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Thommas Youngblood (Kamelot)

Interview with Thommas Youngblood from Kamelot
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 12 July 2001, 1:00 AM

Kamelot's latest album, Karma, made a worldwide success climbing up charts and bringing the band's finest work to our ears. Guitarist Thommas Youngblood talked to Metal-Temple.Com Magazine about Karma, the band and more!

Since I’m from an Internet Metal Zine, my first question would be like what’s your relationship with the Internet?

I think from the beginning we’ve sort of embraced the Internet technology for Kamelot. I know that at Noise Records we were probably one of their first bands to have their own website. I think probably from the beginning of our career, whenever we could, we had a web page up and I think the Internet is a big part of the small resurgence in America. It made not only the world but the US especially for us more like living in the same city. It’s valuable of course to any band that doesn’t have a website. They’re hurting themselves if they don’t have one.

They’re throwing off an opportunity let’s say.

Absolutely.



What’s your opinion on MP3s and the whole Napster thing? You know, the whole thing going on.

Well I think for the Pop genre it’s really bad because the fans of that type of music don’t really care about the CDs, the packaging and collecting a cd. I hope that for the fans of Kamelot that we try to put out a product that not only they like to hear but they also want to collect. You know, because we’ve put a lot of time into the booklet and from that aspect I don’t it hurts us that much but you know, there are a lot of people that don’t care. They just listen to MP3s and that’s good enough for them.

Do you think that it damages the record companies in a way?

It damages the record companies and for the moment it damages the artists too. But you know, Mp3s, they just don’t sound as good as a CD and their standard is gonna be lower. Everybody listening to Mp3s is not going to understand it.

What the weird thing is with Mp3s let’s take for example Karma. I’m sure that it’s already been ripped by someone, somewhere in the planet and it’s like, you know, running around in Mp3s. Doesn’t that bother you?

Well I guess it’s a double-edged sword. I mean there’s a lot of fans that we have now that had never heard of Kamelot before they heard Mp3s of us. Obviously I would like it to be it’s hard to say it’s good and it’s bad so hopefully like I said, that we’ll offer a product that the fans will not only want to hear but they’ll also want to collect. I if was a Techno artist, I would probably be a little bit more afraid of it. I think in the future if music is basically free then your fan-base is gonna be larger and it will be different.

And I also think it’s a good way of promoting small bands.

Yeah, obviously. But I think that right now we’re in between this period of how do we look at it and also the quality of the sound. The biggest thing that bothers me is the quality of the sound compared to the CD. A lot of people, maybe they don’t notice it but I do.

There is a difference there. Ok, about your new album, Karma. It seems to me as if it’s the most melodic album ever done by Kamelot. Could you tell me a few things about it? Like what’s the main inspiration behind
Karma and why name it Karma? It indicates a sort of attraction towards the mysteries of the East like Asia probably, I don’t know.


Well, in the US when you say Karma, it doesn’t refer directly to Hinduism, it’s sort of a catchword that becomes synonymous with the overall aura of a person. If you meet somebody and they really come off to you as being rude or just a bad vibe, we say they have bad karma and it’s the common saying. Obviously it’s a, I guess from the outside of perspective, it sounds like it’s direct Hinduism but it’s

Yes but even what you said about the overall aura, it comes basically from Hinduists, no?

Yeah absolutely but I do believe in Karma and I do believe that it has a way that we treat each other and the way we treat the world, the environment, everything, all of these things. I think in the end it’s important for me to realize how much my life could be affected.

So, we’re done with the name of the album, let’s move further in. Looking at the artwork on the cover, could you please tell me exactly what it symbolizes? I mean, there’s like a fairy and a broken clock, ancient clock.

Yeah. What does it symbolize to you?

Well \[laughter] it’s hard to tell. That’s why I’m asking you!

For me it’s very obvious. This is Elizabeth. And the song Elizabeth is about the 17th century countess that killed 600 virgins for her vanity to bathe in blood.

So that’s what the trilogy in the album is about.

The trilogy of Elizabeth is about Elizabeth Bathory and the clock behind her represents sort of a hand of time that she’s battling over to a lot of people, they’re worried about getting older, their vanity that’s what they’re always fighting time.

There’s also a futuristic kind of touch on the artwork.

