HERMAN LI: How DRAGONFORCE Developed Its Over-The-Top Style Of Extreme Power Metal
December 21, 2022
In a new interview with PRS Guitars, DRAGONFORCE guitarist Herman Li reflected on how he and his bandmates developed their sound, which combines the sing-along choruses of classic 1980s rock with triumphant, uplifting melodies and fantasy-themed power-metal-inspired lyrics. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Looking back now, and I still remember, the only reason we were playing music is because we enjoyed it. And we wanted to play onstage. I've always thought the experience of performing in front of an audience was exciting; same thing with Sam [Totman, guitar]. But we made this band, and we thought, 'Well, in order to play live, we've gotta make demos and we have to get record deals. That's the only way we can get on tour and have a great time.' And at that time, when we started the band, playing guitar solos, any kind of technical, melodic [music] — with melodic singing — was kind of being laughed at a lot around the world, especially in England and America. People laughed at us: 'Oh, you guys play solos. That is so yesterday. Who cares?' And, 'You guys have singing. That's so cheesy.' So what happened is it actually made us do more of everything that people [were] laughing at us for. So we made double the amount of guitar solos, made it more melodic [with lots of] harmonies. It was kind of like a 'F.U.' way to say, 'You don't like what we play? Well, you know what? We're gonna go an extra mile and take it to another level to the extreme.'"
Herman continued: "That's what happened. And as the albums went on, we took it to another level. And people didn't really like it at the beginning. They thought, 'This is too fast, too much guitars.' But slowly, the world kind of turned around and we were the only people at that time that went up with that kind of extreme guitar playing on to the mainstream; it kind of exploded. And, of course, I had to have the longest hair, because if you're gonna have long hair, [you should have it] the longest. Go most crazy. Trampoline on stage, everything — the clock, everything. You name it. We tried to go one up. More was more. And that's kind of how it came about. And it defined our sound, was going against the grain of what was popular at that time."
Last month, DRAGONFORCE released a music video for the song "The Last Dragonborn". The track is taken from DRAGONFORCE's latest album, "Extreme Power Metal", which came out in September 2019. Produced in Los Angeles, California by Damien Rainaud at Mix Unlimited, the LP was also recorded, in part, on Li's livestream channel on Twitch with participation from the fans.
"The Last Dragonborn" is the first DRAGONFORCE music video to feature new bassist Alicia Vigil, who first joined the band as a touring member in January 2020.
DRAGONFORCE's platinum-selling single "Through The Fire And Flames" brought the London-based Grammy-nominated extreme power metal group international acclaim and was featured as the most challenging song on "Guitar Hero III".
In March 2019, the "Through The Fire And Flames" music video reached a new milestone: it surpassed one hundred million views on YouTube — DRAGONFORCE's first music video to do so.
"Through The Fire And Flames" is the leadoff track from 2006's "Inhuman Rampage" album, which was officially certified gold in July 2017 by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) for sales in excess of half a million copies.
In August 2019, DRAGONFORCE parted ways with longtime bassist Frédéric Leclercq. He has since joined German thrashers KREATOR.
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