Something More Than Rock Stars
By Sara Lambeth and Dave Schwartz
A few weeks ago
DaBelly staff writer Sara Lambeth and I
journeyed to the Marquee Theater in
Tempe, Arizona to interview Thomas
Youngblood, guitarist and founder of the
band Kamelot. I asked Sara to
accompany me because, well to be honest,
Kamelot was a bit of an awakening for
me. I knew the band by name but
hadn’t really immersed myself into their
music until we were offered this
interview. Sara on the other hand
had been a fan since the release of
their 5th record, “Karma” in July of
So with about a
week's notice I did my research and was
rightfully impressed. What a rich
tapestry of storylines were woven into
Kamelot’s previous nine albums and soon
the release of their 10th record,
“SilverThorn,” was due. What incredible
music. All I kept thinking was--
10 albums, how did I miss 10 albums?
On October 7th
Youngblood, Sara and I discussed that
question and more.
we are backstage at the Marquee with
Thomas Youngblood, guitarist and founder
of Kamelot. Thomas, congratulation
on the new record, “SilverThorn”.
DB: I have to be
honest from the onset and tell you that
I’ve heard only snippets of
“SilverThorn,” primarily the teaser
material that you’ve released online.
We had short notice on this interview
and unfortunately there wasn’t time to
arrange for and listen to the
promotional version of the record.
TY: I know
that you’ll get a chance to hear it and
I hope you like it. It’s really
exciting for us because this album came
out way beyond our expectations.
It’s a real luxury to have this great
new material, to be on this tour with
Nightwish and we’re excited about the
video that will be coming out.
Everything is just clicking in place for
us right now.
with the new record you’ve decided to
tour across America first. Someone
who knows the business might say that -
with the changes that have occurred
within the band, primarily the addition
of your new vocalist Tommy Karevik -
some might argue that you’ve decided to
play some of the smaller stages to tune
up the band prior to playing the larger
venues in Europe. But that
wouldn’t be completely true would it?
Where was your first show with Tommy
first show for Tommy was at the Masters
of Rock Festival in the Czech Republic.
There were about 30 thousand people that
night. It was a baptism by fire
for Tommy. He really kicked ass and
since that night he’s grown into a
really amazing front man. He’s the
perfect fit for Kamelot.
DB: We are
looking forward to the show tonight.
Whether intended or not, Karevik’s voice
is reminiscent to Roy Khan’s and I’m
eager to hear Karevik’s interpretation
of your older works.
TY: One of
the reasons we hired Tommy is because
his voice had a similar quality and when
it came to writing the new record we
wanted to keep the Kamelot sound.
But also we want to grow. We want
to show that Tommy is his own vocalist
with his own thing going on. We
know the fans will see that.
you write “SilverThorn” with Karevik or
was most of the record in place before
of “SilverThorn” was written by myself
and Oliver (Palotai), our keyboard
player. We presented the songs to
Tommy to work on vocal melodies and
lyrics. So yeah, Tommy wrote all
the vocal melodies and lyrics. I
think Sasha, our producer helped a
little bit, but for the most part Tommy
is already been assimilated into the
Kamelot. To me it’s a really good sign
for the future. I know that we
will be able to invest a lot more time
into writing the next album.
you tell us a little bit about the
concept of the album?
concept was a collaborative effort
between myself, Oliver, Tommy and our
producer Sasha. It started with a
little idea and just kept growing.
We actually have a limited edition box
set and we have a book. Amanda
Somerville is a good friend of ours,
she’s a vocalist, she does choirs and
stuff, Amanda took the story and
expanded it into this cool little book
for people to have. It’s a real
nice collector’s album.
for “SilverThorn” is original, about a
little girl in the 19th century named
Jolee who dies at the hands of her twin
brothers. It deals with an
affluent family that handles tragic
events leading to cover-ups, secrets and
betrayal. The album cover is
Jolee, the main character and angel of
afterlife as an adult.
I’m guessing that you started from a
fresh concept. You wrote the story
first and then built the music around
TY: No, I
always focus on the music and the pacing
for the record. We fit the lyrics
and the story within that framework.
Now some of the songs, like the last
song was the last song written and it
opens with a funeral scene. So of
course the song was built around the
idea for this funeral. But for the
most part we wanted the music to always
have that Kamelot feel without having to
adapt it to fit a concept because I
don’t think the music would’ve flowed
the same way.
sample of the new record I heard came
across to me as a little darker.
Your last album, “Poetry for the
Poisoned,” was darker as well,
especially in the vocals. You’ve
said that there is a hidden meaning to
“SilverThorn”-- is there a right or
wrong interpretation to this meaning?
Are you going to share the hidden
meaning or will you leave that up to the
the people start digging into the songs
and the story they’ll find the
in-your-face meaning, but there’s also
different elements to it. There’s
hidden stuff on the record, hidden
tracks. There’s always cool little
twists and turns that we try to put into
our records. We have some amazing
guests on the album. Elize Ryd
sings the clean female vocals, Alissa
White-Gluz is once again on this record
doing the growling parts, and she’s
actually with us tonight.
back to the book, are you going to tell
the full story including the parts that
are hidden on the record?
book is an expansion of the story
itself. The lyrics support the
story, but the book is giving you more
detail. But you should know that
there is still stuff left out.
It’s up to your imagination, you know?
With the book we are including a poster,
a bonus disc with a bonus song and it’s
packed with all kinds of graphics and
stuff. We always to try to put
everything we can into each record so
that the people who buy our albums get
their money’s worth. It’s a
philosophy this band has had since day
one-- when it comes to packaging we
don’t cheapen anything down.
was the first time you’ve entered the
studio with a new singer in a long time.
