DRAGONFORCE's HERMAN LI Responds To Criticism That Guitarists Who Play A Lot Of Notes Don't Have Any Emotion In Their Music

December 16, 2020

During an appearance on the latest episode of Music Is Win's "Guitar Villains" podcast, DRAGONFORCE's Herman Li was asked for his opinion on the criticism that guitarists who play a lot of notes don't have any feel or emotion in their music. He responded (see video below): "This is the same thing I've heard [for] years and years and years. Once upon a time — this is when I first started playing the guitar and I discovered Jason Becker; this is back in '92 or '93 — I went to my music teacher and I said, 'Listen to this guy.' I played him [the song] 'Altitudes' from [the] 'Perpetual Burn' [album]. And my music teacher listened to it and said, 'This is terrible. This guy can't play. There's no music there. It's just masturbation. It's terrible. You shouldn't listen to this kind of stuff.'

"Some people just don't have the ear for certain type of things," Herman continued. "That's why there's music for everybody."

Li went on to say that he likes playing fast because he finds it exciting. "It's fun for me at the same time," he said. "And that's it. Some people like it; some people don't like it. And me myself, I listen to all kinds of music. So it's all okay with me. But I don't think you have to have listened to music for years to like that kind of music.

"The first time I heard a guitar solo, which was Richie Sambora on a BON JOVI song, I thought, 'Man, I love this sound. What is it?'" Herman recalled. "And some people are just never gonna like guitar lead solos, and things like that. And you can see the trend how it went — there was nu metal, there was metalcore, and everyone was, like, 'Oh, we don't play guitar solos. We're songwriters now.'"

Li admitted that he was "pretty disappointed" when so many people were "talking shit" about him and his band shortly after they first arrived on the metal scene. "[They were saying] how terrible I am as a guitar player, 'DRAGONFORCE is terrible,' the solos, this and that," he said. "And they were saying, 'Oh, well, Steve Vai is kicking his ass — Steve Vai and [Joe] Satriani.' I was thinking, 'If you met me in a bar, I would be your best friend.' Because I hung out with so many people, talking about guitars. I was the guy lining up for [the] 'G3' [tour] three nights in a row; I love that kind of music. But when you became something like in a band, people have this thing against me. It's, like, well, sorry, if I was [just] a normal guy, you'd have no problem with me."

He added: "But I can also understand part of this, because when I play on stage, I do have this different kind of persona, and people think I'm really up my ass — I think I'm so badass. But it's, like, I'm sorry. I'm playing a show. I'm trying to provide some entertainment. You prefer me just staring at my feet and just not doing anything, or you want me to do crazy stuff and have fun with the guitar."

Li recently told Nuclear Blast's "Saturday Night Lockdown" that he and his bandmates have stayed creative during the coronavirus downtime, with the songwriting process for DRAGONFORCE's next album "almost finished."

DRAGONFORCE's early 2020 European and North American tour dates marked its first with new bassist and backing vocalist Alicia Vigil (VIGIL OF WAR),who joined the band in January. In August 2019, DRAGONFORCE parted ways with longtime bassist Frédéric Leclercq. Playing bass for the group at some its shows late last year was Damien Rainaud, who produced DRAGONFORCE's latest album, "Extreme Power Metal".

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