Volbeat

author PP date 09/08/06

Volbeat was formed in Copenhagen, Denmark in October 2001 by Michael Poulsen, who previously was the lead singer of the Danish heavy metal band Dominus. Volbeat's style can best be described as a combination of Metallic Rock'n'roll with a slight touch of the 60s melodic tunes. They recently won the Hope of the Year award at Steppeulven in Denmark and have by many been labelled as the new hope for Danish rock music. We met them a day before their gig at the Roskilde Festival for a good chat about the band, their experience and their future. We could also uncover the story of Michael Poulsen's Elvis Tatoo and his apparent quest to cover himself with tatoos of the old Rock'N'Roll legends. Read on to find out more about it.

RF.net: You've been compared a lot to Life Of Agony, but which bands do you find your inspiration from?

Michael: The funny thing about Life Of Agony is that I write all the songs in Volbeat and I don't have a single CD from this band called Life Of Agony. I know Life Of Agony, great band, but I just don't have any CDs or songs. I can't sing a single line from from this band. And we were actually playing with them here in Denmark about a year ago or so. The funny thing was that I talked to the guitar player Joey and I gave him my CD with Volbeat and he said "Oh are you guys opening for us tonight?" and I said "Yeah we're actually playing", "Oh I got your CD, you are f*cking awesome, oh great!". So they actually got our CD, but I don't got theirs.

RF.net: But where do you find your inspiration from then? which bands?

Michael: Yea well I really don't know, because I listen to all kinds of music and I grew up with old Rock'N'Roll.

Franz: I think it became pretty obvious on the stage when you made Volbeat, the album Volbeat. It kinda came to expression there. Where ever that came from I don't know!

Michael: I listen to different kinds of music and I have been growing up with the old Rock'N'Roll, you know the Elvis Presley, Little Richards, I don't know. And when I made my first band Dominus, you know I was a teenager and the metal, death metal scene, was so interesting. So I just start playing guitar and I just like this heavy sound and so my first band just has to be brutal, you know. Brutal death metal. But I was growing up and getting pretty tired of the death metal scene and the style. And when I made Volbeat, my wish was definitely to make something more Rock'N'Roll songs, but to keep the heavy sound. So I think the inspiration comes from everything from old Rock'N'Roll to the old death metal bands and heavy classic heavy metal bands like Dio Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Metallica. You know all the great ones, combined with all the Rock'N'Roll legions.

Franz: It seems like a compromise between old Rock'N'Roll and metal.

Michael: Yeah..

RF.net: Well you know when you opened for Life Of Agony, there has been lots of words on the internet that the frontman of Life Of Agony is very arrogant, is this actually true?

Michael: I don't know, I just talked a little bit with the little guy and then..

RF.net: He is just a funny character

Michael: Yeah I don't think he is arrogant. He is just his own person!

RF.net: On stage he can seem very arrogant

Michael: Yeah well.. He is quite down to earth when you talk to him. He doesn't have to tell you anything. I think most of the time people expect him to say something, because he is what he is or something. I really don't know him, but I think he is a cool guy.

Franz: To his defense I saw him in '94 on the River Runs Red Tour, there were 22 people that paid to get in. They even ended up booing as they wanted to see Pro Pain who was the headliner. He was the same person as he is now playing for thousands of people. So it seems like he just kept the way he is. So it's not that he is arrogant, it's just the way he is.

RF.net: Apparently on this tour they did last year, when they also played Denmark, they also played in Stockholm and very few people turned out, and he played the entire set with his back to the crowds.

Michael: Well that's their business not our..

RF.net: You're on the Roskilde bill this year due to your "Hope of the year" award at Steppeulven in January. How much did that mean to you and do you think that you would have been on the poster anyway?

Michael: Well I can definitely tell you that we actually was!

RF.net: Ah ok..

Michael: It was not just that. Winning this prize is the best prize in Denmark, because it is the most.. emm.. accepting, respecting prize to win, because it is all the writers of the big magasins.

Franz: Journalists and critics who make the band nominees.

Michael: But actually we were told by our booking agencies that we were booked for the festival. So it was not a big surprise really..

RF.net: If you google your name quickly, you find a lot of German metalzines with very praising words about you. Why do you think especially the Germans have taken such a liking on you?

Michael: Well you know the German people have always been interested in heavy music, there is nothing new to that

Franz: It's the European metal capital if you will

Michael: I don't think there is anything new about that. They don't have any good bands themselves, so they have to look to the outside. Everyone Laughs

RF.net: You also have some German dates on your tour-schedule this fall, but I can't find anywhere that you have been there before. What are your expectations about it?

Michael: Well we have just been on a big festival in Germany called Rock Hard Festival. Thousands of people were roaring about Volbeat and we were so touched by the..

