The BIG Über Rock Interview – Marc Hudson (DragonForce) Print
Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Saturday, 21 October 2017 04:20

London and its environs has given up more than a few acts to be proud of - David Bowie, King Crimson, Rolling Stones, through Yes, Iron Maiden, The Damned and more. DragonForce themselves have been around for more than a few years, having currently clocked up 18 years. Although probably best known for “that Guitar Hero song”, they have an array of other great songs, from their seven full releases. I was lucky enough to have a catch up with Marc Hudson, vocalist since 2011, just after sound check for their recent Manchester date...


We started by reflecting on the band’s longevity, and the fact that its foundations had been laid 18 years ago…




MH: A bit before I joined! '99 I think it was, yeah


UR: Having been around for that long, but still gigging pretty much every year still?


MH: Pretty much, yeah. When we release an album, we do a whole world tour and stuff, and then some festivals for the following year. Yeah, we're always on the road, unless we're actually recording.


UR: Do you think that's impacted on the amount you've been able to record then?


MH: Erm, sometimes, yeah. The last album, actually, we were recording while we were doing shows, and some festivals, so we were out at the weekend, coming back, recording, blah blah blah, so definitely, it has influenced it, yeah.


UR: A lot of the songs have not just the fantasy references, but also computer games - do you think that has been an influence from the beginning for Herman, Sam and the others?


MH: Video games music has definitely influcned some of the riffs that have gone into the songs, it's the way they've been played. Some of the demos that I've heard previously, they didn't have the names of the actual songs on them, but they were named after the games that they were inspired by. This was a while ago. Having said that, lyrically, actually and musically, on the last album. On this album, there's a song called 'Curse of Darkness', and on the last one was 'Symphony of the Night', which are both based on Castlevania games, so they had that kind of neo-classical Japanese feeling to them, so that's the main video game influence recently.


UR: I know you've not been with the band from the beginning, as you said, but with the power metal themes, with fantasy lyrics still similar to before you were in the band, do you feel the same influences are still there, with the likes of yourself now contributing?


MH: Yeah, I mean, it's still Sam (Totman, guitarist since band's inception) who does the bulk of the writing, so everything before is still in the same kind of vein as back on ‘Valley of the Damned’. I try and contribute to the lyrics, and make them a tiny bit more - meaningful, maybe? - here and there, but we obviously don't go too far away from the power metal subjects that people actually want to hear.


UR: Was the “Guitar Hero song” the first time you heard of DragonForce, before joining?




MH: No, I'd heard them from the ‘Sonic Firestorm’ album, actually. I remember, I went to band practice when I was a student, I was playing guitar and singing, and the bass player just turned up with ‘Sonic Firestorm’ playing in his car. I was like, “what is this shit?” and just got into it from there. Then we started playing more like them and next thing you know here I am!


UR: Had you been in a few bands beforehand then?


MH: Yeah, but not in bands that were noteworthy, to be honest. You know, just pub bands and stuff that never took off, that I tried to start myself.


UR: The line-up has been fairly settled since the early 2000s, with only yourself and Gee Anzalone joining after 2006. Do you think this helps when you're playing live, because you know your parts so well already?


MH: Yeah, in the view of a fan of the band before, and you've listened to everything, then it helps that you're familiar with the material. Also, being new and having the drummer (Gee Anzalone) as the newest member of the band, the band has gelled together quite a lot since I've been in it. A change of dynamic. It's a nicer atmosphere now, I think, than it was with the previous line up.


UR: So with you touring so often, that's going to have an impact on your personal life as well, isn't it?


MH: In some ways it's good, in other ways it's bad. It's harder to maintain some things that it's easier to maintain with another job, like relationships and stuff like that, and if you want to do any of your own side projects, often touring and stuff gets in the way of that, so it does become a bit of a job, at the end of the day. I am doing Dragonforce stuff now, at the end of the day, and that's it. But that said, sometimes we come back, and we will be home for months, in which case, you can get back into the swing of things and have some kind of normal life for a while.


UR: Your tour this year I believe is around seven months?


MH: That's right.


UR: It started around mid-April, then ends in a month or so time in St Petersburg, Russia. Do you find it hard being away from home that long?




