Latest release: The Power Within (3Wise/Sony)
Band site: www.dragonforce.com
Loud previously spoke to DragonForce last year following the release of The Power Within, the first album from the English power metallers to feature Marc Hudson on lead vocals. Since then, the band have been announced as being part of the massive Soundwave 2013 bill, as well as playing select side shows with The Sword. Drummer/backing vocalist Dave Mackintosh gave us the latest in an entertaining chat.
Q: So, what’s new in the DragonForce camp?
A: Yeah, we’re good. We’re gearing up obviously for the Australian leg and it’s only short, but it’s gonna be sweet, I’m sure. We’re really looking forward to it. We missed out on the last time of course, and it’s about time that we got back there, because it’s been quite a while for us.
Q: It has been a few years since your last visit. How has your live show evolved since then – have you become a tighter or heavier outfit in that environment in recent times?
A: Yeah, we’ve definitely got a lot tighter. We spent a lot of time… I mean, obviously you tend to get better as you’re playing a lot anyway. But we made a conscious effort to rehearse a hell of a lot more. And I’m not just talking about once extra a week; we were doing six weeks of rehearsals before we were even going out on each leg. So we’ve definitely got better and hopefully it shows. Well, you’ll see in a couple of weeks.
Q: On the topic of Soundwave, who are you keen to catch at the festival?
A: I suppose Anthrax is on, so I want to go and see them. They’re awesome, and I’m pretty old, so I love Anthrax’s early years. Of course Metallica too, but I want to see some of the new bands as well. A lot of them I’ve never heard of, but I was just talking to another chap and he’s recommended a couple of bands that I should have a look at. I’m just going to keep an open mind and go have a look and a listen. I’ve spent so long just listening to the same bands for like 20 years or so, I’ve kinda lost touch to be honest with you. I’ve got my comfort zone with my favourites, so really, I guess Soundwave is going to be a good place for me to discover some new bands and listen to their albums, rather than waiting for my favourite band to bring out their next album in however many months of years’ time. As I said, I’m just going to have an open mind, have a listen, see which bands I like, and then go buy one of their albums. In the last six years or so I’ve spent so much time touring. So now we’ve got a bit of time, and we’re doing all the festival stuff this year, I’m going to get to see some new bands. So hopefully I’ll pick up some brand new bands.
Q: What’s your “typical” day like at a festival – do you like to catch a lot of other acts, or would you rather have a few drinks and go from there?
A: Well, festivals are very different from a normal tour. Festivals for us are almost like a holiday I guess. When you’re playing kind of every night on a normal tour, you just get into the flow of things. But with festivals, the whole feel of it is just different. It’s completely different. I for one will definitely be on the booze, have a look at different bands, and just have a laugh. I’ve got quite a few friends in Oz as well, so I’m really looking forward to hanging out with them. Just watching bands and drinking beer, basically. Oh, and I guess play as well (laughs).
Q: (Laughs) DragonForce have a reputation for partying hard. Do you feel that’s been somewhat blown out of proportion or had too much focus placed on it by the media?
A: Well, a bit of everything really. We like a drink, but certainly earlier on in we used to drink a lot. But when you get to a certain point you’ve got to actually think that you can’t let it alter your stage act anymore and your musicianship. So we pretty much don’t do it before we go on-stage. Sam (Totman, guitars) will have a few beers and we’ll have a few beers on-stage for sure. But we keep an eye on the musicianship more than anything these days. Once we’re off though, that’s it, the gloves are off, you know? (laughs)
Q: I’ve read many features about the band in the past and the topic seemed to get plenty of ink. Have you ever resented the emphasis the media did place on such antics though, or felt it overshadowed people talking about the music?
A: Not really, it’s all a part of it. I mean, I’d hate to be in a band that was sober, in a band that didn’t drink, because it’s metal for fuck’s sake (laughs). That’s what it’s about. It’s great being accomplished musicians and all that, but I’ve seen some bands play absolutely perfectly. Like bands I love, I’ve watched them and they’ve played perfectly on the night, but God, you’re just yawning, you know? (laughs) There’s no human element involved. I like to see people having a couple of beers here and there; there’s nothing wrong with it. Okay, we got known for it a bit, but it wasn’t always, people weren’t saying, ‘oh, DragonForce are just pissheads’ sort of thing. I mean, a few people did (laughs), but, you know.
Q: What’s your favourite Australian beer?
A: Not Foster’s (laughs). I can’t remember really. It’s been so long, it’s been like five years I think since we’ve been over there, so I can’t remember what we were drinking over there. In fact, I don’t usually order by name; I just order by beer, you know? (laughs) Wherever we are at the time, we get the local beer or whatever the guy suggests. But yeah, Foster’s, even at home, of the three main lagers that are sold here I think I’d do Carlsberg and Carling first. I don’t hate Foster’s; it’s just not to my taste really.
Q: To be honest, one of the very few times I’ve ever had a Foster’s was in a London pub.
A: Well, there you go (laughs).
Q: Indeed. Now, the Soundwave tour will be Australian fans’ introduction to Marc as a live performer. How has he slotted into the band?
A: Yeah, he’s been with us for a couple of years now. Obviously, his first show… Well we actually did three tiny warm-up shows in Europe. But his first main show with us was supporting Iron Maiden. So he was like a rabbit in the headlights there. He’s gone from doing pub gigs in England and a year later he was playing to an arena of, I don’t know how many people were there (laughs), but it was getting on to the 20,000 mark. But he coped really well and from then on he’s just got better and better. He’s developed his stage moves now and he just gets better each time. And he seems to be coping with the touring in general; he’s taken it in his stride. Some people find it hard and some people miss home. We all miss home and all that, but it hits some people really hard. With Marc, he’s kinda 50/50; he just takes it as it comes. Enjoys the moment and really enjoys going home as well. So I think he’s cracked it this year.
Q: I spoke to Herman (Li, guitars) last year and he felt Marc exhibited quite a different stage presence to (former vocalist) ZP (Theart). Have you also noticed that?
A: Absolutely, yeah. The thing with Marc is he’s a true Englishman. We’ve had to say to him, ‘you’ve gotta be a bit harder and a bit more forceful’, and generally sort of helped him along as much as we could. He is very different from his predecessor, but he’s brought his own character to it and I think he’s got a lot more tricks up his sleeve to come. So I’m looking forward to it.
Q: Have you begun writing with him for the next album yet?
A: Yeah, absolutely. For the next one it’s gonna be, just everyone’s in the pot basically. So it’s gonna be a very different album when it comes out. That’s as much as I can say for the moment.
Q: But it’ll sound like DragonForce (laughs).
A: Maybe, maybe, yeah (laughs). I don’t think we could get away from that, even if we tried. Even if we were playing jazz I think you’d probably spot it was one of us at least (laughs).
Q: Any famous last words?
A: Yeah, don’t eat the yellow snow (laughs).
DragonForce plays the sold out Soundwave Festival in February and March.
You can also catch them with The Sword on the following dates-
25/2- Billboard, Melbourne- Over 18s only- Tickets from Moshtix, Ticketek and the venue
28/2- The Metro, Sydney- Licensed All Ages- Tickets from Ticketek