It’s not just about being able to play fast.”
Herman Li: Hello.
Wikimetal (Daniel Dystyler): Hello, can I speak to Mr. Herman Li, please?
HL: Yes, this is Herman, how are you doing?
W (DD): Hey, Herman, how are you? This is Daniel and Nando from Wikimetal in Brazil. How are you?
HL: Great. Nice to meet you. Good to be talking to you.
W (DD): I’m going to start asking you, like, back in the day, what were the main influences, bands or guitar players, that made you pursue a heavy metal career?
HL: I started off listening to a lot of rock guitar players you know, listening to… I guess I started off listening to bands like Bon Jovi, and then later on, you know, Metallica, Megadeth, Dream Theater, all that… Great guitar players like Steve Vai, Satriani. And the band, when we started off, we were listening to a lot of thrash metal, death metal, power metal, prog metal, so you know, that’s just the music that we enjoyed listening to.
W (Nando Machado): You’ve received many awards for being able to play so fast. What’s the secret for being able to shred the guitar at lightning speed?
HL: I don’t know if we got the awards for being able to play fast, you know, there are a lot of great people out there that play fast. I think maybe we got the award for everything about the band, you know, the way that we perform live together, you know, and how we compose the music, and how the album sounds, and, you know, I think everything just kind of comes together, it’s not just about being able to play fast. I think it’s important… I think this is really just one small part of so many things we do.
W (DD): Herman, we have a classic question on our show, which is: imagine you’re listening to the radio on a rock station or driving your car or whatever, you’re listening to your ipod or any music player on shuffle mode, and all of a sudden a song starts that makes you lose your mind, and you feel that you need to head band immediately, doesn’t matter where you are, you can’t refrain yourself. What song is that so we can listen to that one on our show right now?
HL: I think probably Megadeth… Which one? “Tornado of Souls”.
If someone gets to dig the music without judging you based on your image and where you’re from, and all that, you know, I think it’s a good thing.”
W (NM): Talking particularly about you, you’re a great live performer, and we are anxious to see you live in Brazil. Who, in your opinion, are the greatest guitarists regarding live performances?
HL: That’s an interesting question. I mean, you know, live performances… There are so many different ways to look at it. Technically, I enjoy just seeing someone sitting down or standing up just playing guitar. It’s an incredible feeling, making the guitar work. They don’t need anything else, you know. And there are shows that you really perform live with people running around, crazy bend guitar, you know, like they’ve been possessed by the guitar. And, you know, for me, frankly I really like both of them. I remember seeing Steve Vai playing and that was an incredible experience and there are so many other guitar players that I saw and that were great and have great stage presence.
W (DD): Let me congratulate you on the last album, it sounds really, really great, and Mark Hudson sounds great as well. How has the repercussion of the album been so far, and how is Mark performing live?
HL: The fans have really liked Mark on the band and that’s really awesome. The repercussion of the new album has been incredible, you know, I mean really, really good. They seem to have really liked the idea of the album, the way this album is different from the previous one from Dragonforce. More than ever before, we’ve been preparing for touring, jamming and rehearsing, so, you know, we’ve been already rehearsing for the tour of the album.
W (NM): Talking about video games, Herman, we know you’ve already used some elements from videogames in the past, like sound effects… Are you still using things like that? And do you think videogames, such as Guitar Hero, help to promote your music?
HL: Oh… I mean, we’ve certainly done a lot of crazy, videogame sounding stuff on the guitar, on the “Inhuman Rampage” album and on the “Ultra Beatdown” album. I think we’ve really taken it to another level. So in “The Power Within”, we kind of held back a little bit, and played the guitar in a slightly different way. No so much like crazy noises, like we did on previous albums. You know, it’s just the way we composed the production of the album and the theme of it. And about the Guitar Hero thing, I mean, or I’d say Rock Band, those are the two leading videogames, I think that anything helps, in today’s world, for any musician, you know, and the main thing is that if someone gets to dig the music without judging you based on your image and where you’re from, and all that, you know, I think it’s a good thing, and videogames somehow, they don’t judge on that, because, you know, a lot of people hate bands because they’re from somewhere or they look like a certain way or the friends think it’s not cool to like them.
W (DD): Also, on the new album, it was great that you guys had Emily Ovenden as a special guest. How did this idea come up?
