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Thomas Youngblood Kamelot - Interview
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American power/melodic metal band Kamelot return in 2015 with a brand new album entitled "Haven" which features another string of guests including Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz, Troy Donockley from Nightwish and Charlotte Wessels from Delain. We had a chat with guitarist Thomas Youngblood to discuss the new tracks and what to expect on their upcoming tour.



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Thomas: How are you doing?

Andrew: Doing very good! How are you?

Thomas: I'm doing excellent.

Andrew: How's things with the band at the moment?

Thomas: Everybody's doing great! Obviously we're excited about the new album and now that it's completed, we're ready to come out soon with all the big touring that's going to start up in a week from now so everybody is psyched and pumped to get going!

Andrew: I was listening to a preview of the album and it sounds really good. How happy are you with the songs?

Thomas: We're really happy, we kinda felt that we had a strong record in the middle of the songwriting part and then once we started hearing the vocals from the first mixes, we started to get really excited about it. You always wonder a little bit because we're so proud of the whole thing but we had a little bit of time to reflect on the whole songwriting thing so that was a pretty cool thing to be able to do that and step away for a week or two and listen to things later. So yeah we're pleased with the outcome, we kinda had a lot of different goals on this record and we feel we were able to achieve that.

Andrew: What were the kind of things you wanted to do with this album?

Thomas: I mean the first thing was make an album that was probably one of our most diverse, that was an important thing to do. Something that really had every song have it's own different kind of spirit and feeling. We also wanted to do an album that had a bit more of a modern touch to it so I think some of the songs reflect that and also when it came to the mix we wanted to bring it a little bit more in your face and have a little crisper mastering. So we took a chance in doing the mastering on the record and really pleased with the outcome.

Andrew: Just looking at the tracklist, there's some great songs on there. One of my personal favorites is "Revolution", do you have any favorites at the moment?

Thomas: That's one of them, "Liar, LIar" is also one of my favorites, "Insommnia". It's hard to say, I've spoken to a lot of different journalists and they all have a different favorite which is also pretty cool! Travelling out we're probably going to be doing "Revolution", "Veil Of Elysium", "Insomnia" and we're gonna add a couple more songs. And then probably through-out the touring cycle we will exchange different songs here and there.

Andrew: OK so playing a bunch of these songs live, when you wrote and recorded these songs, was there any thought into how these songs would play out live?

Thomas: Sometimes you get that sense when you're in the middle of writing it and you think about what the mid-part that could be dropping down so you can do something with the crowd. But in general we don't think too much about it when we're making songs, it's not really the way that we write them. But sometimes when we're right in the middle of it we think that this is going to be a great song to play live. "Veil Of Elysium" for example we had that kind of feeling and once we were able to play it in London, the crowd loved it.

Andrew: How do you pick out songs that you know you want to play live?

Thomas: We talk about it like 'What songs do you guys want to play?' and this one right here and this one would be good. Sometimes we might just do all the songs from the new album, I think at some point every song on "Haven" will probably be played live. We might have 2 songs that we interchange with 2 other ones from the record for example. I think this is one of those records that we could do from beginning to end which I would love to do, I never had a record that I felt that we could do that and on this album I feel like that would be cool.

Andrew: Another big thing with this album is you have a number of guests on there. Alissa (White-Gluz) from Arch Enemy and Troy (Donockley) from Nightwish, a lot of great guests on here. I know it's not the first time you have had guests on albums before but how did it play out this time around?

Thomas: Yeah that was kind of a last minute sort of thing, we brought those folks in. There was never really any original plan for anybody and then these songs kinda opened up the door for that. We had a couple of songs and one of them was called "Under Grey Skies" which is one of the ballads on the album and I had been talking to Troy Donockley from Nightwish on the tour we did with those guys. And I thought it would be a cool thing to add to that song and Alyssa has been touring with us for several years. She actually came down to Australia with us and to have her on the record again was great and to have her singing clean. So yeah it's been fun to be able to kinda integrate friends of ours into the album "Haven".

Andrew: Does that make the whole album recording a bit more fun having friends on there?

Thomas: Yeah sure! It makes it a little bit more different [which] is always nice, we usually don't bring the same guests back like for examnple Alyssa but like I said before, we wanted to showcase her clean singing and she was able to do that in the song "Liar, Liar". And it's always nice's a really small community with all the metal bands and it's cool to be able to work together and collaborate on things.

Andrew: Now a couple of years ago you had a new singer, Tommy (Karevik) is your new vocalist and this is his second album that he is on. Now that he's been in the band a couple of years with another album under his belt, how is he doing now with the band?

