going to be it. But again, you never know.

It’s not set in stone as long as they are alive.

Gus: I think that as long as they are alive and as long as there’s 10’s of thousands of people paying to see them. I hear a lot of people say “Hang it up. Call it a day”. And would you do that? If you were 65 or 70 and people love seeing you play your songs and you are filling arenas and stadiums. You can’t tell someone to retire. I mean look at The Rolling Stones (laughs).

That’s the thing. I’ve seen Judas Priest on their farewell tour and it was a great, two and a half hour show. And when they came back, the second tour was so much better. Halford sounded better than he’s sounded in ages.

Gus: Exactly. When the clock is ticking and you realize you are playing the last shows, these guys probably ask themselves whether they really want to do this. They are still standing and they can still play. So I understand that. I don’t think anybody should retire unless they think they cannot do that anymore. You have to stay true to yourself, first and foremost. And these guys, they can still rock.

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

A to recent study conducted according to data taken from Metal Archives website claims that there are 162 bands per 1 million citizens in Greece. You are the highest ranking country after the Scandinavian countries. They have around 600 bands per million.

Gus: Six Hundred! But their population is much smaller. I mean, Finland has around five million citizens.

Yeah. But Greece is really high up on that list. We know Greek people are passionate fans, but what’s the situation like when it comes music. Is the landscape that good that so many new bands emerge?

Gus: Well obviously in the 90’s there was the black metal movement, with bands like Rotting Christ and Septicflesh and they are still around and have reached a cult status. Then you have us and… Well, I don’t think there are that much power metal bands in Greece, or there used to be but aren’t around anymore. I think that we’re the only melodic band that really broke the barriers and inspired new generations of kids. And now the classic rock and stoner rock scenes are huge in Greece. And thrash metal bands like Suicidal Angels are starting to spread their wings and do their own tours, which is fantastic.

I think the scene is healthier, especially in the last two years with the whole crisis. People in Greece love going to shows, we have a huge and a loyal fanbase. And people are not only into metal, but all kinds of stuff. Lately, after the crisis broke out, a lot of people decided they are not going to pay 35 euros to see a band from England or Germany, they rather pay 10 euros to see a local show. And the local scene bloomed a lot in the last five years. People just started preferring local. Everybody is always looking to America, Coca Colas and burgers and everything has to be American (laughs) or international and imported. And now people started to embrace what we produce locally. You go to a bar and you see sings like “We serve only Greek Beer”. And I think that translates into the music scene a lot.

I guess it has a lot to do with the current events. Metal has always been a platform for expressing discomfort at the social situation and everything. Metal has always been political and vocal, it never shied away from it.

Gus: That’s a common misconception about metal. People from the outside don’t get it. They think it’s all satanic and shit, but some of the deepest lyrics and meanings, themes like the human condition and feelings, you’ll find some of the greatest lyrics in hard rock and metal. Some of the best love songs ever are rock songs. Listen to any Scorpions song. And there’s the political part of it. Politics and religion are two things I never like to touch publically. I think that if you are a musician, you shouldn’t go there. Nobody should care about who a guitar player is going to vote for. They are here to play for you and make you forget about your problems. Everybody has their own opinion. But some people express them, and that’s cool.

Yeah, that’s the thing about the Halo Effect, people always tend to listen to celebrities. You can easily influence them if you want to. You see headlines like “Randy Blythe said” or “Corey Taylor thinks” and other musicians’ political stances. And people actually buy into that. They think “He’s my Idol, I’m going to do what he does”.

Gus: Yeah, things like Donald Trump sucks” or Donald Trump is cool”. Whatever. To each his own. Opinions are like assholes, and everybody has one. And mine is that you should stay away from that. I like to say let the music and art do the talking. Express what you do best through your music and your art. I’m not a talker, I’d never sit at a panel and talk about politics. I’m petrified of doing that. But I’m good at playing the guitar, and that’s what I do. I know music is not the most important tool these days to get attention, people don’t care about the music as much.

Then again, I have to look back on your song “Tyranny”. Isn’t that a bit political, or am I misinterpreting it?

Gus: It was, but the lyrics were written by our singer at the time, Chity. He came from Sri Lanka and he probably expressed a lot of that, the oppression they went through. They were a British colony, and he had it tough in his life trying to get to Germany. That song was not about something specific, the message was simply “We don’t need Tyranny”. You don’t have to choose a side to understand what’s going on in the world right now. Especially in the European zone. That much political I can get myself. I’m a people’s person, I’m just one of the guys watching a show. All this bullshit affects all of us. Whether you make more money than the next guy, somebody in your family is affected. I have family members who immigrated to Germany because they couldn’t pay their bills. These things are about all of us really. I wouldn’t get too political to an extent where I pick the left wing or the right wing.

In your defense, it does not come off as propaganda. I actually love that song because that’s the song that got me hooked to Firewind. I saw the video first, when there was no Youtube or metal on the TV, but we got these CD’s passed around with a bunch of shitty videos, and you go through all of it to find the music you like.

Gus: Here’s a funny story about it. We recorded that video and one day our record company sends me an email, saying "Man, last night you were on German TV, prime time at 9 o’clock." I thing the channel was Viva. I asked "Oh great. What was it, was it a metal show?" and they responded with "No, it was a late night TV show. But the theme was the 100 worst videos ever and you and Manowar were the only metal bands to be included" (laughs). “But don’t worry, it was good publicity.”

