Kamelot - 01/06/2007

In 1994 Kammelot signed a deal with Noise Records; the release of their debut album ‘Eternity’ followed in 1995. The next album, ‘Dominion’, was released in 1997. Later that year, drummer and founder Richard Warner and lead vocalist Mark Vanderbilt were replaced by drummer Casey Grillo and vocalist Roy Khan (formerly of Conception) respectively. With the two new members, Kamelot released their third studio album, ‘Siege Perilous’, in 1998. The new line-up undertook an extensive tour through Europe during the fall of the same year; twelve months later, they returned to the Gate Studio in Wolfsburg to produce the fourth studio effort, ‘The Fourth Legacy’.

 

In 2000 brought the "New Allegiance Tour" through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Greece and Spain during which the recordings for Kamelot's first live album ‘The Expedition’ were made. A few months later, the band presented their fifth album ‘Karma’. Their sixth album, ‘Epica’, was released in 2003. Both "Epica" and the band's seventh effort, ‘The Black Halo’, which was released in 2005, are based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's version of the legend of Faust, a man who sells his soul to the devil.


On October 5th 2005, Kamelot added Oliver Palotai as the fifth official band member; Oliver handles both keyboards and (additional) guitars. On February 11th, 2006, the band's live DVD, ‘One Cold Winter's Night’ was shot by Patric Ullaeus at Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo, Norway and was released on November 2006. In fall 2006 the band returned to Gate Studios in Wolfsburg, Germany to record their upcoming album, Ghost Opera. Drummer Casey Grillo flew in to record in Wolfsburg for the first time since the Karma album.

 

 

On March 21st, Kamelot announced on its official website the release dates for ‘Ghost Opera’, their upcoming album, through SPV / Steamhammer Records. The dates are set for June 4th in Europe. ‘Ghost Opera’ was recorded and mixed at Gate Studios and Pathway Studios in Wolfsburg with producers Sascha Paeth and Miro.

 

Recently we were called by Roy Khan, so with a new album coming out in a couple of weeks we had a lot of questions for him, so here you read what he had to tell us.

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Ghost Opera’, did you have a certain idea of what you wanted to do or any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

Not really, the only thing we were completely sure about is that it wasn’t going to be a concept album but that was a good start.

 

Why did you decide to do it this way?

Why? Because we had been working on concept albums for five years now, this time we really just wanted to let the music inspire the lyrics and not the other way around like we did on ´Epica´ and ´The Black Halo´.

 

Since your previous studio album ´The Black Halo’ and ´Ghost Opera´ a lot of things happened, you toured a lot, released a live album and DVD and in between you recorded this new album, so there was not time to relax, did this influence the songs on ‘Ghost Opera’?

The album ´Ghost Opera´ is more monotonous in a way, still very melodic but it has a certain monotony hanging over it and I think both the lyrics and the music on this album are some sort of reaction to the stress and all the increased amount of work that has been put on us. Plus the fact that anything you experience in  two and a half years is going to be reflected in your music somehow.

 

Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics on the new album, how does Kamelot write new songs?

Basically the same as it has always been, I write mainly all the lyrics and me and Thomas write all the music together.

 

Do the other band members have any input?

Not really, they don’t have the same need to express themselves as songwriters but they also have some ideas. Sometimes it is a matter of making songs that fit in the frame that is Kamelot these days, and I think we set the standard pretty high right now so it’s not easy to make a song that is good enough, we’ve had to throw away a lot of out own ideas at times. But sometimes the other guys would come in with some input.

 

 

In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song for Kamelot as a band?

I don’t know, we don’t really think like that, it’s just got to be good! We just sit around and play around with vocals, guitars and keyboards.

 

But Kamelot does have a very distinctive sound..

I guess, but we could just decide to go and do something totally different, a lot of people think that we are totally dependent on the huge orchestral element for example but we coiuld easily do a record with just four chello’s, you never know. The way we’ve been working all these years with Sacha?????? Worked really well so we don’t see any reason why we should end that. It just still seems to be growing and with every release there seems to be some kind of new development. And working this way is basically fun for us.

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Ghost Opera’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

First of all, this was a complete song before we chose it as a title track. The song itself represents Kamelot in a good way and we thought that it was cool to use a fast song for the first single, too. A lot of people seem to think that it is commercially more attractive to use a mid-tempo song or a ballad but this is the music that we like to play, it’s just one of the songs on the album. The story is about a woman who is about to make her debut at the opera. She is young and beautiful and she gets assaulted and raped on her way to the concert. So she misses her debut and she goes crazy, she’s just sitting in her own big old house (first the idea was to put her in an asylum but that was a bit cliché) and she has all these memorabilia like tickets and a record from the concert and she goes crazy. she’s imagining what life would have been like if she had made it to her debut. The reason why we chose this song as a title track, apart from the fact that it represents Kamelot in a good way, is that this record  looks back on our last two and a half years in a way. We also put in some references to stuff that we’ve done, like for instance the way the lady in the video is moving around, this is a reference to ´March Of Mephisto´, we just had to do that. And there’s a lot of other little things here and there that refer to the last two and a half years but the title of the song is also a good title for the album to us. It’s just a cool title, that counts! Haha! Sometimes there are also just shallow reasons for doing things. And, of course, the title has to describe the atmosphere on the album.

 

I’m still kind of intrigued by the story about the lady, where did this come from?

