Our Alan Daly spoke with Kamelot’s bassist, Sean Tibbetts, before their Button Factory gig on March 12th.
Alan: So, I believe this is your first time performing with Kamelot in Dublin?
Sean: Nope! Second time!
Alan: Oh, Sorry… Wikipedia suggested that Glenn Barry was playing bass the last time you played here.
Sean: That thing’s wrong! When were we here? 2009? I actually started touring with these guys about half way through The Black Halo album, which was 2006, because Glenn and his wife were having a baby so I kinda filled in for him. And I did that for about half of Ghost Opera too. And then he just couldn’t do it any more with two kids. So then the band asked me to be a member in 2008. It says 2009 on that thing [Wikipedia]?
Alan: Yeah! Well, in that case, welcome back to Dublin. You arrived here a couple of days ago. What have you been up to?
Sean: I went to the Guinness Storehouse man! I did the tour there and had a few Guinness! We went around some clubs and saw some bands and stuff. There’s some real talent in this town!
Alan: Were you able to enjoy anonymity or did you get spotted?
Sean: No, I think because we were here so early that nobody really picked up on it and we kinda flew under the radar this time. A few people recognised us and said hi.
Alan: So were they local bands that you checked out?
Sean: Yeah, mainly like folk-sounding bands and stuff, but man, they were really good.
Alan: Can you remember who they were?
Sean: Nah, we just kinda walked into a few bars and went bar-hopping and listened to guys play.
Alan: And it was all folk music? You didn’t get a chance to check out any local metal bands?
Sean: No, I didn’t hear any metal here actually!
Alan: So, I see you just have three dates on this little European tour; just here, and two dates in the UK. We’re honoured, but how come it’s such a short leg?
Sean: I don’t really know how that came about. It is kind of strange that they just got thrown in there like that. We were actually hoping for the album [Haven] to be out before that so we’d be promoting that. But just trying to get it written and get the label moving on it and all the production and everything… It’s a lot of work to get everything done, and it just didn’t come together in time. But it’s coming out soon!
Alan: Yeah, I’ll come back to the new album, but you’re heading back to the US at the end of April/May and then back to Europe later in the year…
Sean: Yeah, we’re doing some European festivals this Summer. There’s not really a whole lot of festivals left in the states; nothing like over here. It’s a lot of fun to come over here and play to those giant crowds and rock out on those monster stages.
Alan: Which would be your favourite festival from past experience?
Sean: My personal one… I really enjoy Wacken. We’ve played that half a dozen times or so. It was my first festival with this band and so it’ll always be burned into my mind. I remember being on that stage the first time, after not sleeping all night because I was freaking out. And I remember walking out on stage and turning around and looking at the big screen and seeing myself and thinking “Wow!”.
Alan: You were one of the original founding members of Kamelot, and then you were stepping in and out for Glenn for a while… How did it feel to step back in again full-time? Or did it just feel like you never left?
Sean: Well, Tom and I always remained friends. My life was taking a different direction at the time; I had just had a kid myself at the time, and it just wasn’t for me at the time, so I had to step out. Glenn was my friend actually, and I was happy that he got the gig. It feels great to be back though. The music has changed a lot. If you listen to any of the old stuff, it’s considerably different now; it’s matured and it’s got a very smooth feel to it. I really enjoy it.
Alan: Cool. Onto Haven… the upcoming album. Firstly the album artwork; another beautiful girl on the cover… Who is she?
Sean: Haha… I think she’s just a model that the artist knows. I haven’t met her. I’m sure I will though. The last one I didn’t meet until the last European tour we did, and the artist showed up with her at the show in Stuttgart.
Alan: I was wondering if she was somebody who had particular significance to the band.
Sean: Not that I know of; unless they didn’t tell me! You never know!
Alan: And has it been a conscious decision to have beautiful girls on the cover of the Kamelot albums?
Sean: Well everyone wants to look at pretty girls, right? I guess so, yeah! I don’t really have a good answer to that! It just happened that way, and it was the same artist who did this one and the last one. It’s not the same girl though.
Alan: In the past, Kamelot have made some concept albums. Is there a concept behind Haven?
