Interviewed by Pedro Lopes
Date: March 9th, 2005
I just wanted to say thank you to you and Jon from SPV for setting up this interview.
Oh, my pleasure.
Yeah, I know you guys are busy and stuff.
Yeah we’re in the middle of rehearsals but you know it’s cool, it’s all good.
Let’s start by saying where you’re from and what’s been your experience being a guitarist for KAMELOT?
Well, I’m originally from Richmond, Virginia but I’ve been living in Florida basically since I was 10 years old, so Tampa, Florida is my home. Yeah, it’s been a great experience, you know, KAMELOT since the time it started, was sort of a hobby, back in 94 and 95 and we started taking things a little more serious once we got the vocalist from Norway, Roy Khan. Ever since then it’s been a new experience every year with each release with a new tour, it’s been great, nothing really to complain about.
Last time I checked, KAMELOT’s been working on two videos, “The Haunting” and “March of Mephisto,” can you say a few words about them?
Sure, well, we were originally going to do one video, and then we thought most of the bands now a days are doing one video, and then they come back and do another video later; so we decided to do two videos at once. We were looking for a director that we felt was the right guy and we picked this guy, Patric Ullaeus from Sweden who did work with bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Lacuna Coil, he did about 300 videos. We picked those two songs because they have different variations within each of those songs, they touch different markets sort of speak, the heavier stuff with “March of Mephisto” and the lighter stuff with “The Haunting.”
Was it all KAMELOT’s idea to pick the visual concepts for both of the videos?
Well, between the director and ourselves. We don’t really have experience; this is the first time we did video, so we didn’t have any experience in terms of writing the storyboard for it. We relied on Patric for that, of course, we had our own ideas for certain things and the video for “The Haunting” came out great and I’m really looking forward to seeing “March of Mephisto,” it’s not completed yet but some of the screen shots that I’ve seen look really incredible.
From what I saw from the “Making of” video, I have to ask, what was it like working in front of a green screen?
It’s a little bit weird because you can’t hear your guitar so you’re just sitting there air-guitaring but after awhile you kinda get used to it then you can really start getting a feel for the music and get more performance into it. We kept asking all the time, “What’s going to be behind here?” And Patric would say, “Oh it’s a surprise, it’s a surprise.” I don’t know if he had anything in mind at the time, but it was a little bit weird. We did some stuff too in a church and outside of the church and all that kind of stuff, to me I like better, but some of the stuff we did on green screen for the “March of Mephisto” clips looks really incredible.
Is there any word on a KAMELOT U.S. tour?
Well, we’re talking to SPV to have their ears open and we’ve been talking to different bands that are coming over in September. I think everybody is waiting to see what happens when the record comes out and see how things go. Of course, we’ve been trying to set up a U.S. tour for 2 or 3 years now and there’s always these obstacles about the size of the band in the US, the funding, and things like that; so we’re always trying to look for opportunities here as well as other countries. But I think I have a good feeling about this year and about being able to tour, so let’s see what happens. We’re talking to the management with Angra about doing a co-headline with them and the guys from Stratovarius talked to us a little about that, but you know, we’re keeping our ears open for the best opportunity and for the best package for the fans, that’s the most important thing.
Yeah, I really hope it comes true.
Yeah, me too, it’s kinda weird, our singer is from Norway, and we haven’t toured there. We’re from the U.S. and we haven’t toured in the U.S., so I think it’s time to do that.
How long have you been with SPV?
This is our first album with SPV. We were with Noise Records, and then Sanctuary bought Noise so it was Noise/Sanctuary. And our deal came up with Noise to be finished. They made us an offer, and then we talked with some other companies. We had quite a bit of interest from 3 or 4 different companies in Europe, and SPV stepped up to the plate with the best offer and the best plan with what they are going to do with the record and doing things like videos and tour support. So, yeah, that’s why we went with SPV.
So, SPV has been treating you well?
Yeah, absolutely, we just started to get in contact with the US office and everybody there is really cool, and in tune with what’s going on, so I’m excited about the year for KAMELOT.
Let’s talk about “The Black Halo”; I probably don’t have to tell you how amazing this album is.
Oh, thank you, thank you.
Will there be any special editions when the album is released?