MH: Kind of. I've got used to it now, but it's always a bit weird, especially being a singer as well, it's a bit of a pain. You have to take care of your voice and in seven months, you're definitely going to get sick at some point. It just happens. Especially if you share a bus with 12 dudes and it's winter, someone's gonna get ill, pass it on to you, then you're screwed. That in a way is pretty tough. I'd say being on the road's not that uncomfortable though, to be honest.


UR: You have Power Quest touring with you at the moment - had you heard of those guys before hand?


MH: Yeah, I had. Sam actually used to play guitar for them, so there is that kind of link between the two bands. I'm also friends with Alessio, the original singer, and now Ashley, who is fronting them on this tour. I got into them during the Magic Never Dies album, so yeah, they're really cool. Every show they've played so far, they've played awesomely, so I've been checking them out every night, but they're a really good power metal band, yeah.


UR: Is there any song in particular we should listen out for from them?


MH: I'm a fan of the older stuff, because they have that nostalgia thing, though some of the new stuff they've been playing recently has been catching my ear whenever I've heard it, when I've been waiting to go on stage and such. They've got a new album coming out, and they're playing some new songs off it, one called ‘Kings And Glory’, and another called ‘Face The Raven’. 


UR: What would you say is the biggest gig you've played so far with DragonForce?


MH: The biggest gig we did was last year, in Poland. It's called, 'Woodstock Festival' and there were 800,000 people there! So it was us and Bring Me The Horizon headlining. It's a free festival, which is what I'm going to make as my excuse for why so many people turned up. It's a free festival to the public in the holiday time, so everyone came along, and it was unbelievable to play in front of that many people!


UR: That's a lot of people - more than you're likely to get almost anywhere else. Tonight's capacity is 500, so there's obviously quite a difference in size.


MH: Uh huh.


UR: Do you prefer one type of gig above the other, in terms of numbers or venue?




MH: Not really, I don't really mind how many. I'm just here to play anyway, I don't care about that stuff too much. There's certain atmosphere's that come from the size of the crowd, but from the distance from the crowd as well. If you play a big stage at a festival, where you can't really see anyone, you do feel that distance from them (the fans). At the same time, it's kind of cool, because you have that feeling of playing outside and everything. I do prefer the inside shows slightly, where you can feel that something, interact with the crowd and hear what they're saying in between songs if you want to talk to them, and then be able to hang out with people afterwards and meet fans, so that's the definite benefit of the small shows.


UR: With you joining the band later, as mentioned earlier, what was your favourite song before you joined the band?


MH: I really liked, 'My Spirit Will Go On' (from ‘Sonic Firestorm’), probably because it's the first track (on the album) and ‘Starfire’ off the ‘Valley of the Damned’, but I enjoyed most of what they did.


UR: Have you brought that in to the live set more, as one of your first big likes of the band?


MH: Not as such, no. A little while ago I asked them can we play that song, as it's one of the ones that got me into them, so we did for a bit. As you release more and more albums though, you kind of have to promote your new stuff, which means some of the other songs in the set list have to be the ones you know people will want to hear, which means thigng start going slowly lower and lower down the list until they disappear. At the moment, the setlist is dictated mainly by the new album, the songs we will get lynched if we don't play. We've got to play 'Through The Fire And The Flames' and those kind of songs.


UR: Is there one that you prefer performing live above the rest?


MH: I like playing ‘The Edge Of The World’ live, from the new album, because it's a cool song. It's quite easy for me to sing and it's a story telling song, a conceptual thing. It's kind of fun to act it out and get into the song, plus it has a death metal section in the middle, so I get to do some screaming in it, which is completely new for me and I just find hilarious, basically *laughs*


UR: One last question before I let you get back to the other guys. We hear about diva demands from bands, such as Van Halen's all brown M&Ms have to be removed demands - though with ulterior motive, obviously - is there anything either yourself or one of the other band members have done along those lines?


MH: I don't think we're big enough to have demands like that! *laughs* No, I don't think so. We normally ask for risers on stage, but that's pretty much as far as we go. We want those, 'cos they make us look cooler, and fans that can blow your hair back, but I don't think so, no. We're all pretty humble dudes, so we don't ask for anything crazy!


Photo credit: All photos © Shot By Simmons/Über Rock.


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