Ex-DragonForce Bassist Reveals Why He Really Left the Band, Claims He Was ’Unhappy and Arguing All the Time With Them’

Bassist Frédéric Leclercq who’s currently playing with German thrash metal legends Kreator recently spoke to Radio Futuro from Chile, explaining why he left his previous band DragonForce. To clarify, Leclercq parted ways with DragonForce in 2019, making his tenure with the power metal group about thirteen years long.

What’s interesting is that Frédéric never really spoke about it publicly, or at least it wasn’t that widespread in rock and metal media online. And now, in this latest interview, he answered the question, revealing that he wasn’t fully satisfied with the direction that the band was taking. He offered (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“I left DragonForce to join Kreator. I wasn’t happy with the direction [DragonForce] was taking. I was not happy, and there was no point in me being unhappy and arguing all the time with them.

As he further explains, what finally made him decide to leave the band was the offer from Kreator

“And I got the offer from Kreator, and it was, like, ‘This is perfect.’ I must have a good star or an angel or a demon or something, because that was right at the time that I was, like, ‘Okay, the [new DragonForce] album is gonna come out, and I’m gonna go on tour and I’m gonna be very unhappy. But I don’t have anything else.’

He also added:

“And life is life. You need to pay your bills. But then I got a phone call from Mille [Petrozza, Kreator mainman], and it was, like, ‘This is great. Ciao DragonForce. Ola Kreator.'”

ESP Guitars: Frédéric Leclercq (DragonForce) Interview 2012

Although Frédéric didn’t clarify what exactly he meant by the “I wasn’t happy with the direction” part, one could safely speculate that he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the overall image and the musical style. For many years now, they got some negative reactions from the general metal population with many not taking them seriously.

At the same time, the band’s guitarist and founding member Herman Li took the path of accepting the whole thing and going along with it. He’s been growing his audience as a streamer on Twitch and has also been getting a lot of attention on YouTube and social media for his humorous approach to the band’s music.

This theory does make sense when you go through a last year’s interview where Herman Li explained that DragonForce is not to be taken too seriously. Asked on the matter, the guitarist explained:

“DragonForce was never a serious band. We never took ourselves too seriously. If we did photos where we’re like crossing our arms and looking at the camera… we’re kind of laughing, because I guess this is what you have to do, to do a band photo.

DragonForce - Black Winter Night (Live 2015)

“We like to joke around and have fun. We did a lot of fun stuff on stage, and we were kind of a meme band even back then. We had the trampolines and all this crazy stuff on stage.”

He also looked back on starting his social media profiles in 2018, ultimately giving the band a much wider audience than before. Herman added:

“At the end, I think about 2018, you know what, I’m kind of a shy guy, I don’t really open up, and people get a wrong impression of me. They thought I was like a stuck up guitar prick who just thinks, ‘I’m so good on the guitar,’ that kind of thing.”

“Because, when I’m on stage, I perform, right? I don’t stand there and just stare at a guitar. I thought, ‘You know what, I’m just going to be myself and you can see what really I’m about.'”

DragonForce - Through The Fire And Flames (Live)

“We always have a good laugh in DragonForce. And you can see from the lyrics and the music videos we’ve done, even back in, I guess, ‘Through The Fire And Flames,’ we were shredding and drinking beer on that video, and did kind of fun stuff.”

He continued:

“It kind of turned around and people liked it, you know? When you are in a band – you get hate and you get love. I think, after being in a band and doing music professionally for that long, the haters [from] that time got older and have kids now, so they kind of got out of the train. [laughs]”

During that same interview, Herman Li also looked back on how plenty of metal fans thought that DragonForce wasn’t that “cool” (for the lack of a better word). However, as he stated, being “cool” was not the band’s intention at all. He offered:

“With Dragonforce, we went against the trend at that time, because guitar solos were not a cool thing when we did it. And we thought, ‘Okay, it’s not cool, we’re gonna do double the amount of guitar solos, go even faster, crazier, more over the top.’

“And even then, video games were not a cool thing, so we thought, ‘You know what, we’re gonna throw in retro video games influences in our music, just make a big mess out of it and see what happens.'”

Dragonforce - "Holding On" (1/31/23) 70000 Tons of Metal

In an interview from earlier this year, Herman Li also looked back on how he decided to start with the whole content creator approach and how it impacted his music career. Although not initially keen on social media, he decided to change his approach:

“[It wasn’t] only Instagram [that I hadn’t posted much on], I also didn’t do that much Facebook, because I thought no one really cared what I had to say. Do you care about what I’m having for dinner? No. And I’m kind of an introvert, kind of a shy guy. The reason I wouldn’t post some stuff is I don’t want people to think I’m bragging and trying to be cool: ‘Look, I’m doing that.'”

“In 2018, there was a big change in the band. I became the manager of the band again,” he explained. “I used to manage the band in the beginning until it got really busy. When the ‘Inhuman Rampage’ album came out [in 2005], it got so busy, so I no longer was really managing; I had to employ people.”

DragonForce Herman Li Reacts to Tina S Through the Fire and Flames Cover

“In 2018, I took the managing back because I wasn’t happy with how it was going, and then I had to look at everything again. It was, like, ‘You know what? I have the skills on the computers and everything all these years. How can I make the most out of it?’ Because the music business has changed.”

Photo: Sven-Sebastian Sajak (Sven0705) (Nova2013 DragonForce Frédéric Leclercq 0001)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.