ASK THE ARTIST- HERMAN FROM DRAGONFORCE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
Posted on August 19, 2009
Cast your mind back a month or so, and you will remember we gave you the opportunity to pose questions to Herman Li from DRAGONFORCE.
Well, he's been busy as all hell, but the dude got back to us with his answers over the weekend and you can check them out below. See if YOURS was one of the ones we picked for him to answer!!
Don't forget that Herman and his fellow 'forcers will headline the UK in November. Check out the dates and get your tickets HERE.
TOM COLES- Herewith pray find enclosed a question of upmost importance to the welfare of our fair country, and indeed all those whom dwell within. The enquiry concerns your hair, and it's maintence- sir, how long did it take you to grow your hair to such extrodinary lengths? Surely, this is the work of powerful alien magicks, and the local Witch- Fynders have been informed and are ready to move into your position. We are watching intently and have been for weeks. Do not attempt to run.
I don’t really maintain it at all these days, I’ve kinda given up on it... it’s been long for over 12 or 13 years. I don’t look after it at all because I can’t be bothered, and I spend most of my time when i ‘m off tour or even when I’m on tour doing martial arts… Brazilian ju-jitsu… which involves lying on your back, fighting on the ground, and I’m constantly rolling on the ground and the hair is getting stuck on things and I don’t really care, you gotta lose something and I’m not ready to cut the hair back but I still want to do more than playing the guitar, and doing Brazilian ju-jitsu is the most damaging thing I’ve done to my hair.
CHRIS ‘CUCUMBER’ AKERS- How much did you practice when you were younger and how did you meet the other guys in the band?
I was practicing hours and hours and hours... about 10 times more than I get to do it now because Dragonforce are so busy. I’m constantly working and doing something- either telling people what we do, preparing for the tour, working on what’s coming up, you know all that business stuff you have to deal with- so my time playing the guitar is nowhere as much as I used to. I used to basically play all the time - from lunch time in school until when I get home… basically all the time… now I just try to play as much as possible and I’m actually supposed to be practicing some songs for the next tour today.
Basically I knew Sam before Dragonforce started and we kinda started it off and I found ZP through an ad in a rehearsal studio, Vadim I met him one day in a club, Dave I knew from another band and same with Fred, so some were musical connections through gigs and clubs.
GEORGE EVANS- As you're obviously a big fan of retro games and like to incorporate the sounds into your playing. I was wondering if the band name bears any relation to Sega Saturn game Dragon Force? Also, when layering lots of different lead harmonies in recording do you ever limit yourself, or try and limit yourself with the number of tracks used. So you'll be able to make a live performance sound closer to the record? Also, with this in mind have you ever considered recruiting an extra guitarist for touring?
I actually didn’t know about the Sega Saturn game until after we changed our name. It’s just one of those things. Maybe one day I’ll play the game. People have told me loads of times about it. When it came out I wasn’t playing games at all. I was just practicing guitar then!
We never limit ourselves – why should we limit ourselves? We try to create the best music possible with whatever you can, so 3 or 4 harmonies we do it. Live is a live show, and when you make an album you make an album. So live we give loads of energy to make up for the missing rhythm guitar or extra third harmony guitar. It’s give and take. You can’t compare the live performance to the album. To approach an album like a live recording doesn’t make sense to me and to say “oh we’re not going to do any more tracks because we’ve only got two guitars”. You know if you do that then technically you shouldn’t put acoustic guitar under the rhythm guitar and all that stuff...
JAK WALL- You're the reason I actually started to play guitar about 19 months ago. This is my question to you. Who was your inspiration when you was 16?
I’m flattered you got inspired by me. Not sure if it’s a good thing or bad thing! What inspired me? It was a friend who played guitar in front of me, someone in school who happened to play the guitar. I hadn’t been to a rock concert back then, I hadn’t seen anyone play guitar live in front of me and seeing that I thought it looked fun and that I’d give it a try. As the years went past the more and more bands and people have inspired me to keep me going. I don’t think you can have one inspiration that last your lifetime musical journey, you always pick up new influences and still love the old stuff but move on and add things to your library of music and knowledge. So always keep finding new music – if you don’t listen to an album for 3 years that doesn’t mean you don’t like it, you just haven’t listened to it for a while… You’re always absorbing things and there’s not enough hours in the day to listen to everything you like.
TY SILL- I want to know where you think you see yourself and/or DragonForce in 5, 10, and 20 years. Do you plan to pursue other ventures, or do you want to make sure that DF is the biggest power metal name ever before you stop your oncoming Rock Machine?
