Kamelot: A Metal Haven in This Modern Age
As Kamelot approaches their 25th year of existence, this American power metal band rages on with the unveiling of Haven – their 11th studio album. This time around, Kamelot addresses issues directly affecting us in this modern age, and the glorious anthems to be found within Haven reflect a true auditory adventure. Prior to leaving on their tour with Dragonforce, we caught up with Kamelot founding member and guitarist Thomas Youngblood to find out more about the mighty Haven, the modern approach they explored within the lyrics, thoughts on the forthcoming 25th anniversary, and other epic topics of intrigue. Read on…
The new album, Haven, how does it compare to the previous Kamelot releases?
I think with Haven we went with more of a modern approach not only with music but lyrically. Musically, it’s got the Kamelot DNA that all the records need to have, but we wanted to add some new elements and experiment with some of the songs and we were able to do that. Lucky for us, our fans were kind of expecting that.
What is the overall story or concept behind Haven?
There’s not a concept, but there’s definitely a theme. We’ve been talking a lot about things going on today with technology and social media and everything that comes with that whether it’s good or bad. I hit a lot on these post-apocalyptic movies and thinking about the future. Those kind of things, I think, really lent themselves to give us a record with themes that can be dark but also be uplifting. We wanted to have a record that kind of had different emotions that we needed to convey the message for Haven. In the end we have a song called “Revolution,” which is sort of this heavy release of energy that we want the fans to have at the end of the album.
Select two of the songs off of Haven that you might be playing live – what inspired the lyrics?
You’ve got “Veil of Elysium,” which is about the afterlife. How we all – whether we believe it in or not, somewhere in the backs of our minds we would hope after we die that there’s something else. Then you’ve got a song like “Admission Revolution,” which is sort of a protest to the craziness that’s gone on now with technology and how we’re losing our actual social skills. We have social media, which isn’t social at all. We have people just looking at their mobile phones driving their cars and not really paying attention to anything except their phones. That’s part of what that’s song is about, we’ll play that one live. We’ll play “Insomnia,” which is a song about the big stresses of life for whether you’re a student or an executive. A lot of people, they go through a lot of stress and insomnia is actually a fact in their life. I have a little bit of that myself, actually. Those are three we’ll definitely play for sure. We’ll play songs like “Liar Liar,” “Fallen Star.” With Haven, we’ll probably play all of them at some point over the tour cycle. I think all of the songs have a real perfect blend for the live situation as well.
Is this an album that maybe someday that you’d like to play from beginning to end?
Yeah, that would be great. We have to cut a lot of old songs out but I think it is one where we could do that. I haven’t really thought about that since we did Black Halo, which is ten years ago. Yeah – I think it’d be real fun to play this record front to back.
What has it been like working with Sascha Paeth on the last few albums? What does Sascha contribute to the overall recording process?
He’s like a sixth member of the band. He’s been with us for ten years. He knows everybody in the band, our strengths, our weaknesses. He’s been a crucial member of the team over the last years and also – starting with The Fourth Legacy, he’s been an important part of forging the original Kamelot sound, so to speak. It’s just been an amazing asset to have him on the team.
What are you looking forward to the most about this upcoming tour with Dragonforce?
I know it’s going to be a fun tour, those guys are a lot of fun. We’ve hung out before, a couple of times, whether at a Kamelot show or another music convention. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun on that aspect. I think the diversity of the two bands is going to make a really cool show. They have a different thing going on but their mixes of power metal and our power thing ,so I think it’s going to be a cool package.
What can we expect from a live Kamelot 2015 show?
K: It all depends on where you see us, of course, but we try and bring as much as we can of the same show we do in Europe which is usually a little bit bigger. But in North America you have certain restrictions, you can’t do pyro but we always bring extra lighting. There’ll be a whole brand new set up – the setlist will get a little bit of a shake up as well. Of course our goal every night is to come in and kick as much ass as possible. Hopefully when the fans walk in they just can’t wait to come back.
You’ve been working with the new vocalist, Tommy Karevik, for a few years now. How has that been working out so far?
It’s been great. With Silverthorn he was fresh, he was a newbie. Then once we were able to tour together and you get to know each other a little bit better, he became a little more comfortable with the band and the fans. We were able to get a little bit more of a comfort level to do things on his own, not to have too much pressure on his back. I think that comes through with this record. His vocals are really outstanding on this album.
Do you still keep in touch with Khan, and if so, what has he been up to?
No, I don’t. We haven’t heard too much from him. I just heard that he’s living in Norway with family and as far as I know he’s very happy.
Next year Kamelot celebrates its 25 year anniversary. First, what do you think has kept Kamelot alive and thriving for so long?
First, I think we work really hard on being diverse with each record and growing and changing, and evolving. I think that’s important. Of course, the fans that we have that have been with us since the beginning that have followed us through the journey. Those two elements are really crucial. Putting on the best live show that we possibly can is also crucial.
Second, do you think there’s any plans to celebrate your 25 years as a band?
Not specifically. Of course every day that we’re able to do this and continue to grow is a celebration in our minds. We just try not to look back on too much. We’re big on looking ahead and having goals, things like that. I think maybe a nice glass of champagne and night and OK – time to move on.
Is there any band that either now or from the past that you would like to go on tour with?
That’s hard to say – we’ve been able to tour with Iron Maiden. We’ve done shows with Metallica. I can’t think of any bands off the top of my head that have been a wishlist of touring with. Those two bands were my first choice. [laughs] It’s hard to say – we’re at a level now where we’re kind of lucky that we can do headliner shows pretty much anywhere. When there’s big festivals, it’s always play with different kinds of bands like Slipknot, for example. There’s always different opportunities that may come up in the future.
Are you currently involved in any other bands or projects outside of Kamelot?
No, Kamelot is my thing. It’s my passion. I’m also part of the management team, so it definitely keeps me busy. At some point I’d love to take a few years off and do something different. Some musical project, but that hasn’t come yet. Hopefully maybe after the next album I’ll take a little breather and do something on the side.
Do you have any messages for Kamelot fans out here in the Southern California area?
We’re coming out to Anaheim in about three weeks I think, check out kamelot.com for those dates. It’s at a really great venue called The Grove – we’re expecting a full house. So definitely get your tickets now and we’ll be coming back at the end of the year doing a show in Hollywood. Keep an eye out for those dates, check out Haven. It’ll be in stores May 5th, and we’ll see everything then.
Members: Thomas Youngblood – guitars. Casey Grillo – drums. Oliver Palotai – keyboards. Sean Tibbetts – bass. Tommy Karevik – vocals.
(Interview by Ken Morton)
KAMELOT North American Tour With Special Guest Dragonforce:
4/27: Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
4/28: Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero Theater
4/29: New York, NY @ Webster Hall
5/1: Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
5/2: Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
5/3: Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theater
5/5: Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
5/6: Joliet, IL @ Mojoes
5/7: Minneapolis, MN @ Mill City Nights
5/9: Winnipeg, MB @ Garrick Centre
5/10: Saskatoon, SK @ Louis Pub
5/11: Calgary, AL @ MacEwan Hall
5/12: Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall
5/14: San Francisco, CA @ Regency Center
5/15: Anaheim, CA @ City National Grove
5/16: Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
5/18: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theater
5/20: Austin, TX @ Emo’s
5/21: New Orleans, LA @ New Orleans Civic Theater
5/22: Birmingham, IL @ Iron City Live
5/23: Orlando, FL @ House of Blues
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