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Herman Li (DragonForce)

Interview with Herman Li from DragonForce
by Amy La Salla at 23 January 2005, 7:37 PM

There are many things that can disturb your night's sleep… food, phone calls, your brother hearing a DragonForce song on mp3.com… It was an unusual way for me to wake up but I can't say I'm sorry that I did. So now, thanks to the internet, my little brother's enthusiam for music and e-mail… here is my interview with DagonForce's guitarist, Herman Li a.k.a 'Shred'.

Power metal is something of a rarity in England. How did you first get into the genre?

I have always been into melodic Rock, melodic Metal type of music. The first time I heard something you call Power Metal was Helloween, when an older Metal dude in school lend me the 2 Keeps of the Seven Keys albums on vinyl. He just said to me check this shit out. Back than the whole scene was changing style, but with the help of the internet from the early days I was able to search and discover the music I like to hear, so I was listening to something completely different from most people in the UK.

What are your main musical influences?

The band influence is wide across the Metal spectrum. Everything we listen to can influence us in a way, Hard Rock, cock hard, Death Metal, Thrash, Speed, shred, guitar instrumental stuff, progressive and definitely late 80’s, early 90’s video games music.

What do you think of the current Metal scene?

Well, it really depends on the country doesn’t it? I always see it globally than just, let says, where we live. But in England I think the metal scene is really taking off and we are doing very well here at home.

How was Valley Of The Damned received commercially?  Have you gone to music full time?  

Valley Of The Damned was a great success, especially for a debut album. Even before the album came out, the buzz was big, especially in Japan, in which we toured on this first album. But of course, the new album Sonic Firestorm has gone way beyond it in terms of, I guess everything. Sonic Firestorm is really a unique album and it is being voted by critics as one of the best Metal albums of 2004 in numerous major Metal magazines and guitar magazines. Since the release of Sonic Firestorm, we don’t have any other job, only DragonForce.

Why did you change the band’s name from DragonHeart to DragonForce, and how did you decide the new name?

Well, because the old name was used by just about everything. DragonForce it was, because a lot of people knew us from DragonHeart and we don’t want to change completely the name.

How did you meet Adrian Lambert and David Mackintosh?  Are they a permanent fit for DragonForce?

Adrian played session for us before we even recorded the Valley Of The Damned album, David contacted after seeing something on the internet. They just fitted in naturally.

How long have you known Sam Totman? What is the story behind your deciding to play together?

Since 1998? I think. We played in the same band together before DragonForce.

How do the two of you write usually? Does Sam come up with the rhythm and you the lead or do you trade off?

These days each member write the basic structure of a whole song and than Sam, Vadim and I work together on it and record demos of the songs.

I hear you like computers…do you ever record what you are working on and send it to someone else, who adds another bit and sends it on to another member of DragonForce and so on and so forth? Or do you prefer to write face to face?

No, we always work together face to face. It is much more dynamic and flexible.

When you are writing for an album do you prefer to write as many songs as you can and see which ones stick or do you concentrate on a few songs?

We always stick and concentrate on the songs which will make the record, so they get the maximum attention possible.

’Shred’ is a very appropriate nickname. How’d you get it? How can you outdo yourself on future albums? Your guitar work is amazing.

It’s just a nickname I used when I was using the internet… that goes back to since 1994. Yeah, I’ve using the internet since then and a lot of people knew me by that name. Also there’s another story to it but I will tell you another time.

I remember first hearing your song Starfire on mp3.com, back when you were still known as DragonHeart. You had released your entire demo for download. Did that help get out awareness for the band?

It made a huge difference, but I’ve been asked that question so many times I don’t even know how to answer it anymore, hehe. Let’s say, from the demo we were able to support Halford, Stratovarius and headline our own shows in the UK pretty successfully.

Any good tour stories?  You’ve played alongside some of the true Metal greats.  Any bands you’d love to tour with?

Stories don’t come across well if I tell you via an e-mail interview. Next time you see me, just ask. There are way too many. Some people find them funny, some people find them offensive. It’s all rock and roll.

How would you describe a live performance of DragonForce? DragonForce’s songs usually tell stories with music and words.  Who is your favourite author?

Basically, we can’t understand how can people enjoy playing or watching live bands standing still on stage, looking boring, staring at their instruments, and say a band with all members doing that, just playing the song be called a great live performance. That’s the minimum requirement, playing the songs! It means they suck or are fucking lazy! Where the hell is the energy on stage? There are some great live bands but so many crap one these days.

With DragonForce, we are running around on stage, jumping in the air, playing each other’s guitars, fret it upside down, there is so much energy and we have a very strong interaction with the audience. That’s the way we are, we can’t help it, when we hit the stage we are on fire. We are hitting Greece in February with Angra, Greek fans will have a chance to see it.

Are you a big fantasy fan?

Do you count playing computer games like Wonderboy in Monsterland or Final Fantasy?

Is there any message you want to send to our readers and your fans?

Gonna do a cliché one, see you on tour? Yeah, I am serious cause we are coming to kick your arses, so get down to the show and have a few drinks with us at the bar afterwards. C ya!

Thank you again for your time!

Thanks for the interview, hope to see you soon.



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