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Interview: Dragonforce - 'Reaching Into Infinity' Tour

29 Jun 2017 // An interview by butch181

Ahead of their NZ tour, promoting the release of their seventh studio album Reaching into Infinity, Dragonforce took the time to answer a few questions:  

What do you like to do outside of music that contributes musically; in essence, what hobbies do you turn to in order to rejuvenate your creativity?

Sam (guitarist): Video games , I collect pinballs and drinking (and whatever goes along with drinking … travelling etc!)

With seven studio albums released, do you find song writing more difficult now, compared to your first few albums? How difficult was it for you guys to come up with the marathon of a song, that is 'The Edge of The World'?

Sam: Yeah it's definitely gotten a lot more difficult, for the first five albums I was doing most of the writing on my own, but it in the beginning I was really full of ideas! But it really started to get difficult after The Power Within. So for Maximum Overload I got together with Fred and we wrote the whole thing together, which made it much easier and brought a lot of new ideas along. For this album we tried to do the same thing but in the end we just wrote our own songs; so you have some written by me which are really “typical” old style Dragonforce and some new stuff by Fred which is really different sounding.  Edge of the World was one of his songs so you would have to ask him, but as far as I remember I think the whole thing came together fairly easily!!

How satisfied are you with how the new album has turned out?

Sam: Yes we really like it, it was our second time working with Jens Bogren as a producer so we all knew what we wanted as we were really happy with the previous one recorded with him too so it all worked out great.

Do you feel like spiritual successors to 80s glam rock?

Sam: Not really because I think we are pretty far from being "glamorous" haha but we all love that stuff so there is probably a bit of that influence somewhere in the music!!

Do you come up with songs during the recording process that get shelved and never see the light of day? If so, do you think you'd ever release the unreleased material in the future?

Sam: No, pretty much every song that we start keeps getting worked on until we are happy with it! Sometimes this takes forever but we very rarely say OK this is really going nowhere and throw it away altogether! Sometimes it might end up with hardly any of its original parts but we still consider it the same song! (if that makes sense!!)

Where have your favourite Dragonforce shows been? What made it stand out?

Sam: Of course there have been so many amazing ones over the years but a couple I remember was the first time we sold out a place called “The Underworld” in London. I got the feeling we were really starting to get somewhere, as it wasn't just our mates coming to the shows!!! We did the Woodstock festival in Poland last year which was also amazing and had a really great feel to it. You can actually see some footage from that on the bonus DVD of our new album.

With such an extensive back catalogue, some tracks seem to rarely get played live. With examples like ‘Evening Star’, ‘Revelations’, ‘Disciples of Babylon’, ‘Above the Winter Moonlight’, and ‘Once in a Lifetime’, is there a reason you don't often play those tracks?

Sam: Mainly because we don't like them quite as much as the other ones haha. I DO still really like them but I think there are better ones and we want to play what we think the fans would most like to hear. Of course there will always be someone who say one of those is their favourite song so we like to try and play everything at some point but with 7 albums out its pretty hard to please everyone!

What has been your biggest challenge as a band to date? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

Herman (guitarist): The big challenges never stops coming and they are different as our career goes on. The beginning was getting noticed, getting shows and securing a record deal. Once you have done that, there were a whole set of new challenges and nothing really gets easier. Since the band has become known worldwide it hasn’t got any easier and the new social media explosion has actually made us even busier.

Dragonforce has been around for nearly two decades now. How long do you see yourselves continuing to write, record, and play music?

Sam: As long as we still enjoy it (which we do!) and as long as other people still enjoy it and support us!  I don't know how easy it will be to play this fast style of music when you're 70 but I'd like to think we could give it a try haha

This upcoming mini New Zealand Tour coincides with the release of your new album Reach into Infinity. What are your favourite songs from the new album and why?

Sam: Well I would say the ones that I wrote of course haha, but I’m sure Fred would say the same thing about the ones HE wrote so that’s okay!!

Are there any side projects you're currently working on that you'd encourage Dragonforce fans to look into? Or is there anything under wraps that any of you would like to reveal?

Herman: At the moment, all my efforts are 100% concentrated on DragonForce. I don’t have time for another band or project.

What music / bands are you listening to right now?

Herman: I am listening to Dream Theater right now. I saw them last month for their Images and Words anniversary tour. It was awesome!

Another musician begged me to ask; you all have such great hair, what kind of shampoos or conditioners do you use?

Sam: Aussie shampoo (even though their “humorous” stuff written on the side of the bottle is the most UNfunny and annoying crap EVER haha it works well on the small amount of hair I have left!!

At what age did you guys start playing the guitar? How much practice does it take to get to a skill level like your own and to maintain it?

Sam: I started with classical guitar when I was 10, then electric guitar when I was 15… Its hard to say how much practice it takes I have seen some people get really good really fast and others try for years and still suck haha (us included!)  we just try our best and do what we enjoy!

You have mentioned in previous interviews that your influences include Dream Theater, Megadeth, Metallica, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai. Have any NZ artists influenced you?

Sam: Not particularly, although when I still lived there back in '93 there was a couple of bands that I really loved. One from Auckland called “Ultimate” and one from New Plymouth called “Tension”. I only had their demos but I used to listen to them ALL the time and as much as any of the overseas bands so maybe they had a little bit of influence somehow!

When you first started Dragonheart at the turn of the millennium, which later became Dragonforce, did you ever anticipate becoming as successful / popular as you are now?

Sam:  Definitely not, we just wanted to do it because we loved the music and we thought of course it would be nice to be “popular” but we really didn't expect it! So we are really grateful for all the support we got over the world!

Do you feel that establishing yourselves overseas rather than in New Zealand has been beneficial career-wise?

Sam:  I think back in 2001 when we started, if for some reason we had been based in NZ it definitely would have been harder because its not so easy to do a European tour, there aren’t as many international acts to get support gigs with as there are in a big city like London, there aren’t as many potential “fans” and I guess you don't have the big magazines like Metal Hammer and Kerrang etc. maybe now though it would be a bit easier seeing as the internet is more popular and stuff… I’m not really sure though!!

How did you guys originally meet and where, and what inspired you to make music together?

Herman: We met in London just randomly! A couple years after that, we started DragonForce because we were the only people we knew that really wanted to play the type of metal we do.

Do you still keep in touch at all with ZP or any of the previous band members like Adrian etc?

Herman: Yeah Fred spoke to him recently and I spoke to Adrian at a show sometime ago.

Can you complete your own songs on expert mode on Guitar Hero 3?

Herman: You can’t be serious, right?

How difficult is it as a vocalist to sing a whole set of Dragonforce songs?

Marc (vocalist): At the beginning, that was the biggest challenge, but with practice it became easier. It’s still difficult though!

Do you find it difficult to replicate some of the more demanding vocals live? Live footage of you guys shows you hitting the high notes like a champ, how hard is it having to replicate it live, night after night?

Marc: The high notes are the easy parts, the hard stuff is the mid range singing and maintaining a nice tone for such a long time.

Which vocalists have inspired your style of singing and who's your favourite singer?

Marc: I wouldn't say I’m inspired by singers anymore, but up until about a year ago I would have said my favourite was probably Michael Kiske.

Do you see yourself contributing more to the song writing process in future Dragonforce albums?

Marc: Sure!

What do the fans have to look forward to on this tour? Any big plans for the return to Wellington?

Herman: The new album has been really well received and the fans have been asking us to play a lot new songs. We will of course also play new songs as well as many old favourites and a few surprises. I would say, we definitely are still improving, so every time you see us, it’s a better version of Dragonforce!

 

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