I always think about that you know- what am I gonna do next year? Are we going to carry on with Dragonforce? How long is this gonna go for? I don’t know... I have skills in other areas apart from playing the guitar. Maybe one day I will go into production. Maybe there are other things we might do one day, but right now we are trying to make the best live show possible and to make the next album the best ever album for Dragonforce and have it make a difference in the metal scene. I still think every DF album we pumped out at the time it came out it was relevant to the scene and it was something different than what people were used to hearing. We’re definitely not the typical band you hear everywhere and that’s why we have so many lovers and so many haters.
SIMON TAYLOR- I love you guys, but a lot of my friends won’t listen to you, saying ‘all their songs sound the same’! I try and tell them they don’t but they never listen. Have you ever heard that criticism and how do you answer it?
You know it’s the same statements all the time with the same answers… you know “every song sounds the same” and “you’re rubbish” and “you can’t play live”. Some people don’t get it now and might get it later. Some loved us at the beginning and don’t like us now. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day it’s about the individual – you have to pursue what you want to hear music wise. You don’t have to make your friends listen to it, that doesn’t really matter. They can listen to what they want- it’s a matter of choice. Maybe one day they’ll get it but they probably never will. You can say the same thing for any type of music you don’t know or understand, but obviously it doesn’t all sound the same. It’s just an easy thing for people to say about something they don’t want to listen to.
MARTIN WESTON- Just want to say you are AWESOME!! By far you are one of the best guitarists and in one of the best bands in the world. You have inspired me to play and you pretty much are a god! My question is regarding sweep picking and arpeggios, I want to know what songs or practise exercises I can do to start learning this technique and to progress it.
Start with basic major scales, minor scale arpeggios, the 5 strings are good to start with, and then move down to 3 strings which doesn’t mean they get easier as it all depends on how you play them, and then the 6 string stuff. There’s so much material out on the internet to try, and it takes a lot of time to get it down, and once you’ve got it down you have to keep playing all the time to keep it and keep your fingers in shape. I have to keep practicing but it’s very hard for me to find the time to practice at this time in the band. Good luck with it!
If you want a song to practice to I guess any song with sweep picking from the Valley of the Damned- the first album- because they’re easier than stuff later on in the DF discography.
JOE ECCLES- Do you think you might be making another signature model guitar? How many E-Gen guitars have you broke?
I haven’t actually broken any. Well actually I did but that was my own fault! It was a couple weeks ago when I was doing a guitar clinic in New York. It broke on the first song when I gave it a good knee during the Heroes Of Our Time intro, but that was my fault because I was doing some kind of set up to it and didn’t finish it properly!! I was thinking it would be fine but after I flew to NY and the airline threw the guitar around in the baggage area, when I got to the thing it was knackered and every string went out of the tune when I started the clinic... that was kind of embarrassing... and I had to snap the neck back in. But that hasn’t happened to any other guitars, just that one which was an old prototype.
I don’t know about releasing another E-Gen signature to release. Nothing confirmed that is coming out. I do have a couple different colours at home and I have a new colour one, a platinum blonde, which I really like playing on stage at the moment! You can check it out on DF TV. I think I play it on one of the live episodes of Heroes Of Our Time.
MATT PARTRIDGE- Who is the worst band you have played with in DragonForce??
What am I supposed to do? Don’t we have enough haters already? Do we need to find anymore? Ha ha! We’ve been touring for so many years with so many bands and there have only been a couple people that we never got on with. I can’t really say who, just because who cares??? It’s a personal thing, sometimes you don’t get on with people. We don’t talk about it, we don’t need to hang this stuff out in public. Some bands have said how much they hate us and how much we suck in the press- not in the UK but in other foreign press and people told us about it. We simply don’t care...
JACK MCNICHOL- Any tips on how to go about becoming a big artist / great guitarist such as yourself or Sam?
Times are changing and changing and changing- with the downloading and what’s going on with the internet world, I don’t believe there will be a CD section in a shop in a few years time. Is the CD dead? Is it worth making more albums? What’s going on??? Is it really worth it? I’m sure every artist are asking themselves these questions now. To become a big artist right now you have to release and sell records (otherwise you won’t have a record deal) but the world is changing so I don’t know what things will be like in 5 years. All you can do now is work as hard as you can not just on your musical skills but also how to work with other people and your social skills- learn how to make a good first impression (so many things in life are part of the music business and being able to make it), being good at technology, how to promote yourself... it’s all important. You really need the full package these days. Just being an amazing guitarist isn’t enough.
JENNY GRAHAM- Does it every annoy you how, as a band who seemingly always talk about doing the nasty, you seem to have pretty much an all male audience. Does this ever get frustrating? LOL (although this can work well for us few girl fans!)
Nah! Obviously you girls are happy that there are so many dudes- hopefully hunky dudes at our gigs- but we just like to make jokes on stage and off stage because we like to have a laugh (we can’t be serious all the time). It doesn’t really matter to us. If they like the music, they like the music. Most metal bands really have a higher percentage of male than female in terms of their audiences.