Guitarist Herman Li of DragonForce

Spread the metal:

An interview with Herman Li of DragonForce

Interviewed by Metalette


World-famous British metalers DragonForce are releasing their 6th album, titled “Maximum Overload”! Creating this album allowed the band to push themselves to new limits and evolve in their sound, while still retaining the essence of what the band has always been all about. I had the chance to ask some questions of DragonForce guitarist Herman Li, a founding member of the band.

What inspired the lyrical and musical themes of “Maximum Overload”?

Everything we hear and happening around can somehow influence us. Maximum Overload of course describe our music and over the top style. Continuing with our constant evolution of the band, this is again an even more diverse album than our previous. We have all kinds of theme lyric wise, from epic fantasy to current events.

DragonForce - Maximum Overload
DragonForce – Maximum Overload

Were there any challenges or road-bumps in the writing and recording process, especially with your goal of an evolved sound?

There are always challenges, if not then it would be boring and we are not doing anything to get better at what we do. It was the first time working with a producer, Jens Bogren and it forced us out of our comfort zone. Overall, the recording process of this album has been really good and everyone have learn a lot from the experience.

What’s your favorite song on the new album and what makes it stand out to you?

I never really had a favourite song on any album we’ve made. I know everyone loves making me pick one, so today I pick Symphony of the Night. It’s a really melodic song, tempo is a bit slower than we are used to. I love the classical and haunting elements of this song. It’s not something to have done in the past. Of course, the guitar solos are awesome too haha.

And what new song are you most excited to play live?

I am happy to play any of the new songs, I find them to all be equally good, including the bonus tracks of the Special deluxe edition of the album. Right now, I have a lot of new songs to practice and many notes to remember! ‘The Game’ will definitely be a challenge, it’s super fast, heavy but equally fun to play.


Who are some of your greatest guitar influences?

Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Tony MacAlpine, Marty Friedman, George Lynch, John Petrucci, to name just a few.

What led you guys to decide on doing a cover of “Ring of Fire”? What was the process like of turning it into a DragonForce-style song?

We were thinking about doing a cover song because we’ve never done one before. The idea was that the song had to end up sounding like a DragonForce song because we find it pointless to just play the song sounding like the original. Sam was watching TV one day and Ring of Fire happened to be on TV and that’s how that came about. It actually only took him 5 minutes to arrange it into an epic DragonForce sounding song. It’s crazy how everyone is talking about it now!

Who did you grow up listening to? And who have you been listening to more recently?

I still love all the music I was listening to as well as new stuff. Apart from Vai, Satriani whom I’ve been listening to since growing up. I was also into Metallica, Megadeth, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Harem Scarem, lots of hard rock, melodic rock stuff. I listen to loads of music. Recently, I’ve been listening to Babymetal, Marty Friedman’s Inferno, H.E.A.T Tearing down the Walls, Place Vendome. I just finished listening to Roland Grapow – Kaleidoscope album.

What got you into metal in particular?

From Bon Jovi and Europe. First time I heard those bands I loved the guitar solos. I remember hearing Europe – The Final Countdown, Bon Jovi Living on a Prayer, while I was in France. I loved the guitar solos even though I didn’t know what it was at the time. Later on I got into the metal stuff. Megadeth Rust in Peace was another album which blew my mind!

What is one album that you can always listen to in its entirety?

There are plenty of them and I usually only listen to albums in entirety. I hate skipping songs! Dream Theater – Images and Words, no one can argue with that!

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After 15 years and 6 albums, you’ve certainly been through a lot in your musical journey. If you could visit yourself in 1999, what would you say to him?

Nothing haha, I wouldn’t want to change anything and cause a butterfly effect to the timeline of my life. Maybe I wouldn’t exist now if I decide to alter the past.


DragonForce is:
Herman Li – Guitar, backing vocals
Sam Totman – Guitar, backing vocals
Frédéric Leclercq – Bass, backing vocals
Vadim Pruzhanov – Keyboards, backing vocals
Marc Hudson – Lead vocals
Gee Anzalone – Drums, backing vocals

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