Kamelot – Oliver Palotai about devotion, energy and perfection
foto’s: Eus Straver – metal experience.com
An impressive Curriculum Vitae as a composer, guitarist and pianist. He worked with Doro, many jazz- and classical musicians. He is also the mastermind behind Sons Of Seasons.
Currently he is working on a musical production, besides playing keyboards in Kamelot. It is almost too perfect to be true, but Oliver Palotai stands firmly with both feet on the ground with one motivation: his strong passion for music.
More than ever before, the new Kamelot album ‘The Poetry For The Poisoned” is a puzzle. This album title does not reveal its meaning as easily as ‘Epica’ or ‘Ghost Opera’. What is your interpretation of the title?
Oliver Palotai: Since the titles of the songs are linked to the lyrics I am also referring to them when I am saying the album is more open to the subjective viewpoint of the listener. See it as a mirror of your own soul and experiences you had in the past. Maybe more like a modern painting. But then there are also titles like “The Zodiac” based on true, solid stories.
For the first time, the artwork was done by several artists and also with a modern touch.
Oliver Palotai: I think it is the best artwork of all the Kamelot albums so far. So it was a nice surprise seeing it the first time. Seth Siro Anton has a fantastic surreal and dark touch to his art.
Roy Khan (vocalist) and Thomas Youngblood (guitar) are the Kamelot writing duo. Does more teamwork take place after the preproduction phase?
Oliver Palotai: From my first months in the band on they offered me a chance to contribute to the song writing. I wrote for many bands in the past and I am maybe even more of a composer than an instrumentalist. But Kamelot has such a delicate and special sound, and every band has a different approach to pre- production. So it took until ‘Poetry For The Poisoned’ to take this step, resulting in “Dissection” and the Japanese bonus track “Thespian Drama”.
The bonus track has a long piano intro, the first one on the album. You chose a less compact way of song writing?
Oliver Palotai: I wanted a song with a touch of the older Kamelot titles, like on ‘Epica.’ The song changed a lot and was originally meant for vocals as well. In the end it became an instrumental.
‘Poetry For The Poisoned’ is the ninth Kamelot album, a very complex one with many details. Every second of the album, the listener can hear that the team spent a lot of time on it.
Oliver Palotai: It was not more of a struggle than the other albums, but it was quite an effort. Not an easy birth and the layers are more complex than ever. I see it as the most homogeneous Kamelot- album. We started three years ago and in the end we had to crawl more into the details and the fine- tuning than before.
Is it the format for Kamelot to work on every detail to get the best out of it?
Oliver Palotai: It takes an immense energy, and definitely not only for showing that we did everything we could to reach perfection. I feel fulfilled afterwards, but also a bit empty. That is probably always the case when something is determining your life so much for a long period.
Isn’t there more pressure as Kamelot gets more popular with every album?
Oliver Palotai: I guess you feel the same pressure when you have only 50 fans out there in the world. What is different with bands which have been around for a while successfully, is their strategy to exceed the preceding album. Either you don’t do that at all and deliver the same sound again and again. Or you take turns with the risk of losing fans. We decided for the latter, also to keep the spirit and creative energy within the band fresh.
Isn’t it hard sometimes to challenge yourself and develop new ways of creating music with Kamelot?
Oliver Palotai: My basic life philosophy is to stay a student forever. I could probably make much more money if I would just produce the same stuff over and over. But I decided to become a professional musician when I worked in the only 9 to 5 job of my life, during civil service here in Germany. So, learning, improving, going new ways is why I do this, what keeps me motivated.
With every album it is the same process of writing and touring. So you are all a part of the same game right?
Oliver Palotai: Well, after all we are just a rock band with all that comes with it. We rehearse, we write music, we play and it doesn’t matter if it is for forty thousand people at Wacken or in front of seventy fans with Sons Of Seasons. Sometimes I prefer the smaller gigs because they are more intimate.
Is there one day in your life on which you aren’t busy with music?
Oliver Palotai: (laughs) Besides Kamelot , I produce bands and single artists, I teach and orchestrate. Right now I am preparing the presentation of a new Yamaha keyboard series. I have to keep myself busy, need those small bits of success every day.
Not the success given to you by the approval of others, but the success when you challenge yourself and win. But of course I take days off, sometimes. In the past I sometimes went too far, so I force myself to calm down here and there.
Then it comes as a shock when suddenly vocalist Roy Khan has a break down and needs torest for a while.
Oliver Palotai: It came pretty sudden but that is the case with burn outs. Khan was one of the main persons involved in the production of ‘Poetry For The Poisoned’. I guess he didn’t even feel it coming.
Is Metal more open to experiments in comparison to other genres?
Oliver Palotai: Classical music is totally the opposite, not experimental music at all. Since 1900 not much has happened, almost nobody is listening to modern classical music from the twentieth century. In Jazz it is different but you need a million first to survive as a Jazz musician. When I got into Metal first – as a musician , which was pretty late – I was surprised how tolerant the fans are towards different sounds.
Round table question
Muzikantenweb has a ’round-tabel’ interview format: one artist creates a question for the one after him. Arien and Yves from Epica recently had a special question for Kamelot: ‘What would you do if you won one million, and would you stayin Kamelot then?
Oliver Palotai: I am from Southern Germany, Swabia, and we are a bit like the Scots (laughs). The money would probably end up under my pillow until the end of my life. No, seriously, I wouldn’t change much. I was never much of a materialist and you can’t buy yourself into a life- time experience like being a member of Kamelot.
A word of thanks to : Kamelot, especially Oliver for all his time, and Edel Records