Check out Dragonforce Tickets here.
Nobody on Ozzfest sounds like Dragonforce and that’s cool with founder and guitarist Herman Li. The band, formed in the United Kingdom in the late ‘90s, draws from metal’s most outdated influences – the Power Metal, Speed, Thrash and Progressive sounds that were all the rage in the ‘80s updated with furious musicianship, slick production and over the top vocals. It’s a recipe for being big in Japan and Germany however the band’s Inhuman Rampage was released on Roadrunner, is selling records in America even though radio doesn’t know what to do with the band, and their popularity forced Ozzfest organizers to add the band to their main stage for this year’s tour.
Herman called in to discuss Ozzfest, video games and if it bugs him that some hipster kids love the music that they play as a way to be ironic…
U Weekly: Herman, enquiring minds want to know… Dude, how do you shred so hard?
(Laughter) I don’t know! That’s one of those hard to answer questions. We just play what we think sounds cool and if people think that’s cool then we have something in common.
U Weekly: It does surprise many that you never took any formal lessons in your life…
No, I pretty much learned from watching videos and listening to music, things like that. I never had any guitar lessons or anything like that. I just played and tried different things and work it out and see what works and what doesn’t. I can’t read music either. I did think about (taking lessons) but I never really had the time. I used to skip my music lessons when I was in school, anyway. All that stuff about timing and reading, I just skipped it and didn’t go.
U Weekly: You call yourself “Video Game Metal.” Where does that come from?
Our musical influences actually come from video game music! Games in the ‘80s had great melodies because back than, with such shitty sound to work with then, I guess they had to make great melodies.
U Weekly: Is Dragonforce the only “real” metal band on Ozzfest?
It’s hard to define what metal is. I think there are a lot of metal bands on Ozzfest – you can say they pretty much are all metal bands – but metal has evolved. As times progress, things change and people approach it differently. People think that metal has to have solos – which I actually don’t disagree because metal is the only kind of music that you really can kind of let your guitar go sometimes – but I think there are a lot of great metal bands on Ozzfest like Strapping Young Lad. There are some cool bands onstage.
U Weekly: Whether it’s “real” or not, Dragonforce plays a form of metal – Power Metal – that was almost extinct save for a few dinosaurs and purists. What attracted you to this kind of music?
I always liked many styles of metal, not just Power Metal. I love Progressive Metal like Dream Theater and Symphony X, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Hard Rock… Even though a lot of people like to call us Power Metal, the only influences that come from that is the melodic vocals. But I find it sounding more Hard Rock. Maybe it’s because we have Dragon in our name… But I don’t think that we sound exactly like the traditional older European Power Metal bands.
U Weekly: Regardless of what it exactly is, bands that sound like you are not getting signed to big labels such as Roadrunner and playing Ozzfest. What do you think accounts for your rapidly growing popularity?
I think it’s because the way we approach the music; us mixing up styles makes us different from those other bands. That and our live performance is what make us Dragonforce. We do have an identity, people hear our songs and they know who we are.
U Weekly: Dragonforce is attracting fans who do not usually like this kind of music – indie rock hipster kids are digging your sound. Does that crossover surprise you?
We definitely notice it and we think it’s kind of cool. We always thought that in our songs, even though there are lots of guitar solos and it’s really intense, that there’s a lot of melody there and our songs are memorable. Maybe they like this kind of guitar playing but they’ve just never heard it before.
U Weekly: Would it bug you if some people listened to you because of the ironic factor?
To be honest, I’ve never thought about it. I can’t judge someone’s motivations for listening to us by the way they look. Really, I don’t care. As long as they enjoy it, that’s cool.
Dragonforce Concert Dates
Dragonforce Tickets – 9/8/2006 – Wiltern LG – Los Angeles CA
Dragonforce Tickets – 9/9/2006 – Warfield – San Francisco CA
Dragonforce Tickets – 9/19/2006 – The Pageant – Saint Louis MO
Dragonforce Tickets – 9/22/2006 – Bogarts – Cincinatti OH
Dragonforce Tickets – 9/23/2006 – Harpos – Detroit MI
Brian O’Neill/U Weekly
P. S. Check out Dragonforce Tickets here.