It wasn’t too long ago that I had spoken to Dragonforce axeman Herman Li about the possibility of getting the band to tour Australia again in the near future, this during the time when they were still writing and recording new songs for what would end up being the upcoming album “Reaching Into Infinity” which comes out May 19th. I caught up with Herman again to talk about the new album and the lengthy trip to Australia once again.
Andrew: So tell me a little about the new album and how it came together and how you feel about the new songs and the way they have turned out.
Herman: We started recording it last year when we were touring doing the festivals last year doing the Killer Elite tour and it was kind of cool to not be stuck in the studio but get out and do some shows and go back in and work on the songs again. I think the songs came together pretty quickly and everything pretty much ran smoothly, there was no real problems to be honest on this album. It’s a continuous evolution of the “Maximum Overload” album I would say, it’s got the Dragonforce signature sound but we added more elements to it. Some are almost kind of rocking kind of power metal I would say and then we have the massive 12 minute epic song on this new album as well.
Andrew: Did the live shows for Killer Elite have any sort of influence or impact on the news songs at all?
Herman: I don’t know if it has directly, maybe it has. There’s always some indirect thing to happen to the music when your on tour, I’m sure everyone got some different ideas on how to play certain parts from playing so many live shows but I can’t think of anything where I can say, ‘Oh that definitely did it’.
Andrew: You mentioned that this is a continuous evolution from “Maximum Overload”, was there a certain goal you had in mind with these new songs at all?
Herman: The goal really each time is to make sure the songs are really catchy and memorable, way before the crazy guitars and drums and all the instruments going at it. And it’s pretty much on this album as well, you got songs that are big and catchy and I would say the songs are a little bit darker on this album. Or maybe it’s not if I think about it [laughs]. There’s a balance of uplifting songs and darker songs as well actually.
Andrew: The big news for the Aussie fans is you guys are coming to Australia in June which is fantastic to see. Is this your first time headlining in Australia?
Herman: It’s the first time since 2009 where we did a headlining tour. I think we did a couple of headlining shows when we did the Soundwave Festival, like the sidewave shows but not a headlining tour so it’s been a while. And it’s definitely the first time where we get to put Australia first right at the beginning of the tour instead of later on because a lot of bands have problems getting there so they put it last and your not even touring for the new album anymore, you’re touring for the new-ish album that came out last year. Now we’re touring for the brand new album that came out a week or 2 ago.
Andrew: Well we feel honoured then as I was looking at the dates and thinking that the album comes out May 19th and the tour is in June so we must b the first ones to experience these new songs live then!
Herman: Yeah that’s right! You don’t get the first number 1 show and the reason is you are far away, we have to take two 12 hour flights so we have to do that just for you guys to break up the journey [laughs].
Andrew: [laughs] I know what you mean, they are very long flights! How do you deal with long travels like that?
Herman: To be honest I can handle all of them, I don’t need to be flying business class or first class or anything in life. I’m easy going, just a normal guy. There’s one flight I cannot handle and it’s going to Australia in 1 go and 2 flights in a row, I just can’t do it anymore. When I get on the plane I just want to go, ‘Oh my god what am I going to do for 24 hours sitting in this seat, I just want to kill myself!’ I told my manager I can’t do it, it’s the only time I can’t. So it’s great that we get to do Japan and Hong Kong just before going to Australia so it’s smooth going East and then down.
Andrew: Yeah definitely. You’ve obviously been to Australia a few times over the years, is there anything in particular you want to do in Australia this time around on your days off?
Herman: Well I always hear about the killer spiders and the crocodiles and the sharks and I’ve avoided death each time! That’s exaggerating but there’s more chance of being beaten up by a drunk guy!
Andrew: [laughs] Oh yeah definitely!
Herman: [laughs] But really I’m just going to hang out with a few Aussie friends that used to live in London so will get to see them and have fun doing the shows.
Andrew: So what can the fans expect? Obviously there’s new songs to play and last time we talked we discussed setlists so what do you plan to bring to Australia this time around?
Herman: Apart from playing the new songs we of course have to play certain old songs that we haven’t done for a while and certain songs that we missed on the last 2 times we came over because there’s just not enough time to play some of these songs. SO we’re going to mix it up and try to actually extend the set a little bit because Australia is not a place we can get to very easily to play. There’s always a few years gap if you’re lucky so we try and make it as much as possible in terms of as much songs as possible in the setlist for the fans.