Thomas: I think those 2 years of touring have been huge for the continuity and also for his confidence and I think that came through "Haven". To me his vocals are the best he's ever done with any band that he's been in before. So I think it's a natural evolution for anybody when you first start with something and then they get more comfortable and they're able to grow and contribute more. That's I think the key to be able to contribute more with this album.

Andrew: Obviously you are going to be touring a lot for this album doing the U.S. and Europe and all that so what can the fans expect on this tour? Obviously you will be playing a lot of the new songs but what else can the fans expect?

Thomas: Yeah we'll be shaking up the setlist probably, there's going to be a lot of changes in the setlist. Obviously there's going to be a whole new stage design with the album theme and everything and like I said before, I would like to be able to play a lot of songs from "Haven" on the tour so starting out with like 5 songs from the new album and slowly interchanging different ones through-out the tour cycle.

Andrew: Now that you've been around for a number of years now and have a whole selection of albums to choose from, is it quite difficult to pick a setlist?

Thomas: It is actually, it's very difficult! Especially with having a new record and taking songs out and trying to decide what song to take away. So even right now we start touring in about a week and still haven't finalised the setlist so it's definitely not an easy task. It might be fan favorites but that's kinda the nature of the beast so to speak.

Andrew: What is the album from your back catalogue that you think the fans go craziest for?

Thomas: It depends, I mean we have a lot of fans that love the "Karma" record, "The Black Halo", "Ghost Opera" and a whole new crop of fans with "Silverthorn" so those are probably the top 4 from the back catalogue.

Andrew: So what's your favorite song to play live?

Thomas: Still "March Of Mephisto". We've been doing that song for 10 years, it's been the show closer which is probably something that we're going to change to do something different. It's still my favorite song to play live, it's got so much special, powerful kind of infectious groove to it that I just love playing live. The fans really dig it and everybody goes nuts and it also of course helps from my impression to see the reaction from the crowd.

Andrew: Do you still enjoy touring as much as when you first started out?

Thomas: I love meeting the fans and playing, it's the travel part that's not interesting to me but that's part of the trade off. We're kind of fortunate we have a nice tour bus and the conditions are very nice so in general while in part it's "a problem just to hang out with family" so that's why we try to schedule our tours a certain so we're not gone for more than 4 weeks at a time and yet we're not at that point like Metallica where we go out for 2 weeks and come home for a month or whatever. But we definitely try to get away for a month maximum at a time.

Andrew: Yeah I suppose touring can be quite gruelling and can take a toll on not only your mental halth but also your family and friends.

Thomas: Yeah exactly and that's why when I'm definitely not touring or not doing anything related to the band, I try to spend as much time as possible at home.

Andrew: Now the question I gotta ask as well is are you going to try to make it to Australia on this tour?

Thomas: Absolutely! We had such a good time last time and that was our first time ever coming down there and I don't even think some of our albums have ever been released in Australia domestically. So hopefully with "Haven" we can build a fanbase down there and make the shows even bigger than before. I know that everybody in the band wants to come back down there so we're actually talking to a woman who brought us down there before and we're going to see what we can do. Obviously the support from the fans is important so whether it would be poking online or buying the album and showing support that way, those kind of things are really important when it comes to touring as well.

Andrew: Yeah we would love it if you could come back to Australia. How did you find the fans and the response when you were here last time?

Thomas: We were actually pretty blown away, I was pleasantly surprised and noone had any idea what to expect. And some of the shows, I remember Melbourne and Sydney being just really nutty. It was awesome! Of course that always helps when it comes to the interest for the band to come back when we know the fans down there appreciate it and everybody has a great time so we definitely want to come back.

Andrew: Yeah hopefully that can happen. As I said the album sounds fantastic and good luck with the tour this year as well. It's been a pleasure talking to you today!

Thomas: My pleasure! Hopefully we'll see you soon in Australia. And just want to tell everybody thanks for your support and go check out "Haven" and we'll see you on tour next year hopefully.

KAMELOT North American Tour With Special Guest Dragonforce:

4/27: Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
4/28: Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero Theater
4/29: New York, NY @ Webster Hall
5/1: Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
5/2: Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
5/3: Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theater
5/5: Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
5/6: Joliet, IL @ Mojoes
5/7: Minneapolis, MN @ Mill City Nights
5/9: Winnipeg, MB @ Garrick Centre
5/10: Saskatoon, SK @ Louis Pub
5/11: Calgary, AL @ MacEwan Hall
5/12: Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall
5/14: San Francisco, CA @ Regency Center
5/15: Anaheim, CA @ City National Grove
5/16: Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
5/18: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theater
5/20: Austin, TX @ Emo’s
5/21: New Orleans, LA @ New Orleans Civic Theater
5/22: Birmingham, IL @ Iron City Live
5/23: Orlando, FL @ House of Blues

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on April 15th 2015