UK-based DragonForce is a band that has seen an ebb and flow of popularity wax and wane many times over the last decade and a half, while maintaining a staying power in the industry that most bands could only wish for. Wherever your allegiance may lie at this moment, it’s hard to deny the impact they’ve had, not only on the style of music, but also a generation of aspiring musicians who took to this same style. Furthermore, this is a band that hasn’t stopped producing music in all that time, creating an extensive catalog of memorable music. With no signs of slowing down, DragonForce look to release their seventh full-length album (third with new vocalist Marc Hudson), Reaching Into infinity, this May. Fortunately, bassist Frédéric Leclercq took some time from the bands current tour to answer a few questions about the new record and more below.
ItDjents: With the new album on its way in just a short few months, how did the process of writing and recording differ this time around in comparison to your previous albums?
Frédéric Leclercq: Well, we first wanted to do what we did on Maximum Overload, which was, write everything together Sam and I. It worked well and people liked it too so we thought we should do the same…except it didn’t really happen. Sam came to my place in France, I had a few songs started and I wanted to finish them alone and he felt the same and while it took him time to finish his songs I piled up ¾ of the album on my own. I guess Sam wrote almost everything since the first album until Maximum so for him its getting harder to not repeat himself. As for recording and production, we worked again with Jens Bogren because we really like what he did on the previous album, I personally really like working with him, I trust his judgement and we are on the same page most of the time regarding arrangements and sound – which is why I also worked with Jens for Sinsaenum.
ID: Was there a specific idea or approach taken when entering the studio for your seventh album, and where do you draw inspiration from this far into your careers?
FL: Nothing really specific, I can only speak for myself here, but I know I tried to recreate somehow the first feelings I got when I discovered heavy metal music. I can sit with you and point out parts of the album that make me feel like when I discovered “Fear of the Dark”, or “King for a Day”. The idea was not to “copy” any specific riff or melody, but once I was getting close to a “vibe”, I really went for it, it was for me a way to really be “honest” about it. I don’t know if it makes sense to you but it does to me, haha.
ID: What are some of the challenges you face when beginning a new album, and how do you work to move past them?
FL: The challenge is: are we able to write something good?! I gave a lot of myself for Maximum Overload, even more for Sinsaenum, and I had to start working on a new Dragonforce, so I feared lack of inspiration but it ended up being quite the opposite. I was actually surprise how easy it was to come up with riffs and melodies, which made me go “wait a minute, is it really that good?” you know? Haha, but yeah I’m happy with the result – I hope people will be, too.
ID: Do you ever go back to listen to your earlier works, and how would you say your style has changed and progressed over the years?
FL: Mmm…yeah, sometimes, I like to dig through old hard drives and listen to stuff…Its hard to say how my song writing style changed, if it progressed or if it got worse. When I was younger I had tooooons of ideas, but I guess I was just discovering how to record music and I was playing around with new toys and making a lot of silly songs/most of the stuff I find on those hard drives are 2min long at the most so I don’t know, I guess now its different because music is still a passion BUT also work so I HAVE to write songs sometimes as opposed to just write when you feel like it.
ID: Speed and technique have been a hallmark of your music since the beginning. What would you say is the most difficult piece to play that you’ve created, and why?
FL: In Dragonforce, whats really challenging is the stamina I guess. Its fast and even if the bass was mostly root notes, they have to be played, well, yeah, fast, and I know my right wrist and arm are sometimes sore. I think the most difficult to play will probably be off the new album, “Edge of the World”, because its slow and it’s a different vibe that what we usually do. “Curse of Darkness” has a lot of changes.
ID: In a similar vein, what is the piece or song that you enjoy playing the most, even after all these years?
FL: I really like playing “Fields of Despair”. That song always got me. Its easy to play, but catchy. I think that’s the one I really enjoy playing after almost 12 years in the band (12 years!!).
ID: What style of music or specific bands do your personally enjoy, and has listening to them impacted the music you create in any way?
FL: These days I’m more into non-metal stuff, but when I first discovered metal, I was all about Maiden, Metallica, and Mötley Crüe, those were my favorite..then Alice Cooper (when Hey Stoopid came out, I bought the tape, and listened to it sooo much that it was damaged and the sound was disappearing-which is why I never really liked tapes), and then I discovered Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer…and then Morbid Angel, Pestilence,.. all these bands and a lot more, the list goes on, Annihilator, Queensryche, Kiss, Europe, Judas Priest… whatever I’ve been or am listening to, has an impact on my way of playing and creating music.
ID: What is most memorable interaction you’ve had with a fan?
FL: I’ve been staring at these questions for about 20 minutes and cant think of anything. I’m sure there are tons of stories but right now at this very moment..nothing. haha, sorry!
ID: Is there anything that you hope to achieve or strive for in bands future, such as playing a headlining at specific venue or reaching a certain amount of albums?
FL: I just wanna carry on writing music and playing shows and touring the world. Of course being as big as, I don’t know, Metallica or Maiden, that’s a dream, but I’m really happy at our level. Its comfortable, and I feel I’ve achieved a lot, I could die tomorrow and be happy!
ID: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing with your life?
FL: A chef? I love cooking. I don’t know, it would have to be something I enjoy. Life is too short to be spent doing something boring and unpleasant. So if not music, then food, or video games, or sex 😉
ID: One last question here today, if you could give any advice to your younger selves as you started recording your first album, what would you say?
FL: I wouldn’t. People have to learn from their mistakes… the first thing I recorded wasn’t great, but I was super happy anyway. So I wouldn’t change a thing.
A special thank you to Frédéric Leclercq for taking the time to answer these questions. DragonForce‘s new album, Reaching into Infinity, will be released May 19th through Metal Blade Records. To learn more about the album and keep up to date on all things from the band, check out their website and follow them on Facebook. For more on Frédéric Leclercq, you can follow his Twitter, or check out his other band, Sinsaenum.