DragonForce interview with Herman Li: "There is no reason to change our sound completely after developing our unique sound for so many years"

21/06/2012 @ 12:57
A lot has been said and written about Dragonforce and their incredible ride through the last decade in metal music. They’ve proven that they’re here to stay and they carry on with a new singer and a brand new album that keeps their name hot. Herman Li talks to Rocking.gr and explains why they have no intention to stop this ride.

Hi there! How are things going in the DragonForce camp?
Hi Chris, things are really great here. We just finished a tour in US and Canada, we really had lots of fun. It was awesome to be back out on tour.

What’s the feedback you receive from the new album so far? What’s the best and worst thing you’ve read or heard about it?
This is possibly the best feedback we have received for any DragonForce record. I haven’t seen a single bad review on the new album. Fans and critics really enjoy the new album.

I believe it’s quite an important album, as it introduces your new singer Marc and also it’s the first one without ZP behind the microphone. How much did it affect the band on terms of composing and arranging the songs?
I always found every album as important as any previous but in different ways simply because each time you will be in a different point of your career. Before we started working on this album, I was already talking with Sam about how we were gonna put the record together in terms or recording, producing and song writing. We already planned to record the album differently, with much more jamming and playing together to get the energy across in a more organic method.

DragonForceIn my opinion, the trademark sound of DragonForce is so much there, that someone hardly would miss ZP’s vocals. Is this because the sound of the band is way more important than the vocals or because Marc is so good that he fits like a velvet glove to the rest of the band?
I think it is a collective of things. Marc is an incredible singer. Although he had no previous recording experience, he learnt quickly and really did an amazing job on the new songs. Sam and I always did the song writing and production together on all DragonForce albums, so there was no doubt we were able to carry on with our signature sound and taking it another step further. Our approach always been that every instrument is important, Marc’s voice really fitted with the new tracks.

What are the main differences between Marc’s and ZP’s vocals?
They are very different in terms of tones, ranges and techniques.

DragonForceI’ve read during the making of the album that "Fallen World" is the fastest song you’ve ever recorded? Is it true? Well, is it still that important to play as fast as you can?
The new album is definitely our most dynamic so far. On "The Power Within" we have some slower mid tempo songs, fast songs, a couple somewhere in between. So now that we have some slower ones, of course we have to make an even faster song too. We have pushed the music in all different direction on this record, including an acoustic track.

Which song from the new album would you play to someone who’s never heard of your music before? Then, which song from the album could possibly change someone’s mind if he didn’t like the band in the past?
To someone new to the band, Any song from the new album. Since every song has its own sound on "The Power Within" but still very much DragonForce, I am happy with them hearing any of them. To someone he didn’t like the band, "Cry Thunder", "Seasons", "Give Me The Night" or "Wings Of Liberty". Any of those songs...

DragonForceHow come Marc didn’t write any lyrics for the new album? Would you say that lyrics are not that important as music for Dragonforce?
Marc helped us with the lyrics of a few tracks, suggesting themes and ideas on the ones that were still not finished while we were jamming those songs out together. We actually spend a lot of time on the lyrics, it’s very important just like anything else. If the words are not right, the melodies and mood of the song cannot be delivered according to how the music was written.

I mentioned Clive Nolan referred in the liner notes for adding some backing vocals and you’ve collaborated with Karl Groom, who both are in progressive rock/metal bands. Are you aware of the progressive rock/metal scene of Britain?
Yeah, we‘ve been working with Karl and Clive since our demo in 1999. They are without doubt the leaders of prog rock and metal here in the UK.

Then, you all play at such a stellar level that someone would wonder why you wouldn’t expand to other genres and especially in progressive. Has it crossed your mind to change completely the sound of DragonForce or if you’re going to do it, it will take place out of the band?
We have had little elements of progressive style in some of our songs across our five albums. There is no reason to change our sound completely after developing our unique sound for so many years. It wouldn’t be DragonForce anymore!

Herman Li (DragonForce)You‘ve toured will a lot of great bands. Except from bands like Iron Maiden, which ones made the biggest impression on you and why?
With our debut album Valley of the Damned, we toured Japan with Helloween in in Jan 2004, it was a great tour and a lot of fun. It was amazing to see such legendary band each night. I really enjoyed Disturbed when we played with them across the USA on Ozzfest in 2006 and Mayhem in 2008.

People tend to give a lot of different labels to you, but overall they categorize you in the power metal scene, although you differ in many things. In general, this 'power', 'melodic' genres of metal are not at their best on commercial levels. Do you think this affects you and on what level?
It’s an on going thing for years that most people and press have to give a band a label and pigeon hole the music. We are definitely much more than what any of those labels people have given us. The negative is it stops people from checking us out and judging our music before even hearing it properly.

How helpful do you think the success of Guitar Hero has been to you, as your music is considered the most difficult one can play on the game?
It has its positives but also negative impact to the band. The band was doing very well way before Guitar Hero came out, touring around the world and did sold out tours in the UK and USA. Of course, Guitar Hero bought us new fans, put us in front of the mainstream audience but also scared some fans away because of the game’s popularity.

DragonForceReally, isn’t it strange to see kids being able to play your songs on Guitar Hero and not be able to play a single chord on a real instrument. Do you believe new musicians or new fans of rock/metal music will come out of it?
Not weird to me anymore because I have to hear about it all the time. Thankfully, a lot of players also started playing the real guitar because of the game’s introduction to rock and metal to a new audience.

What music do you hear nowadays? Any new bands that you heard and draw your attention?
What I have always listened to and more. I don’t really stop listening to a music style or genre because it is not cool anymore haha. I like all styles of rock and metal. Holy Grail and Huntress are two great new bands we had with us on our most recent headline tour in US and Canada.

Thanks for your time. Add anything you want to.
Thanks a lot for the interview and thanks a lot to all our fans in Greece for the amazing support through out the year. We hope to see you again real soon at a show near you!