Marc & Frederic from Dragonforce: "We were not prepared for the heat!"

Bleached trousers and the perils of the rock and roll lifestyle...

When I caught up with Dragonforce’s Marc Hudson (vocals) and Frederic Leciercq (bass/backing vocals), they were hot, sweaty and whiffing of booze, having just finished their set at Brisbane’s Soundwave. Marc’s packing a Corona while Frederic has opted for Jack Daniels and Coke. There is no booze for Mr Petersen.

I caught the start of your set but was called away to do some interviews; how did it go for you, Marc? “Good. I think it was actually really good. I was not prepared for the heat – I’m sunburnt already!” It’s true, the poor fair-skinned lad is quite rosy; a harsh introduction to Australian weather for the singer’s first visit to the antipodes. Even Frederic, who’s been here four times before was slapped about by the heat. “Whenever we’ve played before the weather has been a bit easier. This time I was really surprised; I was so out of breath! And we’ve been to places like Colombia and Ecuador, with the altitude you’re supposed to be out of breath but it was nothing compared to today. I went on stage and was like…” At this point, he starts making choking noises, re-enacting his slow demise.

I hear that Sam Totman (guitars/backing vocals) is quite partial to a few beers before hitting the stage. You guys were on quite early so did he get a chance to sink a few swift ones? Marc reckons “…he was quite reserved today; I think he had a few - he’s got like a perfect balance – he’s done it wrong a few times but today he got it right.” On the topic of booze Frederic adds “I’m the one drinking Jack Daniels on stage; today I was sort of doing it but the tour manager was offstage miming ‘Water! Water!’ because I was turning red.”

Dragonforce are doing some Sidewaves with The Sword (stay tuned - an interview will be forthcoming), and they’re looking forward to it in a big way as headlining allows the band to explore their back catalogue, but what about choosing a set-list for a relatively short time-slot (40 minutes) at Soundwave? Marc agrees that it’s difficult but for Frederic, there is an upside: “In a way, with that heat, it was relief! He’s from England and I’m from France so the weather over there is completely different. You guys are used to it but for us…so in a way, it was good for us that the set was shorter.”

You’ve just finished the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise, tell me about that. Frederic explains “It was fun – I got to pet a shark so that was nice! It was good but you don’t really have a place to escape to because you’re on a boat and it’s constantly heavy metal! You go get your breakfast; heavy metal! You go out for a cigarette; heavy metal! But it was definitely fun and a nice experience.”

Marc agrees. “I did enjoy it but I had the same problem as Fred; there was just too much metal for me!” explaining that while he loves the metal “It was just too much of the same thing – I wanted to jump overboard!”

Frederic says “For the passengers it’s a great experience; they get to talk to you and say how much they liked this sausage roll, and it’s all really chilled but I was really happy when we had a day off; I took a boat and went to a small island, they were playing reggae – which I really hate! I don’t like reggae! But I was so happy to hear it!” He breaks into a few bars of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, sighing in contentment at his brief respite from METAL, METAL, METAL…

I saw some video footage of Herman Li’s (guitars/backing vocals) complete disregard for Health and Safety; playing a guitar in a hot tub. Marc tells me that “Actually three of us did it but they only captured Herman on camera. It was cool. It was the last show of the night and the last show for us of the whole thing.” So the whole band has a disregard for safety? “No, we don’t worry about things like that, although I did bleach my trousers because of the chlorine.” Ah! The perils of the rock and roll lifestyle…

Dragonforce are renowned for their long tours, do you see yourselves as primarily a live band? “Last time we did a three month tour; it was really tough. We started in September and ended in December, it was tough. You really feel it. It’s more fun for us; in the studio you get to take your time and play your music but touring is way more fun because you get to interact with the fans. I guess Dragonforce is live, it’s way better live; people can enjoy it more – they don’t have the full experience with the CD; which doesn’t mean they don’t have to buy it!” Frederic laughs as he adds “So buy the CD and then come to the show – it’s even better!” says Frederic.

I saw that Herman recently appeared on the children’s television show How To Be Epic @ Everything; do you have any plans to appear on Sesame Street or some such other child-based madness? For Marc, it’s an easy question; “I would love to be on The Muppet Show.” Whilst the cheeky Mr Leciercq adds the self-deprecating comment “I’m French so I’m Kermit  - I’m already there!”

We get on to the subject of Sam and Herman being hailed as the latest and greatest guitar heroes; are there any plans for Frederic to become a bass god? He tells me “I’m actually a guitar player myself.” At which point, I apologise profusely, thinking my research is all wrong. Luckily Frederic explains “I play bass in the band but my main instrument is guitar, not a lot of people know that. When I started in Dragonforce, it was just to help them out on bass, and they asked me to stay in the band and the guys were cool with that but I didn’t really care about the bass that much and was like ‘I miss playing my guitar blah blah blah’ but nowadays I do actually enjoy playing bass. I grab my bass at home and play bass.”

So do you still get to pick up the six-string much? “I get to play guitar every now and then; we did the tour with Machine Head in 2007, and they had a problem with Phil (Demmel) and he had to fly back home and I got to play a song each night for four nights, and was playing guitar with them. And I’ve got other bands where I play guitar.”

I ask Frederic about the next album. “Definitely the same direction as The Power Within, which is more diverse, we used to be 200BPM, very fast all the time, and we do enjoy it and the crowd enjoys it too, so we’ll be going faster and slower. Every band says that but that’s really what we’re doing; to try and do it both ways, that’s what we’re gonna try and do with the next album.” Marc’s take on it is quite similar.“To be honest, I have the same approach as I did with the last album so me and Sam are will be working closely to give the songs the kind of feeling, expression and lyrics that he wants.”

So everyone is contributing and they’re working on new material. You heard it here first, boy-scouts. I ask if the band will be hanging around, to which Frederic replies “We’re leaving at four o’clock for Sydney and then go to the hotel and put the air-con on! I wish I could stay around. That’s what we’re gonna do tomorrow but today we have to fly pretty early.”

And off they fly, into the steamy afternoon sun, those lovely, cheeky fellows from Dragonforce.