It’s been two years and one incredible album since Kamelot was last in Helsinki. They’ve upgraded from Nosturi to The Circus now that the traditional venue can’t quite handle all their fans. It’s hard to come up with questions when you feel like they’ve all be asked already, but nevertheless, we managed to get a few minutes with Oliver Palotai before the show to talk about touring, music, guest vocalists, and more!
Welcome back to Finland and to Helsinki! How’s the tour been so far?
Good. It’s been 4 days that we’ve been in Finland, for the first time. We’re trying some places out that we haven’t been to before. I like the country anyways – it fits my character. There are not too many people but there’s a lot of nature. People are really calm and don’t talk too much. I love it.
Where have you been that you haven’t been before in Finland?
I can’t pronounce the names, so it’s hard to answer. [Seinäjoki and Joensuu]
Have you had any tour disasters at this point or has everything been going pretty smoothly?
No, we’ve got a really reliable crew. It’s going really smoothly. It might be a bit boring, but it’s running perfectly every night.
Sometimes boring is a good thing! Is there anywhere at this point in particular that you’re really looking forward to playing?
I’m always stumbling out of the tour bus in the morning, or noon, and then I look around at where I am and I enjoy it. It’s not that I’m particularly fond of certain countries or cities. It can be fun anywhere.
Do you get to do much looking around in the cities or are you usually too busy getting prepared for the shows to do much tourism?
Me personally, I always take a walk. It helps with something called “tour depression,” which comes from being in these dungeons all day, so I take a walk, I work out, and so I usually get to know the cities at least a little bit.
Is there anywhere else outside of Finland that you’re going to go that you haven’t been to before?
Vilnius tomorrow or the day after, in Lithuania.
Great! Now this is the second album that you’re touring with Tommy Karevik on vocals. How’s it comparing to the last time? Are there any big changes in the feeling or anything like that?
Regarding the album or regarding the tour?
Both, I suppose.
The album was more written to his specific voice and range. For Silverthorn, there were a lot of songs done before he came into the band. That’s an essential difference, of course, but regarding the songwriting and whole production, he was there from the beginning. He participated a lot. A lot of the melodies and vocal lines are from his side, so I guess he feels even more attached to the album and the songs than to the Silverthorn stuff.
Is it more comfortable playing live or did you get everything into a good place already on the last tour?
Basically from the very first concert when he was confirmed as a band member, which was Masters of Rock, it felt like the perfect fit. It was a surprise, because before that we went on tour with him and Fabio Lione [Angra] just to try it out a bit. We were not so totally sure yet what the decision would be, and really from that point on when he was confirmed, it was like an explosion. It was as if he had been in the band for years.
That’s pretty cool! Can you tell us a bit about your guest vocalists this time? How did you come across Linnea Vikström?
I think that Thomas [Youngblood, guitars] probably checked her out from her work in Therion.
You’ve had different guests just about every time we’ve seen you now. How do you come across them or select them to come on tour with you?
It’s usually a personal meeting or coincidence during festivals that we meet them or we are somehow in contact with them. Often it’s that we check young artists out on YouTube or on their records and if it could fit the songwriting, and we invite them to send demos in and sometimes it’s fitting and sometimes it’s not. That’s usually how it goes.
You had Alissa White-Gluz on tour with you before and she was also on the last album. Did you try at all to get Charlotte Wessels on this tour or not, since she was on the album as well?
Not really. Alissa was in The Agonist back then, so usually when we ask those back-up singers, they are still kind of unknown and after a while it seems like a thing in Kamelot, that we discover these singers before they get bigger and more famous. That was the same with Elise [Ryd, Amaranthe] and Simone [Simons, Epica] and Alissa. It’s a little bit of a weird karma thing going on.
How did you end up with Charlotte Wessels and Troy Donockley as guests on the album?
We’ve known them for years. We’ve been on tour with Nightwish and Troy was a really funny guy and we talked to him and we sent the demo of the ballad in, if he would participate, and he was immediately hooked.
Do you get much time to rehearse with your guests before the tours, or do you just come in and go for it?
Usually we meet on stage at the sound-check before the first gig.
Would you ever consider having a male guest vocalist on an album or a tour?
Yeah, for sure, if it would fit. It’s just that the female voice adds or compliments Tommy’s voice, but it could definitely be… I mean, Shagrath was a guest [The Black Halo – “March of Mephisto”], and he’s not a girl!
Is there a male vocalist that comes to mind that you might be particularly interested in working with?
Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth.
That would be pretty cool. Is there anyone that you’ve asked to work or hoped to work with, but it hasn’t worked out for scheduling issues or anything like that?
Not that I can think of. The idea to include someone is usually done during the songwriting process and we contact the people and so far it’s always worked.
You guys have discussed the new album a fair bit in plenty of other interviews, so I won’t delve into it too deeply with you now, but from what we’ve gathered, the new album explores themes relating to technology, human detachment, and that sort of thing. Just briefly, could you tell us a bit about where these ideas came from/what inspired them?
It’s usually that we have a lot of time on tour and we talk about politics, about history, about the future of human society, and from that at a certain point we’re stuck to a certain idea and that’s how, in the end, we were inspired for the album. It can be everything. It can be newspapers, it can be books, or hour-long conversations during the long rides on the tours.
Are there any really personal songs on the album for you specifically this time around – something that means a lot to you?
“Here’s to the Fall” is maybe my favorite. It’s the orchestration that I wrote, and Tommy, so no band. Finally you can hear some more details in the orchestration, which is usually buried in the mix, so that song means a lot.
And now, it’s your 25th anniversary as a band and the 20th anniversary of your first album, Eternity – congratulations on the quarter-century milestone! What do you think is the best thing you’ve accomplished as a band in 25 years?
I think creating a very specific sound. Maybe every band says that, but at least I can confirm from reviews and feedback from fans that we have a certain mixture that is unique and that, I think, is a very important thing to achieve, that we don’t sound like any other band out there.
You guys have already achieved so much – do you have any big dreams or goals for the band at this point that you’d like to reach?
Not really. I go with the flow, and whatever comes up, if it goes down or up, it doesn’t really matter as long as you play music and you have fun.
Great! That’s all the questions I have. Do you have any last words for our readers?
I’m grateful that we have fans that don’t think in categories too much, that are very open-minded, and that go with our experiments sound-wise, and I hope that people stay like that!
Thank you for taking the time to do the interview then, and have a great show!
Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Lene L.