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INTERVIEW: THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD of Kamelot – April 2015

| 21 April 2015 | Reply

Being a fan of symphonic metal, I lunged at the opportunity to interview Thomas Youngblood – the mastermind behind the great band Kamelot.  In advance of the band’s latest North American tour and the release of the band’s 11th studio release, Haven [to be released in NA on May 4], Thomas gave us some time via phone to discuss the disc, the tour, and what he wants to be remembered for…

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Toddstar: Thomas, how are you?

Thomas: I’m doing great. How are you?

Toddstar: Great. Thank you so much for taking time out for us today.

Thomas: My pleasure.

Toddstar: Kamelot is releasing a new disc, Haven. What can you tell us about this disc that most people don’t know yet?

Thomas: It’s our new album. New songs. Have you listened to it?

Toddstar: I have. I love it.

Thomas: Okay. Awesome. Yeah, it’s the new album. It’s the follow up to Silverthorn. It’s been about two and a half years. We’re excited. A big North American tour is going to kick off in about a little bit over a week and a half. That’s the beginning of discussing it. There are all kinds of things, of course, involved with the album. You’re welcome to ask me anything you want about it.

Toddstar: You’ve got the lead single, and lead video, “Veil Of Elysium.” What about that song popped up and you guys decided that needed to be the first track out?

Thomas: I think that probably is the song that contains what I would call the most Kamelot DNA on the record. We wanted to pick a song that represented the Kamelot sound and I think that song pretty much encompasses all those things. It’s hard to pick one song to release first because the record is so diverse and we really want fans to listen to the whole record and understand that every song’s different. Those kind of things are something we strive for with each record is to make sure that there’s a lot of diversity and contrast and all the different types of emotions that we want to have on an album.

Toddstar: I would agree with you. I think this has the most historic Kamelot sound from opening note to closing.

Thomas: I guess it’s something the record company suggested, but at the end of the day we had the decision and I think it’s going to be a fun song to play live. We’ll have a couple more official videos coming out soon. I think every song on the album though could be something that could be a fan favorite, which I think is also a really cool luxury to have that every song, every chorus has some memorable hook to it.

Toddstar: I would agree. You guys have some guests on this album. You had Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy, Troy from Nightwish, and you had Charlotte from Delain. What made you guys reach out and pull in these guests in particular to grace this album?

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Thomas: All that stuff happened late, actually, in the process. We had toured with all three of those special guests, so when we had different ideas pop up, for example, with Troy, we had toured with Nightwish a few years back and became friends. I shot him an email and asked him about putting some cool stuff down that’s more his style and he was able to do that relatively quickly. Those kinds of things, it’s really more organic and luckily everybody had time to do it even though we planned everything at the last minute.

Toddstar: Okay. You mentioned the tour kicking off in about 11 days, opening up in Baltimore with special guest Dragonforce. What’s it like for you to be able to go out again on another huge North American tour, on a side note, skipping Detroit, but on a North American tour and bring along somebody like Dragonforce? What does that mean for you guys to be able to do this still?

Thomas: It’s great. The band has been growing in North America and it’s pretty cool. Dragonforce I think is going to be a fun band to tour with. They bring a little bit different fan base to the party so to speak. We’ve known those guys for years so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a lot of fun for the band after the shows and on the tour. We’re looking forward to it.

Toddstar: Again, speaking of touring, if you had to go back through the Kamelot catalog and pick a couple of songs that will always be part of a Kamelot live show in your opinion, what would those songs be?

Thomas: That’s a good question because we’re encountered with a difficulty right now, pulling four or five songs out of the set that we’ve been playing for years. Obviously we want to focus on Silverthorn and Haven. We’re not sure right now. We’ve been doing “March of Mephisto” for a long time as a set closer. It would be difficult, I think, to throw that one out. Songs like “Karma,” a lot of fans want to hear. It’s difficult. We’ll probably end up doing little variations and see how the reaction is with taking different songs that are from the back catalog out.

