DragonForce Interview about the upcoming shows in Australia
DragonForce are currently on their world tour promoting their new album “Maximum Overload”. The album has been received well by fans and critics alike. Their busy schedule will bring them now to Australia and New Zealand for some headliner shows, a couple of shows supporting Judas Priest and last but not least the upcoming Soundwave Festivals around the country. I had a chance to catch up with Frederic Leclercq. Here is what he had to say.
Marc: You released your new album ‘Maximum Overload’ about six months ago. You are now well and truly into your touring cycle. How does the new material work for you on stage?
Frederic: Good. The crowds’ reactions have been really good. At first you are a bit scared. People come to the shows which means they hopefully have heard the new album and haven’t been bribed or forced to the gig. The reaction was really good. I was really happy to see young kids and girls, more girls than usual, singing the new songs. So it’s been good. I think the songs that we wrote should all work very well on stage. So it’s really been good.
“That’s what drives us, the energy of the crowd and the energy we give back.”
Marc: You are about to do two shows in Indonesia before you will head over to New Zealand and Australia to play a few shows including the Soundwave festival shows. What can your fans expect from your shows over there?
Frederic: Love and happiness. It’s hard to define what we do on stage. We don’t force anything. We are who we are on stage and it just so happens that we enjoy playing music. We try to communicate that joy with the crowd. And the crowd enjoys it as well and send energy back. That is actually a quote I remember from Kirk Hammett who said that in an interview that I read when I was a kid. I didn’t do gigs at that time. He said that the crowd gives them energy and they give the energy back. It’s like a circle. And that is very right. That’s what drives us, the energy of the crowd and the energy we give back. It’s a circle. So it has to work both ways. We expect to have a good crowd. It’s just like a lot of energy, we smile, we move on stage and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. So expect fun.
Marc: You will play a number of different sets in Australia. You will have a few headliner shows, Sidewave shows as support of Judas Priest and the festival shows. How will these sets differ?
Frederic: We try to do half half, new and older material. The festival time is a little shorter although we play 60 minutes at Soundwave. So we’re just gonna try to have a fair share between new songs and old favourites. In the headline shows we will put more new songs and some old favourites that we haven’t played in a long time. That’s what we’re gonna try. Basically the festival shows are just like a smaller version of what we do at the headliner shows.
Marc: What is your touring plan for the rest of 2015?
Frederic: Once were done in Australia we’re gonna fly to South America to do a few shows with Epica. We have played with them in Europe so we’re gonna join them again to play Brazil and Chile. Then we will have a show in Puerto Rico. Then I go home for a week before we do Scandinavia and Russia. Then we will do the Wacken Metal Cruise. After that we’ll do an US tour with Kamelot. Then we’ll do the European summer festivals and then we’re gonna start another tour. It’s not announced yet. That will take us to the beginning of 2016.
“I always write music. I always have music in my head.”
Marc: Do you already start working on new songs when you are on tour? Or are touring and song writing separate phases for you?
Frederic: We actually plan to do that between two sets of tours because usually we tour for a month and then we have two weeks and then we tour for another month and so on. In between one of these tours I am supposed to work on some songs. You know, I have an iPad and GarageBand on it. Every now and then I open it and record small stuff like a keyboard simulation. So I always write music. I always have music in my head. I do that constantly. Then we’re gonna start working on songs this year because we’d like to go to the studio in 2016.
Marc: You are a very mature and experienced band. How does the song writing work for you?
Frederic: It used to be Sam (Totman) writing most of the songs on the first four albums. The first album I recorded with DragonForce was ‘Ultra Beatdown’. I wrote a few parts on my own and I teamed up with the band as well. It was mostly Sam to 80% or 90% and then the other ones were just contributing. On ‘The Power Within’ I wrote a song called ‘Seasons’ which turned out to be the second single. That gave me credibility. They liked the song. People thought it was good. I also started working with Sam on the song that we wrote together. It was a very pleasant experience so we said why don’t we do that on the next album. So for ‘Maximum Overload’ he came to my place and we wrote the album together. Before it was just Sam and now it is Sam and myself writing everything. Then we give it to the guys. They obviously bring in their own take. They have their way of interpreting and playing so they bring their own ideas as well. I personally write more defined. Sam probably gives it a bit more room when it comes to keyboards and so. When I write a song I like to define all this because I play all these instruments. So I have very specific ideas. That’s how we’ve done it on the last album. Maybe it’s gonna change again on the next one but I think we enjoyed it so we might keep it for the next album.
Marc: When one of your albums is released, what do you do on that particular day? Do you have a special routine?
Frederic: I bought my album on iTunes. I guess when the album came out it was like ‘oh, yeah’ it’s coming out today’. I didn’t buy a physical copy because I had the iTunes version because I’m a very modern guy (laughs). Then I guess I started looking on the Internet what people were saying. There were reviews that came out before so when it comes out you have a little shiver and then you move on with your life. I didn’t do anything particular on that day. I don’t even remember when it exactly was.
Marc: Soundwave this year is going to be a 2-day festival. That will give you the chance to play in front of even more fans.
Frederic: Yeah, that’s great. The only downer is that I cannot see some of my friends. Mayhem, especially the singer who I have a band with, will play on the other day. I was just looking forward to partying with him. Turns out they play the next day. That sucks. The Soundwave we played two years ago was just one big day so I could see my friends like Bullet For My Valentine. Anyway, this year there are some people who I won’t be able to see. I’m gutted. I am talking about guys like Mayhem, Papa Roach, Slipknot, all these guys are friends. Maybe we have luck and we can find a way. That’s the downer but it is a great festival and a great line up.
Marc: You play all the instruments that are used in DragonForce. On stage you play bass. How is that for you to play bass in a very guitar-centric band like DragonForce? How do you define you role in the band?
Frederic: I play guitar on the album. For half of the songs I have done rhythm guitar and I have done some leads. That’s how I get my balance because I love playing guitar. I’m probably more a guitar player than a bass player. So I am on the record as guitar player. Live I play bass. It’s demanding and physical as well but it’s not like digging a hole or playing drums. It’s physical but a bit more relaxed. I have less notes to think about and I can concentrate more on my vocals and harmonising with Marc. I do quite a lot stuff on stage that is different to playing guitar. The centre of attention is obviously always gonna be on the two guitar players and the singer. I am just a little in the back, I smile at girls and look happy. It kinda cool. I actually have a good spot.