What was the preparation like? Did
you approach writing music any
goal from day one was to make a Kamelot
record so we didn’t do anything
differently. We wrote the songs in
the same keys, the only real difference
was that some else was writing the
melodies and lyrics and Tommy did an
amazing job. He worked a little
with Sasha on it. I wasn’t in the
studio when they recorded vocals.
Once Oliver and I started working
together on this album I knew that the
music was going to be Kamelot. The
next step was to make sure the vocals
fit in with what we’ve done in the past
but also that they offered hints of what
is yet to come.
DB: I felt
your last album, “Poetry for the
Poisoned,” was heavier, especially in
the lyrics. It was certainly
heavier than “Karma,” my favorite.
The new record seems heavier as well.
The music has the old “Karma” feel, but
the vocals seemed more like “Poetry,” do
you think that is a fair description on
the new record?
think one of the things I missed in
“Poetry” was the melody, like you said.
You know, like with “Karma” and “Black
Halo,” the chorus had a melodic sense to
it that we didn’t have on “Poetry,” it
was something that I was missing and it
was one of the first things that I
talked to Tommy about; bringing more of
a melodic sense to the song. He’s
really great at writing melodies.
Almost every chorus on the new record
has a significant melodic feel to it.
But at the same time I don’t want to
abandon the melancholy undertones that I
personally like in our music. I
think it’s an important component that
helps make us unique-- blending
uplifting choruses with a verse or
mid-part sections that are darker and
make you feel a little sad. But at
the end of the record I want people to
feel good about life, I don’t want to
leave them feeling like they want to cut
their wrists! That’s one of the
things that I thought we missed on
“Poetry” and it’s certainly one of the
things that I think people liked about
albums like “Black Halo.” Even though
it had some darker elements, it also had
this uplifting release as well.
Kamelot’s music is rich with drama and
tension and so I understand your
description of the melancholy undertones
in your music. Your approach to
Kamelot’s music lends itself well to
your videos which are also dramatic.
Have you started work on any videos for
yes, we’ve already shot two videos.
The first one is for our single,
"Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife,)" which
features Elize Ryd and Alissa
White-Gluz. We shot the video in
Serbia and it came out amazing. We
expect to release it just before the
album goes on sale. But I think
the drama portion on the music is what
makes the show important. We like
to add a little theatrics to our
performance as well. I mean
tonight, we are not the headliners of
the show (Kamelot was touring in support
of Nightwish at the time of this
interview), but we try to bring as much
theatrics as we can and I think that
it’s an important component to the
presentation of the music. As we
wrote this album we were thinking of the
live shows and so there’s going to be a
lot of cool songs to play live.
many of the new songs are you playing
live on this tour?
now we’re just doing one because the new
record isn’t out yet. We’re
playing “Sacrimony.” We’ve also played
“Song for Jolee” a couple of times.
I think we want to wait for the record
to come out before we start doing too
many songs. We only have 45-50
minutes to play opening for Nightwish so
it would be kind of weird to play a
bunch of new songs and not play songs
like “Forever” or “Rule the World.”
that “SilverThorn” is a concept album,
do you intend to at some point go out
and play it from beginning to end?
don’t know. We’ve written two other
concept records and we’ve never done
that and if you do, that you’re in a
position where you have to omit other
songs that people want to hear.
Maybe at some point, but for now our
focus is to always blend the significant
songs from the past with the new stuff.
curious of your history with music.
I read that you used to play the
saxophone, do you still play?
When I was 12 or 13 I played saxophone
and I remember playing along with this
one Stevie Wonder album, but at some
point I got a guitar for Christmas and
started playing guitar. The
saxophone just went to the side!
Once in a while if I’m in a pawn shop or
a music store I’ll see one and think
that I might try it again, but it never
else do you play, a little keyboards,
TY: Yes, I
play a little keyboards, some drums and
bass. All of those to me are
tools. Even the guitar is a tool.
For me, it’s not so much about being a
guitar hero, it’s about using all those
things to write music and be creative.
looking forward, in November you’ll be
touring Europe and playing some of the
larger stages. Are you looking
forward to the transition to the larger
definitely. This has been our
first support tour and I think it was
really good because it gave Tommy a
chance to really start doing his thing.
I mean he was basically ready when this
tour started. But yeah, we’re
looking forward to the headlining tour
because we can play 90-120 minutes and
do our full production. In some of
the cities in Europe we’ll do the pyros
and everything. So yeah, we are
really looking forward to it, but I must
say that this has been a great
experience. The Nightwish people
have been killer. The crew, the
band, everybody is super cool.
They’ve had their moments of drama, but
we’ve tried to support them along the
way. Overall it’s been good, it’s
With that the
interview came to an end. As Sara
and I were packing up our equipment and
thanking Thomas Youngblood for sharing
his time, Youngblood announced that
Kamelot would be back in America for a
headlining tour in 2013-- be sure to
watch for that tour announcement.
later I was departing the Marquee
Theater. Kamelot had long since
completed their show and Nightwish was
in the final couple songs of their set.
As I walked across the parking lot
toward my car, I noticed Thomas standing
over by the tour buses, chatting with
friends. As I kept walking I
suddenly heard my name called-- it was
Thomas. “Hey, how are you doing?
What did you think of the show tonight?”
he asked. I shared my thoughts as
we chatted and had some laughs.
I have to admit
that I was impressed that he came over.
It’s just not something that most
artists would do. At the same time
it underscores just how much Thomas
cares about his music and cares about
his fans. There was a welcome
lesson learned that night, in a world of
inflated egos, attitudes and rock star
mentalities, Thomas Youngblood is
something more than just a rock star.
Kamelot online at