Franz: I guess that was a test, because it was a festival, we were playing early, and it was quite a known festival. And the results turned out well, at least checking from the guestbook after the show. Even during the show it was fenomenal.

RF.net: Rock Hard is the same as the magasin Rock Hard, right?

Michael + Franz: Yeah

RF.net: Where you got the 10 out of 10?

Michael + Franz: Yeah exactly

RF.net: You've played a couple of shows in Holland earlier this year. People talk a lot about the difference between European crowds and American crowds. Now is there any difference between the crowds in Holland and the crowds in Denmark?

Franz: It's hard to say, because in Denmark we sell out. In Holland maybe 100 people turn up in a 400 people venue. So it's a different vibe. It's hard to tell

Michael: It's definitely different. We can collect about 700 people here in Denmark, and if we play a club job in Holland there will maybe close to 200. But then again we are now going on a European tour this year. Now we have Denmark in our hands, so now we want Europe. So we are starting to promote ourselves live in Europe this year. We have been playing in France, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands, but we are going to play England, Belgium, Italy and so on this year. We are definitely looking forward to get started.

Franz: I guess it's gonna be more exciting to follow the Europe success with the second album.

RF.net: So, when are you planning to release or record the new album?

Franz: Late 2007. We are going up this October to the studio with Jacob Hansen, the same guy who made the first one.

RF.net: Yeah we did a piece on him..

Michael: I just have to correct something. We are going to the studio in October and the release is set to be in February in the new year.

RF.net: Ah ok, that's pretty soon. Good to know!

RF.net: You got some incredible reviews, 10 out 10 in Rock Hard! Do you think all this creates too high expectations for you?

Michael: No not really, but then again of course when I sit down and write new songs, in the back of my mind I think of all the feedback and all the great stuff that has been happening to Volbeat. Then again I'm so lucky that I have the feeling that I'm not finished writing the first album. So I've got tons of ideas and I am quite sure that I will not dissapoint the fans with the second one.

RF.net: So actually, when you write the album do you actually take the feedback from the reviews into your writing process?

Michael: Sure somehow I do, but actually I am so happy and thankful for that the songs they are pointing out from the first one album is actually the songs I like best and the songs I feel I am not finished about writing. So I can take them to a further level on the second album.

RF.net: Do you read many of the reviews?

Michael: That's hard to say, because how many are there?

Franz: And in language you can't even think of sometimes.. Everyone Laughs

Michael: You know only half of them we can read. So as much as possible.

RF.net: You're playing at 14.00 tomorrow. How do you feel about playing this early? and what are your expectations for the show?

Michael: It's excellent!

Franz: It's great!

Michael: You know, we're going to the Full Force Festival on Saturday. So actually when we play at 14.00 tomorrow, it's just gonna give us a little more spare time.

RF.net: How do you think the crowd will be?

Franz: If you look at the program, what playing during the hours we're playing, there is nobody! Like two hours before and two hours after.

RF.net: Right so no competition!

Franz: No exactly! So I think it's great. When I first read it was like cool.

RF.net: Won't it sort of be bad for the lighting of the show?

Franz: Of course if you play in the dark, the lights really give the effect of the music, but f*ck it, we're here and we're happy!

RF.net: what is your best achievement so far?

Michael: Well actually I think there are quite a few..

Franz: What do you mean achievement?

RF.net: The best thing in your opinion that has happened so far!

Michael: I actually think..

Franz: Put the whole thing in one little box and that's it! Laughs

Michael: Make a soup of all the great things. We have some great fans that are supporting us and people go all the way from Finland and the Netherlands just to see us here in Denmark. And all the great reviews in magasins and that we won the award. We're definitely proud of the steppeulve award, but to take one of these out from the rest is wrong. There are so many high points..

RF.net: So what is your worst experience then?

Franz: If you want something, there has got to be one certain gig were you just play wrongly, but it's nothing man. All combined it's full on, just going up. And we're happy about this!

RF.net: A very hot topic in the music industry concerns the downloading of music. How do you feel about people downloading music on the Internet?

Michael: I actually think that it's good and it's bad. It's good, because it's promotion. But I'm a big collector of music and I have never in my whole life downloaded a song. If I like an album I go out and buy it! Yes it has always been like that. I know that some people don't have the coins, the money to go out and buy an album and if they don't have the money, well at least they count your effort by downloading it from the net.

Franz: So there is a good side and a bad side to it

Michael: And I think the topic is.. never gonna.. end..

Franz: I mean look at it from a band's perspective. I mean you loose this much amount of CDs, because you don't sell when people are downloading. But way more people know your band now and so will come to your concert.

