Thomas Youngblood – Kamelot

Interview by Tony Cannella

Line-up changes are all too common in the music business for various reasons, not only in metal but all genres. It’s often hardest to change a lead vocalist which is what the Florida based metal band Kamelot were faced with when popular singer Roy Khan left the band and was replaced by Swedish vocalist Tommy Karevik of the band Seventh Wonder. Well with the Release of “Silverthorn” (featuring the debut of Karevik) and relentless touring even the fears of the most die-hard fan should be put to rest. Tommy Karevik fits Kamelot like the proverbial glove and the band are better than ever – as I witnessed when they played the Palladium in Worcester, Mass on their current North American tour. The entire band were on fire and just plain awesome throughout their entire set; a set that featured a good mix of new songs with older favorites. Following their sound check I had the huge pleasure to sit down with Kamelot’s guitarist Thomas Youngblood to talk about a variety of subjects. Here are the highlights of our conversation…
 
First off. Thank you for doing this. I’m a huge fan, so this is a big honor.

It’s my pleasure.

You’re a few shows into this current tour. How has it been going so far?

It’s been great. We started in Puerto Rico, that was the first time we were ever there and that was great. Last night we were in New York, it was packed, the crowd was super loud. I think the package is really cool for the fans – it’s Eklipse, Delain, and Kamelot. Every night we’ve had some little twist and different things depending on what’s happening with the stage and stuff so it’s been fun for us and I think for the fans.

It’s been awhile since your new album “Silverthorn” has been out. For those who haven’t heard it yet, what can you tell us about it?

Well, let’s see… It’s a concept record. We released it in October of last year, so it hasn’t been out quite a year yet but we’ve been touring like crazy ever since – actually before the album came out we started touring. We just got back from Australia and Asia, this is our second North American tour, and we’re going to go to Europe again. The record for me, it basically exceeded my expectations in terms of making the new record with a new vocalist and maintaining the Kamelot sound, as well as adding new elements to what we do. The fans have been amazing, they’ve been supportive. I think it’s just great, we’re really lucky to have the killer fans we do.

You mentioned that “Silverthorn” is a concept album. What can you tell us about the story?

It’s based in the 18th century. It’s about a little girl and her family. We have a book in the limited edition; we really want the people to dig into the storyline. There are a lot of mysteries and things like that within the storyline. We weren’t really sure if we wanted to do a concept record at first. It started with me and the singer Tommy (Karevik), and we started talking about different ideas and everything started to grow kind of organically from that first discussion. Our producer Sasha and our keyboard player Oliver started discussing ideas, and then it became this thing where we actually wrote a little book. It’s fun to do, it’s a little bit more confining because you have to stick to the lyrics and things like that, but we’re really proud of it.

This is the first album with your new singer Tommy Karevik. Obviously it’s always risky when you replace a popular singer like Roy Khan was. How do you feel that Tommy has fit in both professionally and personally?

Perfect. It sounds cliché, but I couldn’t have imagined it being this good. Not only in terms of the way he sounds and performs on stage, but just the acceptance of the fans and the press. It’s been great; I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do on future records.

How did you find him?

Well, when Roy first told me he was done, I started looking around and checking out bands that were in our genre or the prog genre, because those are usually the bands that have really good singers. I stumbled on to this Seventh Wonder video on You Tube and I was really impressed by Tommy; first his unique sound but he also had this Scandinavian touch to his voice. I really liked that style from when I was a kid and I had Malmsteen records when he had Swedish singers and the band Europe, so I always liked Scandinavian vocalists. They’re able to speak really good English but there still is something different about their sound. We went from there to do auditions and he came in. He actually toured with us as a background singer with Fabio Lione (Rhapsody) as the lead singer just to make up a tour that we had already booked. We started working on the new record. We sent some ideas over to him and he sent some ideas back. That’s when we knew that he was the guy.

Did Tommy have a lot of input on the new record?

