Being one of the most European sounding US-Power Metal-bands, KAMELOT have just released their absolute masterpiece, "The Fourth Legacy". Reason enough to try to get a date with Thom Youngblood. It took exactly 24 hours since the first e-mail until the phone rang on Super Bowl-Sunday and the Floridian was in the line. Read below, what he told be over the Atlantic...
On "The Fourth Legacy", KAMELOT sound more varied than ever, with all tempi between balladesque and speedy, and now also with Arabian and Irish/Celtic influences and with, at least for Metal-bands, rather unusual instruments. Did these new influences come in the course of evolution or did you try to bring in new unusual sounds?
We knew, when we picked the production team of Sascha [Paeth] and Miro, that they had the resources that we needed to use these instruments. Then when we planned to do this record, like on "Desert Rain", it was basically done on keyboards, but we wanted to make it more authentic and it was great to work with Sascha, because he has a lot of resources for that type of music, with violins and choirs and in this case we just rented musicians.
So these influences also led to "Nights Of Arabia" with its oriental touch and "The Shadow Of Uther" with its Irish/folk roots?
Yeah, absolutely. For "Nights Of Arabia" we basically wrote all the music first before we had any kind of lyrical concept. I was listening to it really good and the picture I came up with in my mind were those first Arabian Night-tales, and I studied those and so came up with the lyrics.
Since "Siege Perilous" the KAMELOT-sound is quite a bit different from the first two albums, which have had that CRIMSON GLORY-touch, I guess mainly because of Mark's voice. Do you think that KAMELOT now have found "their" sound now?
I would definitely say that we have a different sound, but it's always hard, when the vocalist has a very characteristic voice, so I don't think that we sounded much like CRIMSON GLORY, even though we were compared to them a lot. With Roy, there are many people comparing us to CONCEPTION now, but if people really are thinking that, then they are not listening close enough, we really feel that this is a new beginning for us, a new standard that we've set. It's like we're a new band that has just released its second record now.
I think that if somebody knows a band that has a similar vocal style, then comparisons to that band are inevitable.
Yeah, absolutely, but I think that Roy doesn't sound like anybody else to me, he has his own sound, so I think latest with the next album this whole comparison-thing should end.
I personally regard Roy one of the best vocalists ever to be found in the genre of Heavy Metal, also back in his time with CONCEPTION, because he has such a unique voice, which just suits the sound of KAMELOT perfectly. Just yesterday I read a review on the internet, in which he was criticised for not singing aggressively enough, because the way he's done on "TFL" sounded too much like HAMMERFALL!?
Oh, really? I can tell you that Roy doesn't listen to HAMMERFALL, so there is no way that he is influenced in any way by HAMMERFALL. I think that if he sang more aggressive, then it would not be natural anymore. And with his warm voice I think it's a great contrast to what we do musically. To me it sounds perfect, if he would be more aggressive, it would sound, well, a bit cheesy, you know. His style is really classic and we like it that way.
So is Roy now fully integrated into KAMELOT?
Yes, he is a full member, a partner. On this record it was also the difference that we worked together for the songwriting. I wrote a lot of music, then we got together in Norway and we completely worked the songs out. His commitment is very important to the development of the group.
With you living in Tampa (I think) and Roy in some small village in Norway, how did the song writing process go?
It's actually not that difficult. I worked on the music on myself, or along with Glenn and compiled a bunch of ideas on MiniDisc, flew over to Norway, sat together with Roy, go over all the songs, then discuss it and finish them. We work really fast and with our experience over the years, we know what we're doing, I guess.
Can you tell me a bit about the lyrics of the album? Looking at the Egyptian glyphs on the cover and song-titles like "Alexandria" and "Nights Of Arabia", is there perhaps even some kind of concept behind it?
No, we really only did the songs one at a time, but we're actually planning a concept-album for the next record. With Roy involved in the song-writing for the first time, we wanted to do a standard-album first. We're not sure about the topic of the concept yet, because there are a lot of similarities to a lot of concept albums now.
Is there any correspondence between the title "The Fourth Legacy" and the cover? What did you want to express with the cover?
Well, there is symbolism in the cover that deals with "The Fourth Legacy" and the past releases of the band, the title means that it is the fourth album, but for us it's kind of a new start, so it's the legacy we want to leave.
And what did you want to express with the cover?
The cover has a lot of references to women, like "Silent Goddess", so the cover has a silent goddess on it and it's sort of a symbol for what KAMELOT is and we look into the future, looking into the light, we really have a lot of ideas and plans for the band.
On the backcover of "The Fourth Legacy", there are only four pictures, but as far as I know, there are five members...
No, actually after we toured in 98, Dave wanted to take some time off, he's got a new family and wife and we just respect that. We also are not sure, if we'll try to find a replacement, because we really like the chemistry that we have, and if we found a keyboarder that could become a writer, we would add one, but with Miro it was great and the guy has incredible talent and we also sort of contracted him to do the next couple of records, we're really happy about the situation now.
