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As a fifteen-year-old, I remember hearing the rumours in the schoolyard about all my mates playing Guitar Hero and how far they had gotten in the game. ‘Through the Fire and Flames’ is considered the masterpiece to the game, and the last song that you play before completing it. Herman Li, lead guitarist for DragonForce, the band who made it famous, only achieved two per cent when he played the track on the game. With their seventh studio record Maximum Overload about to be released, I caught up with Herman Li to have a chat about the band and when they would be returning to our shores.
It’s taken two-and-a-half years to write this record and the band is very pleased to finally release it. ‘Defenders’ is the first taste that we have heard of this record and that is due to it being the first song completed for the new album. “That song is a mix of old DragonForce big choruses and some new elements to it. It’s pretty aggressive until you get to the chorus. I think we have really tried to mix up the dynamics that we use with this album.”
As one of the most technical guitar players today, Li started out playing real rock music and progressively integrated metal techniques into his playing through hearing Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. “I got into Bon Jovi at a young age and thought that was really great. From there, I broadened my tastes and discovered Dream Theater and heavier acts. I don’t think that there is one particular influence to my playing because I think that if you do, you end up sounding like them. I get inspired by everybody that I like and build something else on that to create my own style.”
Having received so many awards for being able to play the guitar the fastest, Li believes the secret behind nailing all the notes up and down the fretboard is through improvisation and playing with others. “If you are able to improvise you are able to make the guitar speak and do things that you could normally not really do. If you are an up-and-coming player, I would recommend practising whatever is challenging you the most.”
If you have looked at the DragonForce website lately, you will no doubt see that the band is touring all through Europe and the UK to the middle of February next year. With some time off, could this possibly lead to the band being another inclusion to the already massive Soundwave Festival? “I would love to get back Down Under to play Soundwave. We have a gap on tour around that time, so hopefully we can make it happen. What I like about Soundwave is that it is such a diverse festival. There are many different styles on display and you are able to discover some new bands. Even in the scorching heat, I am surprised by the amount of energy the Aussies had.”
With a tour to Oz imminent, I would highly recommend getting your chops around this new album. With big climatic moments and sweeping melodies, there are many different elements to entice any guitar player. As one of the most energetic live bands around, make sure you catch them when they next touch down.
Release: Maximum Overload out now
By Tex Miller