Conception - Interview


After a hiatus of more than two decades, Conception, one of the most iconic names in progressive metal, finally reunited to continue to enchant admirers with their innovative sound and profound lyrics. In this exclusive interview, vocalist Roy Khan reflected on the band's journey since their reunion. He also highlighted the warm reception from fans to Conception's return and the musical evolution that the band achieved with their latest works, the EP "My Dark Symphony" (2018) and the album "State Of Deception" (2020). In addition to remembering the highlights of his career, both with Conception and Kamelot, Roy revealed how the band prepared for this triumphant return.

Marcelo Vieira

When Conception announced the reunion with you returning as the vocalist, the fans' response couldn't have been more enthusiastic. At that moment, did you feel how important your music was and how much the absence of the band was felt in the scene?

Yes, I had an idea that people would like it, but we really didn't know what to expect because many years had passed... But the reception was warm and really nice.

You and the others remained friends during this 20-year hiatus. Can it be said that it was just a matter of time until Conception returned, or was this issue not always on the table?

No, not really. What I had with Kamelot was immense at the time. So, I didn't see a reunion with the Conception guys as something that would happen at that moment anyway. But even after I left Kamelot, I didn't want anything to do with music. So, it took a few years before I started thinking about it.

At what point did the four of you conclude that it was time to finally awaken the sleeping giant?

When Tore [Østby, guitarist and keyboardist] approached me with some demos they had improvised, played some songs, and that kind of sparked something in me that led us to what we have today. Tore and I talked about locking ourselves in a cabin somewhere and trying to write some songs together again. That resulted in maybe seven, eight really cool demos. And from there, it was easy, really.

I dare say "State Of Deception" is my favorite Conception album. Is it yours too?

It's really hard to pick a favorite, but I really like these last two albums. They have a lot of maturity that we didn't have in the 90s. We all went through some really tough times between that time and now. So, emotionally, it was a very liberating piece of art to let out and share with people. But it's really hard to pick a favorite. I also love the catalog albums. But "My Dark Symphony" and "State Of Deception"are definitely up there.

In what ways, in your opinion, are these recent albums so excellent?

Their maturity comes with all those years in between. When you work in a profession for years and years, you develop certain connections. You evolve as a musician, as a songwriter, as a lyricist. And I think we all had a lot of energy to put into this thing we hadn't been working on for years. Writing an album is really like magic unfolding before you because you start from nothing. That whole process is really a bit like being an alchemist. You create something. It's like making gold out of nothing, really.

Given that mentioned magic, could it be said that these 20 years were perhaps the best thing that could have happened to the band as a creative unit?

Maybe. I certainly wish I hadn't had the difficult moments and problems I had in my life, but I'm sure all these years were a big part of how these albums turned out.

I would like you to talk a little about what Conception shows are like today.

Conception is a band that really needs to be experienced live. It's really a very cohesive unit. And it's also a matter of interaction with the audience. Brazilian fans are really enthusiastic, and they sing along, and it's so cool.

It's good to know that, despite it being some time ago, you still remember the country and the fans.

Of course. I was in São Paulo at Edu Falaschi's show in January this year. So, I had a little foretaste of the excitement. It was amazing.

What do you still remember about the country from the times you were in Brazil with Kamelot?

I think we played just a few shows with me. One in São Paulo, at Via Funchal, which I heard doesn't exist anymore. But it was an amazing show we did with Epica, I think. And then we played a show in Rio. But first of all, it was many years ago. But, as I said before, the enthusiasm, the singing along, and the warmth of the audience are really something special.

I'm 34, so I belong to a generation of fans who knew you as the vocalist of Kamelot. I want you to make two comparisons. First, how was it working with Kamelot compared to Conception?

Not very different, to be honest. Of course, Kamelot was mainly me and Thomas [Youngblood, guitarist] writing songs together and playing. But all the other guys also helped with a lot of things, like filming and other web stuff and editing. And Casey [Grillo, drummer] had a big role. And the same thing happened with Conception, Tore and I wrote most of the songs and also played. I think the main difference is that we run our own record label. With Kamelot, we had contracts and a record label behind us. While with Conception, we do everything ourselves, which is very tough, a lot of work, but also a lot of freedom.

When you're under contract with a record label, is there more pressure regarding dates, musical style, and delivery in general?

We had pretty much total artistic freedom with Kamelot too. But, of course, when you have a record label backing you, they invest a lot of money. And you feel more obligated to meet certain deadlines. And you always have to think about the fact that they always judge you by the last album. So you need to be somewhat in line with what the company expects. But both bands always had total artistic freedom.

In 2014, you stated that you had a mental breakdown and decided to leave Kamelot to prioritize your health and your family. Looking back, what caused this?

It was a variety of many things. I was living my life in a really bad way, working too much. I had a family and was away half the year. I also wasn't really present when I was at home. I lived in this Kamelot bubble and gradually felt more and more that these two personas were tearing me apart. Like this stage persona, Roy Khan, the artist, and me personally, being a husband, father, and everything else. I had a severe breakdown during the summer of 2010, where I spent six weeks almost without sleep. It was tough. But it was a very good decision to leave the band at that time, although, of course, it was difficult.

In agreement with Thomas, they wouldn't announce your departure in case you recovered and changed your mind. That didn't happen. What made you decide that your absence from Kamelot would be permanent instead of temporary?

I just felt it was a life I had left behind. Two weeks before we released "Poetry For The Poisoned" (2010), I had gone through a long summer almost without sleep. I felt like a complete wreck, really felt like I was going insane. And to some extent I was. Actually, already at that time, I decided I wouldn't do this anymore. Just the thought of going to the airport made me physically sick. I couldn't watch TV shows like Idol, The Voice, and the Eurovision festival. I couldn't stand seeing people on stage. So, it was just a life I felt I had left behind when I first told the guys that this couldn't happen anymore.

In what ways did joining the church and working there help you to recover?

It was a job. It was definitely something for my ego, though. I came from Kamelot, being on stage in front of tens of thousands of people at some point. And then I started this youth club at my church. On the first night, we had two people. And I was like, what? This is different. And then it developed into quite a large group of young people who came every other Friday. It was something cool. But it really messed with my ego at first. It was probably something I needed.

What is your relationship with faith like nowadays?

That's a tough question because I still go to church from time to time, which isn't really crucial, in my opinion. You can have a relationship with God, whatever that means. Different people have different definitions of what God is. It's really hard to discuss this. But it's definitely something that's always there at the back of my head. Not an audible voice, but I keep debating.

A higher power?

Within myself. It's called belief for a reason. I can't really be sure. What I do know for sure, though, is that belief helped me in some very difficult moments. I have a very clear feeling of something out there reaching out to me in this period of depression and despair.

Do you have plans to release an album or any music related to this belief?

I did a song for everything I released during Easter in 2018. It's not like I have a great desire to release a full album. But if it happens, it happens. I have some songs that clearly go in that direction. But I also don't exclude these thoughts from current lyrics. There are definitely hints of my faith in certain songs.

Today, despite the outcome, what is your assessment of your work with Kamelot?

I joined Kamelot at a time when the band wasn't big. Then we teamed up with Sasha and Miro, the producers in Germany, and everything just kept growing. Every album sold more, every tour was more successful. It was a joyride out of this world. Thomas and I were a very complementary team, both in terms of songwriting and business together. So, it was really cool. I'm very grateful for all those years. We still keep in touch. We still do business together since we own those albums together. So there are always decisions to be made and, you know, things that need to be done.

Entered: 7/5/2024 7:03:29 PM

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