Notes: INterview done by the Reverend Of Metal Ages
I had the pleasure of chatting with Herman "Shred" Li (the insane axeman!) so this will let you learn a little more about Dragonheart right from the source!
(This chat was done via ICQ thanks to my bud "pollution" who hooked me up. Thank you Aki!)
Reverend: Ahhh the Shred man himself :) Nice to meet you!
Shred: Hey Dude how is it going? :)
Reverend: Doing good. I just finished listening to your all's tunes, good stuff! I was glad to see you are offering them as free downloads on your web site. I think that will prove to be a good thing to do and people will buy 'em.
Shred: Well it's only a DEMO .. so .. we are looking for a deal.
Reverend: Well it's a darn good demo! ha ha. Sound and quality rivals a lot of studio albums out there I have heard.
Shred: Yeah we only spent 6 days recording it and 1 day mixing but everyone in the band had previous studio experience. Me and Sam, the other guitarist, been playing together for some time and recorded an album as well.
Reverend: Yeah, I saw that on your web site.
Shred: So which 2 do you like most out of the 5 (from the demo)?
Reverend: I probably like Valley of the Damned and Disciples of Babylon most.
Shred: Yeah that's what everyone says! ha ha, cool!
Reverend: I like Valley for it's epic Sounding chorus. Very big and powerful, big on the Euro Metal feel. I like the groove on the Disciples tune, the whole rhythm section is killer!
Shred: We are working on a full length album now. We have 7 more songs .. see if any label wanna sign us before :) he he he. We should be going on tour of Europe in November...England, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium.
Reverend: Killer! How do you line up a tour before you even have an album out? Are you just lining it up on your own or have you worked out an opening slot with another band?
Shred: Well, these 2 bands.... one called ShadowKeep have a CD coming out on LMP (Limb Music Publishing, same label as Rhapsody, Angra) and one called Intense are doing the tour as double headline. I know both of them personally, they asked us to open for them he he.
Reverend: Ahhhh, yeah, I am familiar with Shadowkeep. I bought their 6 song EP off of mp3.com. Excellent music! I was actually gonna ask you if you were familiar with them or even knew them because I noticed that you both had your demo recorded with the help of Karl Groom from Threshold.
Shred: Karl Groom & Clive Nolan are top dudes, they really nice people, they really helped us a lot. I can see they like to help musicians make it. Clive, amazing keyboard solo on Disciples of Babylon!!!
Reverend: Very cool! How did you all hook up with Karl?
Shred: We were looking for a studio to record, I meet Rogue of ShadowKeep at a Threshold gig he he. Anyways, years later I asked Rogue where he recorded the ShadowKeep Cd and he told me down at the Threshold/Arena dudes' studio. I called them up, sounded cool and this is what we got out of it! Excellent. I believe in metal. Everyone should help each other otherwise the commercial pop/techno stuff will wipe us out! I tell you who else is cool, Jorg Michael from Stratovarius, totally cool dude! :) Actually everyone from Stratovarius, Rhapsody, Sonata Arctica are cool, when I met them on the tour. Jorg is crazy....
Reverend: How do you know the guys from those bands? Just from being out on the road or are you from around where they live?
Shred: I dunno, everyone kinda knows each other. I knew them due to wearing a Blind Guardian, Dream Theater t-shirt when I go out, ha ha ha. I love chatting about music, guitar, band and all that, non stop, so quite a lot of people know me around London in the metal scene.
(at this time we both had other things to do so the conversation was continued the next day)
Reverend: So who did your logo?
Shred: Jean Pascal Fournier. He's done the latest Edguy cover for Savage Poetry. He is amazing and also a good friend of us.
Reverend: You know, I could EASILY see you all on a label like Noise, Century Media or Nuclear Blast.
Shred: Well we haven't sent the CD's out yet, still waiting for the cover and pictures to arrive. The only promotion so far has been on the Internet. It's very hard to say or decide until we send some CD's out. We are basically looking for a European label who likes our music and not just money, cause Metal is in the blood dude, you live with it.
Reverend: What do you do for a living besides music, anything? What about your other Dragonheart band members?
Shred: Well, right now I work in computers during the day. We all have a day job, everything is so expensive in London can't do without one. But you can call me a full time musician because outside of work (and during work he he) I am involved in music all the time, just that I don't get paid! I would love to be able to do it as a living, well, who wouldn't?
Reverend: Yeah no doubt about that! Seems like a lot of Metalheads are getting more and more into the "computer geek" jobs! ha ha.
How did you all select the name Dragonheart? From the Movie?
Shred: Nah, just thought of it like that. I am born in the Chinese year of the dragon, so well, why not? :-) Seriously, I didn't even know that was a film. I don't really follow what's going on in movies. I spend most of my time in music and computers. Everyone asked me did I like the film and I was like "huh what"? then they told me "blah, blah there is this film called this, you ripped it off" he he.
