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Interview met Marc Hudson

Marc Hudson : “Bringing Japanese music into heavy metal, t is a very cool subgenre to create, so we decided to do this together
Terwijl het nieuwe DragonForce album al ingeblikt wordt in de Verenigde Staten, verscheen eind augustus ook het allereerste soloalbum van zanger Marc Hudson ‘Starbound Stories’. Geen wonder dat de man het druk had, want hij wou ook nog even op verlof naar zijn geliefde Japan. Het werd dus schuiven en afwachten met de afspraken om hem te spreken over zijn eerste soloavontuur tot op het laatste moment. Opgelucht kunnen we toch melden dat we uiteindelijk even met de blonde frontman konden praten vooraleer hij op het vliegstuig stapte naar Japan.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 22 september 2023

You are a busy man with DragonForce. Why did you think: ‘I am going to make a solo album’, after all these years?
Well, it basically started when we had a DragonForce tour and that got cut short because of the pandemic in 2020. We came back from that tour and we got a lot of time on our hands before we could go out and playing shows. So essentially, this album is made because of that, because normally I would have had trouble to put it in my normal schedule, but now, with the extra time, myself and the keyboard player Shaz D were working on some songs. We just played around with some ideas and they became really good demos. I just thought: why don’t we make this an actual project? So it just happened like that suddenly.

Are you planning to go on the road with this as well?
At the moment, DragonForce has quite a lot dates and tours scheduled, so for the time being I can’t even imagine finding time to fit that in, but it is something I would like to do because I think the songs are great and it would be so much fun to do that, but it just has to wait for a little while because my work with DragonForce has to come first really.

I can understand that. What is nice on this solo album, that it has a personal touch. We have metal of course, we have Japanese music and also a kind of video games all combined on one album. I was wondering how did you ever get such a passion for Japanese culture?
Well, it just kind of happened the first time I went there actually. As a kid I was playing a lot of video games that I really did not realize they were Japanese. I just thought they were pretty cool video games. From going to Japan for the first time – I think it was in 2012 – I just fell in love with the place and I fell in love with the culture, with the music, with the spirit and all kinds of things. Frédéric – he used to be in DragonForce – started to tell me all about it and he showed me around. It just stayed with me and I try to catch the spirit of that kind of music that we don’t really have in Western music and especially in metal. So it is a very cool subgenre to create, so we decided to do this together.

You were right, it is a special culture…
Absolutely and I think those two sounds go together really nicely and I am surprised that no one did it before.

Did you travel as a tourist to Japan after being infected by that virus of their culture?
I haven’t been there just as a tourist, I just collected sounds and information, these kind of things. But I go there in two days time and again it is for working, but I took some extra days, so I can do some tourist stuff because it is nice to be there and just absorb it without the stress of meetings or shows. I am really looking forward to that. It is something I wanted to do for a while, so I am really lucky that it will be possible now.

Video games are not really my cup of tea, but did you remain with older stuff or do you follow all the new ones?
I think it is a bit like music. People made the best stuff years ago and nowadays people just kind of derive from the music that came out in the seventies and the eighties. I still find myself playing the older stuff, the retro video games. I did play some modern games, but I think they have lost some of the character and charms they had in the nineties. Saying that, I think it is also one of those things that is linked to a kind of nostalgia from my side. As a kid you are much more impressed by everything and that makes you say: yes, I am still stuck in the past.

Are there still challenges in playing those games then?
Yeah, I mean; a lot of the games they used to make were actually more difficult than the games they make now, because I think nowadays people try to create things for the masses to consume to make sure it is as popular as possible. Back then it was more kind of specific nerdy people that really wanted a challenge who used to play games. I think the older games are more difficult and challenging than now.

How did you collect the musicians to guide you through this solo adventure?
The first and most important musician is Shaz, he is the keyboard player. We are mates for quite a while, he is a friend of the band DragonForce. Then I got Frédéric Leclercq, he is French musician. He used to play in DragonForce, he used to play bass. He now plays guitar and bass on this album. Rich Smith is an English guy, drummer from Power Quest. He is an amazing drummer. All the other guest musicians I met through touring, so most of them I already met because we played shows together and there’s a couple of them who are musicians I have been a fan of for a long time and I just asked them if they wanted to do it. And luckily with the DragonForce platform, they responded and said yes. I got musicians on it I am a fan boy of and musicians that are friends.

I love the violins on the record…
Yeah that is Mia Asano. Again, I met her while playing with DragonForce because she came to one of our shows in America and played a kind of guest spot on a song, she played the intro. I just started talking to her afterwards and it happened that she really likes Celtic sounding music and the song where she is performing on is very much a kind of Celtic sounding song. It was a perfect fit for her.

The last song is sung in Japanese language. That must have been a challenge…
Yeah it was very difficult and the hardest part about that was actually not singing it, but the hardest part was writing it and making sure that it made sense and that it rhymed because obviously it is very hard for an English person to know whether or not what I am singing about is correct. So it was a process that involved sending messages to a Japanese fan where they were saying it back into the phone and I was copying it with my best Japanese accent, trying to do it all correctly. It was difficult, but it was a lot of fun as well.

You are working on the next DragonForce album right now?
Yeah that is right. We are just finishing the work on the album and obviously just announced a tour, we are going to release things quite soon, but the actual release date I cannot say, because they are going to go public with it soon.

Indeed, you are signed now by Napalm Records, so that is also a new challenge…
Yes. I think they are a really good label and they have done very well for me, so I think DragonForce made a good choice.

Can we expect some video clips from your solo album?
Yes, I have already released two videos and there is one more video, that is actually coming tomorrow. So that is the third one and then I am hoping to do a few smaller ones afterwards, but it is just a case of finding the time to do them. Three I think is a good number and this last one I think is the best video, so hopefully the fans will like it.

What can we expect from DragonForce: the usual stuff or pretty challenging?
There is of course the signature DragonForce sound that people know and love. There should be stuff on it that keeps the old DragonForce fans happy, but I think we have been quite ambitious with a couple of other songs. At least it is going to be interesting. People are going to love it! I am excited to see the fans’ reactions and they are going to love it. I recorded my stuff in England, but I had to go to the US for things related to DragonForce, that is true. I cannot tell you too much.

What are you planning to do on your trip to Japan in a couple of days?
The plan is to do a release party for the album and a signing session. I will do some cool interviews with Japanese magazines, radio and well… I am just trying to see what else I can do with this solo album to get on board, let us say. Maybe there are opportunities like music for a video game or music for anime or a TV show, these kinds of things… just trying to promote the album, meet some of the fans and see if there is another kind of business opportunity that can come out of this.

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