Intervju med Herman Li i Dragonforce.
Brittiska Dragonforce, med nye sångaren Marc Hudson, är snart tillbaka för tre spelningar på svensk jord i mitten av oktober.
Jag ringde upp gitarristen och nyckelspelaren Herman Li i Belfast för att ta en liten snabb koll på vad som händer i Dragonforcelägret just nu.
How´s the tour been going?
Herman Li: It´s been good! I mean, actually last night was the first gig on the European tour. We just came back from Mexico City and South America a few days before that so we´ve been travelling for a while now.
What´s it like playing in South America? I read that you had to cancel a show in Venezuela.
HL: Yeah, we had to cancel that one. It had something to do with the visas and things like that, but the other shows have been really good and we were playing with Trivium who we are good friends with, so it was definitely a great package.
Cancelling shows, is that something that happens a lot in South America? You always read about bands playing there and shows being cancelled.
HL: It has never happened to us before. You know what, I´m wrong. We did have a cancellation last time. It was because of the swine flu. You couldn´t travel left and right. Apart from that, we haven´t had any cancellations, so that was a one off when it comes to the paper work.
How many shows did you play there this time?
HL: Oh, I don´t know. I have to count them. One, two… seven, something like that. We finished off in Mexico City.
Was it good? You read about the Mexican fans being totally crazy.
HL: They are really crazy. That whole tour… it´s great with so many fans, but sometimes you´ve got no room because when you arrive at the airport, the fans are there. Then you arrive at the hotel and the fans are there, they´re everywhere. No escape, so you can´t even come down for breakfast looking like shit and have a bad breath.
It´s a bit like Beatlemania then?
HL: Well, I wouldn´t say that. (laughs) But it´s definitely weird for us because we play music because we enjoy it, not because we´re trying to be famous or anything.
You read about the fans in South America, Spain and so on. Is it a cultural thing or are they just starved from those kinda shows?
HL: I think it´s a cultural thing because they do have a lot of bands going down there. While we were there Megadeth was playing the day before, so they definitely get a pretty good dose of metal that they like. It´s a cultural thing. In Japan you´ve got a similar kinda thing. They´re everywhere, but they don´t cramp in and go all the way around you and that kinda thing.
The album´s been out now for a number of months. How do you look at it now? Did it turn out the way you wanted it to?
HL: Yeah, I really like the album and I listen to it myself all the time and I really like the energy of it. It´s different from the previous albums in terms of the dynamics and the energy and in the way it sounds. I really like it and playing the songs is also very exciting. We´ve got some songs that are shorter and some songs are a bit slower and it actually adds to the dynamics of our show, because usually in the past, every song was really fast and really long. Now we have something to kinda put in there which we didn´t before.
Do you usually listen to your own music?
HL: Of course! We make the album because that´s how we like music to sound and Iisten to it. It´s weird for me when people make an album and don´t wanna listen to it. You´re supposed to like your own music.
Well, with a lot of musicians you get the feeling that once the album is done, they hardly ever listen to it.
HL: Yeah, I´ve read about that, but it´s not the case of us.
Right. Now you´ve got this massive European tour and the dates just seem to go on and on and on. Is this the biggest European tour you´ve done so far?
HL: Yeah, it´s definitely the longest one. Dates just kept getting added. It was like nonstop. That´s good. It´s good that there´s a demand for us to go and play those places.
Are you playing any places you´ve never done before?
HL: We´re going to places in Poland that we haven´t played before and we haven´t had headlining shows in some of those places like the Czech Republic. We´ve never been to Marseilles in France either.
When it comes to the show, are you a band that mixes up the setlist a lot or is it the same one night after night?
HL: At the moment we´re at the stage where we can change it every night if we want to. We do experiment and change stuff and we always change things depending on where we´re going to. Like in certain countries it´s like “Oh, we´ve already played that song three times last time we were there!”. Of course we´re also gonna play songs from all the Dragonforce albums. It´s never that you go in and you only hear the new album and just two old songs, you know. We try to put as much in so to keep everyone happy.
Was it hard picking out songs from the new album to play live or did you immediately know which ones to pick?
HL: Some songs, like the singles, we knew we were gonna play them and the others… I guess we learned more than we need to play, so we just have to kinda alternate them around, I think.
On the road, even though the album is still fresh, any time for coming up with new stuff like at soundchecks or things like that? Are you already putting ideas into the song bank?
HL: Yeah! Of course like you said, the album only came out a few months ago, but we already have some ideas that we started working on, but the main concentration is on the tour and the live shows because we don´t just learn ten songs and only play those. We´re learning songs all the time, so we can change the setlist whenever we want to. Last night in Dublin, we played a song with Marc that he´s never done before. “It´s time to do that one.”, that kinda thing you know.
You´re doing the European tour and you´ve done South America and I know you´re playing in Australia and doing
Loud Park in Japan. What´s after all that?
HL: We plan to do more shows next year for sure. We´re working on Asia and things like that. It´s just hard being in two places at the same time.
Any plans for a live DVD or anything like that from this tour?
HL: Eeehhmm, we started recording shows with our own cameras, just for the hell of it, but we haven´t actually got a concrete plan to record a DVD or Bluray or whatever.
When you hit Sweden you´re gonna have the band Huntress with you. Is that a band you chose?
HL: Yeah, we always pick our own opening acts. We recently toured with them in America and Canada. They´re a good metal band and they´ve kinda got their own edge. We´re also taking a German band called Kissin´ Dynamite. It´ll be cool and a good package.
This label of yours, Electric Generation Recordings, is it turning out they way you hoped it would? Is it doing better than you hoped for?
HL: One thing for sure… it´s doing well for us, but one thing for sure is that it´s way more work than we originally had envisioned. Oh man, it really was a lot of work to get the label going and to get the album out. We did everything we were supposed to do, but it was hard work and it´s still ongoing.
But it is something you will continue working on?
HL: We´ll see, you know. It´s hard to say at the moment. We just released the album and we´ll see at the end of the performance if we´re gonna sign a new deal or not. Like in America we´re still signed to Roadrunner and that´s our last record deal. Now we might find a new deal and might do everything ourselves again. We´ll see. It´s pretty brutal. (laughs)
Is it daily work?
HL: Yeah, pretty much nonstop. It´s daily work for sure and you´re talking a worldwide thing. Just Europe itself is a lot of countries.
Cool. I´m gonna try to catch you when you hit Stockholm (Oct 16). I know you´re playing in Gothenburg (Oct22) too and Lund (Oct 21), I think?
HL: That´s right! We´ve always had a great time in Sweden. We´ve got a lot of friends there and the Swedes just love partying. (laughs) We get on well with the Swedes and they understand our sense of humor too.
Good. Thanks Herman!