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Kamelot: Stretching the limits

Founded in 1991, Kamelot have been fascinating us with their melodic Power Metal for years over and over again. The charismatic voice of singer Roy Khan, the powerful yet filigree guitar of Thomas Youngblood proved to be – together with drummer Casey Grillo, bass player Glenn Barry and keyboarder Oliver Palotai – a key to musical success.

With their new album „Ghost Opera“ the band has set again a new standard, combining mystic majestic sounds with an epic bombastic opus. Versatile and innovative, this is how those US guys work – so STALKER put Thomas through his paces.

Your 8th album „Ghost Opera“: What was the idea behind it? Did you have a kind of concept before? Or was it more like free working on new ideas?
The song Ghost Opera is based around this story of the Opera singer. The story is based in two time periods, the first is the Victoria period and later when the singer is an old women. The main character is an aspiring Opera singer that has worked for years to make her debut on the stage. Posters are everywhere in the city and after a last rehearsal she is making her way to the Opera House. Two criminals see her and notice she is the girl on the poster. They assault and attack her, it is left up to interpretation whether she is raped or not. In the video this is not 100% clear what happens, only that the incident is quite traumatic. She never makes the debut, in fact she is mentally scarred from the attack and eventually goes insane. Every night in her little room she imagines that night and what it would have been like.

Would you say, that this album has a special meaning for you?
Every album has some kind of special meaning to each person in the band. Each one represents a special time in our lives, from one album to another 2 years go by and a lot of things and experiences happen in that time. After the last record we toured quite a bit and experienced a lot of new ideas and inspirations.

This time it seems like you are finally combining many influences together, without fearing, it could be too experimental… Especially these oriental sound elements are carrying that special kind of dark and mystical mood… What was the intention behind that various style?
This is something we try to do with every album, blend different styles into a cohesive sound that is Kamelot. Our sound is part Metal, part Prog, part Gothic and part New Age. It is a fine balancing act to make it all work together.

Every song is telling a story, but how did you decide to combine the different tales together, and how did you chose every single one of it?
Over the course of writing the music we think about what we want to write the lyrics about. If a song has a certain sound or inspiration, then we do some research based on this. On Love You to Death we tell the story of two young Asian lovers. At the age of 15 the girl finds out that she will die and tells her boyfriend that she will die and that she will come back to him after she dies.

Just to mention the title song with “Blücher”. Two totally different story but still connected in a way?
Our singer Khan had the idea for Blücher, The Blücher was a German Admiral Hipper class heavy cruiser. It was the Kriegsmarine´s newest ship at the outbreak of World War II. She was sunk by Norwegian shore defenders at the Battle of Drøbak sound on April 9, 1940, less than three years after her launch, on the first day of the invasion of Norway. The song is written from the aspect of one the seaman on the ship and his girlfriend at home. We had German dialogue and acting in the song for a more cinematic feel to the sound.

What does inspire you for the new album?
Everything from current events in politics and religion to our touring and visiting cultures around the world. On the Ghost Opera, we used these events for the album as well as some historical references, like in Bluecher.

Do you need to be in a special mood before writing new stuff?
Yes, we usually never write on tour for example. We focus on writing new songs only when we are home or doing a writing session. Sometimes we can write 4 songs in a day and other times it may take a week to finish one song.

How important is it for you to let the melody, the music carry the content?
We write the melodies before the lyrics, so this is our natural way to write and also puts the first emphases on the melody, then the lyrics come into play.

After releasing seven records the last years – is it getting more and more difficult to fulfil one´s own expectations? Do you feel “under pressure” by the media, the fans sometimes?
We put more pressure on ourselves than any media ever could. The fans are great and very open minded about our music, I think after the last few albums they trust our judgement on what we are creating.

Kamelot is existing now for over 10 years – do you think, that you are still standing for the same values as in the 90`s?
The band is totally different from the genesis of what we thought Kamelot should or could be. Since 1998 we started fresh with a new lineup and since then our lyrics, music and message is quite different.

Is there a special message you would like to spread with your music?
Although the Ghost Opera has a melancholy feel, our albums usually convey a sense of enlightenment and exploring your our mind and abilities. We challenge the listener to question the things that can not be explained, reflect on how we react to others and how this karma can come back to you.

That sounds great! Thank you for the nice and informative interview!

Author: Jasmin Froghy, transl. K. Weber, photos: Kamelot
Date: 2007-07-20

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