Interview with Thomas Youngblood of KAMELOT
Interviewed by EvilG
This is my second time interviewing Thomas, the
first being for the release of Kamelot's THE
FOURTH LEGACY, and now for the promo of their new album KARMA.
Although this band plays melodic / symphonic metal...they have a sound
all their own. In this interview we talked about the new CD, the
meanings of some of the songs, DVD plans, touring, guest musicians and
for educational value you can find out just what a Shakuhachi is!! So
read on and enjoy.
Oh, I canīt complain. The new recordīs doing great. We
entered the German charts in the top 100 and we have some cool festivals
weīre going to do this summer. Weīre getting ready to start writing
for the next record too.
Already? [Yeah!] (laughing) Thatīs
good. Itīs good to have a band youīre into thatīs busy. [We
definitely stay busy...] Not like SLAYER with ten years between
albums, eh? (both laughing) Iīd like to jump right in to talk about
your new cd "Karma". First, I must say itīs an excellent
follow up to "The Fourth Legacy" and very fitting follow up at
that. Iīd like you to tell me a little about the title
"Karma" and what significance it has to you?
Well, we didnīt come up with the title until we were
halfway in the middle of actually recording the songs. Kahn and myself
are like basically best friends. We have to be because we spend so much
time writing and then you know when the band tours and stuff. I think
for both of us we started analyzing kind of the way things are going in
our lives and we really feel that, I mean, it sounds a little bit corny
but we really feel the way we treat other people has a huge impact on
the way our lives turns out and the way things go for us. We want to be
on that side of having good karma, you know. Itīs really true, it
really fits perfectly into the musical theme that we have for the song
'Karma' and itīs sort of the whole kind of feeling we had during the
recording process, songwriting process so it was like a perfect title
I donīt guess either of you are Hindu or Budhist,
No of course not.
Thatīs where it originates from...
As far as religion goes we donīt really subscribe to
any particular religion. The way god is represented but I donīt really
subscribe to any particular religion. I basically feel that organized
religion is more about separating than bringing people together, showing
differences instead of what everybody has in common.
Right. How do some of the songs on the CD relate
to the title "Karma" and would you say itīs somewhat of a
theme that shows up in some of the songs besides the title track?
Well, "Karma" is definitely not a concept
record but I guess with that mindset when youīre writing songs theyīre
going to filter into the other songs. I mean, I think it is a song about
trying to get the best of any situation thatīs handed to you and make
the absolute best out of it. Thatīs any person or company that keeps
you from your goals that you want to accomplish in life. Then you could
look at the flipside with a song like "Elizabeth" about how
this race against time and vanity is really destructive and really try
to understand that life is not only about being beautiful and things
In the song 'Karma' the line: "Who will trade
his karma for my kindgom". What specifically was meant by that
line, I was wondering?
Well, itīs hard for me. Iīm not really sure because
that particular line was specially written by Kann. Itīs from a Kingīs
perspective where heīs gone through life really treating people
terribly and in the end he knows heīs going to die and he wants to
trade this basically bad soul for his kingdom to make sure he doesnīt
end up burning in hell or coming back as somebody. I think thatīs the
viewpoint from that lyric.
Right. Very cool. Why did you decide to end the
album with the three song trilogy about Elizabeth Bathory? I guess
one reason I wondered why is because of a lot of other bands, not
necessarily Melodic Metal, but Black Metal type bands seem to love to
sing about Countess Bathory. So why did a band like KAMELOT decide to
cover that in a storyline?
Well, basically it is coincidental that other bands have
done it before us because our personal viewpoint.. I have never heard of
Elizabeth Bathory or even heard about the subject being sung about so itīs
totally a sort of ignorant standpoint when we first started writing
about it and I had said... initially talking about the idea of doing it.
This song Elizabeth Bathory and later on we heard from different
journalists about this band or here that Black Metal bands did this
song. Not the song but they did this lyric. I found it kind of ironic
but at the same time we knew that whatever, of course weīre not going
to copy Black Metal bands. [No... laughing]. Weīre really proud of the
song. So, it was just coincidence. I guess its a really cool thing for
if you want to do a dark subject its really appropriate.
