Interview: Oliver Palotai (Kamelot)

Oliver-Palotai-KamelotOver the last couple of decades, Kamelot have established themselves as one of America’s leading lights in the power metal world. Having just released their new album, Oliver Palotai took some time out of his day to talk about song writing, recording, touring and riots.

The band are currently on tour in North America and from all reports, it’s going well. “So far it´s been the best start of a North American tour I can remember” Palotai tells us; “awesome turnouts and a great response from all the audiences. I hope it continues like that.”

It hasn’t been all easy sailing though. Along with DragonForce, Kamelot were scheduled to play in Baltimore on April 27th, which, if you have been following the news, was when the city was in the midst of a riot.

“The show was cancelled, minutes before the start of the concert. Everything was set up and we were ready to go on stage. But the riots were only three blocks away. So we returned three days later and played on our off day.”

Did they witness the rioting first-hand?

“Not really. We were advised to stay in the venue. But it was a weird atmosphere overall. Still, the media works like a magnifying glass – most of the city was quiet.”

Video for Insomnia

The band released their eleventh studio, Haven, earlier in the month. We wanted to take a look at how it came together; starting with how the writing process went.

“Well, the “new” songwriting team with Tommy established itself. On Silverthorn many songs were already written before he joined. For Haven he was an essential part right from the start.”

With it being Tommy’s second album, was it easier to collaborate?

“Yes, definitely. Also because at the beginning he was a bit shy, holding back. This time he brought in his ideas with more confidence.”

How is the average Kamelot song created, do they come up with a melody or chorus first, lyrics?

“There is no general rule to this. For Haven Thomas Youngblood and me met for about ten days at my studio in Germany. We wrote the basic structure of about 75% of the songs. Besides that I put down some ideas working on my own. Under Grey Skies or Here´s To The Fall for example were created like that. Then we work with Tommy, come up with vocal lines. Sometimes we re- arrange the song during this part of the process. Lyrics always come last.”

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With some bands focussing on singles and the random nature of streaming, the idea of an album to be played start to finish is sometimes lost. Do Kamelot focus on the full album, or is it more a selection of tracks to be played in any order?

“At the beginning we collect a lot of ideas, riffs, intros etc. After a while you slowly get a better picture of how the finished album could sound. Then we write songs in styles which are still needed to round up the album. So yes – we still think in the context of a full album.”

The album is out now, and it’s available in a wide range of formats and packages. Do they feel it’s particularly important to present the fans with a range of editions?

“That is a decision mainly made by the labels. I personally think it is great to present a couple of options. The “Special Edition”, for instance, contains orchestral and instrumental tracks; not all people want that, so I think it is fair to give them the option to buy the main CD cheaper. The Wooden Box was sold out in no time, though, so there´s definitely enough fans who want really limited stuff.”

Lyric Video for Veil Of Elysium

A lot of European power metal bands struggle to gain traction in America. Coming from America though, did they find any difficulty breaking into Europe?

“Well, we are American- German- Swedish by now. Kamelot was always very European in its sound, so it didn´t take much to be successful in Scandinavia, The Netherlands or Southern Europe. Germany, as the third- biggest music market in the world, is always difficult. But in the last years we finally managed to become successful there as well.”

Rounding off the interview, we ask Palotai what is in store for the rest of 2015 for Kamelot. “Festivals in Summer, the European Tour in September/ October, and the second part of the US/ Canadian Tour in winter.”

Out thanks to Oliver Palotai for taking the time to sit down and answer our questions. Click here to visit Kamelot’s Facebook, or here to go to the Napalm Records store and purchase one of the Haven edition’s for yourself.

Follow us on Twitter: @SoundTheCharge_

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