By Carl Begai
I recently caught up with Kamelot guitarist Thomas Youngblood to discuss the band’s new record, Silverthorn. It’s what you’d call a big deal amongst Kamelot fans in that the album features new vocalist Tommy Karevik in place of Roy Khan, and it puts the band’s previous album Poetry For The Poisoned to shame. Reactions have been overwhelmingly positive across the board in spite of Khan’s absence – something that potentially could have cut Kamelot down at the knees – and most fans agree that Silverthorn is the album that should have followed Ghost Opera from 2007.
Silverthorn was planned as a concept album featuring a tale that’s too long to explain here, suffice to say that involves a tragedy, mystery and death. In other words, a story that’s tailor-made for Kamelot’s drama-fuelled symphonic metal approach. Vocalist Amanda Somerville, who has worked behind-the-scenes and recorded backing / guest vocals with Kamelot since The Black Halo in 2005, was on board for Silverthorn as a backing / choir vocalist, and she wrote the story as it appears in the book included with the limited edition box set of the album.
We took some time out from assorted travel madness to discuss her part in the production.
“They had the concept thought out first,” Somerville begins. “Sascha (Paeth / long-time Kamelot producer) and Tommy did the songwriting and they came up with bulletpoints, so they had the main outline of the story for me. The songs are like the details of the story that are still kind of left open to interpretation. We had a Skype session and they explained what they had in mind, but they didn’t have the story with the specific events of what actually happened. For example, they told me the story should start with two brothers and their sister; they’re doing something together, a tragic event takes place, and she dies. I asked how she was supposed to die and they didn’t know, so I came up with situation and scenario. I basically fleshed everything out.”
“I also came up with the way the killings in the story start happening. It’s told from the ‘good brother’s’ perspective, and I thought it would be cool to make it so that it wasn’t quite clear if he really has a twin or if he’s schizophrenic. I mean, we never learn the good brother’s name. It leaves the question open as to whether it might be him doing all these weird things. I wanted it to be intriguing and suspenseful. The time limit and the page limit and the budget made it hard to get all the details in there, so I had to make do with writing the story over 10 pages.”
During our chat Somerville saw the video for ‘Sacrimony’ for the first time, which was released a week prior to Silverthorn. It’s a high-end production featuring the band and actors, offering up a dramatization of the first part of the story. A second video has been shot with at least one more planned for the future assuming there’s a budget for it. Asked if she approves of how the story was interpreted for the screen thus far, Somerville gives it a thumbs-up.
“It’s a loose adaptation of my story, that’s for sure, but I think they did a good job. I came up with the kite flying, for example, but she didn’t fall off a tower; she fell off a cliff into a river. It’s always the thing, though, that when you have a limited budget it’s hard to come up with the whole movie version of a story in a video that’s true to the script. What they came up with is pretty cool.”
On the performance side of things, Somerville was back at Gate Studios with Sascha Paeth to add the customary bells and whistles to Silverthorn.
“I did my backing vocals and the choruses, and I also did extra some creepy vocals. There’s a children’s choir, and it’s me and Elize (Ryd) doing it. I actually do the same kind of thing at the end of my song ‘Carnival’, so I love doing creepy things like that (laughs). I just realized I never posted the choir session video blog that I did which shows us doing those creepy children’s voices, so that’s something I have to do very soon.”
“You have no idea how much video material I come across when I’m editing other videos,” she adds. “It’s like, ‘Oh shit, I never did anything with that! Oh wow…’ (laughs). If I ever decide to release a DVD compilation of stuff I’m going to have a heyday. I’ve got a ton of never-before-released footage just sitting here. The problem wouldn’t be the editing, it would be taking the time to gather it all together.”
In the more immediate future, Somerville will be taking her band Trillium to the UK this month to support Magnum, which is led by her Avantasia bandmate Bob Catley. With luck, promoters will see the advantage of putting Trillium on the road with Kamelot at some point during what is destined to be a long world tour for Silverthorn.
Somerville is an integral part of the Kamelot story, after all.
Amanda Somerville writer-at-work photo by Carl Begai. All Rights reserved.