The Second Coming - Thomas Youngblood Speaks Out!!
Kamelot have been around since the early 90's and have some a long way since the bands early stages. With the release of their debut album 'Eternity' which was released in 95 through Noise Records. Formed by Thomas Youngblood, Thom has continued to uphold the band's name and carry the flag forward into the millennium with further albums such as 'Dominion' in 97, both albums featured Mark Vanderbilt (vocals), Thomas Youngblood (guitars), Glenn Barry (bass), Richard Warner (drums), David Pavlicko (keyboards). The band received overwhelming reviews from the international press and started a strong fan basis. By the time the band released 'Siege Perilous' in 98 Casey Grillo (drums) became the current drummer and former Conception singer Roy Khan became the current singer. The band have released 8 studio albums, 1 live CD, 1 DVD, and 1 re-release CD. I managed to catch up with long time friend Thomas Youngblood in Leeds (UK) on 28th March 2009 to have a quick chat, Here is what Thom had to say. In the meantime check out this awesome band, truly awesome live band!!
First of all I’d like to thank you for doing this interview Thom, it’s been a long time since we last did an interview. It’s also good to see you again. I’d like to start the interview by asking you just how successful Kamelot have become since the early days. Also why so many line-up changes?
“Well we have come a long way since the debut album, had a few line-up changes and have finally established ourselves as a tight and professional outfit. We started out as a small band from Tampa in Florida, not knowing how successful we would become on an international level. I have gone through various musicians trying to find a well balanced line-up. I had to fire Mark and the old drummer, because their hearts were not into the music anymore and we were heading in a different direction from one another. As you know I found Roy from Norwegian band ‘Conception’, who had released 4 albums through our old label ‘Noise’. Roy is a superb singer who has a diverse range to his voice and is quiet capable of handling anything really. He is definitely the right guy for the job after I fired Mark. Since Roy has come into the band we have become a stronger band, more tight and professional, He is a great song writer which really does help a band like ours. Dave left the band because his heart really wasn’t into the music anymore and I haven’t seen him in a long time. I guess we just grew apart. It surely was difficult to find a good keyboard player, but after a few auditions we decided to just hire a keyboardist for the tours, like Gunter from Vanden Plas, who really did help out a lot. Gunter really couldn’t help out for a long period of time as he had his own things to do with Vanden Plas. In the end we found Oliver from Doro to help us out, he is a great keyboardist and we now feel we have found the right choice for the band. Oliver has contributed a lot to the band with song ideas as well as helping out in the studio with recordings for ‘The Ghost Opera’ album. In the last year Glen left the band to pursue a life as a family man. We are still good friends and keep in touch. We now have Sean Tibbetts in the band who was the original bassist before Glen joined the band, he pretty much knows how I work and so he seemed like the perfect choice to replace Glen. As you will know Casey has been in the band since the 3rd album, he’s a fantastic drummer, very professional and has a great creative approach to the music we write as a band.”
So is the music written as a team effort and the lyrics? Does the whole band now live in Tampa? Or is Roy still in Norway?
“Yeah pretty much, I come up with a lot of basic ideas and Roy writes the lyrics. There are 4 of us who live in Tampa, but Roy still lives in Norway. We are trying to get him over here, but he is married and so it’s a little difficult at times. We mainly either fly Roy to Tampa or I will go to Norway to start on some of the ideas for the next album.”
What about recording new albums, does that involve either having Roy come to the US to record or does the band go to Norway?
“Well we actually like the idea of having or using a couple of different studios, one in the US, one in Norway for Roy and one in Germany. We still use Sascha Perth as our producer, as he is like one of the band now, kind of like the 5th member. He is a great producer, he knows how to get the best sound for Kamelot and he comes up with some great ideas which do help the band out.”
So what about any ideas for the next album? Do you think the next album will be heavier?
“We have some ideas right now but it’s very early to give you any hints of ideas. I have some riffs which I am recording when I can but we don’t want to say too much right now. We are not sure how the next album will sound compared to ‘Ghost Opera’, I guess it could be heavier or darker.”
