Interviewing Thomas Youngblood (KAMELOT)


Kamelot’s album “Haven”, released May 5th, 2015, made a stunning debut on Billboard going straight up to #1 position on Hard Rock Album Chart. “This is a first in Kamelot’s history and we’re obviously very proud and happy about it. I’d like to thank all the fans for your amazing support, thanks for your great feedback on Haven and the Insomnia video as well – stay tuned as we have more of these coming up in the next months! “_Thomas Youngblood.

KAMELOT is the Epic/Symphonic metal rock band that nobody, no matter their musical taste, can resist. Formed by the mega-talented Thomas Youngblood and Richard Werner, the latter departing the band in 1997, Kamelot is one of the very few active epic metal bands that have actually managed to keep both fans and specialised media continuously enthralled by their creativity, the quality of their composition and their consistently great live sound.

I didn’t have any difficulty in choosing the group/artist that would best represent the mastery of this genre, whilst maintaining a fresh and surprisingly solid material, which transcends the labelling of any style.

Kamelot  ‘speaks’ of the creation and destruction cycle in their music with a thoughtfulness and a poetry that directly sets them apart from any act that seeks the shock in what is usually a mere posing act. Their authenticity is as heartfelt as their sharp technique and depth of sound are merciless.

Thomas Youngblood
(Founder/Songwriter/Guitarist of KAMELOT) 

I am ecstatic by the chance to interview Master Youngblood on epic adventures, legendary messages and enrapturing riffs.

SRM: Thomas, thank you for your participation in this interview. KAMELOT was founded in 1994 and nowadays is not only active and kicking hard, but is also widely considered as one of the best and most exciting Progressive/Symphonic Metal Rock bands in the world. So… exactly, what deal did you make with the devil?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: Haha, no deals with the devil here. First thanks for the kind words regarding the band. I think any successful artist or band is a result of hard work, a dedication to quality and also a bit of luck. We put everything we have into all aspects of the band, from the music, lyrics, artwork to the live presentation. We are also fortunate to have some amazing fans that have supported us and are part of the success as well. Our live shows are something we look forward to every year, it’s like a gathering of souls in a way.

SRM: What meaning was found in Camelot, the legendary King Arthur’s court, which prompted Kamelot, the band, to adopt the same name?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: Initially Kamelot was more of themed medieval based band, so the name Kamelot was perfect for this. My mom actually suggested the name, both due to the style of the band and also her love for the former president John F. Kennedy. The word “Camelot” is sometimes used to refer admiringly to the presidency of John F. Kennedy, as his term was said to have potential and promise for the future. Since the 3rd and 4th album we felt the need to branch out from these fantasy type lyrics and write songs about anything we felt that inspired us.

SRM: Moms know best. Your lyrics, across your now eleven original albums, not only are beautifully ‘crafted’ but many do indeed unveil very profound subjects. Why, in your opinion, is so difficult for us to reconcile with the fact that we aren’t separate from Nature?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: Part of the human evolution includes the premise that we are different from other animal species. While this is true to a certain extent, we are still all animals. Reason, inquiry, language, wonder, longing, creativity, and humor are not unique to humans; the human is simply more evolved on different levels. Also some religions have stated that God made us in his own likeness, this is another reason that many people find it OK to separate ourselves from other animals.

SRM: The sea is a recurrent setting in many of your lyrics, same as war, destruction, post-apocalyptic scenarios and the belief in a God. Do you think that the attraction for the sea could come from the impossibility to dominate it? And, onto the subject of war and God… Can a war really be honourable or God/s-blessed?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: What is more beautiful and inspiring than a moon lit ocean with a clear star filled sky? Even though it covers 70% of the earth and is vital for life, the oceans and seas are probably the most foreign place for humans. So in this sense it holds a lot of mystery and wonder.  Regarding war, I think this comes down to many factors. If you believe in the 10 commandments, and one of them says”Thou shall not kill”, then you cannot personally justify war, the death penalty or any other type of murder. It’s very simple and clear, and those commandments do not have fine print with stipulations. 

Something many religious people forget to think about. Now, if your morality is not based in religion and only in the common sense of right and wrong, you have to gauge war based on other factors. I think any war that involves the killing of innocent people is wrong. If someone invades my land, home etc., then I have no problem defending my castle so to speak, by any means necessary.

SRM: Symphonic metal rock is one of the genres that most requires of an acute musical sensitivity and harmonic intuition as well as flawless execution, whether vocal or instrumental. Thomas, please, tell us a bit about your background, when did you start developing a love for this genre and how did you acquire such amazing skill in your guitar playing?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: Bands like Rush and Queen were my earliest influences, I also liked Maiden and some Priest growing up. My first instrument was the saxophone; I played in junior high school and learned Sir Duke from Stevie Wonder. I was around 11, I think, or 12 years old.