Toddstar: You mentioned Silverthorn a couple of times. It was a great disc. Haven, I think, has an edgier, more mature sound. Is that something you guys went for or did you guys have that much growth between Silverthorn and Haven?

Thomas: I think we wanted to go for a little bit more modern, maybe, approach with this record. A little bit less symphonic probably. Bring in some new elements like some industrial elements, some… Like we were talking about earlier with Troy. Bringing in a little bit of that folk element to the sound. It was no real huge thought out thing but we could definitely tell as we were song writing that the songs were a little bit more in your face. Maybe a little bit more guitar oriented.

Toddstar: I’d agree. I keep going back to “Revolution.” That’s the song that keeps drawing me back. I think it’s because of that modern edge woven into the sound.

Thomas: That’s cool to hear because initially I was really digging the song. Then I started to listen to the other songs and we weren’t sure if we were going to play “Revolution” live. Now, after listening to it a few times and imagining how that would be at the live show, we’ve been rehearsing that song. It’s probably going to be in the set for at least the first round of the North American tour.

Toddstar: Oh very cool. Looking at this album now, are there any songs that didn’t turn out the way you originally envisioned them?

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Thomas: No. That’s actually an interesting question because usually there’s something like that. I think with Haven we were able to spend the extra time and go back and make changes. For example, “Revolution.” The first version of that was a little bit different. Some of the vocal parts were different and we went back and changed it. Made a few changes here and there. We brought in Alissa to do the heavy vocal parts on the chorus. We really feel… with every record there’s a small percentage of things you’d like to change but this is probably the closest to what we envisioned when we started writing demos and hadn’t even started thinking about the final product.

Toddstar: Do you attribute any of that to the fact that you guys are totally grown together as a unit now? There’s not that whole feeling each other out, growing thing?

Thomas: No. I think it’s we literally had a little bit more time and we actually pushed the time with the record company even more than they gave us. You always have time constraints with release dates. I’d promised myself after this album to not plan anything until the record is done. We booked the U.S. tour and I thought, “We’ll have tons of time before the U.S. tour.” Everything backed up to deadlines and stuff. Sometimes it’s good to have that pressure to actually get things done otherwise you might sit and labor over little things or things that don’t really matter and spend more time than is actually necessary.

Toddstar: Great insight. The only disadvantage, about half of the dates are coming before the actual release of the disc. How do you guys anticipate the new material coming across with the fans? Most of them probably won’t have heard most of the new songs you’re going to play.

Thomas: We have about… I think we have about seven shows before the album comes out, which is a quarter of the tour. There’ll already be two songs released from the album. The first week I think we’re going to play three songs and then once the album’s out we’ll add two more songs.

Toddstar: Okay. That drop date is May 4th here in North America and then the rest of the world gets to hear it four days later on May 8th. Looking back through the history of Kamelot, through everything you’ve done. If there were one or two things that you’d like to be remembered for, that you’re most proud of, or your legacy, what would those couple of things be, Thomas?

Thomas: I know that when I was a little kid I was reading this book about kids around the world. I was probably like seven-years-old. I always dreamed of being able to travel and one of the pages in the book was about these kids in Japan. The first time we were able to actually tour Japan was one of those huge dream come true moments. I’ll never forget that. The cool thing about going to Japan, it’s never gotten old. It’s never been one of those things where we’re like, “Yeah, I’ve done this before.” It’s always been super special to go there. In addition to that, just being able to see different cultures all over the world that I never would have dreamed of as a little kid in Hampton, Virginia. To be able to see some of the places and meet some of the cool people that we’ve been able to meet.

Toddstar: Very cool. Thomas, I know you’re a busy man so I appreciate your time. We wish you well when you start this tour April 27th in Baltimore. We wish you even better wishes on May 4th when Haven from Kamelot is released in North America.

Thomas: Perfect, man. Thank you and hopefully we’ll see everybody on the tour. Horns up.

Toddstar: Horns up. Thanks, Thomas.

Thomas: All right. Take care. Bye.

 

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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