July 27, 2018 Interview – Tommy Karevik of Kamelot
Sowing the seeds of a musical concept nearly three decades ago, Kamelot has blossomed into one of Heavy Metal’s elite modern acts. Creating epic, powerful, and thought-provoking music, Kamelot’s rise has been a steady one while being augmented by the addition of Tommy Karevik over seven years ago. A part of the creative process through three studio albums, Karevik has been fully embraced by Kamelot fans as part of the family.
Now, deep inside a comfort zone with Kamelot, Karevik assist in one of their most imaginative records to date, The Shadow Theory. Released back on April 6, 2018, the word has spread far and wide as The Shadow Theory tops charts around the globe. Interested in a closer look at the story behind it all? Look no further, because Tommy Karevik took the time to rap about the concept behind The Shadow Theory, his entrance into Kamelot, influences, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in Rock/Metal for nearly fifteen years now. From your band Seventh Wonder to various collaborations and your time in Kamelot, you have had quite a journey. How would you describe your musical ride to this point?
Tommy Karevik – Fifteen years… yeah, I guess that is true… I don’t think about that very often, but yeah, time really flies when you are busy and when you are having fun. It has been a very rewarding and exciting time for sure. Ever since the first demo I recorded for what is now the band Vindictiv back in 2003, until today, it has been a chain of one thing leading to another all the time. When I was asked if I wanted to write and sing for Vindictiv, I had only been writing Swedish Singer-Songwriter music before. I come from Pop/Rock, but had started listening to some Metal and was singing along to it so I thought it sounded like a fun thing to try.
After a year or so, the Seventh Wonder guys stumbled onto that demo and asked me if I wanted to audition for the singer position since they had parted ways with their previous singer prior to the band’s first release, Become (2005). I did and luckily landed the gig. Between late 2005 until 2010, we wrote and released three albums and played quite some shows. I consider those years to have been very crucial for who I am as a musician and singer today. I went all in on those albums and we all had a very youthful approach to making music. Everything went and nothing was basically out of question. I also learned a lot from the guys in the band and I think that together we made something special.
Before leaving for ProgPower USA 2010 with Seventh Wonder, Thomas Youngblood called me and asked me if I would help them out by singing with Kamelot at that festival. Their singer had quit right before their US tour that was going to kick off in Atlanta. I was at the time rehearsing with Seventh Wonder while having a bad cold and with only a few days to practice the whole Kamelot set with songs I didn’t know, I could only say that I was sorry I couldn’t do it. So I offered to learn a song or two to make things easier for whoever was going to sing.
Come gig time, I sang “Eden Echo” on stage with Kamelot and that was the initial spark that, almost two years later, led to me being the new singer of Kamelot. So yeah… a lot of hard work over the years made one thing lead to another without me ever having that childhood dream of being on stage. It just ended up that way. One thing is for sure… I feel very blessed that this is the way it has turned out. I love being able to reach people with music.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like a very interesting road travelled leading to where you are today. After ProgPower USA 2010, it was in 2012 you became the band’s new full-time vocalist of Kamelot. Since that time, you have toured extensively with the band and been a part of three studio albums. What has your time in Kamelot been like?
Tommy Karevik – Yeah, we started to record the Silverthorn album in 2011. Ever since, it’s just been a very different way of life for me. A lot of travelling and playing shows. With every release it has felt a little more comfortable and much more like something I can proudly call my own. I mean, naturally I wasn’t a part of their extensive back catalog, and will never be, but now it feels like I have been able to find my own place in this going forward and that is awesome. The fans have been very understanding and supportive since day one, so I could not have asked for anything more.
CrypticRock.com – You certainly have become an important part of the band. The three studio albums you have done with Kamelot have been some of the band’s most successful to date. Recently returning with The Shadow Theory, what was the writing and recording process like this time around?
Tommy Karevik – It was basically the same as the previous ones actually. We worked with Sascha (Paeth) again, which is always very rewarding. Thomas (Youngblood) and Oliver (Palotai) teamed up a couple of times to work on musical ideas, then me and Oli worked over Skype to refine them. Finally, I went to Sascha in Germany to finalize melodies and lyrics as well as record everything in his studio.
CrypticRock.com – The album is really a strong cohesive piece. Could you shed some light on the overall theme behind The Shadow Theory?
Tommy Karevik – It is a loose concept based around the theories of Carl Jung’s “The shadow aspect” where everyone has a shadow and the less we embody it the darker it gets. We use that as a platform to tell a story of a dystopic world where most of the world’s money is in the hands of only a handful of people. These people rule the world behind closed doors and make us believe what they want us to believe, making us think we are making decisions based on what we need or want. There are three main elements to the story.
The Shadow Empire being the top layers with all the power. The Shadow Key being the growing resistance of enlightened and free-thinking people. Connecting the shadow key back to psychological aspect of the overall theme, we also want to convey the message that only you possess the key to your own happiness and self-growth. No one else can do that for you. It will require work, but you can do it. The third one is The Shadow Wall and that is the smoke screen they put in front of our eyes to distract us in favor of their hidden agenda… social media, commercials, religion, and war.
CrypticRock.com – It works brilliantly! Lyrically, the songs are very compelling and reflective of the stress we are currently facing in society. This was all part of the concept, yes?
Tommy Karevik – Totally… we all find that topic very interesting and highly palpable in today’s society and all around us.
CrypticRock.com – While the vibe of the album is relatively dark, there appears to be a sense of hope. Was it the objective to show a sense of light in a situation that seems bleak?
Tommy Karevik – Yes, that is something we feel is very important. There is hope for all of us still. It takes awareness about who we are and what we have become. No one can change things around for you… only you can do that.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly right. Let’s hope people begin to awaken from their slumber and become more aware. Being quite a diverse vocalist, tell us a little bit about your own personal musical influences.
Tommy Karevik – I have always listened to a lot of different music. Mostly Pop and Rock actually. Michael Jackson was a huge influence for a long time as well as Freddie Mercury. Later on, there were a lot of Metal singers, like for example Jørn Lande, that was my go to preference vocally. I think it all kind of blended together with my own voice and interpretation.
CrypticRock.com – Well, that diversity shows in your performance. Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
Tommy Karevik – Oh yeah! I grew up loving both genres. I remember the first time I watched the Alien movies, for example. That scared me for a long time. (Laughs) Together with my best friend Andreas, we used to watch The Fly (1986) and It (1990) over and over after school. We were totally creeped out but couldn’t resist to watch them anyway.
Also, I still consider Independence Day (1996) one of my favorite movies up until this day. It’s probably my most watched movie together with Braveheart (1995), The Lion King (1994), Dumb and Dumber (1994), and The Last Dragon (1985). (Laughs) The most recent movie that really grabbed me was Interstellar (2014). It’s just a very emotional story with fantastic music.