Take me back to when the cycle for this
album started. Was ZP’s departure a surprise or did you see it coming?
Totman: It was something that just sort of
panned out. I guess you could say we saw it
coming. We knew it was going to happen
before we started the album, and had a plan
together for that since we were going to be
working with someone else. I was still writing songs and once we found the singer that
we wanted, it was just a matter of putting
it in the right key for his voice. Once we
found Marc, it took quite a while to learn
what parts sound good and what his range
is. It’s been quite a learning process to get
the best out of him, but I think we got it.
Li: I think musically we grew apart. For
me, it was more like the band naturally
moved that way.
Once it was announced that ZP was leaving, you made the auditions open to the
public. Why did you choose that route
over a more private audition process?
Li: For this kind of music it’s not just a
“rah, rah, rah” type of singing. It’s quite
hard to find vocalists in this style and we
thought the only way we could find the
right one is to do a worldwide search. In
addition to people sending in their videos,
we also approached professional singers in
this genre at the same time.
Totman: I just thought it was a really cool
idea. We could basically choose from the
whole world since we were quite established
now. It wouldn’t have mattered if they
lived in a different country because you
can always make albums by sending files
around. When we found Marc, we knew
that he was the best out there since we had
so many people to choose from.
Herman Li—shown here with his signature EGEN Ibanez guitar and a particularly strong wind fan—took an
improvisational approach when recording his solos for the new DragonForce record. Photo by Scott Uchida
How long did this whole process take?
Li: It took a long time. In terms of Marc,
he sent in the video and we liked it and we
asked him to sing a few more songs. One
was “The Last Journey Home,” from the
last album [Ultra Beatdown], then “Fury of
the Storm” from Sonic Firestorm, which is a
really fast song with lots of words. We then
met up with him just to see his personality
and if we would be able to work with him.
After that, we moved on to rehearsing with
him and trying out new songs before mov-
ing onto the recording studio to record new
songs and see how his attitude works in the
studio environment. All of that took almost
a year before we confirmed him to be a
Was a lot of the material written before
Totman: Yeah, it was. I wrote and demo’d
some songs on my own and since it didn’t
have any singing on it, I played the vocal
parts on guitar. I just didn’t know what
key to put them in. Once we got Marc, I
changed a few vocal lines.
Li: A lot of the songs were written, but
because we had a new singer we had to
integrate him and find the energy again
together as a band. In the old days, we
would just write the song and go straight
into the recording studio, stare at the com-
puter, record it, and then go on tour. This
time we had to jam and rehearse the songs
again with Marc to create the energy.
Sam, what is your typical writing process?
Totman: I have a mini Pro Tools setup on my
laptop and I just program the drums with a
drum machine. Then I play the basic chords
and vocal lines, just a simple version of everything, basically. Once the structure is done I
will give it to everyone else and have them put
their touches on it as well. I might do a drumbeat but I wouldn’t put fills in all over the
place. I will just give it to Dave [Mackintosh,
DragonForce drummer] and he can work out