Frédéric, how did you actually turn into the main songwriter for DragonForce on this album?
When I joined the band as bassist in 2005, it was obvious the musical vehicle of Herman and Sam. Vocalist ZP Theart also had a strong following. I started to contribute some snippets on the ‘The Power Within’ album, but it was only since previous album ‘Maximum Overload’ that I really contributed, in cooperation with Sam, and got a bigger deal in the writing process.
How would you look back at this writing process?
Initially we did as usual. Sam came over to my place in France where he stayed for a while and we exchanged ideas. It was a coincidence that he did not have many ideas this time. I can understand that after being main songwriter for so many years of DragonForce. But I cannot just rest at my laurels. I have to keep busy. I have this urge inside that needs to get out and be creative. I want to express myself in music and lyrics. I had a boost of inspiration and when Sam just kept on hesitating and losing time, we finally decided that we were going to record my ideas. Nine out of eleven songs on this album are written by me.
Quite a lot indeed. Can we still speak of a coherent band? Also the fact that you are spread all over the globe does not give the impression of a close friends collective…
We are closer than you would think. These days we constantly keep in contact by modern media, also when composing. We have never been the kind of band that comes together in a rehearsal room to jam. It has always been the brainchild of individuals, while the band presented itself as a unit on stage. You might have a romantic vision of a band, drinking together and acting like blood brothers, but in reality things are different when you want to make a living of it. It is a good oiled machine that needs to be managed, otherwise we cannot spare a dime and our success would decrease and fall apart.
For the second time you worked with producer Jens Bogren. What is so special about him?
We owe a lot to him. One might call him an outsider who’s doing business with numerous bands, yet he treats you in a very friendly, debonair way. He really gave us the feeling that he is 24 hours a day available for all our thoughts and questions. That is a feeling I never experienced before with other producers. Our new drummer (Italian Gee Anzalone – Vera) also got along with him very well from the very first moment. These things make the recording session a wonderful experience and we are really satisfied about his mix and mastering. We have amazing memories on the whole experience.
What leaps to the eye is more diversity in vocals, even grunts in some songs…
That’s true. We kind of did that before, but usually I do the harsh vocals in a live situation. This time Marc Hudson did all the harsh vocals and he comes away with it pretty well. We all try to expand our skillfulness album after album. It still continues in the right direction.
The song ‘WAR!’ is very brutal, even more thrash…
Indeed and I like that. This song I have written after going to a festival near my hometown, Charleville-Mézières near to the Belgian border by the way – with brutal bands for the greater part. I was full of energy when I came home and it had to get out (laughs).
The highlight for me is the lengthy epic ‘The Edge Of The World’. Any thoughts about this one?
Oh yeah, that’s my favourite too. We never planned to make it so long, but it just turned out that way. I agree that it is a mix of influences. You have that Iron Maidenesque start, then it goes into Black Sabbath and Dio grandness and then it slows down, gets calmer with acoustic guitars. Next is a David Gilmour alike solo and I played it. Jesus, this was difficult for me, but I think I managed to do it in a proper way. I play all the acoustic guitars on the album and some solos are also my work. This was a challenge I really liked and in this case I am proud, because Pink Floyd is one of my favourite bands. Next in the song we hear those growls from Marc, really cool. While the instrumentation at that moment made me think of Benediction, thus death metal. Then we return to neo-classical heavy metal solos and clean chants. In despite of all these different influences, I hope that the fans will consider it a coherent song. At least that is what we tried to make of it.
I guess you will hit the road with the new material pretty soon?
Indeed, worldwide. Late April we will start in the Philippines, then follows China, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and New Zeeland. In July we will tour North America, while the UK tour is planned for October. Later we will come over to Europe, but in the meantime we will shoot two video clips from the new album as well. We will keep busy, that’s for sure.