The way it started is that we made the music first and then, like I said, we let the music inspire the lyrics. On Ghost opera you have the main theme, the melody in the chorus, (sings it). We sat down and asked ourselves what kind of associations we have with this melody and we had this cabaret-ish spooky sort of feeling. It’s hard to describe, it’s just a certain feeling. So we came up with something ghosty and then we came up with Ghost Opera, and that’s how the process was. The same goes for a lot of other songs on the album.

 

How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?

Honestly, not that important. I do appreciate it when people dive into it a little deeper than just enjoying the music but the reason why that is not such a big deal to me is that the lyrics are a big part of the music. A lot of people don’t realize that but suddenly the lyrics will affect you, whether you actually read them as a story or not, because there’s a lot of music in the words. Different words sound different in different songs.

 

What do you think that are the main differences between your last album ´The Black Halo´ and ‘Ghost Opera’?

The main difference is of course that it’s not a concept album but a lot of people are going to perceive this as a concept album anyway. It’s not such a conscious process, the way we change is just us stretching for new things. The songs are absolutely amongst the strongest ones we have ever written. But ´The Black Halo´ was also a phenomenal album and of course ´Ghost Opera´ is not as grandiose and detailed as ´The Black Halo´ but it is still as good an album because the songs are so strong.

 

 

On your previous album you had a lot of guest musicians, how about this album?

Not that many. Simone Simons from Epica is still there, she participates on the song “Blücher” and Amanda Sommerville from Aïna, an American singer/songwriter who lives in Germany participates on four songs; three of the regular ones and on the bonus track which is on the European limited edition and then of course there’s the people in the choir. But it’s not like we focus on having lots of guests, that’s not important to us. It either has to be that the song demands it, or it has to be someone that we know or happen to meet in the studio, people we meet along the way.

 

It must be great to work with a choir, did you sing with them or record the vocals separately?

No, I sang the vocals first and then the choir part was laid on top. It would have been great to sing with them but that’s not very convenient when you work in a studio.

 

You recorded this album in the Gate Studios and Pathway Studios in Wolfsburg, Germany, was this a conscious choice?

Yep, we’ve been using them on the last four records, we’ve been developing as a band from record to record and it’s not just about working with good people because they are obviously very good but it’s also a friendship thing. We’ve known each other for along time now, we understand each other, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we know how to get the best out of each other in different situations As long as this band keeps developing the way we do I don’t see a reason to change this.

 

How did the recording process proceed and how much time did you spend in the studio?

I think it lasted four or five months, a little bit shorter than we spent on ´The Black Halo`. But this album was easier for us to do in the sense that we did not have this big overall lyrical idea that had to make sense in addition to all the songs.

 

Did you have a larger budget for this album than for the previous albums and, if so, did this change the way you worked?

No, we had exactly the same budget but there’s bigger budgets on other parts like the videos. We can get it all done with the budget that we have so we’re lucky I guess. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do at this level and I’m very happy that Kamelot is in the position it is in right now. The music is really taking off.

 

Do you have any favorites on this new album, songs that you think are somehow above the others?

A lot of people ask me that question but it’s really very hard for me to choose a favorite song, I really like all of them, ehm, I like (then proceeds to name practically all the songs on the album and laughs out loud). We don’t put any songs on the album that we don’t like. I like ´Rule The World´ because it’s so energetic and it also has all the traditional Kamelot elements, like an exotic touch. This time the sound is more Indian than Oriental or Arabic but I find the chorus very special and powerful. ´Love You To Death´ is a great ballad. And ´Up Through The Ashes´ is maybe one of the heaviest songs we’ve ever done but as I said I like them all.

 

 

You have recorded a video for the song 'Ghost Opera’, why did you pick this song for a video and can you tell me something more about it?

One thing of course is that we wanted to promote the album and a good way to do this is to push the title track. But the song is very representative for the album and not a lot of people take a double-bass fast song for a single so we thought this was something people wouldn’t expect after ´The Haunting´ and ´March Of Mephisto´. The way we do fast songs is something we completely stand for. There will be videos for many other songs if we have our way, but doing this is extremely expensive so we’ll see what happens. ´The Human Stain´ is going to be the second video, it´s being edited right now and it will be finished at the beginning of june.

 

With all the touring and over eight albums and several live albums under your belt, how far has Kamelot surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?

To be able to sing every night in front of a lot of people makes me feel very fortunate to be in this position at this time. I get to sing every day and that’s my big passion. The singing part is why I do this, I just love that one and a half hour on stage!! It’s everything around it that I don’t like, I’m not a very big partier, you know sometimes I party but as a singer you can’t really do that excessively or you’ll f*ck your voice up. So I take it easy when I’m on the road. I don’t like sleeping on a nightliner, I really hate it and it’s a lot of waiting around, you don’t really get to see anything unless you get up early and get a cab. It really is that hour and a half that makes it worth it.

 

What can we expect from Kamelot in the near future?

There’s going to be a lot of fuss around the new release, it’s going to be on MTV, the videos are going to be a big focus. We’re also going to do some festivals this summer, the first one we’re going to do is actually Fields Of Rock!

 

Ok, thank you for talking to us and we´ll see you there..

(Martina Schouten)

 

Looking forward to it!!

 

 

Kamelot is:

Khan - Vocals

Thomas Youngblood - Guitars

Glenn Barry - Bass

Oliver Palotai - Keyboards

Casey Grillo - Drums

 

Albums:

Eternity (1995)

Dominion (1997)

Siege Perilous (1998)

The Fourth Legacy (1999)

Karma (2001)

Epica (2003)

The Black Halo (2005)

Ghost Opera (2007)

 

Live albums:

The Expedition (2000)

One Cold Winter's Night (2006)

 

Live DVD:

One Cold Winter's Night (2006)