The new release of the Florida based band Kamelot was announced in Europe for January 24th. A few days before the release date I had the possibility to meet Thom Youngblood. We met to talk about The Fourth Legacy.
When I heard that Roy Khan joined Kamelot, I expected that it'll sound like your new album. I know that when Roy came in the band the material was already written, so this it the first real album of Kamelot with Roy as a singer for me.
With the last record it was kinda like the beginning, that was what we thought gonna be the new sound for us. With this record we worked together on basically every aspect of the record... music, lyrics, arranging. That was fun to us and I was able to go to Norway for the first time. And Roy, he already been to Florida, but he took more time to come to Florida. Also I was living in Virginia.
Like I said this sound like what I expected to hear from Kamelot with Roy. So... You deal with different topics on the album. It's no conceptual album, which is pretty popular at the moment. So you don't follow this trend!
No, the concept is not to do a concept album. The standard for concept album is gonna go so far down, coz so many bands been doing it. For me the standard is Operation: Mindcrime or The Wall. You know, stuff like that.
I would add a few...
To me it's.... Well, it's gonna get round to easily...
For me the album got more interested through the different influences. In a conceptual album you won't have the possibility to use so different influences. It's always going in one direction, even musical-wise... Putting some Irish or Arabic influences into, won't be possible... Or it won't be easy to do!
Unless it's a concept album about going round the world, you could do it that way, but... That's true, with a concept album you are limited. We actually talked about doing a concept album, but Roy really wanted to kinda show what it wanna be like with him in the band as a regular release and... So, that's why we didn't do it!
At the moment there are too many concept albums, so perhaps later.... When the trend is not to do it!
Absolutely! We don't wanna do it unless be inspired as well. It has to be an inspirational... thing to do it, about the concept to do for us. Not just to do it, to plan it. It has to be really inspired.
How you came up with the idea to use this influences? The Arabian thing. Was it through the lyrics? Or how?
No, the lyrics came last. I've been listening to different kind of music... New Age stuff, Persian music, Celtic music... Different artists... And that's part of the inplugs to the music. And basically we knew when we did Arabia that... That the song text has something to do with and than I started looking into tales. The Arabian Night Tales really strucked my and being interesting. That's what we basically looked at for that one.
So what can we expect when the album is out. The reactions you got to the soundfiles you placed at the Noise Records web page been really great! What about touring? Are there plans to play at festivals this summer?
Whatever, we're gonna tour and we try it to tour in summertime so that we can get some festivals. We talked about the Gods Of Metal in Italy. And if there are some festivals in Germany, we definitely gonna do them! But... It depends on time, we gonna talking with Crimson Glory about possibly touring with them. So we'll see.
In 1998 you played at the Bang-your-head and on the tour with Elegy some people showed up, but now you need the chance to play in front of more people... Perhaps the timing was not right.
Yeah, but... It was...
The coming tour can push it for the band...
Definitely, we toured in '98 with Elegy and ... I mean it was a really great experience for us, even though the planning wasn't exactly right for it and we didn't play in front of as much people as we want. We learnt a lot from it. We had a great time, coz the guys in Elegy we got pretty good along with them. I think it was a good learning experience for us. I think it made us a better live band, when we come around this time. It wasn't what we wanted, but we learnt a lot from it.
Yes, and I think now it's time to get a step further.
Right! We are really looking forward to do this material live! We think that the dynamics of this songs in the live set will gonna be even cooler than last time.
And I think due to the touring working with Khan and also Casey made this band a union. I think live it'll be more intense. I think it's a different feeling, even for the audience....
Yeah, plus for Khan... When he toured with us last time, he was singing songs that he didn't have heart for, because he didn't take part of the writing. He is really super excited about being in Kamelot! You know, a year and a half ago he was into it, but know he's really excited! He's really motivated and he really sees the future for the band... What we can do... We are really proud of this record. We feel that it sets a new standard for us. And inside we feel that there are a lot of things we can do. So I think all those sort of elements combined for the future of Kamelot is really exciting!
And it's the right time, this kind of melodic power metal is really popular in Europe. A good timing for the release and it hopefully will gain more attention in Kamelot.
Yeah, I mean I heard that. We really don't follow any kind of what's going on...
... It's just a co-incidence that... But I mean it's... The album is different to everything we've done. It's in my opinion the best material we ever written. It still has it's Kamelot backbone. We haven't really tried to change our style.