Yeah, definitely. The first time I heard it was of
course VENOM 'Countess Bathory'. Theyīre the band that I originally
heard it. I remember copy cat bands...
I heard of a group called BATHORY and I never really
knew what that meant. Then, like I said after we had done some
interviews regarding it I heard about VENOM and CRADLE OF FILTH. Thatīs
not the worst company I mean weīre not into Black Metal but those are
bands that are doing things...
cool. I assume the woman on the cover of "Karma is supposed to be
possibly Countess Bathory?
Yeah, thatīs KAMELOTīs version of Countess Bathory.
I wasnīt sure at first but when I noticed she was
standing in the crimson blood...
Itīs kind of funny because we got a little bit of flack
for "The Fourth Legacy" but you know at the same time there
was tons of feedback on the cover, especially the guys loved the cover
of "Fourth Legacy". Uhm, it wasnīt really something we
planned to do with this cover to have this beautiful woman on the cover
again but it was just appropriate and doesnīt really hurt of course. In
regards to KAMELOT we all love women. Weīre not going to put an ugly
woman on the cover, it doesnīt make sense.
(laughing) True, true, plus it wonīt sell albums,
eh? Some guy flickinī through cds is going to stop when he hits this
It doesnīt hurt but thatīs definitely not our plan
from the start.
Oh, I know. It works on more than one level.
(laughs) One of my favourite songs on Karma is "Across the
Highlands'. Could you tell me the story behind that song?
Yeah, I mean I think itīs just basically taken from the
story of Highlander. Thereīs a guy thatīs immortal and he kind of goes
through centuries of being with people that he learns to love and know
and the mortals they die on him as the years go by and he continues to
live on. I think eventually he decides "look I want to see what
this is about. I donīt really want to go through all these different
lives around me dying on me without dying myself". Thatīs kind of
where the viewpoint comes from.
Yeah, I thought it might have been about or
related to the movie or your idea might have come from Highlander
because I love the movie. That was my first thought especially with the
line in there about "I am immortal".
Yeah, I mean, I guess we would never know unless we were
immortal ourselves but Iīm sure just like everything you want to
experience different things and you go through life, centuries of life
with people dying on you it canīt be all that great.
No, I guess itīs got itīs good and bad, eh?
(laughing) Probably more bad as the centuries go by.
I know I donīt want to be alive in 150 years. I donīt
think I would like the way the world will be then, you know.
Youīre a pessimist? (laughs)
Well, Iīm not a pessimist I guess Iīm more of a
realist. I think if If you look at the way history is and see the way
things are going with commercialism of everything and love for
materialism and money, things like that. Hopefully maybe there will be a
renaissance to change it but I donīt think it will be within a hundred
(laughs) Hey man, youīve got to watch some Star
Trek. That will give you a better outlook on the future! We wish!
Another thing I notice about some of the songs on here is that there are
a few songs that deal with "loss". For example the story about
your dad "Donīt You Cry" and then thereīs
"Forever" thatīs also about someone whoīs passed on. What
message would you hope listeners would take away from the lyrics or
listening to such songs?
Well, Iīm not really sure that weīre trying to send a
message out. Both of those are kind of personal for Kahn and I about, I
think the thing thatīs different about "Karma" is that weīve
opened up a bit in our personal lives. With 'Donīt you Cry' itīs a
song about my father that, Iīve never really expressed anything to
basically any of my friends or anybody about the way I feel about this
sort of guidance. Even though bad things do happen to me things seem to
work out somehow, I donīt mean like the normal kind of way. Even in the
worst situations things seem to work out. Even though I donīt really
believe in angels. It seemed appropriate for the melancholy feel of the
music. Really thatīs what inspired the lyrics for that song. With
'Forever' is taken from the viewpoint of someone that is dying but itīs
actually more about a relationship that you have to ask the person
"will you be there when I die" Thatīs what the real essence
of that song is about.
