I met Herman Li of DRAGONFORCE just before their show in Osnabruek together with EDGUY. Among other things where DRAGONFORCE got their inluences from and what Herman thinks of day-offs. |
Hi Herman. As a first question: The tour has been alright so far?
Herman: Yeah, it has been alright. So going on tour is just as usual - it's fun.
And being support for EDGUY is as cool as being Headliner for EDGUY?
Herman: Well you know of course headlining is much better for us: You have 1:45 and get all the food we want. Of course this is better. But I think, they (EDGUY) would say the same.
And what's the feeling of touring in Germany? So in England you are already one of the more or less big ones, playing in front of 6000 or 7000 people. Here you are not that known. So what's the feeling playing in Germany?
Herman: I think it is cool anyway. We have to start somewhere. We have not played in Germany that much. And so it is good to see if anyone comes listening to us playing, as the music listened to is here somewhat different than in UK.
OK, and let's stay at touring topics. You play at the end of the show some melody which sounds quite similar to an outro of Street Fighter II. Is this just some incident or are you playing in fact lots of video games?
Herman: Well we got influences from video games. And we always said that, although the magazines tried not to say it. When we say we play video game music, they say 'nono, you play High Speed Metal or STRATOVARIUS-like Power Metal'. They alway ignore what are our main influences of our music. So we are not copying it, we are just influenced by it nad get our melodies from it. The melodies in those video games back then were really cool because there were no real samples and you had to write good tunes.
And what are your most influential bands - besides video games?
Herman: None. If you have some influential band, you end up sounding like them. And so we are not having one. We are influenced from Death Metal, Thrash Metal, the drumming is sometimes like SLAYER or Black Metal (he imitates blast beats). The guitars are not inluenced by Power Metal at all, more by STEVE VAI, SATRIANI and that kind of music, video games, and even BON JOVI!
Are there any most inflential video games?
Herman: No, not really. Street Fighter II got some cool tunes. Two days ago we played "Outrun" and those tunes were also very cool.
And have you ever had some twist in your hand or something like that?
Herman: We are not getting injured by playing fast, we get more injured by jumping into the air. So I remember our third show in the UK I played half the show with holding ice in my hand because my ankle was broke. I jumped in the air and it hit my hand in some way. It was very painful, but hey, that's ok!
Bleeding for Metal!
Herman: Exactly. But more internal bleeding.
So playing live is always a lot of fun for you?
Herman: Yeah, of course! At least more fun than recording. Recording can be just boring. So you know if I would want to sit in a studio in front of a computer I would get a regular job.
But at least Songwriting is some fun?
Herman: May be when you see the final result. It is a lot of hard work and you make a lot of of thoughts about it. And it lasts about six months.
So it is hard work. And if we just say that not to make hard working people jealous.
Herman: Yeah! Well, you know, it is the touring that is some kind of fun usually.
You had some recent line-up changes: Adrian left the band quite soon and was replaced by Frederic. Does everything work out fine now? And how comes that the bass-player so often changes?
Herman: Well the band grows on, the machinery grows on an some people can't do what they should when this is going on. And Frederic just startet as a stand-in player and then it ended up being permanent. And he is a guitar player, too, and so he has everything what is required. And he plays in one song a bass solo, and when we do headline shows we play something like a tripple guitar solo.
So something like a tripple guitar solo is not coming today?
Herman: No, we are supporting.
Well, you could do a 45 minutes guitar solo.
Herman: Hey, that would be boring, playing solos all the time. We try to make solos interesting.
Now, let's get a little bit back in time. You said in an interview in 2003, that there is not a big market for Melodic High Speed Metal in Britain. Do you still think that and you are some kind of exception or do you think times have changed?
Herman: I would say that there is a bigger market for all that music in Britain: White and Death Metal, Punk...but I am not sure about Power Metal, because it is still not really big there. In the way the view us, they do not view Power Metal, because people listening to us also listen to bands like Slipknot. But they do not really listen to bands like STRATOVARIUS or BLIND GUARDIAN. So there is not just one scene that is only Melodic Metal or only Metalcore.
...just like anywhere else?
Herman: Yes, but I would not say everywhere. For example here the underground is much stronger. In UK the underground is not that strong. You have only the ones that stick through and besides that is nothing.