Hum, I hadn’t thought so. That’s cool! \[Laughter]

You mentioned Elizabeth, the trilogy and since we started talking about songs, could you tell me a few things about more-less each song in the album? Like what inspired you?

Well, the lyrics are written by myself and Khan is the vocalist so I can tell you a little bit about most of them. The song Forever is about a relationship between Khan and a girl that he had known that he had known for years when he was young. Wings of despair is sort of a I don’t wanna call it a happy song but it’s based on this sort of philosophy of trying to look at the positive side of things. I think that it’s a thing that we’ve used before but I think it’s important it’s important in my life because that’s how I overcome obstacles. There’s a fan that we had, from Sweden, who sent us this letter about how he actually had a gun to his head…

He what?

He had a gun to his head. Before he died he wanted to hear his favorite song from Kamelot

…and he killed himself?

After listening to the song, he decided he didn’t want to kill himself, at least that’s what he told us. And that’s really inspirational you know. He also has a big Kamelot tattoo and he sent us a picture and we put it on our web site at kamelot.com. Even if it’s one person that gets affected by what we talk about, it means a lot to us.

It means a lot, I know.

Yes. So Wings of Despair is one of those touched songs. The Spell is sort of a song about these guys who are into fantasies, these heavy metal fans that go to these medieval sort of meetings that are full of magic and things like that. They don’t really like the reality of this world in a way, you know…

So it’s like dedicated to all the RPG fans in a way? \[Laughter].

Yeah, RPG guys you know and it’s cool because they get lost in a different world cause some times this world is you know, hideous. It’s this commercialization of everything you know. That’s what the song The Spell is kind of about, like going back and getting lost in a fantasy.

I see. Now, we’ve come to a very, very special song as I’ve noticed. I mean, it has a special meaning to you. It’s Don’t you Cry.

The idea was originally done on the tour, last year. I was talking to Roy about wanting to sort of dedicate a song to my father that passed away when I was 12 and it was cool for me because I never really expressed how I felt. It’s not 100% of how I feel but I think it’s a good start for me to open myself up and I also think that part of this record is about opening yourself up a little bit more.

It’s a really emotional record actually. You can feel the emotion, it’s more into the chords and into the lyrics. The vibe.

Well the atmosphere is definitely more personal and I think that’s the step that fans expected from us too. Because you know, we do write about history, we do write about fantasy but I think to be able to do a little more personal sort of experiences into it, it’s important. As a person, I enjoy to hear that too. The Light I Shine On You is a song that Roy wrote about the fans. Temple Of Gold is about… I guess it’s about the same girl that had to do with Roy \[Laughter]

The same one eh? \[Laughter] Damn! These women!

Yeah \[Laughter]. Across The Highlands is basically about the highlanders, the immortal guys. You know, he goes to all these decades, centuries of living but the people that he know that are mortal, they die you know and he has to go through all these centuries of people dying

Were you a Highlander (movie/TV series) fan or something?

Not big but I thought the subject was very interesting.

The movies or the TV series?

The TV series!

Hehe, OK and we come to Elizabeth.

And Elizabeth which is of course about the countess, Elizabeth Bathory that…

…that so many bands have been dealing with! \[Laughter]

Well you know it’s funny because I never knew that! I had never even heard of her name before and I run across the story in a renaissance magazine and I thought this is an interesting subject! We had heard that other bands have done it when we started writing it but we didn’t mind anyway.

Like Cradle of Filth etc.

Exactly. But the song is sort of a timeless story about vanity and women and I think that society in general lives with these kind of feelings too. People feel that they have to be beautiful or whatever.

Thommas, do you think that everything spins around a big, large woman (note: I don’t mean to offend any women or anything) in the center of the Universe? \[Laughter]

\[Thommas bursts into laughter]Just the Kamelot cover!

Yeah you know, I was just wondering because we were talking about the album and it has to do a lot with women! In a way!

There are two songs like Forever and Temples Of Gold… of course I don’t know, I love women, what can I say!

Who doesn’t!

I’m definitely not gay or so!

\[Laughter] Of course not! Neither am I! \[Note: this interview does not intend to offend gay people, nor does it intend to offend women, hehe]

I think all fans, even the female fans can relate to what I’m talking about.