Sean: It didn’t start off as a concept album. Actually, we were trying not to have a concept, but it kind of grew that way. It just all started to fit together, and one idea led to another idea, so it’s kind of a concept album. It’s a little bit political, a little bit future, a little bit now, a little bit the way things could be different. It’s a little bit about issues today and social media and how it’s not really social. Have a look around the room, you’ll see half a dozen people on their cell phone, and nobody’s talking to each other, so it’s not very social. It’s a bit about technology and the direction it’s going. That’s it in a nutshell.
Alan: Were you inspired or influenced by any particular artists during the making of Haven?
Sean: On this album? No, not really. We actually strive… in all honestly… Tom and I really don’t even… I don’t know what the other guys listen to… But I don’t even hardly listen to music any more! I listen to a little bit of my all time standard favourites, you know? But as far as being influenced by other bands at the moment… Not really. We just try to let it pour out of our minds, you know?
Alan: If you had to pick an all-time favourite artist, who would it be?
Sean: Ahhh… Zeppelin! Hands down! I love Zeppelin!
Alan: Haven has been almost a year in the making. Can you tell us a bit about the writing and recording process? You said it took a bit longer than you expected.
Sean: Well, the majority of the music is written by Oliver Palotai, Thomas Youngblood and Tommy Karevik. The majority of it is put together by them, and then the rest fill in gaps here and there, and it kind of all comes together.
Alan: And in the studio, have you ever tried to record live in one take?
Sean: Oh God no! Hahaha! It would be nice to do that, but I don’t think anybody does that any more. It’s a lot of work! You try to have it down as much you can to try to keep from eating up so much time in the studio. But yeah, there’s usually more than one take!
Alan: In terms of actual recording time… How long did it actually take to record Haven?
Sean: Me? I’m pretty crazy about it! I try to knock mine out as fast as possible. I don’t spend a lot of time in the studio at all. By the time I get there, I’ve already over-rehearsed everything. I’m just like that. I’m over-prepared for everything I do.
Alan: But then, can that make it a bit inflexible in the studio; if somebody else comes up with a new idea on the spot…
Sean: Well, no… You’ve got to be flexible anyway. You’ve got to be open-minded to things. It’s part of being in the studio; you know; you bring your idea and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But you just pick the best, and be open-minded enough to say “Yeah, you know what, that is better”, or maybe stand up and say “No, mine is better”. You gotta be willing to do it either way.
Alan: You’ve recorded some cover songs in the past. Did you consider any this time around?
Sean: No, not really. We had some really strong ideas for the songs this time, so we just went with that, and then once we started going with a concept and everything, we just kept plugging away at it.
Alan: And when you’re jamming around, warming up, rehearsing in the studio, do you ever find yourselves jamming along to something completely crazy?
Sean: Oh, constantly. Oliver, Casey and myself blast into jazz all the time. We’re big jazz heads. We do it at sound-check all the time. If you come to our sound-check, you’ll definitely hear jazz.
Alan: And what was the last album you bought or downloaded?
Sean: The last album, I would say, was probably the new Slipknot album [.5: The Gray Chapter]. I think it’s cool man. They’re a great band.
Alan: Yeah, they played here in Dublin in January…
Sean: Yeah, they played by my house too. I went and checked them out and saw them and made some noise. It was great!
Alan: One last question for you. There was a bit of a mix-up here in Ireland this week, and it turned out that the law making it illegal to possess some drugs including ecstasy and crystal meth was actually unconstitutional and a loophole made the drugs legal for a few days.
Alan: So… if you could legalise any drug, what would it be, and why?
Sean: Oh… You know what? I don’t do drugs, so I don’t have a good answer for that. I wouldn’t be the guy to ask that!
Alan: Ok… Well how about if you could legalise any crime then? Just for a day.
Sean: Any other crime? How about I make something illegal? Like arrest people for downloading my music illegally! That would be wonderful.
Alan: But that’s already a crime!
Sean: It is a crime, but people don’t have a problem with stealing music. They do have a problem with stealing a shirt or something to eat, but they don’t throw you in jail for stealing a song.
Alan: So you take quite a strict standpoint on music file-sharing then?
Sean: Yeah, I’m not cool with that. But I realise that there’s nothing you can do about it and it’s the way today works. We have to accept it, but it’s a shame that people don’t have a moral responsibility not to steal music.
Alan: Ok. Well, unfortunately, we’re out of time, so we’ll finish there. Thanks for taking the time to talk!
Sean: Alright man! Have a good one!
Interview by Alan Daly
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko