METALSUCKS INTERROGATES DRAGONFORCE SINGER ZP THEART
Ultra-shred power metallers Dragonforce have a new album Ultra Beatdown scheduled for release on August 25th. I recently had a chance to chat with singer ZP Theart about the new album, the effects of the band’s inclusion in Guitar Hero, and the perception amongst some music fans that the band are just a bunch of musical masturbation wankers (my words, not his). Things started off a little slow, but once he got into it, he got into it — after the jump, read ZP’s insights and hilarious responses. Also, peep their new video for “Heroes of Our Time,” above.
So you guys have a new album coming out, Ultra Beatdown, in August? And you guys just finished recording that?
Well, we’re pretty much… busy still. (laughs) It’s getting the last few breaths, I’d say. I think it’s gonna be finished, finishing being mixed, next weekend… next Friday. So we’ve got a few more days.
Sam [Totman, guitar], Herman [Li, guitar], and Vadim [Pruzhanov, keyboards].
So you guys are pretty much taking care of everything yourselves then.
Yeah, mm hmm.
And what about production, do you guys do that yourselves?
Yeah, we do the whole lot, man. Guitars and stuff get recorded at home, and they produce the whole lot there. I’ve got a guy that helps me out in the studio to record vocals. But otherwise, that’s it. Otherwise we take care of everything ourselves.
What’s the writing process like for you guys? Do the other guys do it all together and then you come in and write your stuff, do people come in with riffs and then piece them together, do guys come in with full songs?
We went the wrong way around. We kind of write the riffs and songs while we record them. Or record them while we write them. (laughs). Which means that I kind of recorded the vocals five or six times over already on this album, because things keep changing, things keep getting updated. (laughs) It’s a fuckin’ pain in the ass! Yeah, but one of us will come up with an idea for a song and a couple of riffs and record it perhaps and slam it all together and put a melody line over it. The lyrics pretty much come on right at the end; words get picked so it fits in properly. Sometimes it doesn’t make much sense, but you have to read it in the general context of the song. Line by line sometimes it won’t make a fuckin’ clue, man!
You guys obviously have a reputation for partying pretty hard. Do you drink in the studio or is there no drinking in the studio?
Um, pretty much no drinking in the studio. Work is work, office time is office time, you know?
That’s why we all hate it so much! (laughs) It’s like a bloody job. The only thing we don’t do is wear a suit and a tie, and a fuckin’ briefcase, you know?
What can fans expect from this album compared to the last one?
Well, there’s definitely a clear sign that it is still originally Dragonforce. It’s… there’s no two ways about it, it will definitely be a Dragonforce album. There’s a few twists here and there. I don’t want to let out too much… because it’s surprise, surprise. But the basic formula’s exactly the same.
What are some of those twists? Come on, you gotta give me a little somethin’.
There’s a few rhythmic changes that you’ll probably go, “What the fuck is this doing here? It doesn’t fit!” A few styles of different rhythms that get dragged in… and, yeah, it’s a nice mix of a bit of everything. There’ll be something for everyone in there.
Are you guys about to go out on the road to support the album? What do you have planned as far as touring goes?
Well, the first thing now is the Rockstar Mayhem Festival. There’s a couple of small bands on there, Slipknot, Disturbed, something like that… you may have heard of them anyway! (laughs) That’s the first thing that happens; it’s a six week tour with a bunch of great bands. Just after that we’ll get back home and then the album will be out, and then after that we’ll probably be on the road 24/7 for the next few years to come.
Yeah, probably so. Guitar Hero was a big thing for you guys. There’s thousands of YouTube videos of kids playing along to your song. What’s your opinion of Guitar Hero? Do you think it’s cool?
Yeah, I got it! (laughs)
Do you play your own song on Guitar Hero?
Yeah, I get like three-quarters of the way through. It’s even tough on “Easy,” man. I was watching TV in January and February and there was this 12 year-old kid on the Ellen Degeneres show that just fuckin’ ripped the shit out of that song, man. My jaw dropped on the floor when I saw this kid, and I think he did about 95, 96 percent. And it was absolutely amazing, 12 years old! And, yeah, the whole Guitar Hero thing was good. Still is.
Yeah, definitely. The thing with this game is because it’s a game there’s a greater variety of people that will be interested in it. Because when you’re in a metal band, there’s a lot of people that wouldn’t even consider listening to it just because of the fact that it is a metal band. Or they’ll probably see the name and go “Dragonforce, fuck, that sounds a bit gay. Who calls their name Dragonforce?” You know? And then the kids play the game, all their favorite songs are on there and they get to the end and they gotta beat this fuckin’ track. And once they listen to it the hooks are all over the show, so it’s easy for them to fall into the traps of Dragonforce! (laughs) And before you know it they’re in there, and we get loads of kids that go, “Man, I never heard of your band before,” and that’s cool, you know? So yeah, the whole Guitar Hero thing has definitely been a good platform to reach new fans for us.
Do you find that the people who come to your shows maybe only know you guys from Guitar Hero?
Well, we haven’t been on tour since the game came out. So it’ll be surprising to see. Who cares, fuck. As long as they come to see the rest of the show as well, then fair enough.
As long as they don’t just stay for the one song, right?
Yeah, we’ll make sure not to play it first! (laughs)
You guys obviously have a pretty good sense of humor about yourselves. You go up there, you have a good time, you write fun music. Does it bother you sometimes that some people don’t take your music seriously because of how over the top it is?
You know, each to their own. You can only try and influence a person that far. At the end of the day when it comes to the music we’re serious as fuck. You can make that out listening to the album. And when it comes to being on the road, that’s where we want to be most definitely – and we want to have fun while we’re doing it, you know? So fuck it. Go out there and have a blast.
You know, you read it, but at the end of the day it’s someone’s own opinion, and we don’t really care. If you care about all that shit then you’ll never put out a record again, I’m sure. (laughs)
That’s true, there’s always somebody that’s gonna hate you.
Yeah, you can’t satisfy everybody.
What about the criticisms, the people who say, “Oh, those guys play 10,000 notes a second, they’re not a real band, fuck Dragonforce.”
Well, I agree we play 10,000 notes a second! We are a real band ‘cause we fuckin’ play it. But, whatever, you know.
You guys just did a tour with Killswitch and Lamb of God, was it? Was that the same tour?
It wasn’t Lamb of God, it was Killswitch… and it was… now I can’t remember myself… Chimaira.
Right. How did the fans treat you on that tour? Chimaira is obviously a very serious band.
Yeah, and we were kind of sandwiched between the two. It didn’t take long. People always stood there… well obviously Killswitch fans stood with their arms crossed in the back waiting for a fucking cacophony to hit the stage. We were gasping in the beginning, “Oh, god, what’s going on here?” and, you know, we put on a show. We’re not there just to play for our fans and just to have them enjoy it. We try and get everyone involved. And whether you’re a fan or not, even if you like the music or not, you’ll probably like the show regardless. (laughs)
When are you guys gonna bring the trampoline back?
Man, when we get stages big enough to fuckin’ put it on again! (laughs)
That should win over anyone that doesn’t like you guys.
Yeah, definitely. That’s definitely a headline stage thing when you’ve kind of got the whole stage for your own disposal.
Do you guys play to bigger audiences in Europe than you do in the states?
It’s very similar, you know. The U.K. and the States are pretty much the same size audiences. In Europe it varies from country to country. But yeah, it’s pretty much the same.
Cool man, thank you so much for taking the time. Really appreciate it.
Hey, nice one, thanks a lot!