As the band has grown, what sorts of audiences are attending your shows? Do you get a wide range of fans from various age groups?
“Yes we do have a varied range of fans coming to our shows. We still get the old die hard fans coming to our shows, that want to hear a lot of the early material, which we really don’t play anymore. We feel that we want to move on and it’s hard to please everyone these days. We get a lot of young kids coming to our shows now from those who like Emo, Goth, Power Metal and Prog Metal, even some Black Metal kids too, so we do have a varied fan base.”
What’s the biggest fan base you have, country wise?
“That’s a tough question. We have a good following in most parts of the world. We have a big following in Japan, Holland, Belgium, US, England, Germany, but not so much in Spain these days, don’t know why really. The US is really picking up for the band right now, we seem to be getting a good fan base back home. Florida has had a few good bands that have helped us along the way like Savatage and Crimson Glory.”
Let’s move on…, do you feel that the medieval sound still plays a big part within your music?
“We started out with some type of sound like that, but we have now moved on, we have become a darker band within our music, which does have some power metal elements as well as progressive elements too. We are a band that just wants to move on… but at the same time keep our true sound. People change and so does music, but we will always keep the sound that defines Kamelot.”
Out of all the albums you have recorded which is your favourite and why?
“Well I would have to say ‘Karma’, because it was such a special album for me on a personal level. It sold extremely well too. I had a lot of personal things going on in my life at that time, and making that album helped me out. It’s just a great album.”
What do you do when you are not touring or recording, do you teach kids how to play the guitar?
“No I don’t, I really don’t have the time for that sort of thing, I’m a married man now and I have a 6yr old daughter, so when I am not writing, recording or touring I spend my time with my wife and daughter. Casey and Oliver teach kids when we are not busy.”
So what bands are you listening to right now?
“I tend not to listen to any music really. I just really don’t have the time, as I said spending time with my family takes a lot of my time up and to be honest Jase, I try not to let other bands influence me. I am creative and like not to be influenced by other bands. If I get a good CD or demo and I have the time I will listen to it, but I really don’t go out of my way to sit and listen to music these days.”
You had been with noise records since day one pretty much, so why didn’t you stay with them? How did the deal with SPV come about and are you happy with them?
“Yes we had been with noise for a few good years. Our contract finished and we were approached by SPV, who seemed really interested in us. So we signed a deal with them. We are happy with SPV, but like all labels there are things that could be better. We have finally solved our problems with them and are now happy.”
Making that DVD ‘one cold winter's night'’ Do you feel that the timing for that DVD was right and do you also feel that you chose the right country for the DVD?
“Yes we felt that the timing was right for the DVD, we had come a long way since our early stages and we have grown with a big fan base now. We chose Norway as we felt it was the perfect location and it was also Roy’s home so we booked it and it went extremely well. The filming was perfect, great camera work, great sound. We had Epica opening up for us so we felt it was a good night to have Simone doing the duet with Roy as she did on the promo video for the song…..”
Are you sponsored by any guitar companies?
“Right now yes, I have ESP guitars who endorse me. I use to have Jackson guitars but Fender bought them out so I switched to ESP. They are great guitars man!!”
So this is your first full UK tour, how well is it going so far? Also what festivals are you planning to play this year?
“So far the tour is going great; our fans have welcomed us with open arms. They’re a great crowd, you Brits ha-ha! We still have more UK dates to play but so far it is a successful and sold out tour. We will plan on coming back very soon and I am sure Leeds will be one of the stops on the next tour. We are playing some festivals including Sweden Rock which is going to have a big pyro display.”
Well Thom, thanks for doing this interview, good luck with tonight. Take care my old friend. Do you have any thing to say before we finish this interview?
“Yes, thank you to our fans here in the UK for their support, we hope you like the shows. Thanks for buying our albums, look out for a new album soon and a future DVD in the works. Cheers Jase for the interview, good luck with the webzine."
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