We recently had the pleasure to have a quick chat with guitarist Herman Li of DragonForce before they played the final date of their sold-out UK tour, and their first ever show in Dover.
Here’s how it went down!
This is your last UK tour date, how has the tour been so far?
Herman Li: Yeah it’s been great – I mean, this is a sold-out tour! It’s always good to have a sold-out tour, and good to know people want to see it. The shows have been going well, there haven’t been any problems and we’re all still alive, so all good!
Excellent. Europe’s up next. Any dates or venue you’re looking forward to playing to?
HL: There are a lot of good shows happening. There’s one interesting show in Finland, because the first venue got damaged by water damage, they couldn’t find another venue because it’s a Friday night and it’s such short notice, so instead they found this really small place. We’re going to play two shows in a row there so we can cover all the tickets already sold on the bigger venues, so we’re doing a smaller venue for two shows in a row.
On two separate nights?
HL: No, it’s the same night. Same night, same day! We do one show, kick everyone out, the rest of them come in and we do it again!
Not your usual tour date then. Following on from that, are there any places you want to play on your bucket list? Any specific venues like Red Rock that you would like to play?
HL: Not really… I don’t really care so much about venues and playing at certain things. I know some people dream of playing something like Madison Square Gardens, or playing the Royal Albert Hall, but I don’t have any of those things, actually. Kind of a little bit boring, to be honest!
Continuing the theme of venues, what are some of your favourites to play?
HL: One that was really great that I remember was Download 2007, when we played there, that was really cool. That was when they still had the Dunlop thing there – the Dunlop tyre. But now they’ve moved it all a little bit, it’s the same place [Donnington Park]… but it isn’t. That was a really cool show. Who doesn’t want to play Donnington anyway?! I remember hearing about it on radio back then as “Monsters of Rock” and to play it back then was a great memory.
It is a legendary place! You’ve been touring for a long time now. How do you stay fit and healthy on the road?
HL: [Laughs] Well, right now I would say I’m not in really in good shape, to be honest! I’ve not slept since the beginning of this tour because I flew from America here and every night I’ve been sleeping about four hours. I don’t really have any idea how to solve that problem to be able to sleep… I don’t really take anything, drugs or anything, things to help me sleep, so I’m not quite sure at the moment how to keep healthy. But I’m starting to get five hours a night now instead of about three or four.
Getting there then, little steps.
HL: Yeah, we try to stay healthy.
You’ve also been writing and recording music for a long time now too. How do you keep the writing process fresh and stay creative? Where do you get inspiration from when it’s time to start writing again?
HL: I think as a band we haven’t really shown everything we’re capable of. That’s why, if you listen to this album that’s just come out, Reaching Into Infinity, and listen to all the previous albums, let’s say going back to our biggest album, Inhuman Rampage, there’s a big evolution continuously happening. Back then, we were all locked down to playing fast and melodic and every song had to be fast, except the ballad. Now we’ve actually given ourselves more room, so we don’t really the same problem, because back then we didn’t express a lot of styles. Even though it’s still DragonForce, on the new album there’s the 11-minute song [The Edge of the World], there’s different tempos, and so on. By evolving and adding more to our musical vocabulary we can do more, so we don’t get bored and like, “Oh, we’ve run out of ideas”. If we keep playing the same albums we did earlier, the 200bpm formula and playing seven minute songs with eight guitar solos, then yeah, we’re going to run into trouble.
Still talking about styles and genres, if you couldn’t do Power Metal any more, who would you like to collaborate with and in what kind of style? Would it be something like a Symphonic Rock Opera or a something at a complete tangent, like a glitchy electronic mad thing?
HL: Well if I’m going to tell you the style then I’m an un-original follower. I’m just following a trend that exists. It’s not going to be something that’s already around. We would try to put a twist on something to be original. We don’t sound like the other Power Metal bands when we came out, all the way up to now. So if I were to do another band, I’m not going to do hard rock. I love that kind of music to listen to, but I’m not going to play it, just because it brings nothing to me to just play the same thing that’s done a million times and bring nothing to the scene either.
Any last words to add?
HL – These days with social media unfortunately – well, fortunately, unfortunately? Who knows? But if I want to say something, I can post it on there. Because of that, it’s like some questions become completely redundant interview questions, and it’s almost kind of boring. Giving you honest answers! That’s something you don’t get often, I bet you.
That’s very true and a good point! Thank you for your time and have a great show tonight!