Volbeat's Michael Poulsen: The Biggest Mission We Have on Earth Is Finding Love
Elvis, Johnny Cash, King Diamond, Black Sabbath, Ramones, Fats Domino, Motorhead--these are just a few of the influences that make Danish rock band Volbeat tick. And it seems to work out for them. They've been headlining in Europe for almost a decade, and all of their studio albums have been certified gold. Their second album, Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil went platinum, and 2010's Beyond Hell/Above Heaven went double platinum in Denmark, platinum in Finland and Germany, and gold in Austria and Sweden.
Within the past few years they've been bringing their rockabilly-meets-classic-rock-meets-heavy-metal to the United States, and over that time they've steadily been gaining popular ground.
Up On the Sun talked with vocalist/guitarist Michael Poulsen about his favorite decade of music, the influence Arizona has on the band's Wild West imagery, and how the band's sound will evolve now that they have a thrash guitarist on board.
Volbeat is playing Desert Uprising with Avenged Sevenfold, HIM and Halestorm at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Friday, September 13.
Volbeat consists of vocalist/guitarist Poulsen, bassist Anders Kjolholm, drummer Jon Larsen, and, an incredible recent addition of former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano, who brings a solid, veteran thrash metal element to the band.
This past April, the band released its fifth album Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies, which Poulsen says holds some of the heaviest songs they've ever recorded.
I like to call you guys the "Elvis of heavy metal." So that begs the question: What were some of your earliest musical influences?
Some of my earliest musical influences definitely have to be Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Little Richard, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Maiden... a little bit later on came Social Distortion and some others. And King Diamond and Mercyful Fate.
You guys had great success with the song "We" in our country [from 2008's Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood], and it's also one of my favorite slower Volbeat tracks. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind that song?
Oh wow, that's rewinding back. That's an old song now. Good question, actually... um, I'm not sure what actually inspired me to write that song at the certain time, it could've been anything. I was listening to a lot of pop music at that time.
"We" is part of the story of the Gangster album [Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood.] The thing is, when I'm writing I'm locked into this bubble, and nobody can get through. It can be a living hell and at the same time a blessing. But when I leave that bubble I have no idea where I was at the time. I can't even figure out where I get inspiration from. Other times I'll be very aware of it.
I wasn't sure if it had more to do with a relationship, or society, or the industry...
You know, a lot of Volbeat songs are love songs. That's something a lot of people can relate to. To everybody, the biggest mission of why we are on this Earth is to find a loved one. And "We" is a small romantic story. When people hear a song like that and can rewind things in their own life and think about it, and they use that, we're proud of that.
There are times I'm very careful talking about what the lyrics are about, because I don't want to ruin the feeling that people have for what they think is right.
Rob [Caggiano] said that Volbeat's sound may be a bit louder now that he is on board. What difference have you noticed in Volbeat's sound since Rob has joined?
I think you can now hear that there are two guitar players, and you can actually separate the guitars. I'm not saying that to take away from the other guys in the band; they're all talented. But Rob is without a doubt the best technical guitar player that we've performed with. He has his own sound.
And I think it's important to have your own sound, so he's not just becoming a part of a sound inferno. We make it tight and heavy. You know, Thomas [Brendahl], who was in the band before [from 2006-2011], he was more punk guitar, and there's nothing wrong with that because we also have punk songs.
But Rob is more of a riff guy, and of course a lead guitar player, so that definitely brings something special to Volbeat. Now we have solos, and you can hear the riffing. It's more in your face and heavy.