And it shows a lot of variety in the album.
Versatility and... Additional influences that we tried to put into.
For me it's a perfect mixture of Kamelot and influences from the last Conception album, not just because of Khan's voice.
I mean if you hear a vocalist of a band which was popular, there always gonna be a comparisment to what they did. So that is something we expect. For me it's important that we gonna keep this signature of kinda Kamelot sound. But add this new elements and continue to grow. And as I said if it has certain elements of a different band, than it's okay!
It's not like it's sounds like Conception, it's still Kamelot with a little bit of Conception.
That's fine. We can live with that, we just don't want to sound like Conception at all.
It doesn't sound like Conception, some sound pieces just reminds me of the last Conception album. Flow was different from the other Conception albums and many fans of the band don't like it. So... Perhaps it was a good decision for Khan, even if he didn't know how it will turn out.
I mean, we knew when we were writing material, when I was in Norway.... We stayed at his fathers cabin up in the woods and we kinda knew that what we were doing there was something special about it. We really felt that way. The important thing is like to be able to project this into the final production. Because in a lot of times the demos sound better than the final production, coz the energy it there and the spontaneous is there and I think we managed to do that.
Yeah, I think so, too. And I think you take your time for the recordings here in Germany. The recordings didn't take for months, not even through the budget, so I think that is also part of the spontanity of the album. Coz if you have 4 months or even longer, you record again and again the same songs / parts and at the end all the freshness is gone.
We took 2 months to record it which is longer than we ever did, but it was a different sort of technique we did it with. And we keep the spontanity We didn't completely had the songs finished when we went in. So this is element of sort of creating and writing in the studio which I like the way to do that. So in future we'll definitely do it that way!
And a good producer like Sascha Paeth says this could be changed or try this, give some advice, but never try to change the sound completely. I think this helps a lot. To get an idea by someone outside of the band who just tells his ideas and if it doesn't work out, okay.....
Sascha was really... Had great ideas. Miro, co-produced of the album, was really instrumental in arranging the keyboards we given him. Kind of like a real keyboard player would do it.
And I think Sascha is a great producer, but not every production he did sounds the same! There are some albums when you listen to them, you know immediately that this or that producer did it. Sascha is great, but he didn't put his trademark on every album.
He definitely works for the band and works for the song, you know. In that order, he wants the band to have it's own sound, but the song dictates a certain thing, he add it. Producers I worked with in the past certainly have the same settings for every production. They use the same guitar sounds, drum sounds for every album. He used like different guitars on this album on every song! So we experimental a lot on this album. He is really more concerned to keep the Kamelot sound. I mean, he has his own band which is totally different to everything he produces. That shows his professionalism!
I think that's really important!
Definately! I mean, you can hear the additional influence on the record. A combination of the production team and also our dedication to sort of adding new influences. That's also part of every record we do. We wanna grow and continue to like... It's kinda searching new little musical avenues.
What many forget, I think, that Casey came in at the same time as Roy. Now you really grow together as a band. I think that's also obvious when you listen to the album. It became more unique. If two people in a quartet are new, than it adds an influence, even if it's the drummer.... It influences the sound.
Right. To me the drums on this record are my favorite. I love the way they are.
I agree totally!
It's almost a musical line on it's own. So we are fortunated to get Casey! He is a great person, easy to work with. And on tour he is a incredible live drummer which is really important!
It's important for the band that this line-up is stable... And at the moment it looks like there is a bright future.
The chemistry.... You never can say what it's like in the future... The business is so strange and people... Every time there are different personalities you can't really control the situation. But we are really happy with the line-up and the chemistry... Everybody enjoys what we are doing. We all dedicated to one goal! In the past we didn't had that!
This makes the album stronger.
Yeah, I think this is a different unity, you can feel the spirit of the band being happy with the material. And... I don't know, positive energy, I think.
Back to the new influences... In the info we got it's written that for the recordings of the additional sounds you used instruments you haven't seen before. So how you got to use them? Or asking this guy to play them?
The basic idea for this, your talking specifically of Desert Rain the intro for Nights Of Arabia... I had the ideas for the song in a kind of a raw structure that I've done on keyboard, so I did kinda six or seven tracks of different instruments, but Miro was very... into knowing what's authen;tic and what's not and kind of arranging what we need to do. So what I do, I gave him the piece and he take it from there. He made it sound authentic, just right for the album. And that's kinda important with the producer, too. to take kinda the idea from the artist and really make it... Either if you want it authenticate it and do that or if you just wanna make it sound better, the best it can be!
