Mark Morton of Heavy Metal Examiner recently conducted an interview with guitarist Thomas Youngblood of Florida-based metallers KAMELOT. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Heavy Metal Examiner: Has being an American band that not only has been around as long as you have, but also has consistently struggled to get a foothold on a domestic audience contributed to KAMELOT‘s openness to this darker aura?
Youngblood: No, not at all. I mean, six years ago, nobody who sounds like us would have ever been able to tour the States. It’s not quite where we want it to be, but it’s still growing here. I think it’s more of an awareness thing than anything; the country is just so geographically big that it’s really hard to market a band without the mass-marketing that bands like LINKIN PARK used to get. Whereas, in Europe, you can get centralized marketing for Germany, or Holland, or wherever. I think that’s been the main issue with any band that is like KAMELOT. But at the same time, we’re happy where we are. We would like to be bigger in the United States, of course, but you have to also look at the worst-case scenario. I mean, “Poetry For The Poisoned” charted in the Top 100, and we are going to continue to build and grow in America. I don’t think that contributed to the dark ideas that went into the record. It was more of a reflection of the times — whether it be friends losing their jobs, losing their homes, whatever, you know? When you get down to it, there’s a lot of bad things going on for people, and it’s not really going to lend itself to writing “be-positive” songs, you know?
Heavy Metal Examiner: With progressive metal fans as ferociously loyal as they are, I have to ask, did you catch any shit for having Shagrath [from DIMMU BORGIR] participate on “The Black Halo”?
Youngblood: Not as much as I thought we would have. I’ve got to be honest; initially I thought the idea was a little bit crazy. It was actually Roy‘s [Khan, ex-KAMELOT vocalist] idea… and it worked really well. If you step outside of any musical taste or genre-predilection (or if you just see the video or hear the song without really knowing anybody involved), it actually works perfectly. And that’s really all that matters. If you can remove yourself from genre-favoritism or bias, it only matters that it works for the song. I actually think that DIMMU BORGIR fans might have had a bigger problem with it than KAMELOT fans. When you go to a KAMELOT show, you’re going to find different kinds of fans there. Sure, you’ll have your prog dudes with the RUSH shirt and the crossed arms, but you will also have the gothic girls in the front row. The nice thing is that you have all these different people coming together to experience this unique kind of music, where it crosses different genres and age groups. It’s just something that we feel very fortunate about.
Heavy Metal Examiner: Are you bothered at all that your earlier albums are out of print?
Youngblood: [Laughs] Hmm, I guess there are pros and cons to that. Of course, those records don’t really belong to us, because it was a time when the record deals were really bad. I mean, we haven’t seen a penny from those record sales. But, of course, you want to have your history out there for people to purchase. So I think it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. I think now that we have our own record label, we’re looking at a lot of the back catalogue and ways we can re-acquire them so we can remaster and reissue them.
Heavy Metal Examiner: How did KMG Recordings come about, anyway?
Youngblood: Well, the idea of having our own record label has been talked about for many years now. We talked to a lot of labels about releasing “Poetry For The Poisoned” here in the U.S., and we felt that we didn’t have the belief that we had in the people who wanted to support us with their own label. So that’s what we have now; we have people who understand KAMELOT — they understand our fans. And the record sold in the first week almost double what the last record sold with the previous record company, so obviously it was the right decision to make. We keep all the rights, and we keep all the control over how the band is marketed; because we know our fans more than anybody sitting in an office who has a hundred other bands to worry about. It was a risk, but since the album has been out, it was a risk worth taking, and we have set a precedent for the future.
Read the entire interview at Heavy Metal Examiner.