Reverend: Were you born in the China area or no?
Shred: Born in Hong Kong. I didn't discover Metal until I moved out of there.
Reverend: How in the world you go from there to London of all places! For a job?
Shred: Well I'm actually French & British Nationality. I speak French, Cantonese, English of course.....been in French, English, Chinese school he he, long story. My parents moved to London to work so I am still here now! Maybe that's why we play Euro Metal he he.
Reverend: Ha ha ha that's wild! How did you hook up with the other members?
Shred: Z.P. (singer) from an ad in a rehearsal studio. Steve our bass player from a club because he had a Dream Theater shirt on so I talked to him a bit, about Symphony X, Rhapsody. It's very rare you meet someone into Power Metal/Prog Metal in London. Pete (drummer) called us from an ad we put up in Terrorizer Magazine. Sam of course we have been playing in another band for over two years.
Reverend: You ever thought of trying to get an Ibanez Endorsement?
Shred: I would love to get an Ibanez endorsement. In Disciples of Babylon I actually use a 7 string on it. I want to get a Ibanez S540 soon. My friend, Igor Belsky, got an endorsement deal with them. Maybe I am gonna send the Ibanez UK distributor the new Dragonheart :-) Who knows! he he
Reverend: I can easily see you getting one man. I'm not just blowing smoke at ya. You got nice chops but you have style too. The solo on Valley of the Damned is insane! How did you get that way high part? You pulling the string off the fret board?
Shred: Using a whammy pedal for the crazy high stuff. Not many guitarists use it cause it's quite difficult to get the right pitch during play while making the solo meaningful and melodic at the same time. I want it to be part of my tone.
Reverend: Ahhhh ...was awesome! You sit there listening to it and just say "DAMN" ha ha!
Shred: Thanks a lot dude :)
Reverend: So what are some of your current "fav" listening bands?
Shred: Hmm..... Symphony X - V, DragonHeart hehehe, Vision Divine, Majestic, Secret Sphere, Labyrinth - Return to Heaven Denied
Reverend: Damn you are close to mine! Mine is probably: Dragonheart (hahaha), Majestic, Secret Sphere, Heavenly, Symphony X - V, Lana Lane - Secrets of Astrology, Ayreon - Flight of the Migrator
Shred: Good choice ha ha ha ha!
Reverend: No doubt! I see you frequent the Internet for your tunes as well.
Shred: All the CD's I buy are after mp3's.....Labyrinth, Vision Divine, etc. Waiting for the new Symphony X to come out! I want the new Labyrinth!!!! Ah!!!
Reverend: How old are you by the way? Married?
Shred: 23 single! he he
Reverend: How long you been into metal?
Shred: Hmm.... I would say from 1988, age 11, when I first heard Bon Jovi and Europe. I didn't start guitar until I was 16yrs old though. I practice quite a bit for 3 years ....these days not much, you know, work and stuff and promoting the band! AH!
Reverend: Well once word of mouth spreads things should go good for ya on that part. Just a matter of sparking the fire like you are now and letting it roll! Are any of the other dudes Net heads like you?
Shred: Our bass player sell Apple comps, the rest, no. I'm the big Linux nerd :) I listen to music constantly, pretty much the life style now, so even if I am not playing my brain is taking ideas in. Even when I sleep metal is playing. I played in bands since started guitar day 1 ..... playing from thrash, death, rock and now power metal :)
Reverend: Well Metal is glad to have you in whatever genre bro! I can't wait to hear a full blown metal release from you guys and wish you the best of luck. All the response from the MetalAges listener base and the "inside circle" comments show that you shall have no problem getting your name out there. Any parting words for the metal fans out there?
Shred: Well, I want to thank all the metallers out there for keeping the true metal alive! It's been kinda of a surprise how we have such a great following already with only 5 songs out on the internet for less than 1 week. I am really happy of the amount of positive feedback from everyone around the world. I hope to see all of you in the upcoming tour, Who knows? We might even be signed before the shows in November! Thanks a lot for the interview dude, highly appreciated we have to meet up for some drinks sometime! Metal is for life!
Time for the "3 Stupid Questions" to close the interview!
1) What was the last thing you were doing before you read this question and being on the Internet today.
Shred: Sleeping and listening to Symphony X - V YEAH!
2) If you could be a piece of food, what would it be and why?
Shred: A sweet tasty lollipop which last for ages.., only if a sexy rock chick gonna be having it though :-)
3) What is the most guilty thing you don't want people knowing about you that you are willing to reveal right now!?
Shred: How many people you think gonna read this interview? ...Ok I was really drunk backstage with Sam at the Stratovarius/Rhapsody/Sonata Arctica show in Lille France. I was pretending to be sober, but I was basically talking full of shit embarrassing myself, out of it! Than again, Jens and Jorg were as pissed I bet!