Right. Interesting but both are true stories,
obviously 'Donīt You Cry' is but 'Forever' also true. Itīs based
on something that actually happened to Kahn I assume?
Itīs based on a girlfriend Kahn has had for years and
of course 'Forever' is about my father.
Right. Is there a song on "Karma" that
is about the Camelot, King Arthur Knights of the Round Table deal or is
this something you stayed away from this time around?
Thatīs a good question. I guess the closest thing would
maybe be, well, actually we did a song on the Japanese Bonus disc that
we did not put on the European release called 'Future King' which is
about King Arthur. That song, you know, it just didnīt fit into the
whole spirit of the record in a way. I mean, Iīm sure youīve heard
with these Japanese releases you have to put these bonus songs on there.
Even though the song is a good song from our opinion, but it just didnīt
fit the spirit and just to put it on there just for the sake of the
Camelot theme or King Arthur thing wouldnīt have made sense. Itīs hard
to say. I think the style still captures the sort of thing about
fantasy. The song is kind of a tribute to the people that really want
this escape from the every day kind of life. The guys that are into
fantasy and RPGīs or thereīs Star Trek like you mentioned. Things that
are not of this world and thatīs kind of what that song is about. I
guess itīs not any real reference to Camelot.
Is this something that youīll return to maybe on
another album [If possible] or is it something you personally wish
you never started because you felt you had to do it every now and again?
Nah. I definitely donīt wish we had never started. I
think hopefully the name, not the name of the band but the name Camelot
transcends just the story of Camelot and King Arthur. I think itīs been
used for different things and thatīs kind the way we want to use it as
a band name. The next record we plan to do is going to be a full concept
which will not be based on King Arthur so I can say that 99 percent that
it wonīt be on the next record but I canīt say that it wonīt....
Any details being given out on what the concept is
yet or is it still too early?
No. We have the idea and thatīs what weīve been
waiting for. Weīve been waiting for the right inspiration and you know
weīve talked about doing a concept record and we finally feel that we
have the right story to start with. I canīt really, I donīt want to
elaborate on it yet because itīs still in the starting phase.
Yeah. Ok, thatīs understandable. I wanted to ask
you about "guest musicians". There are a number who appear on
your cds. Do your producers Sascha and Miro pick many of these
musicians, or do you guys request who youīd like to show up on the cd
Itīs a combination I think. With the string players,
the quartet guys (we didnīt know any quartet players), the violin
players, our cellists. So Miro was basically totally in charge of
finding people for that. When it came to background vocalist I suggested
Olaf Hayer and Roy also suggested this girl from Norway. I canīt
remember her name right now but.. (laughs)
She was the one who also sang on Luca Turilliīs
No, she hasnīt sung on any Heavy Metal records. Sheīs
a samba vocalist from Norway and her name is Liv Nina Mosven. So those
are two people that we definitely wanted to have and you know Miro and
Rizzo and Robert Rizzo they basically work with Sascha for a lot of
projects and they kind of round out all the background vocal sessions
Can you tell me what song is Olaf Hayer doing
backing vocals on?
Iīm not sure. [laughing] I would guess probably on
'Wings Of Despair' and 'Forever' and I think that might be the only two.
Thatīs the only two I really hear good choir vocals on. Maybe 'Across
the Highlands' too.
So you guys requested him yourself?
Yeah. Well he lives right there and basically in the
same area as Sascha, so we knew that he was a high quality vocalist. So
we wanted to have him on the record.
Cool. I wanted to ask something about an
instrument I noticed in the list that Iīve never heard of probably
because itīs a Japanese or something instrument. Itīs the
"shakuhachi"? [shakuhachi, yeah] What is a
Itīs a type of flute I think... (at this point
something interrupts and heīs got to yell out "Heelllooooo! Iīm
doing an interview!!") (both laughing) Itīs a type of flute that Iīm
not sure I think itīs used in the middle of the ballad that we have and
itīs also in the intro.
And that leads me to my next question which is the
orchestration, the guest musicians, the different instruments that you
bring into your albums... Can you ever see a day when KAMELOT will do an
album without orchestration or has this become such an integral part of
your sound that it would be hard to dispense with using it?
