» Thomas Youngblood - Kamelot
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Interview conducted November 08 2013
Interview published November 10 2013

A few hours prior to the gig in Stockholm, Sweden, Metal Covenant hooked up with Kamelot's main man and guitarist Thomas Youngblood to ask about a little of everything. With over one year past the release of the latest album Silverthorn, focus landed more on their live shows, the future and just things in general.

Tobbe: It's been a year since the release of your latest album, Silverthorn. So what are your reflections when you look back at it?

  • Thomas: I'm really proud of it. You know, it's easy to kinda look back and think of things you would have done differently, but I think, given all of the circumstances, I don't really see too many things I would have done differently. You know, from the songwriting aspect, to the packaging, to of course bringing Tommy [Karevik] in as the newest member of the band. I think we're really fortunate to make the steps and the progress that we did in such a short time.

Tobbe: So what has Tommy brought to the band that you didn't have before? I mean, both in the studio and live.

  • Thomas: He's very dynamic as a frontman. More engaging with the crowd. You know, everybody's having a great time touring now and the camaraderie on stage is really good. In terms of songwriting, he's killer vocalist of course, great lyricist. He's great at writing vocal melodies and having really good ideas you know, and really has a lot of input to what we're doing. It's nice to have that and along with Oli [Palotai, keyboardist] and myself working on the albums and our producer, it's kind of a perfect team we've been able to create.

Tobbe: When I've seen him live, comparing to Roy [Khan, ex-vocalist], Tommy's moving way more and he sings just as good and he brings a different perspective to the music, because he's with the audience all the time.

  • Thomas: Yes, that's more of an interface kind of thing, but also maintaining the theatrical aspects of Kamelot that is important to me. You know, in terms of vocals, there's not really ever any issues with pitch, or key issues, so that's a nice thing.

Tobbe: So when you write songs, what do you do to not repeat yourselves?

  • Thomas: Oh, just try all different things. It's a lot of experimenting with different things. And trying to, like you said, not repeat ourselves. A lot of times we might do something and someone will go "That's kinda like that" and you will go "Yeah, you're right" and then you just throw it completely away and start fresh. It does the trick to it, but you know, you always wanna have some kind of signature key, a kind of component to your music that makes it familiar and makes it its own brand in a way. We really would hope that if someone hears a Kamelot song, they'd know who it is, you know.

Tobbe: Do you have anything yet for a forthcoming release, any ideas?

  • Thomas: We have some ideas, but nothing really concrete. Usually I like to be totally isolated when it comes to creating, have nothing on my plate. I don't like to try to do it while we're touring or anything like that. It's good to just have a nice three or four months of just intense time away from everything just to create ideas and then we get together and kind of listen to what everybody's come up with and make an album.

Tobbe: This is the second time you're here since the release of Silverthorn and you played Stockholm in November last year as well, so what differences can we expect on this tour leg?

  • Thomas: We have a different lightshow. We have more songs from Silverthorn. We have some older songs that we haven't played in a while. We have Floor [Jansen, lead vocalist in support act Revamp and also in Nightwish] coming out as special guest on one of the songs. Yeah, it's definitely a different show. It's always a blast playing here. We just came from Finland. We love playing in Scandinavia.

Tobbe: You mentioned playing songs that you haven't played for a while. You hardly ever play songs from the first four albums. It's from Karma to here. Is that what the fans really want or don't you like your material you did in the early days of Kamelot?

  • Thomas: No, I do. I think it's very obscure for most of the fans. I met a fan yesterday that wanted us to play Call Of The Sea from our first album. But she probably would have been the only one in the entire venue that knew that song. So you kind of have to be smart about it, cause you only have an hour and a half and you have a lot of songs to play. To just throw in an obscure song that two or three people wanna hear is sort of sacrificing the rest of them just for that small demographic.

Tobbe: I would wanna hear The Fourth Legacy, the title track. I love that song.

  • Thomas: We have some fans and friends in Italy that are just dying to hear that song. They said that we're not gonna be able to leave the stage if we don't play it.

Tobbe: Have you turned into one of those bands that always ends your shows with the same song? In this case March Of Mephisto.

  • Thomas: Well, at the moment it's like that. We've been talking about changing that and we actually gonna do it on this tour, but right now we don't know which song to end it with, you know. It's kinda difficult. Also if we put March Of Mephisto in the middle of the set, it's just gonna be strange. I don't know, we'll see.

Tobbe: Do you think it'll be more common that bands tour repeated times for each album? I mean, with the decrease of record sales and the killing competition there is nowadays.

  • Thomas: I think it's a double-edged sword, because now bands are touring more. For example, we always were able to come to Europe at least two times with each album. But you see that there's so many bands touring at the same time, cause everybody wants to tour now because the record sales have dropped. So that's gonna hurt, I think, the potential to play in the same city on the same album. So that's something that we definitely are thinking about. At least for the next album, we'll do a European tour that is most of our major markets. We'll do it one time. A lot of new territories are opening up for Kamelot, like in Asia, Australia and we haven't really toured Russia and Eastern Europe before. So maybe it's time to kind of do the main tour and make it as big and massive as possible and then try to work on some other territories.

Tobbe: So what are your plans for 2014?

  • Thomas: We're gonna do South America in February and we just got some offer for one of the Maiden shows. We're gonna be working on the new record most of the year, so we're gonna be busy. Try to spend some time with family maybe?

Tobbe: Two years ago you played the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise and you were confirmed for next year's edition as well [Departure: January 27th]. Now you've cancelled your appearance. Why is that?

  • Thomas: We never confirmed it.

Tobbe: You never did?