I think in the U.S. they’re doing the normal jewel case and in Europe I think they’re doing the jewel case and a limited edition digi-pack with a couple of bonus tracks with 8 radio edits and in Japan there’s a bonus track but with a normal jewel case release. Nothing extra fancy, the album is packed with so much music that it definitely has enough music for anybody, you’re not gonna want anymore after listening to the record.
So, were you guys happy with the press reviews?
Yeah, absolutely, with “Epica” we had really great reviews so we didn’t know what to expect because we were getting album of the months and 10 out of 10 with “Epica” and you can’t go anywhere but down with that. So far, we’ve got record of the month with some of the magazines, 10 out of 10 in quite a few different reviews. Yeah, it’s great, I mean it’s just really good to know that your instincts and the hard work that you put into a project are coming out and people can hear that they’ve done a lot of work and put a lot of time into it.
With “The Black Halo”, there’s a lot of guest appearances around it’s belt, you can say and collectively, I have to ask, what was it like working with all those musicians and how did you get in touch with all of them to work on this album?
We’ve had musicians since “The Fourth Legacy,” we started bringing in people and I think with “The Black Halo” though we have a little bit more well-known guests you can say, like Shagroth from Dimmu Borgir. We had this story about this character, Mephisto the devil, and we really felt like we needed to put his face of Mephisto some how on the record and the first choice we had was Shagroth. He’s also from Norway, which is where our singer is from, so that made it a little more convenient to be able to get in touch with them and talk to him, and he coincidently lived only 15 minutes away from our singer. So, they got together went over the song and worked on the stuff in the studio in Norway and yeah, it went really smooth, it was cool, he also did the video for “March of Mephisto.” With Simone Simons from “Epica”, they were in the studio at the same time as KAMELOT, so it was more of a convenience thing, we had this female part that we had written and they wanted Roy to sing in one of their albums so we made a swap in the studio and it worked out really cool like that. The other most notable guest would be Jens Johansson, who our producers got in touch with and we just had a couple of songs that we thought his style would really fit well. So, we got in touch with him, sent him some sound files and he liked the songs a lot and he said, “Yeah ok, I’ll do it, it’s cool.” So it went from there and we’re fortunate to get some really great guest musicians on the record.
Nice choice by the way!
Oh thank you, thanks.
You probably don’t know this, maybe Jon mentioned it to you when Brian contacted you guys, but after we received the promo for “The Black Halo” within RockEyez, the staff started listening to it and Brian gave me the final go ahead to start rating it. When Brian received the review, and the other staff writers were reading it, there was, let me tell you, great controversy with my rating within the staff.
Yeah, but from what I went through and all, I just want to let you guys know that I stuck to my guns and you guys deserved that 10 out of 10.
Ok! I really appreciate that, that’s very cool. I mean, the journalists have been really good to us. We have the journalists that have known the band for quite a few years and they understand that we try to do things differently with each record… try to grow, try to put a little more art into our albums than you might find for example… in some other bands. It’s always refreshing to hear that there are people that give 10/10’s, and we really appreciate that.
So, I have to ask, what lies in store for the future for you and KAMELOT after the touring is done?
Well, we’re gonna probably start working on the new album in the winter, maybe a little bit in the summer and well, right now, there’s so much with this new album I think there’s gonna be a lot more touring to do after the European tour. After the European tour, we’re gonna take the summer off and we’re gonna go back to Europe in the fall, and let’s cross our fingers and see what we can get something for the US put together. Then, there’s also Brazil, we haven’t played in Brazil before, we have a new record company down there that loves our album and doing a lot of promo for it and they promised us a tour. Then, we go to Japan for a week. So, there’s a lot to do, you know, but we’re always thinking about the future, the next album, and all that kind of stuff. So, it’s definitely going to be a busy year, that’s for sure.
Yeah, that’s a good thing.
I just want to ask, any closing words you like to say or finish off.
Sure, sure, well first of all, thanks for the interview and your support. I just want to tell all the fans in the U.S. and anybody who is reading this interview that we’re working every day to set up a tour in the U.S. and play for the fans here. We really think 2005 will be that year and we look forward in seeing everyone out there.
Representing RockEyez, we’re spreading the word, so don’t worry about that!
Oh yeah, we appreciate it!