Although many know this band by their tricky Guitar Hero entries, DragonForce fans have propelled their latest album Ultra Beatdown toward both a Grammy and Top 20 charts around the world. Punknews interviewer Jason Epstein sat down with DragonForce bassist FrÃ©dÃ©ric Leclercq before their show in Poughkeepsie, NY on October 10th to talk about the band's past, present and future.
So, I hear that youâre coming up on the last leg of your Ultra Beatdown touring cycle. Will you guys be taking some time off, or are you going to be writing a new album soon?
First weâre gonna take some time off. We need it because weâve been on tour since July 2008. I mean weâve had some breaks. So right now what Iâm gonna do is just break off - no music, nothing -
-and give your fingers a restâ¦
Yeah, yeah, yeah and then weâre gonna start writing and composing and recording a new album.
Each album is so fast, so complex, so out there in terms of talent and arrangement…for your next album, where do you go from here?
Well, I guess we canât really change the formula, like letâs do a G.G. Allin album (heâs a guy that used to shit onstage). We canât really do that. Weâre always fast but weâre probably gonna try different stuff. For the last album we tried different stuff like trying to bring different tempos - not fast all the time - so weâre gonna carry on doing that kind of thing maybe having a few mid-tempo songs. âCuz we canât just like [metal air guitar motion] all the time, weâre getting old. I think we give the fans a rest as well [when weâre] onstage when we play sort of slow songs so I think we need that kind of stuff.
All right. Letâs be honest here: itâs not often that bands play songs that stretch the limits of their musical abilities to the absolute edgeâ¦you guys can play much faster canât you?
Ahhhh, I donât know. I mean personally Iâm just playing bass and [playing] root notes so I can do better because Iâm a guitar player. I can do better than that but you should ask [our] guitar players the question. Iâm sure the drummer can do it faster, thatâs possible. The singer is not doing fast in terms ofâ¦
Yeah, yeah higher maybeâ¦well, ah, no, I donât knowâ¦ Iâm sure we could do faster. Maybe we should actually on the next album just have one song thatâs actually faster.
Maybe thatâs where you go from here.
Yeah maybe, I donât know, weâll see.
Typically, how long does it take the band to write and then record an album?
Writing depends. I mean if you got the idea it can be very fast and it just comes. Sometimes itâs like okay I have the chorus and the pre-chorus but I donât have the verse or I donât have the solo part so it depends. As for recording it just takes time because usually what we do is we record a rough version, then we record it properly, then we try and the add some stuff and then we realize okay we donât like that part and we have to go back and start again.
So, letâs say on average?
Ah, you want precise. For one song, honestly I have no idea because we would work on that song and then go back to another one and then come back. I donât know. Between three days and a month.
DragonForce is made up of musicians from all over the world…stop me if I'm wrong…England, New Zealand, South Africaâ¦how did you all originally get together being that far away from each other.
Gay chat. [Laughter] No, they all live in Londonâ¦Iâm still living in France. London is a big city, so youâve got people from different countries. It just happened. It wasnât pre-planned like we have to have someone from Ukraine and we have to have someone from France because we already have someone from South Africa. It just ended up being very funny because weâre all from different countries. Thatâs just the way it is in Europe.
What bands are you hoping to tour with in the future?
Just, you know, anyone thatâs cool [drum warm-up in the background interrupting the interview] well not them, theyâre gonna get fired. [Laughter] Iâd like to tour with big bands. Iâd love to tour with Alice Cooper before he dies and Iâd love to tour with Metallica, Maiden. [Iâd really just] like to tour with bands [made up of] good people. I just want to tour with good people [and] have fun.
How do you decide what to include on your set list each night?
Well, we have a defined set list that we play. In the beginning we just say okay maybe that should go there and blah, blah, blah, but once itâs all defined we just stick to that. Once weâre [past] the third or fourth show we know what weâre gonna play.
So you experiment a little bit at first?
Yeah, we had a warm-up gig in Sacramento and we tried some stuff and we were just like okay, never again.
What's your least favorite interview question of all time?
Probably "Can you play your own song on guitar hero?"
I think someone told me to ask you that and I saidâ¦ehhhâ¦donât feel like asking that.
I mean itâs funny, but yeah I donât like it.
Yeah after the hundredth timeâ¦
Yeah, you go ahhhh, yeahhhhhâ¦fuck you.