Michael: I actually think it was a great act from Lars Ulrich from Metallica.

RF.net: Ah yeah I know.

Michael: Yeah because he did not defend Metallica, because they have so much money you know. But he actually defended a lot of smaller bands.

RF.net: Remember the question when James got asked "What do you think Lars felt like when he was in the suement of napster?" And James responds "He was 6 months in hell!"

Everyone Laughs

Michael: Yeah I think that was pretty accurate!

RF.net: Have you been asked if you sound like Hetfield? [ed: James Hetfield from Metallica]

Michael: Oh yeah..

RF.net: Well yeah I think so as well.

Michael: It's not the worst comment

RF.net: Well no..

Everyone Laughs

RF.net: There is a fans question here: Why do you have this elvis tatoo?

Franz: Right here on your arm..

Michael: Well why shouldn't I have it?

RF.net: What's the story behind it. How or actually when did you get it?

Michael: Well I told you before that I was growing up with all this music. So I had been admiring him for many, many years, since I was a little child. My parents were listening to it all the time. My father had the first original video tape with Elvis Presley. Yeah well admiring him never comes to an end. I listen to more Rock'N'Roll music at home when I write songs. I don't listen to death metal. So it's not only the music behind Elvis Presley, it's the whole person behind Elvis Presley. He is a god!

RF.net: But you also have this saying in the middle of it.

Michael: Well this is just kind of an expression. I have said to myself: I don't need any f*cking education to take care of myself. I don't care how I look. So it's not a point of view to get my opinion across to how I look. It's the way I express my feelings. I liked to get the Elvis Presley tatoo and all these legends, because they're a part of my soul, somehow. I would like to go in the grave with these guys. So I am not finished yet, I have to get Johnny Cash and all the other legends before I go down.

RF.net: What are your future plans then for this year, besides the touring in Denmark and Germany?

Michael: European touring. Lots of touring, but the most important thing is to make the right second album.

RF.net: Ok, so in the fall there is going to be a huge focus on recording the album

Franz + Michael: Yeah

Franz: When you play this much live and still have your rehearsal hours, you don't need to practise your set list really. So we can just make new songs.

RF.net: So you have songs ready?

Franz: Yeah we have a handful of songs. Like 5 or 6 ready.

RF.net: Do you think it's gonna be better than the first one?

Franz: A lot. First I guess so and I certainly like the second part too. It's comparative, but slightly different and it's hard so that people don't say "Oh it's just like the first album!". I mean the style is good, we got the reviews. So why change it?

Michael: The fact is when the first one came out people said, ah this is special, this is something fresh. When the second one comes they have heard it before, you know. It is not fresh, you know, but we haven't finished writing the first album. It's gonna be part of the second album. There is gonna be some surprises where people say "Hey they can't do that!", but hey f*ck it, yeah we can!

RF.net: So rather than the second album it is actually going to be part 2 of the first album?

Michael: Yeah, with some few changes...

RF.net: So you could actually end up calling it part 2 of the first album?

Michael: Well yeah I guess we could, but lets see.

RF.net: Well your reviews are actually really important to you, because my father bought your album and he loves it. It's the only metal record he has ever bought.

Michael: Really? well make sure you say hello to him from me! Laughs [ed: PH has already greeted his father from Volbeat]

RF.net: Are you going to play any new songs today?

Michael: Well we're actually going to play 1 or 2 and there is a bit of a competition about one of the new songs. Well because all the new songs we play when we're out playing live there are no lyrics.

RF.net: Freestyle them then!

Michael: Yup that's it. We're freestyling all the new songs and some of the fans have a competition where they have a line and the winner gives me the line and I sing it out.

Franz: Put your choice in a hat Everyone Laughs

Michael: So this is gonna happen tomorrow. So I think we will play perhaps 2 or 3 new songs... freestyle!

RF.net: I see you're wearing a Hatesphere t-shirt! Are you gonna go watch them and which other bands are you going to see here at Roskilde?

Franz: I don't get to see Tool, which I am really bummed about, but Wolfmother, Opeth... gonna see Magtens Korridorer in a little while... Trivium we'll have to see

RF.net: They play at the same time!

Franz: Oh do they? Well then we can see half and half.. Everyone Laughs Certainly we had not planned to go back from the German festival. We had planned to stay at a hotel and then go home next day, but we decided we'll f*ck off as soon as we play. So we get the whole sunday. I would love to see Roger Waters perform Dark Side Of The Moon on that sunday.

RF.net: Thanks for the interview, the last words are yours, feel free to speak your mind to the fans

Franz: Well we hope we come to Finland soon [ed: PP mentioned earlier that he was from Finland]

Everyone Laughs

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