I got the chance to speak with guitarist and founder Thomas Youngblood of the symphonic metal band Kamelot on the second date of their U.S. tour. Enjoy!
Shockwave: How was Columbus last night?
Thomas Youngblood: It was amazing. It was a Monday night and it was packed and the people were mega loud. It was a little bit weird because we played at the same venue that Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) got shot at so that was kind of a creepy thing going on. Some of the crew guys kinda knew him so that was a weird vibe, but the fans were amazing. It was the first show of the U.S. part of the tour. We had played Puerto Rico a couple days before that, and that went really good, too. But it was a great kickoff show and today is only the second day, but so far everything is smooth.
What have been the crowd favorites?
"Sacrimony" has been one of the favorites from the new album. "Song For Jolee" has been good, too. "March of Mephisto" always works really well with the crowds. If I had to pick three, it would be those three.
Are you playing anything from "Eternity"?
No. When we play stuff that old only one or two guys in the crowd know it and the rest go, "What is this?" It's all about supporting the new record and to promote it, especially with a new vocalist. We want to start establishing the songs he wrote as part of your set, so tonight we'll play like five songs from the new record.
Speaking of the new vocalist, how has he (Tommy Karevik) been singing?
Amazing. I mean the guy is not only a super cool guy to talk to, but he is professional on stage. He's engaging with the crowd, he's great with the fans, and other than a couple times he's been sick, he has been spot on vocally.
From your point of view, Kamelot doesn't get ANY radio play whatsoever. How do you guys maintain all these years?
In Europe, it's not really an issue because radio isn't important and that is probably our biggest market over in Europe. But here, I don't know. It's kind of the same with Nightwish. They don't get airplay and we toured with them over here last year and the places were full and we had good venues. I mean, I think the underground of this type of music is strong enough to maintain and propel groups to be able to do what they are doing.
That was my next question. Over in Europe, you guys play in front of thousands of people and tonight will be a more intimate setting. Which do you prefer?
Both. There are pros and cons to all of that. If you play in a big festival like Wacken, for example, in front of thousands of people, it's awesome. I mean it's surreal and it's crazy. But I mean there is also that lack of connecting with the fans that we can't do in a big festival. Like tonight you will see fans up front and we will be able to touch them and be right in their face and that's also cool, too. As long as the fans are having a good time, that's all we care about it.
Eklipse and Delain...how have they been so far?
Again, last night was great and so were they. The cool thing about Eklipse is they are very different with basically just cellos and violins. I think the diversity of this tour package is interesting. Delain is kind of closer to Kamelot in a sense except with female vocals, so I think it's a good diverse package for the fans and a nice building to the Kamelot portion of the show.
How did you meet Delain? At ProgPower in 2010?
No, we met them in 2008 in Europe, but we have known they were a good band and similar fan base to Kamelot. And going back to the Eklipse girls, we had them be a part of the record because we liked them so much.
Now will they be coming out and playing with you on "My Confession"?
No, not tonight because we haven't had time with them to rehearse. The crew is just starting to get to know everybody and we have meet and greets and we just have not had the time yet. But I think New York will be the first show where we will have the girls come out and they will be with us the rest of the tour.
(NOTE: Eklipse did come out and perform with Kamelot on "My Confession.")
Now I haven't seen you guys since 2004 at ProgPower. Do you like playing that festival since it's one of the few over here in the U.S. for this type of music?
ProgPower is definitely a great time and Glenn (Harvestor, promoter) puts on a great show every year and knows how to showcase this type of music and be able to get the bands to come over from Europe to play.
Who did you idolize guitar-wise growing up?
I liked Brian May. I liked the guitar player from Saigon Kick, Jason Bieler. Michael Schenker. I've always liked the metal scene.
What's in Kamelot's future after "Silverthorn"?
We are probably going to do a DVD in November in Holland. We're still working on that, but then we will begin work on the next record in the spring of next year. There is still plenty of touring to keep us busy right now though. We've been really happy, though, on where we are now with "Silverthorn" being as big as it is and bringing Tommy in the band and the opportunities we have gotten with Tommy and the new record by touring new countries we haven't been to and things like that.
Do you consider "Silverthorn" a concept album?
It's totally a concept record. It's gonna be the only one because some people have asked if we are going to do another part to it. It's a concept record in the same sense that "The Black Halo" and "Epica" were, but it's only one part.
Any chance that you will do what Queensryche did and play "Silverthorn" in its entirety?
I would love to do that. I think most of the songs on the record are going to be great live songs but, yeah, the idea of doing some older songs and then playing just "Silverthorn" would be fun.