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Articles Home » Interviews » Mystic Prophecy - 2003 Interview with Gus G and RD Liapakis
Mystic Prophecy - 2003 Interview with Gus G and RD Liapakis
INTERVIEW: Mystic Prophecy (Jun 2003)
Guitar god Gus G and lead singer RD Liapakis join us..

WRITTEN BY: Gdazegod

When you're talking about countries synonymous with heavy metal, Greece is hardly a location brimming with an abundance of talented bands. Unlike Greek fans however, who represent some of the most loyal and fervent supporters throughout all of Europe. Over the last few years though, at least one major talent has stood tall. He is now considered one of the new breed of guitar gods coming out of Europe. His name is Gus G. You'll know the name from such bands as Firewind, Dream Evil (which also features prog metal producer-genius Fredrik Nordstrom), and the band featured for this particular interview Mystic Prophecy. This month sees the release of the brand new Mystic Prophecy album 'Regressus', courtesy of Nuclear Blast. The band is in fact the brainchild of fellow Greek luminary Roberto Dmitri (R.D) Liapakis, a classic throaty voiced HM singer, who put the line-up together back during the late 90's.

Gus at that point was a hired gun, but since then, both he and R.D have joined forces in a collaborative sense, The Greek connection now very much a key part of the Mystic Prophecy make-up. Gus recalls their initial meeting. 'I first got in touch with Lia in the fall of 1999. I sent him my demos because I heard that he was looking for a new guitar player in his new band that he was forming. Lia called me up immediately after he heard them and offered me the guitarist's position in Mystic Prophecy. We recorded the debut album 'Vengeance', and since then have become close friends and have also decided to continue working together.'

R.D Liapakis chimes in at this point, touching on the subject I raised at the outset: regarding the state of Greek HM. 'Unfortunately, the metal scene of our homeland isn't well-known abroad' he says. 'This is due to low quality production and the fact that 95% of Greek bands try to copy their favourite bands instead of working on the development of their own sound. Copying a band isn't so much the problem but the way in which they do it and how they manage to make it work could, at the end of it all, be a problem. Besides, a copy remains a copy and even if the band has potential and originality it will never show unless they develop on their own.'

So who has there been I asked? 'There used to be a few great bands back in the 80's (Crash, Trademark, Spitfire, Vavel)' says R.D, 'but up till now with the exception of two black metal bands, no other Greek metal band has ever achieved a contract with a foreign label before. We hope that all other Greek bands follow the lead, come out of their shells and put some serious effort into upgrading the state of metal in Greece' he says.

Most musicians would be content with applying their time and efforts with just one band. But three or four? How does a musician like Gus manage to spread his workload among so many bands, and considering many of them are working in similar timeframes too. 'By working hard all the time I guess' says Gus. 'I always make my schedule ahead, so I always know what I'm gonna be doing a couple of months ahead of time.'

A good case in point is the fact that Gus commences a Japanese tour with Swedish band Dream Evil on June 15th, yet the day following, 'Regressus' is released in Europe. I asked Gus what happens then, if the schedule for the bands that he's involved with, including Mystic Prophecy conflict. Which one takes priority? 'Well, Mystic Prophecy's schedule will be worked around my time when I'm not recording or touring with Firewind or Dream Evil. But usually it's not a problem, as long as we wanna do new things with Mystic and be active, we will always find time' he says.

Not only is Gus a multi-faceted musician, but so too is R.D. He also has other commitments with other bands, including the outfit Valleys Eve. We asked him the same thing as we did with Gus. 'Well, none of us really has a problem with getting involved with other bands' he says, 'because this is our dream, our way of life. If you honestly want to do music, joining more than one band will not be your major problem. Your deepest desire to make it real is what matters. I mean, you ought to take this business seriously, otherwise you'd better forget it. The most important thing for a band is to work as a team in harmony, without any personal problems between the members of the band.'

One of the obvious things people will look for when comparing Gus' playing style across those aforementioned bands, is any variation in style, and whether he has to consciously change that style to suit. 'For sure' agrees Gus. 'Every band I play has its own sound and style and I have to go with that, although my style is a part of every band I play with. So, I really enjoy doing all these different projects.'

And as far as there being any difference between them all? 'Well, Mystic Prophecy is definitely the heavier band of the three. It has more thrash metal influences, while Dream Evil is more of a hard rock band to my ears at least. Firewind is a totally different thing. That's where I write all the music and do all the arranging, so there you get to hear my complete personal sound and musical vision.'