Itīs hard to say. I mean, basically weīll probably
always have a keyboard player and those are basically sample sounds of
an orchestra. Thereīs not a lot of difference between the two other
than thereīs a realism to using real strings and real orchestra
compared to the synthetic, you know. I think if we were to use just
keyboards a lot of people wouldnīt notice the difference really. For us
we like to really try to do things now at a different level.
Right. I donīt think your fans would be too happy
if you decided to drop it all anyway.
Well I mean it might be cool. I think thereīs some
songs here actually where there is just a guitar, bass and drums. Thereīs
a lot of different parts and thereīs not always strings going on, you
know, which is if you listen to "Expedition" thereīs a lot of
more raw sounding. I really like that sound too. Itīs different.
Youīre live album you mean? [Yeah] Yeah,
right. Thatīs another thing, you guys have been pretty busy in the past
couple of years. "The Fourth Legacy" being released in January
2000. Then you toured and released your "Exhibition" album in
2001 and here we are still in 2001 and we have ANOTHER album. So at this
pace can the fans expect another studio album in 2002?
Uhhh, definitely. Weīll be in the studio probably March
2002. We do what we do full time now so itīs a little different then it
was four years ago when we all worked and KAMELOT was more of a hobby,
you know. Now this is what we do full time. We put all our energy and
passion and time into what we are doing. Thereīs really no excuse not
to do a new record every year. Except for Laziness.
(laughing) Yeah, true. I was wondering do you guys
plan to pull an "ICED EARTH" and re-record your earlier albums
or maybe just a couple of the songs with Kahn on vocals?
I wouldnīt mind doing a few songs. I wouldnīt want to
do a whole album. I think thereīs something about the atmosphere and
the time that those records where done that make it a special release
for me. There are some songs that I think Kahn could have done better
especially with that style that maybe where written more for that style
of singer. But itīs going to be up to Roy if he wants to do that
because you know, I donīt think heīs really inspired to go back and do
old KAMELOT songs. I donīt blame him but it might be something we do as
bonus tracks here and there.
Youīre about to begin a tour and there is one
date in June in Florida and I read you are going to film the show, or at
least one of the songs, for a video. So I just had a question about that
regarding is it the full length home video you want to do or is it a one
song video deal?
Well, what weīre going to do is weīre going to release
a DVD called KAMELOT Raw. So weīre going to pull out a lot of videos
from the last tour. Weīll pull out videos from the recording sessions
of "Karma". Weīre going to take video from the Tampa show,
kind of behind the scenes, rehearsals, all these little things that
hopefully KAMELOT fans will find interesting and put that on DVD. So
thatīs part of what the tapingīs going to be for that.
Excellent. Any idea when you might have that
Were looking for January 2002.
I think every band should have a DVD. I just got
the STRATOVARIUS home DVD. Itīs excellent. Itīs kind of like what you
said, like you get to see what the band is like. You get to see a bit of
the off stage on stage. Itīs very cool.
I think especially for fans in North America maybe they
donīt understand the Situation is different and Eruope and other
countries but compared to here Itīs kind of hard to see that without
actually SEEING it. Festivals are better over there with 50 thousand
people or whatever. We just donīt have that sort of thing over here. I
think it will be kind of neat for the North America fans.
Yeah, definitely. Weīre not spoiled by that
Speaking of that actually, the US version of
"Karma" will include a bonus track and also hopefully the
fifth CD weīve put together a little clip of some of what "KAMELOT
Raw" is going to be and also some live footage from Greece. So thatīs
going to be on the American version of "Karma".
Oh ok, wow, Iīll have to pick that one up for
sure then. The version I got I guess is the European version with 12
songs, right? [Yep] I know Europe has to be the location
of your main fan base but the past couple of years I assume things must
have been improving for you regarding fan base in the USA and Canada.
