DRAGONFORCE Members Confronted About Previous Band's Racist, Homophobic Lyrics
Dealing with racism and homophobia in metal can be a very touchy subject, but when you're a kid, a funny joke is a funny joke. Except, when you record what you presumed was a "funny" joke and release that music and then go on to be in a much more famous band, that initial "joke" may come back to haunt you.
That's exactly what happened to members of Dragonforce. A quick search of their Metal Archives page shows that guitarist Sam Totman and later guitarist Herman Li were in a band called Demoniac, who were active in the 90s and had such charming song titles as “Niggerslut,” “Hatred is Purity,” and “Kill All the Faggots (Death Squad Anthem).” Some of the music is even available online:
NOISEY: So, I wanted to talk to you about something that happened way before the new album. I was digging around a little bit and found Demoniac, the band you were in before Dragonforce. I really want to know what the fuck you guys were doing.
Sam Totman: Hah! We started that, me and my friend, back in New Zealand in the 1990s. It was when I was 18 or something. We were having a laugh basically. We just sort of thought “Oh, let’s play some black metal” because we didn’t know any good singers so we couldn’t do any other kind of music except for black metal, death metal. It was just kind of a big joke really. Our first record was all serious, Satan this, Satan that, and we did quite well with that. The second one kind of turned into NOFX crossed with black metal, and then the third one got into power metal so it was like power metal crossed with black metal, and no one really got it basically.
Kelly would have none of it, pointing out that kids who may have just discovered the band may do their own research and find these racist songs. Totman attributed it all to "having a laugh" and that the lyrics were mostly written by the drummer in that band. He said it was no different than Cannibal Corpse lyrics:
Well, I guess it’s all about shocking. You’ve got bands like Cannibal Corpse singing about hacking up babies or whatever. No one actually wants to do that but it’s just kind of shocking, like horror movies or whatever shocking entertainment people find funny for whatever reason. I don’t think it’s a thing more than that, really.
I've met Totman and Li and to the best of my knowledge, they did not seem like racists or bigots and I take Totman at his word that it he was just being dumb and stupid. It was, after all, 15 years ago. The lesson here is simply to be careful what you put out into the world, because it will eventually come back to bite you in the ass.
Dragonforce's new album presumably has nothing on there that could be construed as racist or homophobic. Maximum Overload comes out August 19th on Metal Blade Records.