Andrew: Yeah and with a new tour means having to kick out some of the older songs that were on the last setlist so how do you go through that process of picking out new songs?
Herman: There’s a few songs that we know we are already going to play, they just feel right to fit in with the old songs. They have just got the right energy and of course it’s the first music video that was the big launch. Most likely we’re going to play that 12 minute epic and see how that will go, it’s almost like I want to ask the fans, ‘What do you want to hear? Do you want to hear 12 minute songs off the new album?’ Obviously they don’t know how the songs are, or do we do two short 6 minute songs? It’s kind of a good question.
Andrew: Is that something you want to do in the future where you go to the fans and let them vote for the songs for the setlist?
Herman: Usually when I write something like this, I get an answer unrelated to the question so it’s like why did I bother even asking? But I don’t know, you can post this and tag us! This is your interview [laughs]. Just ask what you want to hear, 12 minute songs or shorter songs? 12 minute song off the new album or 2 shorter songs? There you go.
Andrew: [laughs] Are you the kind of person that likes to engage with the fans on social media?
Herman: I don’t really engage with social media that much, not even with friends [laughs]. I unsubscribe everyone off my facebook, I unfollow everybody. If I want to see anybody I just look up their name and see what they are up to or they have to call me or we have to be out for some dinner or whatever. But I’m a man of technology, I love computers. I don’t know how many laptops and video screens are in my house, loads. But for someone who likes computers and tours a lot, social media is always less relevant because we socialise all the time. We’re on tour all the time and if I have to socialise with people on the computer and I’m on the computer anyway, it’s kind of a bit of nonsense to me. But I don’t know, maybe I’ll change my mind one day. If you ever subscribe to my twitter, I won’t be bombing you with boring stuff that you don’t care about.
Andrew: Do you feel that social media is sort of anti-social in some weird way?
Herman: In certain ways yeah but you can then say well actually you’re wrong. You can go to parties and read about it I’m sure but who knows? There’s no wrong answer, it’s just how you feel what works for you in your lifestyle. I use it to keep in touch with certain people but I just don’t bother reading about all these feeds so when I meet my friends they can give me the best version of their amazing life instead of reading crap about that I don’t care about on social media that they got to complain about [laughs].
Andrew: Yeah I totally agree, that’s a great way to look at it. So I got a couple of questions that I didn’t get a chance to ask you last time that I would love to hear your answers to. If you could be a witness to the recording of any classic album in history, what album do you think that would be?
Herman: I think if there is one, I don’t want to spoil the memory of an album I have heard so much that I’ve liked and see the studio and thought that was boring. That was hard work because I know its hard work and boring. So if there is one it’s got to be a live album of something, a classic live album because with that you actually get to see something. Studio is just boring, a lot of sitting around watching one guy playing! I’m afraid anyone wishing to see these guys record, I’ll tell you it’s boring as hell. You have better things to do in life.
Andrew: Is there any live album then that you of liked to see back in the day?
Herman: I don’t know, I can’t think of anything.
Andrew: [laughs] That’s alright! Moving on to the last question then, for you what is the meaning of life?
Herman: I think you’re asking the wrong person here, I’m not going to go there!
Herman: But to be honest I think we’re so meaningless in this galaxy in my opinion. We’re just a tiny little nothing and there’s a whole galaxy and all we can do is do what we can and I can contribute something while having fun to whatever we are doing.
Andrew: Sounds good! Do you have any last words for the Aussie fans before you come down to Australia in June?
Herman: Just bring their craziness to the show which I’m sure they will. It’s going to be fun, it’s been a while and I’m glad that we can make it. And I apologise to the fans who wanted a show in Adelaide, unfortunately we couldn’t get one this time in Adelaide so we have to miss this city. It’s a bummer, we really did try so apologies that we couldn’t have you on the tour this time.
DRAGONFORCE AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2017
Tuesday 20 June – Capitol, Perth
Wednesday 21 June – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Thursday 22 June – The Basement, Canberra
Saturday 24 June – Manning Bar, Sydney
Sunday 25 June – The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets through Destroy All Lines