“DRAGONFORCE” INTERVIEW by Christina Thompson
DragonForce, a British Power Metal group based in London, is known for their fun-loving, vivacious on stage antics as well as their fantasy-themed lyrics and long, fast guitar solos. Their seventh studio album, Reaching Into Infinity is set to debut on May 19 via Metal Blade Records. Founded in 1999 by Herman Li and Sam Totman, DragonForce is also known for their high-speed dual guitar sounds which is responsible for much of the band’s distinctive style.
In Maximum Overload it seemed as though you guys had clearly hit your stride as a band, especially with Marc’s voice now joining the ranks. It seemed more cohesive…. What is in store for us with Reaching Into Infinity? Can we expect more of the same or are there some surprises in store for us?
We originally wanted to reproduce the same formula we used for Maximum Overload, which was, Sam and I writing all the songs together. But this time I ended up writing most of the material, and so because I was ,I think, in part responsible for the subtle change of style on “Maximum”, you will have more of that on “Reaching into Infinity”.I don’t listen much to power metal , so that’s more like my take on it. There’s even more thrash, prog, death elements. We have a long, mid tempo song I’m really proud of. But it still sounds like us because everyone has strong musical personality. Also we’ve experimented more with Marc’s vocals on this album. More aggressive. He challenged himself and the result is great. And of course we teamed up with Jens Bogren again, he is a great producer and he pushed us to deliver the best!
How do you approach writing new material now as a band? Is there a collective favorite on Reaching Into Infinity? Also, is there a special meaning behind the title?
As I said I wrote most of the material, and I like to define as much as possible. My demos are always very close to the final result, in terms of main melodies, riffs, drum beats.. I draw the main lines and then it’s up to the other to add their colours and that’s what’s great. Sam also has it’s own way of writing songs, but he has everything in his head so he sometimes gives us demos that sound like shit but he is like, “don’t worry!” haha – anyway I’m used to it by now. For the lyrics I wrote some on my own and some together with Marc. Lyrics come last. A favorite on Reaching? I’m not sure. I think we all like “Edge of the World”but again I might be wrong. The title “Reaching into Infinity” talks about the music, we need escapism in life and music helps you achieve that, the power of music is infinite.
Your greatest hits compilation album, Killer Elite dropped last July. How did you go about picking and choosing what made it onto the album and what didn’t?
Well, most of them were obvious choices. Herman actually sent me a list he made and I read it and said “well yep, that’s what I had in mind”, so it wasn’t hard. We picked what people enjoy live and songs we enjoy ourselves and that was it.
I have no idea, it’s always hard to analyze your own music, and here especially, trying to define why it excites loyalty would mean that I take that as a fact. I don’t, we don’t, we are always grateful when people enjoy our music and don’t take anything for granted. So I don’t know, I guess we write music we like and we have fun on stage and people know they gonna have a good time listening to us and watching us party on stage..something like that.
My two teenaged sons as well as many across the world became big fans of yours when “Through the Fire and Flames” appeared on Guitar Hero III. They also decided you were sadistic for allowing it to be featured in the game (the song has 3, 722 notes and 32 different sections– more than any other song in the game)! Rumor has it, though, that you wouldn’t have thought this was the song to be picked and become the hit it became. Why do you think it resonated with people the way it did and continues to do so as well?
Again, its very difficult. I joined the band right before “Inhuman Rampage” was released and we played “Through the Fire..” for the first time in Japan actually, and it had a great reaction, and we did the video for it and it was fun, but I remember Sam saying it was an OK song, he wasn’t particularly proud of that one more than any other you know? Its very hard to define why people like that one. I guess it’s due to the video, the catchy chorus..and of course after that, Guitar Hero came and that was THE song so yeah, mix all of these elements and here is your answer haha!
What is your overall philosophy or goal for DragonForce? Do you have a certain “Pinnacle” you hope to reach? A place where you feel you “have made it”, or will this be an ongoing journey for all of you?
Having fun. I think that’s the main criteria for us to keep things “fresh” and “real”. I mean, there’s also writing good albums, pushing ourselves as musicians, but it all comes down to being honest and having fun, and yes, obviously SHARING that fun.
My sons begged me to ask this: There is supposedly a rumor going around about a live show where one of you broke a pick while in the middle of a solo, but kept going. By the end, your fingers were all bloody from playing. Is this true?
Mmm.. I can’t recall a particular show, but I know I saw some of us bleeding at some point, including myself, and you cannot really stop a show-unless there’s a major problem. Hell, I even did a show sick as a dog and threw up in a bucket on the side of the stage WHILE STILL PLAYING. Well, our guitar tech hit my very last note of that song (it was “heroes of our time” actually).
Last question: Is there a favorite show/memory that will forever stick with you or that has not been outdone, yet? A story you’d like to leave us on? Thanks for your time, and cheers!
That story I just told you ! haha no erm.. let me see. There are actually so many stories, it’s hard to pick one in particular. I don’t know. I remember we played Download and asked the crowd to do a slow circle pit on a ballad, hahaha! That was fun-and weird. I think people sometimes don’t get our strange sense of humor, especially at the beginning, so we had to work on that a bit haha…..
Christina Thompson/MHF Magazine