Deep down into the music with Casey Grillo and Thomas Youngblood from Kamelot

Kamelot has had a successful year since releasing the newest album Haven. One of their stops during the Haven-tour was Swedish festival Skogsröjet. Our reporter Gabi got the opportunity to sit down with both drummer Casey Grill and Mr Kamelot himself, Thomas Youngblood.

Läs intervjun på Svenska här!

So Casey, tell me about the story when you decided to join Kamelot?

– I have always played in local bands back in Tampa, and Glenn Barry who was the bass player in Kamelot back then saw me play. So he asked me if I could record the drums on the album they were making since they lost their drummer.  And after the record got finished they asked me to join the band, but that was right before Roy Khan also joined.

Since three of the members in the band lives in the US and Oliver Palotai and Tommy Karevik lives in Europe you´d think there would be problems with recording and writing songs. But both Casey and Thomas think that the internet and programs like Skype and Facetime makes it easier.

– Sometimes I will go over to Germany and write with Oliver. He writes songs constantly so we can end up having ten ideas each when we meet up and then I travel to Sweden where Tommy lives and write with him. I also record a lot of things on my phone, like riffs that we can use and expand from, explains Thomas.

You’re going to be performing on the 70 000 tons of Metal Cruise next year with 60 other bands, what can the Camelot fans attending the cruise expect?

-Well, we did it once before and it was really awesome, it was more like a party and even though we thought the fans would approach us more, they didn´t, says Casey.

He continues with that he thinks that the fans of the band already know what to expect, especially since it is on a cruise that many people go on year after year.

Playing drums during a whole show that can last from 90 minutes and longer takes a lot of energy from the person playing. But Casey explains that he tries and stay focused, to keep the energy up he always makes sure to play three sessions that will last for one hour when he is back home.

– It's a mental set, you just got to do it and go from one song to another. Just pretend you never played that fast before and when the first four or five songs are over, the ballad comes on and you get a break, Casey says with a laugh.

The reason to why Casey started to play drums in the first place is because he got influenced by both his brother and sister that also played.

– I don´t know why really, I just went towards that because it was one of the things that called me.

He tells me that he also plays in a local rock group back home in Tampa two nights a week, otherwise he wouldn´t be playing except for the recording and rehearsing.

It is the band’s first time performing on Sponsored, but they both agree that it looks like a great Festival.

– Our singer Tommy Karevik is Swedish so playing here is a good move for the band to reach more of the fan base. It's also easier for Tommy to get here since he lives two hours away, but its further from the airport, Casey says with a laugh.

– We love Sweden and always make sure to come here when we released a new album, I actually got the meet the promoter earlier, he told me that the profit goes to kids, says Thomas.

The band has just finished the second leg of the Haven Tour and made a stop in Japan.

– Japan is always great, it really feels like going to another country. I always tell people who when you go to different countries, like Swedish people speak great English and you can watch TV that is not dubbed. In Japan most people don´t speak English, but we really enjoy being there and Tokyo is a great city, really high-tech.

On the question on how they balance being on tour and coming home to an everyday life Thomas explains that he dons´t like the term rock star. Thomas explains that the fans of the band is like an extended family and that having a balance between life on the road and at home is the key to success. Casey on the other hand explains it a bit differently.

– Last Wednesday I played in front of maybe 20 people at this jazz-gig and now this Friday night a few thousands. But that is my kind of balance, I have a life at home but I also have to different life´s as a musician as well outside of Camelot.

Singers like Elize Ryd from Amaranthe, Simone Simons from Epica, Alissa White-Glutz from Arch Enemy and Kobra Paige from Kobra and the Lotus have toured with the band as their backup singers. And bringing up front female singers as their backup singers is something the fans has given Kamelot a lot of credit for.

– We simply just choose good talent and it has always worked out really well. A lot of them like Simone turned out as superstars and its cool because we know her since she was young.

Thomas tells me he that he keeps his eyes on the scene and looks for the new talent, a lot of them has already toured with Camelot as opening acts. Thomas explains that usually asks them after they opened up for Kamelot because it makes it easier to see how touring together would work. But the band never play the songs differently because they have a new backup singer. Casey explains it’s still the same song, but that the backup singers approach it in their own way. Thomas Youngblood founded Camelot back in 1991 with Richard Warner, since then the members of the bands have changed. The latest addition from 2012 is singer Tommy Karevik. But the dynamics in the band never changed if you ask Casey and Thomas.

– Everybody has a cool way of interacting and having fun on stage. It is very easy to see a change in the band if someone is not enjoying what they do. But we have a good line up and everybody thinks of what we do as an honor.

The reason to why Kamelot didn´t perform at Sweden Rock Festival this year is because Thomas wants to wait at least three years before they return. Thomas also reveals that he has already started to talk to the staff of the festival about playing there in 2017. Something that most people don´t know is that the music videos are already filmed before the release of the album

– The album is already done between three to four months before anyone gets to hear it, so what happens is that we pick one of the songs we think will be a hit and film the first video.

Thomas goes on telling me that they usually have one week to shoot and make the video and then send it for edits. A minimum of five to six edits are usually made before the band is happy about the new music video. He continues telling me that the reason to why they choose My Therapy as one of the songs was because it shows a different side of Kamelot.

– It was a song that we had never done before and it gives us the opportunity to expand our fanbase. You can´t continue to do the same songs and videos like we did in the past, to survive you need to be more modern.

He continues telling me that the story behind Insomnia and Liar Liar would be finished with Revolution if there was a budget for it. But having three music videos done on one album is a big luxury today. Since the story with new album Haven is coming to an end fans has been started to ask when the next album is coming.

– We never really know what the next step is for Kamelot, but we took a good direction with Haven that will be staying with us for the future. A new door has just opened up for us, but we haven´t started writing new songs yet.

Music consists of a lot of hidden messages which makes it possible for a song to either make you happy or sad. Sometimes it may even help you through difficult times in life.

– I think we have a responsibility to keep our messages positive, I would never play something that I could not play for my kids. My personal view on music is that I want to have a good song that other people can relate to and maybe find comfort in, says Thomas.

He continues telling me that they meet a lot of people on tour that tells them stories about themselves and their lives, something both him and Casey think is very powerful.

– We always make sure to take time and meet some of them and if they want to tell us their story, no problem, we will listen. And if they can find comfort in our music, then that will just make me feel great, Casey explains.

Thomas himself started with music as an escape from his childhood, he explains that music is what saved him.

– I got lost in the music and eventually started to play the guitar, before that I played the Saxon. But it’s like my haven so I can relate to the fans who are struggling to get through things.

The future for Kamelot is already being planned and according to Thomas, the years 2018-2019 will be a massive couple of years. The band will tour in new countries with Haven, but also record their second album with record label Napalm.

– We´re gonna kick in the door and expand our fan base, at the same time we keep a lot of the older ones new and younger are starting to listen to our music which is great.

– It’s gonna be a killer record, even though it has not been written yet, Casey tells me.

Writer: Gabi Mattsson (gabi.mattsson@rockbladet.se)

Photographer: Cathrin Linné (hello@caughtbycat.com)


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