Yeah, I mean he basically wrote all the lyrics, the vocal melodies, and the concept of the album. I think on the next record he’ll be able to put a little more into the music side of it. Yeah, we’re really happy with him and also as a writer, which is also an important factor. There are a lot of guys who can sing just like our old singer, but the guy that we picked we wanted to make sure that he was able to contribute with song writing, too.

How do you feel he’s added to the older songs live?

He can sing higher than Roy did. That part of his range started to go away which happens when you get older. I think he’s more interactive with the crowd – which you’ll see tonight. He’s just a nice, fresh kind of jolt to the band and to the live show.

Kamelot has always utilized female singers on stage. I know Alissa White-Gluz from The Agonist is with you guys. Is there anybody else?

The Eklipse girls are on “Silverthorn” and they’re also on this tour so we have them come out and do “My Confession” sometimes, if the stage is big enough. I think Charlotte from Delain is going to come out tonight and do “Sacrimony” with us. Yeah, that’s something we kind of started in 2000 with “The Fourth Legacy” album, we started bringing in female vocalists. My wife actually was in New York with us last night, she was one of the first ones that we had doing that. I kind of forget that we did it a long time ago before it became more common.

Yeah, you were ahead of your time in that aspect.

I guess so, maybe. (laughs)

What about “The Haunting”. Who is going to take over Simone Simons from Epica’s part?

“The Haunting” we’ve kind of taken out of the set, because for me it’s so kind of tied to the old singer and Simone. I’m not saying that we’re retiring it but for this album cycle we haven’t been playing it because we wanted to focus on “Silverthorn”. That song is so iconic to those two singers.

I know you’ve toured with The Agonist before. Is that how you came across Alissa?

I’d heard of her before just from seeing a lot of photos like in Revolver, she’s always been one of the hottest female singer kind of things, but I never really listened to her vocals until they opened up for us a couple years ago. I didn’t even know that she could sing clean stuff; I thought she just did growls. At first I started having her come up and do “March of Mephisto” which went great and then she said “You know I can also sing stuff, too”. She did Australia and Asia with us singing for the first time and it was awesome. She’s very talented and I think she’s a special personality within this whole genre.

Your Keyboardist Oliver Palotai is not doing this tour, right?

Right, he’s at home with Simone (Simons from Epica) his girlfriend; they’re expecting their first child.

Who’s replacing him?

Coen Janssen from Epica. He’s been phenomenal. Oliver’s our guy, but Coen is really doing a great job.

Kamelot has really taking off in Europe. Do you see your North American fan base getting bigger?

Totally. With this record, it’s opening up more. The last time we played here, we sold out, but this one sold out just yesterday. Certain markets are definitely growing, New York was better than ever yesterday. In the metal scene the markets kind of go up and down, like for example Spain ten years ago for us was crazy and now it’s kind of medium. Holland and Norway has always been strong. The U.S. is definitely growing. I can see with the next record playing in the bigger venues. Yeah, it’s exciting.

What are your plans following this North American run?

Where going to take a month off and then we are going to do a European tour; we’ll have ReVamp – which is Floor Jansen’s band with us. Then we are going to take Christmas time off and then we will do a full South American tour: Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Argentina. After that we will probably release a DVD sometime next year and start working on some new songs.

Kamelot with Delain and Eklipse is a strong bill. Do you get to choose your opening bands?

Yeah, we do. That kind of combination works great with our fan base, too. From the first time we took Epica, for example on tour with us, it’s always worked really well. Something about the dynamics with us and the female fronted bands works really well.

We’ve come to the final question. Thanks for doing this; I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. In closing, is there anything you would like to add or say to the fans who might be reading this?

Yeah. Hello. It you haven’t heard of Kamelot make sure you come to the show. Every night has been a blast, so don’t miss out. Thank you for your support to all the fans out there.

 

Photo Credit

Photo by Jeremy Saffer

 

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