Nowadays, it is cliché to suggest that kids could become rock virtuosos if they simply spent less time playing music-based video games like "Guitar Hero" and more time practicing actual instruments. Paradoxically, Herman Li " guitarist for "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" soundtrack contributor DragonForce " is a textbook example of a gamer turned rock god.
"I picked up the guitar because I used to play video games a lot," Li said. "I just kind of got bored with gaming and had nothing else to do, so I started playing guitar."
DragonForce, along with Airbourne and Violence to Vegas, play at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Diamond Ballroom, located at 8001 S. Eastern Ave. Tickets are $27 advance and $30 door. Call 677-9169.
If you have ever heard or seen Li's epic speed-guitar playing, you would realize the previous statement is a lot like Donald Trump saying he got into real estate because he tired of "Monopoly."
The England-based sextet sold more than half a million copies of its 2006 album, "Inhuman Rampage," thanks in part to the inclusion of the single "Through the Fire and Flames" on the latest "Guitar Hero" soundtrack. Further, DragonForce's trademark sound of twin-guitar speed metal is laced with keyboards, electronics and guitar riffs that skillfully replicate noises from classic arcade games like "Pac-Man."
"We were simply trying to fill the gaps and make interesting sounds," Li said. "All of the sounds that we actually thought were cool, just happened to sound like video games, because that's what we can relate to."
SIX-MAN WRECKING CREW
Assembled in 1999, the six-man wrecking crew has unleashed three albums of power metal and achieved ever-increasing international notoriety " a trend that looks set to continue with the release of a new album next month. Described by Li, who pulled double duty as guitarist and co-producer, as "absolutely the hardest album to make," the disc is perhaps all too accurately titled "Ultra Beatdown."
"Basically, we started writing the songs about a year and a half ago. We produced it ourselves because we know exactly what we want to do and we don't want to pay someone else to argue with us," he said. "Producers are good at keeping a project running, which is good in a way, but you buy the album to listen to the band, not the producer."
As arguably the most successful new British metal act to arrive in America in 20 years, new recordings meant plenty of internal pressure for the band members, who wanted to develop a sound without losing elements that make DragonForce a unique entity.
"We're not going to throw away our style and try to be someone else or sound different now," Li said. "We're going to keep our style and just evolve, get better and maybe add things to it that we haven't done before. People that know our music will definitely hear how we've evolved and how we've got better straight away on this new album. We've done the best record we possibly could at that point in time, and now we want to do the best live show possible. "
TOURING THE STATES
The group is currently touring the States with Slipknot and Disturbed on the first-ever Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, but will be stopping in Oklahoma City on an off-date to headline a Thursday night show at the Diamond Ballroom.
"I remember the last time we played Oklahoma City, because it was on my birthday," Li said. "So, it's going to be very cool to return. The tour is going great, but the headlining shows are definitely very different from the festival shows. They've got a different kind of vibe."
Unlike some metal contemporaries, DragonForce is not content to simply sit back and let lighting and pyrotechnics entertain fans at its live shows " the energy of its stage show comes directly from the band members themselves.
"It's cool to have pyros and all of that stuff, but I think it's more important to have a band playing the songs and putting energy into the show," Li said. "You know, stuff you can't do with computers and lighting effects."
Although he humbly said the he and his bandmates "never expected to be this successful," one can't help but suggest to him that perhaps DragonForce's fame might lead to a "Guitar Hero" spin-off game like Aerosmith and Metallica have received.
"That's not really up to us," he said modestly. "But if the company approached us, maybe we can make it happen." "Lucas Ross