To say that Kamelot is one of the hardest-working bands in metal today is an understatement. They released their tenth studio album, Silverthorn, in October 2012, just after completing a full North American tour, and then proceeded to tour across three more continents for the remainder of 2012 and during 2013. They are currently headlining another North American tour, with support from Dutch symphonic metal group Delain and German string quartet Eklipse. When they stopped into New York City last Friday night, founding guitarist and band mastermind Thomas Youngblood sat down with us to talk about their achievements of the recent past, their plans for the immediate future, and what keeps Kamelot going at this stage of their career.
First of all, how does it feel to be back touring in the States?
Excellent! It’s going great! You’ll see tonight that the crowds have been fantastic, the shows have been packed. We’re very fortunate to have amazing fans, and so far, the tour has been great. The package is really strong, it’s diverse. We’re excited!
You were just over in Asia and Australia, and there were a lot of “firsts” for you there, such as your first show in Taiwan.
Yeah, with Silverthorn and with Tommy [Karevik, Kamelot’s singer and newest member], it seems like a lot of new doors have opened for the band, a lot of new opportunities for playing in countries we’ve never been before. From that aspect, it’s really exciting. I’d been wanting to go to Australia for quite a few years now, and finally it’s happened.
You had a good experience there, I assume?
It was crazy! We definitely are going to go back.
You also got to headline the Metal Asia Festival in Korea during your time overseas.
Yeah, that was cool! And of course, we went back to Japan, and we haven’t been there in about seven years. We love Japan – it’s one of my favorite countries to tour. I love the culture, the venues are always top-notch. And we’d already been to Europe, we’d already done a US tour last year, and now we’re doing another North American tour. Then we head to Europe again in November, and South America is coming up in February, so it’s going good.
You’re covering a lot of ground, which is pretty impressive. There are not a lot of bands out right now that are going to all these places.
I think it’s a testament to having great fans, and also working hard on the record, and putting our hearts into everything we do.
You guys are without Oliver [Palotai, Kamelot keyboardist] on this tour, unfortunately, but it’s for good reasons for him. Do you have any news? (Author’s note: Palotai is currently at home in Europe, where he and long time girlfriend Simone Simons of Epica are expecting their first child)
I haven’t heard anything, but I’m sure it will be any day now, because I know Simone is really far along. We’re excited for him, though! I have two kids, and I told him that it’s really important to be there for the birth of your kids. And Coen [Janssen, keyboardist for Epica and Oliver’s fill-in for the tour] is doing an amazing job. You’ll see tonight, he’s so good, he’s spot-on and well-rehearsed. He knows Kamelot, he loves the albums, and we’re very fortunate to have him.
I understand, from what I read in Oliver’s update on your website, that it was almost a trade-off deal, because Oliver had covered for Coen in the past with Epica.
TY: Yeah, the same thing had happened when Coen was having a baby and Oliver stepped in for him. But even if that hadn’t happened, I would have wanted Coen because I think he’s a great performer, and he’s also a really skilled keyboard player.
Well, as you said, you’re going back to Europe in the fall and then on to South America. What’s coming up after that?
Well, we’ll probably start working on the new record, or just taking a break. We’re probably going to have a DVD out for next year, so that will be something that will hold us over until the next record. It depends. We’re all going to analyze everything and see if we want to take a break or get back in the studio.
Silverthorn has been a monumental album for Kamelot, and one of the highlights for me was the fact that you wrote your own story for the album. Is that something that you might do again?
TY: Maybe, but probably not for the next record. We also did that with The Black Halo and Epica records, and I wanted to get back to that. We actually wanted to do that on the last record, but the idea for the concept didn’t really hit us. But when Tommy and I started discussing this album, the ideas came really organically and quickly. Then we knew that we were going to be able to make a concept record like we wanted.
What was the inspiration behind the story of Silverthorn? It’s a tragic and epic story in some ways, but there is also a lot of redemption contained in it.
It reflects art and life; really, everything that we deal with as humans. Like I said, the ideas just started to grow organically. It wasn’t just, BAM!, you have the whole concept. It builds from this idea of this little girl, then her brothers, and then all of sudden, you start building the ideas and the storyline. It grows and it grows, and finally we got to a point where we decided, this is where we want the story to end for this album.
Kamelot has become a veteran band of the metal scene worldwide, and you’ve been part of it since the beginning. How do you feel the band is doing now, in comparison to past stages of the band’s evolution?
It’s funny that you ask that, because today, we had a VIP meet and greet, and there were at least 150 people there just for the VIP! I was just sitting there, thinking about when Sean [Tibbets, Kamelot’s bassist] and I were goofing off in our bedrooms and working on music. To see how it’s grown has been great. I honestly believe that the band is at its top form right now. The show that we’re able to put on – at least at this level without having to bring a truck and pyros and all that stuff – is something that we’re proud of and the fans appreciate. We’re not at the point where some of bands are at, where they’re just going through the motions. Every show is exciting for us. So yeah, it’s been awhile, but at the same time, it still feels like yesterday was when we started. It’s a good feeling to know that we still have a lot of ideas, and in a way, we’re just getting started, especially with adding Tommy. He’s a breath of fresh air to the lineup.
You get a nice boost to the live show having Alissa [White-Gluz, vocalist for The Agonist] with you also.
Yeah, she’s amazing! Also, the Eklipse girls are on tour with us – we had them on the record and on the last video. When time permits, we try to get them on stage with us too.
Anything else you’d like to say to the fans that have been with you for this wild and crazy ride?
I just want to say thank you for your trust in us, waiting for Silverthorn to come out, and now that it’s out, thank you for your support! Like I said, the ride is just getting started!