It's good to have someone like him on board for the production!
And we already talked about doing the next two records with him. We are really looking forward to challenging him then. And pushing their sort of creative and the resources that they have.
So we can expect a lot of it!
Exactly! I mean, we expect a lot out of ourselves and like I said, I think that this record sets a new standard for ourselves!
That's the point, if you always try to go on and see it as a challenge and try to get better, you might take it a step further. It's wrong to feel too comfortable with what you've done, coz than you stick to what you reached.
I've been asked, if I'm 100% satisfied and... I mean, I never been 100% satisfied! And if I'm than I'll stop!
You should never be 100% satisfied!
Of course if somebody is reviewing it than he can be 100% satisfied with. As far as creating and trying to grow I'm always looking for the better.
You can say that what I've done in the past was good, but now I have to go a little further.
I mean that's really when I look back at the history of the band and...
There was a constant development...
Yeah, every album for me is a step forward and that's important! I always loved bands like Queensrÿche, coz they are doing it the same way. They grew with each record and learned things and their career grew. That's what we wanna do, we wanna grow with every record. Just come out with an album that takes off and a year later you never hear about the band anymore.
Yeah, one hit wonder...
We committed ourselves to do at least ten records!
And I think it's better to build up a following little by little by touring and recordings. Instead of releasing one album and make it. Then there is a lot of pressure and that might put damage on the band. It's not healthy for them.
Yeah, if you look at the band who been around a long time, they did it that way. Savatage for instance! They grew from that scene and... For me they always been the same, but I know that the spirit is still there!
But for them it's still a challenge to go on!
Sure. I mean the fans expect that and you should expect that from yourself. I think with this album we made a huge step as far as dedication to the band. In the past it was more like a hobby band, kind of side-project sort of thing, too... Our every day life like working and that type of thing. With this album we kinda really wanna go for it. I think it gonna pay off. To me, these are the best songs we ever done.
That's the way it should be.... So we have to wait and see how it'll turn out. But you are in a good position, you have a good promotion and the people know Kamelot. And the word of mouth is stronger than every ad! The soundfiles people really blow away, so....
So far I've been all over. I've been to France, Italy, Spain and now Germany and the response been the same everywhere! The people loved it and... I think it's not that the people were trying to be nice. I think they really feel a certain specialism about this record.
The ballad, I forgot the name of it, is very strong, very emotional! Often bands feel like they have to have a ballad. I know that you don't see it that way! I can imagine that live it is a great song to give a break between the powerful stuff. It fits perfect into it.
Yeah, I mean... I think we are lucky that we can do different textures and different feelings in our music and it's still it fit. A normal metal band wouldn't do a ballad like Sailorman's Hymn! With acoustics and strings and somehow we managed our way to be able to combine different styles of writing.
And Khan can sing ballads like that... Not every singer can do that!
He is one of the best ballad vocalists around, you know. To me it's without any doubt the best Kamelot ballad we ever done! And I think at least from Khan's perspective it's the best ballad he's ever done!
Quiet a while ago I talked with some friends about the tour and Khan did a real good job entertaining the fans. He has a great personality on stage.
Khan is from the school of... the more classy side of being a lead vocalist. Like a Geoff Tate would be, instead of this guy who is running around. You know, screaming at the crowd and that type of thing. It's his own personality, he's not like that. On stage he is more the classy side, but he's still entertaining, for me.
The people don't feel bored... I mean he's very intense...
Yeah, he sings with a lot of soul and passion... On the record you can hear it and live... Especially with this new material that he co-wrote.
I think he's is a person who is heart & soul for everything he's doing. He seems to me being 150% into Kamelot! This is for me the reason which make it special, in comparison to singers who 'just' do their job!
We talked about doing this record and about playing live and it'll be totally different this time! He knows... He was part of it in the past... He gave so much input into the creative side.
How about the States? Will the album be release their also?
Yeah, it'll be out in Febuary and we now have a better distribution there. More promotion, so we are really looking forward to... really pushing the band in America! It's gonna be definitely at least 10 times better than it was for us in the past.
I know that in the States it's not easy for national bands.
Metal is still underground there. But I think the internet helps a lot of keeping people in touch and it's growing.
I think that's a great possibility to reach people in countries where you can't tour.