OK, so we passed the songs and we talked about the cover and the name. Tell me now, how was it during the recordings?

Oh, it was pretty tough actually. I was in Germany for over two months and you know I live in Florida. To be in Germany, in the middle of the winter too, cold and snowy, the novelty of being in another country and the people around you, they start forgetting that you don’t speak German. It was a challenge this time but in the end everything paid off.

Compare Karma to all the previous albums. Which do you think are the strong points and which the weak points of Karma when being compared to all the previous albums?

There are no weak points. I think that on the first record, Eternity, there’s a lot of things when I look back that we did on that record that are a little bit sort of not totally professional in a way.

They’re sort of distant from what you’re doing now, right?


Definitely distant and I think that’s an evolution that probably would have happened no matter who was in the band. When I look back at Dominion I remember the problems I had with Richard and while listening nowadays to the album I can say that there wasn’t 100% passion that should have been in it. Siege Perilous is a transitional album that the songs were really cool but the mix I was very unhappy with it and Richard \[Laughs]. He didn’t write anything on that record you know. It was part of the introduction to the new line-up I think.\[Thommas’ cellular phone interrupts the conversation for a few minutes] Where were we? Oh, yes, Siege Perilous introduced in a lot of ways the new line-up. If you compare Kamelot now to Kamelot in ’95 I think Siege Perilous was the first record for the new line-up and Karma is sort of the third record for Kamelot in a way. The Fourth Legacy was a great record for us because even the writing process was awesome. I got to go to Norway and Roy got to come to America. It was really great! And I think what we tried to do with Karma was to build on that sort of formula and atmosphere, in addition to putting in some new influences too. As far as weaknesses for this album, apart from me I’d have other people from the band judge for me. I’m never happy 100% with anything that we do you know.

You just wait for the outcome first, right?

Yeah my objectivity is so. By the end of the recordings and everything else I kind of loose perspective on everything so I will hope for the best and obviously so far and for sure from the interviews, the reaction has been much better than on The Fourth Legacy, so we’re very happy about that!

I heard that Roy was going to release a solo album. Do you know with whom he’s going to be doing it? Any info about it?

No, I’m not really sure. We talked about both of us doing solo records and making sure that it’s different from what we do with Kamelot and what he did with Conception. I’m not really sure, I think he might get a lot of different people that are in the scene right now.

What about your side-projects?

I’ve planned to do a solo record and it will feature singers that are in the Metal genre that are from each country. That’s what I want this concept to be based on and probably it won’t be done till 2002. But it’s certainly on the way…

Thommas, which are your favorite guitar players?

I grew up with Iron Maiden, Michael Schenker, Malmsteen but I think that definitely from the songwriters’ point I like the guys in Queensryche a lot. They focus on writing songs and they don’t jerk off playing solos everywhere. In the end, it’s the song that really matters.

How are you going to promote Karma?

Well, I mean obviously, we did some promo trips in March. We’re going to play in some summer festivals, with Megadeth for instance in Germany (Bang Your Head Festival) etc. Things are going great and we’re waiting for the phone call from Iron Maiden to tour America together.

You’re gonna tour the States together with Iron Maiden?

Well I’m waiting for the phone call! \[Laughs]

That would be really cool. OK, we talked about future plans. Anything else you’d like to mention about the future? Your future as a musician or with Kamelot in general?

We’re just enjoying what we’re doing. We’re having a great time. We’re doing a bonus track on the American release of Karma that features some of the video footage from our shows in Greece that we did at the Parthenon. So it might be something interesting. We had a totally awesome time in Greece, we can’t wait to come back.

Liked the fans here?

The fans are incredible. It was awesome. We’re ready to come back!

I guess that’s something that will really, really please the fans in Greece.

We’d also like to do a live record. Maybe in two or three years, at a bigger place of course, after we have a couple of records more.

Excellent! Finally a message to all the Kamelot fans that will stop by and read this Interview!

Well first I wanna say Metal greetings to all the Kamelot fans that we saw on the tour and hopefully if you didn’t make it, we’ll see you later this year when we come to Greece and just keep up the Metal vibes! And listen to Karma!

Thanks for the Interview Thommas. Stay cool!

Thanks Orpheus, take care man!



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