Marc Hudson from DragonForce; a charming man!

"I can’t be the guy who gets drunk and drinks all the Jagermeister..." Yes, yes you can.

Seeing as I wasn’t granted a press pass for this year’s Soundwave, I ponder why I’m interviewing Marc Hudson from power-metallers DragonForce – then I remember; Dragon Force are delightful and Marc is a very nice fellow – and so with that clarified in my mind, I proceed.
What-ho, Marc, I do believe we last spoke backstage at the Brisbane leg of 2013’s Soundwave; you were a tad frazzled from our harsh Australian sun. Are you prepared this time? He laughs. “No! Not at all - I even forgot to bring my sunscreen so I’m gonna be sunburnt and have sunstroke…” Seeing as he’s currently in Indonesia, I suggest he picks some up. At least you get to break the flight up? “Yes, we literally just got to Jakarta in the last couple of hours and we’ve got a couple of shows here before we head out to Australia. The last time with the flights, having the jetlag; that was definitely having an effect on us…”

You’ve just finished some of the European dates, yes? “I guess we kind of did the second part; we did two European tours with Epica and the only thing we have left to do is Scandinavia but we’ve just come in off the back of that and straight out here basically.” I mention the madness of DragonForce embarking on a two year tour for their latest album Maximum Overload, and Marc is both horrified and excited at the prospect. “I try not to look at the figures too much because it scares me! But yeah; we’re pretty much booked until January or February 2016 and I’m sure we’ll be adding more dates to the list as we go along.” After the Soundwave dates, you guys are off to South America then back to Europe then the States and then Canada. That seems like quite a schedule. He maintains an air of positivity. “Yeah, I know! We do tour quite a lot; in some ways it’s really cool because you get to see the world but at the same time, I think we’ll all be due for a break. I think, after South America, we have a little bit of time off before heading off to Scandinavia and the States, but we’re definitely busy.”

How does your voice hold up under such a lengthy tour? “It isn’t easy, to be honest, and it really depends on what kind of tour we’re doing. For example, we’ve just been touring with Epica and I only have to sing for 50 minutes a night so that’s kind of easy but if you’re doing a headlining tour then you’re looking at an hour and a half plus every night. It’s one of those things that means I have to take care of my voice so I can’t be the guy who gets drunk, drinks all the Jagermeister and is sick on the bus – I’ve got to be the sensible one, unfortunately.” Boo. That’s no fun. But I mention DragonForce’s Sidewave shows with Judas Priest and Marc’s spirits are lifted immediately. “Yeah! Yeah! It’s gonna be cool! It’s one of those things to tick off the list. I played with Iron Maiden when I first started with Dragon Force and now, finally, with Judas Priest so it’s gonna be awesome. I absolutely can’t wait for that.”

Returning to the new album Maximum Overload, it’s your second one with the band and you’ve been with DragonForce now for five years; are you getting into your groove now? “Yeah! Absolutely! I think I’ve got enough shows under my belt now that it’s all just become normal.” He chuckles at the relative nature of this term before adding “It's been really good, and touring with Maximum Overload has been a lot of fun and we can’t wait to play the new songs in Australia.”

It’s the first time the band has worked with an outside producer, so I ask what was it like working with Jens Bogram, who has worked with (to name but a few) Opeth, Devin Townsend and Paradise Lost. Marc is full of praise for the collaboration. “Yeah, working with Jens, he’s definitely added this extra element to the album. He’s got these different influences and he’s brought a heavier, thrashier element to it. He’s really cool. We had a great time working with him, and I hope we use him again in the future.” And what of the Johnny Cash Ring Of Fire cover, did you go low for that? “No, no! Well…kind of - not as low as him! It’s one of those tongue in cheek ‘we covered it but we’re not taking it too seriously’ kind of things. We’ve been playing it during the UK tour and I think the fans really like – by the end of the set there’s always a few people shouting out requests for it so we just decided to play it. Hopefully we’ll be playing it in Australia…who knows?” Mysterious!
Trivium’s Matt Heafy also does some guest vocal work on the album. “He actually guested on three of our songs; The Game, Defenders and No More; he did a lot of the screaming vocals that I don’t generally do and he did a bit of a pre-chorus here and there. It was really cool, to collaborate with someone as big as Trivium was quite a pleasure. The only downfall is I don’t think you can really hear him enough on the album. When the album came out I was like ‘Ah,man!' But he’s still on there and you can hear him. He’s definitely present in some songs but not so much in others.”

We touch on the band’s line-up change with drummer Dave Mackintosh departing and Gee Anzalone coming in. It was an amicable split though? “Yeah, absolutely. All of us are still in contact with Dave and he’s a good friend. It was a completely amicable split; it was his choice and he had his own ambitions in life and he decided to go that way and we found Gee.” He cracks up as he reflects that “Technically they’re both drum machines! Gee’s fitting in really well, like I said; technically he’s awesome and as a character, he’s a funny guy. He’s fitted in perfectly and it’s been quite a seamless transition and we’re all happy with where we’re at right now.”

So having worked with Matt, is there anyone that you’d really love to duet with? “Plenty of people! Any of the great power metal singers – as long as they don’t make me look shit! To be honest, someone like Rob Halford would be fucking cool but I don’t think he’d wanna lower his standards and sing with me.” Don’t be so hard on yourself, you should have a word when you’re on the Sidewave tours. What would you like to sing? There’s no hesitation: “I think it would have to be Painkiller. I can’t imagine a better song to do than that.”

That’s definitely something to look forward to. Marc even offers to try and fix me up with a Soundwave pass – what a fucking gentleman!
DragonForce. On tour with Soundwave. This bloody month.