Just to clarify, when I said “shitty video” I meant “shitty quality” (laughs).

Gus: Our video was among the hundred crappiest videos made in Germany. But then, what do Germans know about taste.

Yeah, we’ve seen their videos (laughs).

Gus: Exactly (laughs).

Gus G, gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

I’m personally a huge fan of traditional Greek music so I have to ask: growing up in Greece, how much, if at all, did it influence you as a musician?

Gus: Not really. My background is strictly rock and roll, but growing up in Greece that stuff subconsciously becomes a part of you. Maybe the way I play reflects that, a lot of oriental themes I play. But of course I listened to a lot of neo-classical stuff and grew up with Yngwie, Paul Gilbert and Vinnie Moore. But that sound, the oriental sound and the scales guys like Ritchie Blackmore played, all that stuff came natural to me because in Greece we use those scales as well. I can’t play any of that stuff, but somehow it feels natural to me.

A fairly new band Tri-State Corner was a huge revelation for me with the electric bouzouki going on, and their singer is now the drummer of the German heavy metal band, Rage.

Gus: Yeah, I know Lucky (Vassilios Maniatopoulos), he’s a friend.

What is your opinion on the music industry in general these days, especially when it comes to the heavier sound? I’m talking about things like albums being streamed and downloaded rather than purchased, new genres emerging and the scene dividing, everyone being able to tweak their performance easily and everything that goes with that.

Gus: I don’t know. There’s still some people that sell a lot of records. And it’s hard to judge. You still see a lot of artists selling lots of records, not millions and millions but around half a million. That’s still a lot. And then there’s chaos, nothing. I’m the kind of guy who made their hobby my job. And this affected me, but on the other hand I don’t come from an era when I had huge budgets and sold thousands of records. I always made records DIY, I always worked around smaller budgets and that hasn’t affected me that much. It’s affecting the touring business, because everybody’s touring more and more. I don’t know, you have to find a way to work around it. There's a lot of competition too, and you have to get better and to make better records. There’s a lot of good stuff out there that people don’t appreciate. Or they don’t even get to hear it. And there’s a lot of shit, and people get lost in all that.

The most traditional way of promoting is to play live, and that will never go away. You have to prove your worth on stage. Everybody can look good in a video, everybody can sound good with Protools. Anybody can release an album, do an expensive photo-shoot and say “I’m here and I look like a million dollars”. But can you really play, can you blow people’s heads off on stage and give them a great experience. I don’t complain about it. There’s days when I think “why the fuck am I doing this” but there are also days when I feel blessed. And out of all the people I shouldn’t complain because I got to play with one of the greatest names in heavy metal ever. That has given me a lot of opportunities, but at the end of the day you have to have the right reasons and love what you do. You have to put a lot of hard work. A lot of people are discouraged with everything else and forgot to work hard.

Most new bands that made it huge nowadays are those which have a gimmick, like Ghost, Babymetal etc. Do you think it’s the only way to draw attention to your music nowadays?

Gus: I think that helps, for sure. Having a beautiful girl front your band or dressing up as a Pope. Then again, I never liked all that stuff honestly. To me Babymetal sounds so manufactured. It’s the opposite of what heavy metal was originally like, music for the outsiders. You didn’t belong somewhere and you listened to rock and heavy metal. And you hated boy bands and girl bands, N’Sync and all that shit because it was manufactured. And what is Babymetal? The backing tracks are fucking rad and those guys can play, but I cannot get into the vocals. And three 15-year old girls in short skirts is a little bit perverse for my taste, and definitely not for me. But hey, if people dig it for real who am I to say anything. They sell more records than I do.

It’s the Japanese culture, it’s weird.

Gus: But it’s not Japanese only, it’s spread across America, England. It’s huge everywhere.

No, I mean the Idol thing, teen girls becoming stars from age nine.

Gus: Yeah, that’s been around forever.

Gus G., gitarista bendova Firewind i Ozzy Osbourne

You’ve mentioned Yngwie Malmsteen and Ritchie Blackmore being your huge influences. Are there some new guitarists, younger than you even, that have inspired or at least fascinated you?

Gus: There’s a lot of great guitar players out there. A lot of guys who make you want to keep up with your chops. Ritchie Faulkner from Judas Priest is a great player and a good friend. He’s like blues rock on steroids. Kiko Loureiro from Megadeth. I mean, he’s not a young guy, he’s been around for 25 years but he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. Andy James is a great shredder. Chris Broderick. A lot of great guitarists out there.

You’ve been in Belgrade two times. Once with Firewind and the other time with Ozzy. I know it’s not up to you, but if you were offered a chance to come back with Firewind would you like to return?

Gus: I’d love to. I mean, we’re neighbors, we have to play here again at one point (laughs).

Do you remember the last Firewind show? Any fond memories?

Gus: I remember it was sold-out and it was fucking amazing. We were received very well. I didn’t even expect that, I didn’t think anybody knew about us. But I think we made a really good impression.

I can tell you there were fans who came mainly for Firewind. Not much, but power metal was always very popular in Serbia until it suddenly disappeared.

Gus: Yeah, like everywhere. Just like in Greece. Bands like Helloween and Gamma Ray were huge forever, and then the whole thing just passed.

That’s all for this interview, do you have any messages for Serbian fans and the readers of Nocturne magazine?

Gus: It’s good to be here, and hopefully I’ll bring the whole band next time for a show. Thank you.

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