Roy Kahn - Kamelot

August 8, 2007


Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org

I got your CD The Black Halo a while back and reviewed it. I really enjoyed the hell out of it and Ghost Opera is just fucking awesome.

Thank you. Thanks a lot. I appreciate hearing that. Where do you live by the way?

Iím in Dallas, TX. You guys are in Florida.

Iím actually Norwegian so Iím calling from Norway.

Part of the band is in Florida and part of it is in Norway.

Yeah, the rest of the band is in Florida but Iím in Norway.

Thatís cool. Ever since I started interviewing a lot of Norwegian bands Iíve read up a whole lot on Norway. That is such a beautiful country.

Oh, thanks. It is though. Especially when you come back from a trip in the woods. We went camping. We brought a tent and just stayed out there by a little lake and itís really beautiful right now. Weather has been really sucking over the summer but we had a couple of days with sunshine out though. Just had to take the opportunity and go out there.

Here in the United States we have such a big problem with people wanting to cut down all the god damn trees and Iím hoping in Norway you guys donít have to worry about that so much.

No, I donít think there is a big problem anyway. There are a lot of woods here but the whole environmental movement is pretty strong here. So I think weíre good.

Thatís good. Here is like oh my God if everything isnít cemented over then this is a bad thing. At least you guys appreciate your natural habitat. I think thatís awesome.

Thanks.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. Like how long youíve been in Kamelot and all that.

Iíve been in Kamelot the last nine years. No, itís actually 10 years. I joined in 1997. Thomas called me. You know I played in a Norwegian band before that was semi famous in the genre and we split up. Itís kind of funny. I joined my former band in í92 and we had to fight the grunge. Itís the same kind of music really.

Are you serious?

Yeah, kind of. We went down with the grunge and I ended up being with Kamelot on the way up again. The end of the genre has had a nice lift last year so I feel pretty lucky and happy about staying in this scene. Anyway, my old band split up and Thomas, the guitar player in Kamelot, had read something about that on the Internet and he managed somehow to get my phone number or my dadís phone number. He called me and asked me if I wanted to help him out with his record that was all recorded and just needed vocals. Iíd never been in the U.S. before and they paid me pretty good so I thought yeah, Iíve got the time and why not. So I went over and did my thing and me and Tom wrote one song together for the Japanese version of the album.

Oh, for a bonus track?

Yeah, like the bonus track. That was a great experience. I really felt that or we both felt that there was something in this songwriting team of me and him. We started talking about writing a full record together and then we did. That was of course Legacy and after that weíve come out with another four records. Ghost Opera being the fifth one since I joined.

You guys have some really good chemistry going there.

Thank you.

Tell me how you feel that Ghost Opera differs from the last release you guys put out and in what ways is it kind of similar?

The most obvious difference is of course that it is not a concept record. The two last ones were based on the story of Faust by the German writer Goethe. Iím not sure how hearable that is but it was for sure very different for us to write Ghost Opera than how it was to write Epica and The Black Halo. Because on those two records we had to have the lyrics or at least some lyrical plot before we could start writing the music if the music was going to be a reflection of the story in a way. This time around we could just lean back and get our musical ideas down without having to worry about the lyrical content. That was quite refreshing. I actually think that that led us to and inspired us to write slightly differently. Other differences are in the fact that I would say this last record or this new record is somehow for us at least a look back upon our last hectic years. Especially since we started working on The Black Halo, itís been one long goal. We were touring, we were recording, we did videos, we did DVDs. Thereís songwriting, thereís interviews, thereís so much all the time and itís somehow a look back on our last hectic years. A reflection of it somehow. Musically itís probably slightly darker. Slightly slower actually. Slightly more mid-tempoish. And the themes are for sure more melancholy and sad and theyíre all about death and hopeless love and despair of some sort. I think all of the whole record is a result of how weíve been living our lives the last three or four years. Itís like weíre leaning back and I wouldnít say relaxing. Itís kind of hard to talk about your own material when youíre right in the middle of it. Itís for sure an album that consists of totally and significantly different stories. Itís not an overall story binding everything together and itís a little bit more mid-tempoish and maybe more darker and heavier than the other one was.

I think concept albums are really cool and Iíve enjoyed a lot of the ones that Iíve listened to but sometimes itís definitely not a theme that you want to stick to all the time.

No, absolutely not and that was the only thing that we knew when we sat down to write this record, that it was not going to be a concept record. That was the only thing we knew and that it was really refreshing not having to worry about the lyrical content before we did music.

Of course the cool thing about doing a concept record about Faust or like Sepultura did one about Dante is that it encourages people to actually get off their asses and go out and read. I think thatís cool.

Thatís a cool side effect. Yeah, we talked to quite a few people that went out there and either borrowed the book at the library or bought it and read it. Thatís really cool. As the main lyric writer in the band, I also appreciate it when people try to interpret things and actually care about the lyrics.

It also keeps those awesome classics alive because Iím fortunate in that I know about Goethe and all these people through my mom who is from Europe and has read all that stuff and introduced all of it to me. Not many people are that lucky. On the new record, what three stories are your favorite?