  • Thomas: No, it was never confirmed from us. It was confirmed on their page.

Tobbe: Yes, it's been on their website for like six months.

  • Thomas: Yeah, we tried to contact them over the last four months. With phone calls, e-mails and no one ever got back to us, so finally we had to let the fans know that we're not gonna be there.

Tobbe: I've browsed the forums on that and there they're not too happy with what's happening.

  • Thomas: Hey, you know it's like, when you try to work things out with the promoters and they don't wanna reply to the band with details about the show, what do you gonna do? And also, right now it's November and they are not really putting any kind of information out about the cruise, so I would be worried about the thing even happening.

Tobbe: Yes, a lot of people are. They spend a lot of money on this and some save an entire year for this cruise and now they don't know if it's happening or not.

  • Thomas: But it's a good experience. Also if you buy a ticket for something like that, it's like you shouldn't buy it for just one band. I mean, if somebody did for Kamelot I'd think it's awesome though. It's one of those things where we had a personal scheduling conflict that could not be avoided, so like I said we were contacting the promoter about it and nobody got back to us, so we had to make sure that at least the fans knew about it.

Tobbe: I was a little curious because I was there two times and I was thinking about going next year as well, but since nothing happens I will just wait and see.

  • Thomas: I would definitely wait 'til more bands are announced.

Tobbe: What's the big difference nowadays when you're even more of an international band than you ever were?

  • Thomas: Big difference?

Tobbe: Yes. Is there a big difference because now you are three Americans and three from Europe?

  • Thomas: Not really, our base is still in Florida. I think with everything that has happened with the internet and that the world is kind of shrinking, it doesn't really matter where you're from anymore and I think in most of the Western part of the world people are pretty similar. I'd like to think of that the Americans guys in Kamelot to be a little bit more world experienced. So that doesn't really change too much.

Tobbe: Have you ever thought about making Elize Ryd a permanent member of Kamelot?

  • Thomas: Elize is in the band Amaranthe, so I don't think even contractually she could do that. For me I like the freedom to have different people like on the next record or if there's a conflict schedule. People are used to seeing somebody different to come in to the tour. It's already pretty hard to have five people's schedules with birthdays, anniversaries and there's just so much stuff you gotta consider. If you add another person to the mix, that's another issue that I don't really wanna attempt to go into. On the next record maybe we won't have any female parts. I don't know, but it's good to have that freedom.

Tobbe: Yeah, we'll see about that. You'll probably have them. So if somebody never heard Kamelot before, what songs or what album should they check out first to get a good start?

  • Thomas: I would go for Silverthorn, because it's the latest and it has the latest sound of what the band is like and then I would probably go back to Ghost Opera and The Black Halo, that kinda order. I don't think Poetry [For The Poisoned] would be the right first impression. Not that I'm not proud of it, I just think that that was more of an experimental kinda record. I think Silverthorn kinda encompasses everything that we have been in the past and what we wanna go to in the future.

Tobbe: Where do you see Kamelot in ten years, now that you've mentioned the future?

  • Thomas: Well, I've given myself ten more years, so probably like a final show or something. I don't know. Everybody in the band is like totally energized and you know with Tommy breathing some fresh air to the band, to the live show, we feel like we're just getting started, you know. It's great. Like every tour we see new fans, people that are just finding out about the band.

Tobbe: So if or when Kamelot cease to exist, do you have a backup plan?

  • Thomas: Yeah, of course. I gonna be staying home, sitting by the pool and drinking Margaritas. (Laughing)

Tobbe: That's a good plan. So when you first picked up a guitar, what was your goal in music back then?

  • Thomas: It was just an escape from my terrible life, you know. When I was younger I had a really crappy life, so it was more kind of an escape. Even heavy metal in general kind of took me away from things and I never thought about being in a band really. I got a guitar for Christmas and started playing, goofing off with it. Even Kamelot at one point was more of just a hobby. Really until The Fourth Legacy when we started thinking about doing it as something serious, you know.

Tobbe: So how much did you guys practice in the earlier days and how much did you practice?

  • Thomas: I didn't practice so much personally, but the band practiced like four, five times a week. Now we don't really practice that much, cause everybody's kinda got their stuff down good, you know. So we get together a few days before a tour and rehearse and stuff.

Tobbe: When did you guys realize that you actually could go somewhere with Kamelot?

  • Thomas: I think when we first got our record deal. We sent out demos to all over Europe. We kinda focused on certain record labels and when they came back to us with an offer and then a tour offer, that's when we were like "Okay, cool man, somebody likes this".

Tobbe: Do you have any advice for young kids that just started playing, besides practicing a lot?

  • Thomas: Well, I have kids. My son and daughter, if they wanna do music, I'm gonna make sure that they have first a college degree. The music is not gonna be their main thing, because it's incredible difficult to make a living out of it. But they have to be good at it, they have to be original and they have to work their ass off if they wanna be successful, but they still need to have some kind of backup plan, or maybe a plan A and plan B is the music. It's takes a lot of dedication and work. It doesn't happen overnight really, you know. So I would say that. But you know, don't give up on it, but just make sure, if it doesn't work out you can still pay the bills.

Tobbe: So what do you do besides playing music and taking care of your kids?

  • Thomas: I manage the band, so Kamelot is a full-time and has been for over ten years. So I'm very fortunate to be able to live off the music. It's great. Like I said, it takes a lot of work, but it's been a blast.

Tobbe: Well, that's pretty much it. I'm good with that. Thank you.

  • Thomas: Cool. Thank you.

See also: review of the gig the same night
See also: review of the album Silverthorn

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