I just asked, because I haven't read anywhere about it, not even on your homepage...
Well, we said a bit about it, but I guess that people didn't make a big deal about it, it wasn't really newsworthy, I guess. Dave's a great guy and we're still friends, actually the door is open for him any time.
Are there already plans for KAMELOT to come over to Europe/Germany/Austria?
Yes, actually we're talking to CRIMSON GLORY about touring in April, so it looks to be CRIMSON GLORY, KAMELOT and EVERGREY from Sweden. It should go for around four weeks and move through all of Europe.
How about the festivals?
We'll most probably do the Gods Of Metal in Italy, right now we haven't heard of the German ones, so we're working on that.
With which band(s) would you like to tour, if you had the choice?
I'd really like to do the IRON MAIDEN-tour, I think that would be a great package, you know, growing up these guys inspired me to play and they influenced KAMELOT a lot, with their imagery and that. That would be the ultimate tour for me.
Do you know anything about the whereabouts of Mark Vanderbilt and Richard Warner?
I don't know anything about Richard, I haven't talked to him since the split, Mark is still working in Florida, he has a family and a few kids, but he's not in the music business anymore.
How do you see the status of Heavy Metal in general and KAMELOT in special in the USA? Are there any people over there knowing KAMELOT?
Slowly it's building up for us here, "Siege Perilous" was our first release in the USA basically. There was not much promotion for it, but we're excited about what's gonna happen in the U.S. The underground of Metal is starting to grow again, it's only a matter of time before we'll get noticed.
Will there also be a tour of KAMELOT in the States?
I doubt it. It wouldn't make much sense financially in such a big country, but of course we would tour with a band like IRON MAIDEN.
What do you think about the internet as medium for Heavy Metal-bands, for promotion, information and all of that?
I think that it's basically essential to complement the normal promotion, especially today, where there are so many people connected. It's even more important for the underground-scene here in America, because it doesn't have the support of magazines like in Europe.
What do you and the other members of KAMELOT do to earn your living?
Until this year I've always been working in the apparel-business, As for the other guys, Casey plays drums sessionally and in cover-bands and Roy works in tele-communication, but this year I took off to devote all my time to KAMELOT.
What do you do in your surely scarce spare time?
I like computing, I like sports, playing tennis, working out to stay healthy, the other guys like Glenn does a lot with arts, I don't know, what Roy does.
And the usual last question: What is your favourite question about KAMELOT that you haven't been asked yet and would like to answer?
I guess it would be, if I do differently after all, if I were able to start again.
So would you change anything?
I would say that there are things that I would do differently for sure, for example to have tried harder to do this tour in 1995, but basically I think that the decisions we've made were the right ones, we're really comfortable with where we are. We would like to be headliner by now, but I really like the feeling to grow with each record.
And any last words to the fans out there?
Well, everybody has to come out to see the concert and get at least a chance to hear our CDs, and buy them, hehe.
1996: Dominion (CD, Noise)
1998: Siège Perilous (CD, Noise)
2000: The Fourth Legacy (CD, Noise)
Thomas Youngblood and drummer Richard Warner founded KAMELOT in Tampa, Florida back in 1993.
In 1995, the band signed a deal with Noise Records and the release of the debut "Eternity" followed in August of the next year. The music press praised the album as one of most promising debuts of all time.
In 1996, the successor "Dominion" hit the stores, an opus that was even more diverse and varied than the debut. Many changes were in the wind after the release of "Dominion". Internal conflicts would arise and the future of KAMELOT was at stake.
Then in 1997, drummer Warner as well as singer Mark Vanderbilt had to be replaced. KAMELOT found more than just mere replacements in Casey Grillo and former CONCEPTION singer Khan, who had already joined the band during the production of the third album "Siege Perilous". The new line-up undertook an extensive tour of Europe during the fall of the same year only to return to the "Gate Studio" in Wolfsburg, twelve months later to produce the fourth studio effort "The Fourth Legacy".
The summer of 2000 brought the "New Allegiance Tour" through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Greece and Spain during which the recordings for KAMELOT's first live album "The Expedition" were made. Only a few months later the band presented their fifth album entitled "Karma", which took Khan, Youngblood, Grillo and Barry on yet another European tour.
Now the new opus "Epica" follows seamlessly here KAMELOT combines all the fortes of the previous productions with new ideas and majestic sounds. "Epica" received glowing reviews from both press and the fans and eclipses all sales of the previous releases. Following the release of "Epica", KAMELOT embarked on another European Tour in April/May of 2003, this time as the headliner, followed by their first appearance in Japan. KAMELOT would also travel to Mexico City in early 2004 to headline the "EpicaFest".
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