Absolutely, you know we have a webside that we try to make dynamic and keep the fans interested in the band.
And sending out emails telling what changed at the side and things like that which always remind the people of the band.
Let's face it, every day people are busy with their jobs and they can't think about Kamelot all the day... It's good to have a little reminder here and there about things that happen.
Noise Records had one of their bands, Warhead who played with Grave Digger, live on the web with a concert. Would that be something for Kamelot to present themselves to fans who can't see you live?
Yeah, that would be cool, but I think now the technology on the internet is exactly perfect yet. I know that some bands kinda do that, but it gets interrupted a lot and... I think I don't wanna do that kinda thing until it's more perfected admitting the problems of transmission.
But for people who haven't the chance to see a band live... I mean producing a live video is expensive, more or less, but it's nearly impossible to sale enough to make a break-even.
I think as long as it does justice to the live performance and that's not sort of interpretation, for me it's even worth for the band. You know, certain soundfiles that really sound like crap. If you compare it with the CD it's not like... It doesn't do any justice to the hard work you put into!
Yeah, but I think most people see it just as a kind of ... getting an idea of what the band / album sound like. I think they don't judge it on the sound quality. But it's good to check out a band, before spending money for a CD. I mean for most people 15,- Euro are a lot of money.
Sure, the prize of CDs is not cheap. You know, it's important for us, too. That's a reason why we put a lot of work even in the artwork.
Kamelot have a kind of trademark with the sign and the whole artwork kind grow with each album.
We try to put a kind of thematic thing to our covers with this violet / purple. I look back to the days when I was buying albums from Iron Maiden who had that theme. That's kinda inspired me of that thing.
That's something people remember. Personally I don't like bands who change the style from album to album. Okay, sometimes it fits, coz it's a conceptual album, but I think it's better to stay with a trademark which people identify easily while flipping through CDs.
I like this collection kind of feeling. I like the feel that Kamelot fans might kinda feel to get a piece of a collection with every album. Beside the music, that's kinda collecting a series.
This collecting thing is not that kind of popular here in Europe... Like this trading card thing in the States. Perhaps that'll change...
As far as like bands...
Yeah, like Iron Maiden... It was always obvious that it's Iron Maiden as long as Eddie is on the cover!
We talked about the prize of CDs and I think it's important that there is respect for the fans and what they have to spend! That they get what they are paying for!
I think a band shall remember that their fans had to work for the money they spend... Also for tickets... Always remember that when playing live!
That's true. We did our co-headlining tour in '98 with Elegy and I think a lot of people thought that Kamelot was kinda headlining. So they expected us to play longer, but it was co-headlining, so we had to split the time up. After one of the shows one of the fans was like "Why didn't you play longer?" Basically I explained that we are under a contract and that we would love to play for 2 hours! It was the system, you know.
Often people don't know that, coz the ads and posters make them see it different.
But Elegy played longer than a usual support would do, so if you see the amount of time than it's still 2 hours. The difference was that we shared the time.
Hopefully we'll see a full-length set next time!
It depends on the status we'll have on that tour. I mean, we'll take the chance to support to reach more people and probably return for some headlining shows.
If you could choose a band to support for, which one you would choose?
I would love to support Iron Maiden, they are one of my all-time favorite band, plus... The styles are different, but I think the fans would really appreciate it.
So perhaps you can play with them on one of the festivals...
That would be great!
They are confirmed for the Dynamo.
Actually Dirk Bruinenberg of Elegy and I made a bet last year at the Dynamo... Bruce was coming back and he was like "They'll headlining the next Dynamo". He was probably right.... We would love to play Dynamo. It would probably fit into what we wanna do as far as the timing, but there is a lot of politics...
It's always the same!
We are not really kinda pushing it for the festivals, expect the festival people come to us.
If you nagging them for playing, they might say yes, but than you play in the middle of the night and fans might be too tired or too drunken....
The whole point is you wanna entertain people and you wanna grow your fans and if it's gonna 3 o'clock in the morning... There are only 200 people and they are all passed out, that's not the point... That makes you feel like shit.
That make no sense. Even if the costs are covered, it make no sense to spend the time on it...
We'll come over to tour and hopefully we can include some festivals.
I hope to see Kamelot soon here in Europe. The new album is killer, in my opinion. I would like to see them live and if it'll turn out that they'll tour with Crimson Glory it would be pretty cool. So, keep you fingers crossed!