Yeah, definitely. Itīs something weīve been waiting
for and hopefully with "Karma", you know the promotion is
going to be bigger. I mean, you can only do so much with the record and
you can only produce so much with the record, it kind of takes the
record company to help us get the name out. And I think with "The
Fourth Legacy" that started and we really got a lot of great
response from fans in North America and especially in Canada. I would be
really happy to do some shows in Toronto and up in Montréal. [Yeah,
definitely] I love Vancouver.
Thatīd be excellent. So is your only confirmed
date for North America right now this show in Florida?
So far. Weīve been asked to do a festival in Altanta
probably for November. Weīll probably do that. And I know that our
record company in America with Century Media is really working on trying
to get a tour package together for us and for the fans. Something thatīs
going to give the fans a really big bang for their buck. So weīre
working on that too, you know.
Well hopefully something happens because we donīt
get much over here, right? (laughs)
Right, exactly! Its kind of cool like down here in the
Tampa area weīve got some shows coming through. NEVERMORE was here the
other day and SAVATAGE is coming and so I think its coming back slowly,
Yeah, definitely. ANGEL DUST toured with Opeth and
Nevermore and PRIMAL FEAR actually showed up at the New Jersey Metal
Meltdown in April. [OK] That was their first time in North
America. [Yeah] I actually went to that it was amazing.
Thatīs pretty cool. PRIMAL FEARīs a really good live
Yeah, Theyīre really good live, definitely. I
know, youīre doing a few shows in Europe with MEGADETH coming up. Do
you find that kind of an "odd pairing" maybe, KAMELOT /
MEGADETH on the same bill?
Yeah. I mean, itīs going to be interesting. Weīre not
really 100 percent sure about what to think about it. Obviously weīll
be playing in front of a lot of people and hopefully we can convert some
of the MEGADETH fans into KAMELOT fans, you know. Obviously our style is
totally different but it still represents metal. Weīre on the same
label now basically with MEGADETH and so weīll see what happens. Itīll
Yeah, definitely. Well, Iīm a fan of both bands
but I like a lot of stuff. Iīm sure there will be some MEGADETH fans
who wonīt know who KAMELOT are.
Yeah, probably not and hopefully we can make....
Thatīs the point. Will you tailor your setlist to
probably try to please those guys? Like you wonīt play 'A Sailormanīs
Hymn' for them maybe? (laughing)
We probably wonīt play that! (laughing)
Yeah. Not that thereīs anything wrong with that
but you know! (laughing)
Well, it takes a certain, I mean, weīre lucky because
we feel that KAMELOT fans are very open-minded. They understand when we
do a song like that or 'Donīt You Cry' that itīs not "uncool"
you know, itīs not wimpy. Itīs part of being a person. We donīt want
to be bogged in to Melodic Metal songs only. We feel that as a band with
diversion and our fans can appreciate that, you know. Obviously we donīt
want to introduce ourselves to heavy metal fans playing sissy ballads.
(laughing) Yeah, gotcha. Can you tell me what is
new with KMI records and is there anything new with that? Are you still
actively working with that and are there any new releases or things
Right now everythingīs kind of been put on hold. With
'The Fourth Legacy' a lot of things happened for us and new
opportunities making us busier than ever. So, really nothingīs
happening right now. Iīm looking at doing this PowerQuest for Europe.
Itīs really hard to find the time to do it and do it properly, you
know. So I would say basically nothingīs happening right now.
Youīre too busy with KAMELOT obviously. Is there
any other news happening with KAMELOT that you would like me to pass
along to people?
Hhhmmmmm. Well, letīs see. I think we pretty much
covered everything I mean, weīve got the new album with the bonus
tracks. [Right] Thatīs pretty much everything.
Thatīs good. Well, the most exciting news for me
is the DVD because Iīm a big fan of DVDīs [Cool!] and
especially METAL DVDīs!!!!
Itīs going to be like I said. Itīs going to be called KAMELOT
Raw so its not going to be this polished kind of video thing. Itīs
going to definitely be this handi-cam footage of a lot of stuff. I think
itīs going to be interesting and not overpriced. Itīs definitely going
to be a good value.
Transcription kindly provided by Skyklad from
Official Website: www.kamelot.com