R.D Liapakis - vocals; Martin Albrecht - bass; Dennis Ekdahl - drums; Gus G - guitars

There are significant differences between the first Mystic album Vengeance' and the new 'Regressus' opus, and thankfully the latter does not suffer from 'sophomore syndrome', as many bands have fallen into the 'second album blues' as scattered throughout history. Gus explains. 'I think we took things one-level up with 'Regressus'. And I'm not talking only about playing faster, more agressive and heavier, I'm also talking of better performances, better production and so on. A big difference also is that I wrote all the songs with Lia on 'Regressus', while on 'Vengeance' I only co-wrote one song (In The Mirror). On the 'Vengeance' sessions, you can say that I was more or less a session player. So, a lot of things have changed since then.'

R.D Liapakis was responsible for the recording aspect of 'Regressus', taking over the production and the mix of the album. he too offers a comment on the 2003 model of the band. 'Mystic Prophecy deals with pure power and aggressive metal' he says. 'So, we use very aggressive riffs with brutal verses, as it is the most important element for us in terms of composing the songs. We prefer our riffs to be simple, to be stuck in the listener's mind but without making the sound lose its rage and passion by its simplicity.'

I suppose before we go any further, we should actually take the time to find out what 'Regressus' actually means. 'Its translation in English, means 'The Return'. It has to do with the album's concept story' says Gus.

There seems to be more cross-European metal outfits coming together, with band members all hooking up from different nationalities. Bands like Dragonforce, Section A, Firewind, and of course Mystic Prophecy. Both Gus and R.D are committed to this colloborative aspect. 'Well, sometimes it's always a breath of fresh air to work with people from other countries or continents' explains Gus. 'Other times it could be the fact that you just can't find the right members for a band from your hometown, or maybe a combination of all. As far as my personal story is concerned, it just happened that (apart from Mystic) I couldn't work with anyone from my country so I tried to do something abroad.'

R.D adds: 'Most of the bands who have an international line-up work in the same way we do -.and it is called MP3! Each of us uses 8 channel recording and when we meet, we match our ideas to write the songs. Once you get the chance to associate with professional musicians, typical problems sush as time schedules and distance are easily defeated!'

Have you had a chance to listen to any of the other Nuclear Blast roster? If so, what do think of some of your contemporaries? We've just done an interview with French band Alkemyst, they sound pretty impressive! 'I've never heard Alkemyst's music, but of course I've heard other Nuclear Blast bands' says Gus. 'I have to tell you that I'm a fan of Manowar. I also like Soilwork, I think their new album kicks ass.'

And as for R.D, he's a huge Glenn Hughes fan. 'Definitely! This man has a gift and we must feel lucky that we are allowed to share it with him. His special timbre and the passion of his incredibly lusty voice makes him one of a kind. Soul or Rock makes no difference to him as he's a really great musician and he has the ability to fit in perfectly with any kind of music. In my opinion, we're talking about a real Monster of Rock and he's rightfully been voted as THE VOICE OF ROCK across the entire rockscene!'

Moving away slightly from Mystic Prophecy. Gus talks about his guitar-playing role. Seeing as he is one of the new 'young guns' on the scene, does he play the part of guitar teacher/tutor in his spare time for any budding students out there? (what's left of his spare time that is!) 'Yeah actually I do! However, I only have a few students because I'm always busy with recording or composing or touring. But teaching guitar is something I really enjoy doing! It makes me very happy when I can give input to young guitar players and hopefully inspire them in some way.'

For all the tech-heads out there, what sort of rig is one of the new millenium's hot guitarists running through at the moment?

'Ok, live I use my Randall 200 Watt full stack, it's really good! I play Washburn CP 2003 models and soon I will have my own custom signature guitar through Washburn based on the CP 2003 model. I don't really use any effects live, just plug in and play. In the studio it's a different story: I record with ENGL and Randall amps and I also use a Line 6 POD, it's a great preamp! When it comes to guitars, I record with whatever sounds best. I usually play a bunch of Fenders and my Washburn's of course.'

And finally, I asked R.D what was in the pipeline for Mystic Prophecy beyond the release date of 'Regressus', and what might be happening (if anything) over the summer. 'During the summer period, Mystic will take no participation in any of the open air festivals across Europe as we are in process of getting well prepared for our next tour. We'll be hitting the road once again but I'm not in position to give you any further detail about the tour plans at the moment, as they're not confirmed yet' he says.

Thanks to Gus G and R.D Liapakis for making time out of their busy schedules to share some words for our GLORY DAZE readers. 'OK, thanx a lot for the interview and support!' - stay Metal, Gus G. 'Thank you George!' - R.D Liapakis.

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