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Dragonforce’s Herman Li: rock isn’t dead...it’s just too serious

Herman Li playing on stage with Dragonforce
(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic (Getty))

Dragonforce guitarist Herman Li offered a refreshing take on the Rock is Dead debate, suggesting there was an attitude problem behind any perceived downward spiral in the scene.

He claimed too many heave musicians had become “afraid to have fun” and recommended hunting beyond the genre for ideas on how to change things.

Li told Fantano: “People always say that rock music is dead. And to be honest, there’s a reason why rock music or metal, guitar, bass music isn't in the forefront of the music scene – I think we lost some of that over-the-top [spirit], and being not too serious.”

He added: “I think a lot of them are a bit too serious, a lot of rock musicians. They're afraid to have fun. You look at rap, hip hop, they have that thing, the seriousness. But they are able to inject some fun, laughter. You can listen to lyrics and be like, ‘Okay, okay, I get it. He's having a laugh here.’”

Li cited the example of his friends Five Finger Death Punch as artists who’d fallen into the too-serious position, describing them as “really cool guys” who’d developed a “macho” image that meant their fun-loving side was kept hidden. If they were seen to lighten up on stage, he suggested, fans could “misinterpret it – ‘Oh, you’re not a serious band any more.’” He explained: “You don't want to fall into that trap, and there's all these people, you know, with the percentage on the line that don't want you to do that."

He also argued that it wasn’t just the onstage part of the genre that needed refreshing. “I think the rappers out there are so smart. How they release music, how they manipulate the scene, the digital assets, algorithm or Spotify, all this stuff. Rock music just isn't there, or heavy metal music, in terms of creativity and being in the forefront of the technology that's happening.”

And he noted that he was trying to live by his own advice: “I look outside the box for different ideas to make myself more creative.”

Dragonforce are currently hitting a smattering of European festivals before returning to the continent this winter.

Freelance Online News Contributor

Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.