Later, after my father passed away, I got into heavier music and metal, I was very depressed and this music was an escape for me. My cousin worked at a music store and I got a guitar for Christmas. I was hooked ever since, playing to Schenker, Malmsteen and Classical players like Strunz and Farrar for example. The symphonic elements started intriguing me after listening to Cirque Du Soleil.

SRM: What do you think of the new progressive metal bands in the current international musical scene, are any of them innovating and succeeding at it at all?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: For me there are a few standouts, one is Symphony X. Great vocals and also not the typical Dream Theatre clone band that so many of the prog bands end up sounding like. Don’t get me wrong, most of the prog bands out these days are amazing musicians, it’s just that I can immediately hear what their main influence is and it’s usually Dream Theatre. I also listen a lot to singers, Michael Eriksen from Circus Maximus is fantastic. Opeth is also interesting, not sure if they are prog. I don’t consider Kamelot to be prog either, if that matters. I think the tags and labels of music can be a bit too limiting.

SRM: The band’s YouTube channel is one of the top 10 music channels and Number 1 Metal Channel, across all sub-genres. Talking about the new technologies… What’s the real evil: technology in itself or certain uses of technology?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: The INTERNET has helped so many bands, including Kamelot. It has also hurt many bands with download being so easy. Also a few years back, no one was producing videos. None of the “music TV” channels would play them, only reality shows and crap. Now that Youtube, Vevo and others exist we can make videos and reach a larger audience. We are still selling records however, and that’s because our fans RULE! Also I think it’s a simple respect for the music and the time that goes into it. Making an album costs a lot of money, there is more to it than the actual cost of the CD and the booklet. Months of song writing, months in the studio, photo shoots, promoting etc…So when someone says it only costs 50 cents to make a CD, think again. One thing I notice lately is that some artists will say, “no one buys albums anymore”. While physical sales have dropped and will continue to, I think this kind of statement is a slap in the face to fans that still buy albums. 

SRM: Where do you get your inspiration to create such a unique and rich material from?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: We are inspired by everything these days. Life, travel, history, art, family and more…  We would also sit and discuss topics that may be interesting for the listener. There is no limit to what we can write about, our fans are very open minded and so are we. I still feel like I did years ago regarding new ideas and inspiration, also new musical ideas are popping up like crazy now. This is most time off I have had in years and the space has opened my mind for new and fresh ideas.

SRM: Which is the ‘Human Stain’ most difficult to remove?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: It has to be murder, taking another life. Or even worse, the murder of an innocent child, that is unforgivable and those who do that will never be rehabilitated. I have extreme views on what we should do with those people. Ever seen the movie ‘Law Abiding Citizen’? Of course the most common idea of this Human Stain is the mark that humans leave on the planet. The stain of killing off the rain-forest, over use of resources, wars, pushing out animal habitat to extinction.

SRM: Every tour you draw more and more fans of all ages. Why do you think that is?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: I think our music and style crosses so many borders and ages. Musically we mix a lot of things together, and that appeals to more than just one audience. Visually we try to be more than just a metal band, our videos are unique and we pick great directors for the shoots. One thing is for sure, the fan base has gotten much younger over the last 4-5 years and it’s really awesome. We never planned any of this however, so it’s even cooler now to see 13 old girls in the front row and the 30 something year olds behind them, everyone rocking out, some moshing, and some just listening.

SRM: The Swedish Tommy Karevik has proven to be far more than just a worthy successor to Khan. He’s certainly won the hearts (and ears) of all fans.

Apart from his excellence both on the mike and as a partner songwriter, which was made patent in the also amazing “Silverthorn” (2012), who else can we hear, on the side of great collaborations, in the new album?

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: Yes, Tommy Karevik has exceeded all expectations. “Haven” also features cameos by ARCH ENEMY’s Alissa White-Gluz, NIGHTWISH’s Troy Donockley and DELAIN’s Charlotte Wessels.

SRM: Please, tell readers more about “Haven”, your 11th

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: The Haven album has an undertone of a world going insane. There is a grey cloud that is forming over our world. We are here to find that silver lining with an album that is both dark and melancholy yet uplifting and giving the listener a Haven in a world gone mad. We are really proud of the song elements and diversity on “Haven”.

SRM: Looking forward to see you live! Thank you very much for your time, Thomas.

THOMAS YOUNGBLOOD: Many thanks for the interview! Thanks to all of the amazing fans and I hope to see all of you on tour very soon!

SRM: By the way, here’s the direct link to Kamelot’s Tour Dates & Tickets, folks. Rock on!: KAMELOT * Tour Dates >

Tommy Karevik (KAMELOT)

And another treat in the way of great video production and direction: The making/behind the scenes of the ‘Insomnia’ video (by the amazing iCODE TEAM).

More by iCODE:

 


RELATED LINKS:

KAMELOT’s Official Website >
KAMELOT’S YouTube Channel >

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