Fri, 01 Aug 2008 11:05:26
"Is the Stella on tap good here?" Dragonforce frontman ZP Theart asks the cute, bubbly blonde waitress at The Saddle Ranch on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. Keep in mind, it's 11am, but ZP's a rocker. That's apparent from his vibrant charisma, long black hair, bevy of necklaces and sharp sense of humor. The waitress bats her eyes and responds, "I've never even had Stella. I don't know what it tastes like, so I can't tell you if it's good on tap here. I really don't drink beer either." At this comment, he smirks, somewhat taken aback. "You don't drink beer?! You don't eat food either, right?" The waitress can't help but laugh. Smiling, she exclaims, "I just don't like beer. That's it." ZP flashes a devilish grin through his long black tresses. "I'll have a Guinness then. Make it a large! I'm up for a steak too. I want a piece of meat like the one in the menu!" He points to the biggest steak pictured in the restaurant's multi-page menu. The waitress nods and runs off to start the order. ZP laughs, "Sorry that took me awhile. The problem is there are so many fucking options on the menu. I'm a Gemini, dude; don't give me options. Just fucking bring me something!"
Right now, there are a lot of options in heavy music. However, Dragonforce just bring it. They hit the stage, rock people's faces off and do it again every show. Their latest album for Roadrunner Records, Ultra Beatdown [August 26, 2008], is shredtastic bombastic metallic brilliance. Lightning fast guitar leads propel the band's anthems to arena rock heaven while ZP's voice steers the ship. His pipes would make Steve Perry proud and Brett Michaels cry. He also happens to be one good dude. Once he gets his Guinness, he's very happy. He wanted to go to Saddle Ranch this morning because the spot instantly caught his attention. The outdoor tables, Western décor and, of course, the gorgeous, runway-ready waitress didn't hurt the decision either. "You drive past this place, and you're like, 'Awe fuck, it's got to rock in there, dude!'" So over some steaks, ZP delved into all things Dragonforce and Mayhem Fest in this exclusive interview for ARTISTdirect.
You guys are having fun out there, unlike most bands in this genre.
Fuck yeah, dude! We're living every kid's dream. We try to make the best of it. That's all I can say for that [Laughs]. Have a good time because life's too short.
Do you feel like L.A.'s given you a lot of love?
Fuck it! I don't care how much it's given me because I've given it a lot of love. I love L.A. It's great. When I was growing up, L.A. was the holy grail of rock and roll. When you come here, you know it and can feel it.
There's a sense that anything's possible in this town.
I guess so. I wouldn't mind living here for a year or so just to suck it all in. I'd probably have too much fun though, but I believe you can never have too much fun [Laughs].
What was the process behind the new album like?
It's never different. It's always the same. Stuff gets written. It gets recorded. Then it's changed up until the last minute when it goes into press [Laughs]. It's a never-ending story pretty much.
Everything's gotten crazier on each album, do you feel like this record follows suit?
This album's gone the same way for sure. There are a few different things and a few surprises. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag too much. We've said that every album should be a step up from the previous album, and this one is exactly that. There are a few good tricks on it. We finally found the right title too, we had to get rid of some ideas initially because they were just a bit too whack!
With how old school your show and sound is, you guys have the potential to bring girls back into metal.
It's been gone for too long, hasn't it? [Laughs] You know how much hard work it is trying to do that, again? Fuck! First you have to convince them that you're not as creepy as you come across, which is a blatant fucking lie because you are [Laughs]. We came into this hoping to live the '80s dream and bring things back to the way they used to be. When I grew up, Skid Row, Poison and Motley Crue were it. It was booze, drugs, rock n' roll and strippers, lots of 'em! The chicks draw the dudes in, and the dudes stay. It's good having the chicks there. The dudes become fans for life, but you need the chicks there to draw the dudes in. Well, we need the chicks there as well to draw us in. We need them to keep us coming back to the shows too [Laughs].
So many girls were into hard rock in the '80s. Why do you think the genre became so "male" after the '80s?
The whole groupie thing got a bad name, and that definitely contributed to it. It was a stigma for sure. I don't know, dude. I was probably a little young to understand. By the time I hit the age that I could really experience it, those times were gone! The well ran dry, fuck [Laughs]. It's all about destruction, death, famine and pain. Why do you want to keep that going in your music? At the end of the day, life's too short.
Heavy music definitely got angrier too.
Angry music got angrier. It's a fucking fun job, dude. How could you be pissed off all the time doing this shit? It's impossible. It's everyone's fucking dream. I don't get it. Even the emo crap and that shit are all about pain. That shit makes me want to jump in front of a train. Switch on the T.V. and there's just so much bad news. For us, it's the complete opposite. I want the kids to leave our shows feeling psyched up. It was fun when we were kids. There's nothing like being a kid and having fun. I think they want people to grow up too quickly these days, which is completely bollocks. It's the "fun factor," man. They want kids to grow up too quickly, and I think that's a major problem these days. That's where discipline comes and all that shit. It happens too quickly for them. They don't have the period of being a kid, fucking up, getting in trouble and learning. People say that kids are not "kids," they're "young adults." But honestly, they're not "young adults," they're fucking kids, man. They don't make the right decisions because they are kids, and they don't know. People just need to let them go out there and learn their own way. It's ridiculous. <
“We came into this hoping to live the '80s dream and bring things back to the way they used to be.”
Well fun's coming back to metal now, and Dragonforce is definitely a part of it.
I actually feel very privileged to be at the forefront of bringing all of that shit back because kids today grow up without any of it. We grew up with it. For them, it's something new and different, which is good. For fuck's sake, when I was a kid, flipping on the T.V. and seeing Skid Row, Guns N' Roses and Bon Jovi videos was great. I was like, "Fuck yeah, I want to do that when I grow up." Then it all disappeared, and kids didn't know anything about it. Hopefully now we can reignite the fucking flame.
How's Mayhem Fest been?
This summer kicks ass. It's like OZZfest, except we're playing in front of the crowd instead of the last few people who couldn't get away from Ozzy quick enough [Laughs]. We've got an amazing slot. Slipknot are great entertainers too. There's a stage full of people, and there's always something happening. It can't not be a good show. It's impossible!
Did you miss the road while you were working on the record?
We did three world tours in two years, and we reflect on it and think, "Fuck yeah." That is impressive, if not for no one else but ourselves. It was quite a feat. There's another one coming. I think this one is going to be even better. We were a "new thing" two years ago when Inhuman Rampage came out. It's not like that anymore for us.
It's time for a change, especially in music.
I see the '90s as a desperate time in music. Everything was all Nirvana-esque, sad, cut-your-wrist, cry, sit in a heap and feel sorry for yourself shit. There were few bands going out on tour. These days, all of the '80s bands are back and out on tour in the summer. I'm seeing bands I never thought that I'd see again, like Twisted Sister. It didn't happen in the '90s, and those kids really missed out. We're going to fuck 'em up properly this time though.
Is it any different in England?
When I moved to England from South Africa ten years ago, it was all that rave shit. Now England is all fucking indie. It's all rich kids dressed like tramps, thinking they look cool. They're really fucking loaded, and they come out of a proper, posh education. I don't know how these dudes can go on stage and stare at their shoes while they play, and the crowd's happy with that. How the fuck can you be happy with that? Where's the entertainment in that shit? Go in there, fucking get an adrenaline rush, party, go ape shit, and have a fucking sweat drenched crowd leave going, "Fuck yeah. That was great."