For ďGhost OperaĒ, thatís the title track and the story is about this old lady sitting in her big house in her older days looking back upon her life. Sheís dreaming herself away and trying to imagine how life could have been if she had actually made it as an opera singer. The story is that she is on her way to her debut concert and she gets assaulted and raped on the way to her debut and misses it and goes slightly insane after that. The reason why we chose that as the title track is because as I said, this record is also a reflection of our last hectic years and itís a song that represents Kamelot in a good way in the sense that itís a good song. Itís a catchy song. Itís a typical Kamelot song although very different from all of the songs that weíve done in the past. We feel that the title and the music in that song is a good representation of the whole record. Plus the fact that that title is a cool title. Thatís also a factor. Thereís a story about a German warship, itís ďBluecherď, that story is about a ship that came up to shore also. It was actually the ship that led the German convoy of ships up the shore of Oslo on the day of the invasion of Norway in the beginning of World War II. The story itself is about this young German soldier standing on a bridge thatís thinking about his fiancťe back in Germany. He wonders if she thinks about him in these last dramatic minutes of his life but the ship goes down. There were like 1,400 soldiers on the ship and it was sunk by two torpedoes halfway up the fjord of Oslo and they basically all died in the flames of oil surrounding the ship when it went down because it caught fire and they all burned up. So itís a very dramatic story but of course that story is very famous here in Norway and also in Germany but everybody else is telling me that thatís sure a funny name for a song and asks me what itís about.

Well, this is another chance for us to educate ourselves in a little bit of history.

Thereís ďAnthemĒ which is also a melancholy song but itís very different from the other songs. Itís only me and a symphony orchestra and piano. This song is about my psyche about having my first child. I wrote the lyrics for this song two months or six weeks before the record came out. It was one of the last songs that we did. The song is basically dealing with my psyche and of course curiosity about what is going to happen. Thereís ďLove You To DeathĒ which is based on a Japanese legend or myth about a young couple where the girl catches a lethal disease and she dies at age 14 or 15 and she comes back to haunt her boyfriendís life or guide his life. Thatís a theme that was used before in different forms. There are always certain themes that come back with us and this one is something weíve used many times before but this story was very inspiring. One thing by the way which is very different from this record to other records is that we more than ever let the music inspire the lyrics and not the other way around especially on Epica and The Black Halo of course. On Karma and the earlier releases we werenít really as conscious about that or I wasnít. This time around both me and Tom really sat down and listened to the music before the lyrics were done and we asked ourselves what the pure music was telling us. Is there a message? Is there something in the music that gives you a certain association? I think every single lyric is directly inspired by the music. For example on ďBluecherĒ youíve got this heavy, monotonous guitar riff with deep horns. The deep trombones and we totally got the feeling of being on a ship. On a ship steaming fast forward in waters and thatís how we ended up with the story about ďBluecherď. Thereís ďAnthemĒ that has this veility about it which in turn inspired me to write about my unborn child. Thereís ďGhost OperaĒ which has this haunting scene in the chorus. I could say something about every song where itís clear that the music has directly inspired the lyrics.

The next time I listen to it, Iíll be listening to it from a fresh angle now.

Itís just a curiosity that I mentioned but you can have cool music with okay or bullshit lyrics and vice versa but I really like the idea of the perfect symbiosis or the perfect combination of message and form which would be the lyrics and the package. The music. I feel that Ghost Opera is almost perfect in that regard.

When you put out a CD, thatís a work of art. You guys did a video for the title track.

Yeah, we actually did two videos. Four actually. Weíve done ďGhost OperaĒ. Weíve done ďThe Human StainĒ which is going to come out any day really. At least during the U.S. tour that we start in 10 days or so.

Iím going to see you guys in Ft. Worth. Iím really looking forward to that.

Me too. Iím really looking forward to going back to the U.S. The last tour we did was really cool and the American audience has been hungry for this kind of music.

Yeah, because weíve got such stupid bullshit on the radio.

I totally understand that. When you get too much of something youíre going to get fed up in the end. I feel like thereís been a lot of the same stuff for a long time in the U.S. Not only in the U.S. but the same in certain countries over here like the U.K. for example. Norway is also the same boring but we definitely feel that the band has grown big time in the U.S., Canada, Norway, U.K., Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Holland, and thatís great.

Absolutely. Are you guys doing a U.S. tour first and a European tour later?

Well, the thing is with these two legs, we did two three weekers before the album came out. Weíve been touring now since the end of March. Weíve done some festivals now in the summer, some vacation, and then weíre heading out. Weíre heading out two weeks from now on the U.S. part of the tour. Then weíre coming back to Europe and Japan and then there may be something in South America but I just had a little kid for six months now. Itís really not cool to be that much away and I promised my family to be a little bit more at home now this year which of course that was just bullshit because itís been more hectic than ever. I just have to try to take it a little bit easier this winter. Thereís going to be all this stuff to do anyway. Weíre going to do more videos. Weíre going to start writing for the next record and as I said we might go down to South America and do a gig there. Christmas at least Iím going to be home.

Congratulations on being a new daddy. That must be awesome.

Yeah, itís great. I just wish I had a little bit more time at home but then again Kamelot is my other baby. Iím torn between those two. The family thing and the band thing. I guess slowly Iíll learn how to combine it perfectly because I definitely want to go on to sing and write songs. Thatís my big, big passion in life. Thereís no way I could be happy without doing that.

Absolutely and happiness is something we all need to have. Sounds like you guys have your plate full. When we will see the new record?

Weíre going to start writing it now but itís going to be a while. Ghost Opera just came out but Iím thinking maybe 2009. There is going to be some other stuff though between here. We did the DVD between The Black Halo and Ghost Opera. Thereís going to be some other stuff between Ghost Opera and the next record. Weíre not so sure what itís going to be. A new DVD would be a little bit too early. Weíre working on a project that might see the day of light.

Sounds awesome. Any other thoughts or comments?

Iím really, really looking forward to coming back to the U.S. Of course Iím looking forward to playing in Ft. Worth for the first time.

Kamelot