HL: I’ve known Emily for quite a few years now. We’ve always wanted to add a major female voice into the choir and the backing vocals, but we really didn’t know anyone, we couldn’t think of anyone for years, until Em, you know, we wanted to try different things to the backing vocals as well as the lead vocals and she did really an amazing job.
To me Dragonforce is a metal band that mixes several styles of metal and rock into one style.”
W (NM): We’ve read some funny ways of defining your music, you said before, it was something like “Metal Nintendo” or “When Journey meets Slayer”. Is it true? How would define Dragonforce style at the moment?
HL: You know, it’s interesting how people create all different kinds of labels, and I think, because people were kind of shocked at the music when they first heard it, because it was very different from what they were used to hearing, in terms of melodic metal, like the guitar sounds on “Inhuman Rampage”, that was really a shock, so they had to give a new label, or some kind of name. But to me Dragonforce is a metal band that mixes the styles metal and rock into one style. So we’ve got the beat from the thrash metal, the energy and the melodic thing from the power metal, we’ve got angry guitars, all of that kind of mixed together. I think that that’s what we do.
W (DD): And how was the experience of playing with great legends of the history of the guitar, like Tony MacAlpine, Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai, that you already mentioned?
HL: You know, of course to me, as a guitarist, since I was a kid I played the guitar at home, in my bedroom, it was like a dream, the best thing that ever happened, it was a really great thing. It was really a great experience for me to be able to play with those legendary partners. I can’t think of anything better, not many people had the chance to do that, so I’m really honored to be invited to play with those guys.
W (NM): And now we’d like to listen to a Dragonforce song on the show. Can you choose a song from Dragonforce that you’re really proud of?
HL: I think the band is really proud of every song we’ve done, particularly on this album, we’re really happy, so I think “Cry Thunder” was the first single that we released from this album, so we could hear that, we could listen to “Cry Thunder”.
W (DD): Excellent. “Cry Thunder” on Wikimetal. Is it right to say that “Through the Fire and Flames” is the most important song in Dragonforce’s career? What does this song represent to you?
HL: I think “Through the Fire and Flames”, for me personally, to be honest, I never thought it was one of our best songs. I guess people heard it and it introduced them to a different kind of metal, because, you know, power metal or melodic metal or whatever you called it, has been many times criticized, you know, by a lot of people, so we wanted to show them that we can play melodically and still, you know, in a different kind of way.
I remember seeing Steve Vai playing and that was an incredible experience.”
W (NM): Is it true that you’re a fan of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? And if you practice Jiu Jitsu, aren’t you afraid of braking a finger or something like that?
HL: I’ve been practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since 2005, of course when I’m touring, it stops me from doing too much training, also in the recording studio I get worried that if I hurt my hand, it would damage my guitar playing, and the album, and that would be a problem. So I try to train as much as possible, but we’ve been doing a lot of stuff, so I haven’t really been able to train so much now as I’d like to.
W (DD): What kind of advice would you give to a young kid that’s dreaming of being a rock star or putting up a band or starting to play the guitar?
HL: I think one of the important things is to not think about playing music because you want to be a rock star. I think that’s kind of the wrong way. You play music because that’s what you want to do and that’s what you want to do for the rest of your life and you have a passion for it. So if you become a rock star, great, you know. I think you should just play in a band and enjoy it, not because you want to be on TV and become a rock star, and whatever. That’s kind of… It’s not really what you should be aiming at.
W (DD): Mr. Herman Li, I’m sure we will have great concerts in Brazil with you guys and Trivium. Can you please invite all the Brazilian head bangers to the concert?
HL: Of course, I’d like to extend a huge, warm invitation for you to come to the show. You know, we cannot wait to play there in Brazil, this is our second time playing there, with our great friends, Trivium, and we promise you guys that it’s going to be one of the best shows that you ever see. We’re going to do everything we can for our fans in Brazil, and we can’t wait.
W (NM): Thank you so much, Herman, we’ll be there for sure. I hope we can meet and say hello before or after the show, but we wish you a great trip to Brazil, and all the best, we’ll have a great show with Dragonforce and Trivium in September, and we look forward to seeing you live.
HL: Yes, please. Please come and say hi after the show, we can’t wait to play for the fans.
W (DD): Excellent, thanks so much, Mr. Herman Li on Wikimetal.
HL: Thank you.
W (DD): Bye bye.
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