And how evil do you think that you are or how serious do you take Power Metal at all?
Herman: I don't think that those are categories you should think in. So there are people who think that way and that's fine, I just don't want to do that. I want to do also other things in life than just sitting in a room playing guitar. There is much more you can do.
So it is just fun?
Herman: No! But there is no rule what is metal-like. So some people like going to the cinema and you might say 'hey, how gay is that'. But you can do this and still listen to Metal. We are in 2006! I mean all the people use the internet. The whole thing has moved to computer. You cannot stay in the eighties and say, how it was. We live now! Otherwise you just would not understand the evolution of everything.
Some question about the beginning of DRAGONFORCE: How did you find together? Have you already been friends? Or did you just build up the contact because you wanted do found the band?
Herman: Well, Sam and I knew each other because we played already in some other band together which made Black Metal. No one liked it. And we just needed somebody for singing and found ZP. And then everything just developed.
OK, now the second question reaching back to 2003: You said back then, that you had never been asked by a femal interviewer, if she would go out with you. Has it happened till now?
Herman: No, I am still waiting. Well...I don't really care. What would then be a funny answer? 'And now suck my cock!'(laughs). Well, I would not say that.
You once played just before ROB HALDFORD before having has a deal. What was that for a feeling?
Herman: We did three shows with them. The first show we shit bricks. But at the last show was one of the most memorable shows for us. After the show the record deal was offered and this was really memorable. It was one of the best shows of my life.
And ROB HALFORD was also cool?
Herman: Yes, they were really cool. You know when those bands are big they never act like assholes. The assholes are always the bands that think that they are big but are not. So when you play before IRON MAIDEN you got no problems: every thing is cool.
There was quite a long time span between negotiating about a deal and haveing that deal. What was the problem?
Herman: We did not whant to sign a record deal while being on tour. And then was there a communication break down. The first album came out very late! In Britain only two years ago. When we recorded "Valley Of The Damned" in 2003, we recorded nine songs. Those where all the songs we had finished in 2001. When we wrote the 5 songs for our demo, we wrote them in only 6 Months. And for the other 4 songs we took 2 years. We were so lazy! When we had 9 songs, we just did not whant to write anymore. That's why "Sonic Firestorm" came not out even though one year past - all the ideas just came a long time ago.
>p>Tell us something about your latest album! Promote it!
Herman: You either love it or you absolutely hate it! You know on this tour we got people insulting us because they hate it and people loving us.
And do you know why? What are the major changes do you think?
Herman: I don't understand why the people complain about too much guitar solos and that we are too fast. That is just the style we are playing. And guitar solos belong to heavy metal. So either the people think we are the best band and love us. Or they think we are the worst band and hate us. And those who hate us hated us also before and it just broke out with this new album. It is Power Metal, Melodic Metal, every kind of Metal all in one in the 21st century. So it is a Super Metal version of what Power Metal should be. This album moved on to the new millenium. Most bands hate us anyway.
What do you think is the future of DRAGONFORCE?
Herman: We will keep on touring with our worldtour of this new album and will go to America. And we will hopefully make a new albm with new ideas and new thins. And the people will hate the next album again and some will like it. Hey, but everytime the people hate it, we are getting bigger. And the bigger we get, the more people will hate us.
Well I think that the really good bands are always only hated or loved. Or how do you think of it?
Herman: Yes, I think the biggest bands are the most hated ones. And I think that is the good thing about us: when the people like the music we are playing, they can only get it from us. There is no other band playing in the way we do. And there are lotsof bands just plaing mitempo Power Metal.
Well some are playing fast, but not that fast.
Herman: But they are always playing the same. They do not play e.g. blast beats, like we do. We have influences from different metal styles.
You started playing guitar with 16. How long did it take you to get that fast?y/p>
Herman: Three years. Well, speed is one thing, but control and technique the other. What I was playing then was fast but much simpler. I do not think that there is limit in speed.
OK. And one last question: How long have you now been on tour?
Herman: Roughly four and a half weeks. But there are to many days off at that tour, every three shows. This is just because of that pussy singers. We guitarists forget songs during that day off.
But without a singer it would just be a 45 minutes guitar solo.
Herman: Oh no, we don't torture people. And you don't want to hear a 45 minutes guitar solo. You hear 30 instead.
Then thanks for the interview and have fun on stage!