Interview: Thomas Youngblood – Kamelot
Tekst by Gerianne Meijer
About a month ago the symfonic power metal band Kamelot released their new album ‘Haven’. After having the pleasure of reviewing the new album I now had the honour of talking to founder and guitarist of the band Thomas Youngblood. What followed was a fast-paced talk about the album, the future of the band and at the end a special message for the Dutch fans!
Where did the title ‘Haven’ come from?
We had some different titles that we were kicking around, but we felt that this one was the most universal. Every country kind of understands the meaning of the word. We wanted the album to have some kind of metaphoric feeling. Fans want to get away form their daily life and escape, so we thought haven would be a good name for the album.
What is a haven for you?
For me that’s always when I’m at home with my family, relaxing and when there’s no stress. But also when I’m on stage with the guys. Those 90 minutes are always a special time.
The album has a few guest vocals again. How do you decide if a song needs any guest vocals?
Usually we analyse every song to nausea. When it came to ‘under grey skies’ for example I realised there was something missing. So we added Troy (Nightwish) and Charlotte (Delain).
The title track is purely instrumental this time. Why did you go for this?
For the last few albums we’ve had an outtro that we feel is like a movie credit. It puts the cherry on top. For us it encompasses the end of the record. So naming it ‘haven’ made the most sense. It’s a film score kind of feel. We also had that with Silverthorn. That one also has an hidden track on it, a lot of people still don’t know that (laugs)!
What is your favorite song on the new album?
It varies. One of the cool things about the album is that there are so many potentially favorite songs for people. Right now ‘Liar, Liar’ is my favorite, but ‘Insomnia’ is really fun to play live.
The music on Haven sounds darker and rougher compared to the other albums. Did that happen on purpose?
We didn’t consiously go for any particular sound, with each album we write for the time. The only thing that we really wanted was that the album had some fresh elements. For example the song ‘revolution’ has some industrial elements. There are dark themes, but also some uplifting melodies that I think counter the dark ones on the record.
I would call those the typical Kamelot melodies. But you are progressing into other styles as well.
I think progression is rather subjective, but it’s been great to see that we’ve been able to grow with each album. Haven was another big step for the band, in terms of charts and sales. We have also just finished the biggest North-American tour ever. It’s a good time for he fans and the band, it’s exciting!
Did you expect to still be growing after 20 years?
Well in the beginning it was a hobby, I was doing it for fun. So to see what has happened, to be able to share experiences with people all over the world, is something that you definitly dream about. We never take it for granted. We try to share something special with the fans every night. Also, with Tommy it seems like a whole new era. Some of the new fans don’t recognize the old songs we play! That’s kind of cool and a testament to Silerthorn and Haven.
I read that you are going to hide some things in the venue on the next tour!
That’s just something that popped into my head. It could be a t-shirt or a drumstick or something. Just little things for the fans to find. Some might get in trouble because they want to stand first row as well, but that’s a decision they will have to make (laughs)!
Did connecting with the fans become more difficult when the band got bigger?
One of the problems is the barricades that some venues put up. We really try to figure out a way around them, so we can high five the fans. We try to exchange a lot of energy between us and the fans. It’s one of the things that make our shows special.
You will be playing in Holland as well on the 16th of October in 013, Tilburg.
Yes, that should be a great show! We are really happy with the lay-out of the new 013. We can fit an extra 1000 people in there now, so it’s going to be our biggest hadliner show in Holland ever! We are already planning the special guests for this show. It’s going to be one the fans definitely don’t want to miss!
Do you remember when you first visited Holland?
I think it was in 1998. We co-headlined with Elegy, we played in a small church or something. It slowly grew from there. It’s been a great progression. The cool thing is I still see fans from the early days at the shows now. If we are ever going to do a dvd it will have to be in Holland! But first we want to make sure it will top the last one we did.
What do you hope for the future of Kamelot?
It will be pretty bright I think! We have a new/bigger fanbase with Silverthorn, so we’re excited. We are getting more offers for touring than ever before. It’s great to have fans that support us! Besides that, I’ve got at least three more albums worth of ideas to put out there so no retirement for us yet!
Do you have a message for the Dutch fans?
Oh, that’s easy! Thank you, thank you thank you for all your support over the years. We can’t wait to see you october 16th at the new 013. I think we might be one of the first metal bands to play in the renovated venue so we have to christen the new room in a massive way. We are looking forward to our biggest dutch show ever! It will be a very special show!