the sites man in the field made an appointment with Volbeat-front
man, Michael Poulsen about an interview on Friday afternoon, as
they should play Train in the evening (se review elsewhere on this
site), but among other reasons that M.P. was hit by the flu, we
agreed to do it over the phone the following Wednesday, then we
could get a report from the first three days in the studio with
the recordings for the forthcoming album too.
for taking time for a chat in the middle of recording and touring.
I was at the concert on Friday, and I was surprised positively –
I heard you weren’t quite fit, but that was completely
unnoticeable, it really was a hammer…
Michael - Thanks – Yes, we too thought it went off well,
and when you’re up there you quickly get some of it sweated
out… so when we got started, it went well, but I was really beat
try to ask you something new – there are some questions you’re
a bit tired of answering I guess, about Elvis and so on… (The
music of Volbeat is often described as a clone between Elvis and
Michael - Well, there’s some that’s reoccurring… but
in the studio by Jacob Hansen at the moment, can you tell a little
about how you’re doing?
Michael - There
were some technical problems in the studio in the beginning, so we
only got the drums for one track down on the first day, but
actually we caught up the following day, where all the remaining
10 drum-tracks was laid down. Now there are drums, bass and guitar
for four tracks, so were doing quite well.
didn’t rehearse the new numbers very much the last couple of
months because we’re on tour, so we actually used quite some
time at the sound-checks rehearsing the numbers before we should
go into the studio.
J.H. as producer you obviously have a very competent gentleman at
the buttons – how much is at his decision and how much is yours?
Michael - We
actually control things 100 %, we work well together with Jacob,
there’s a good atmosphere in the studio, and he has a good ear
for, if something is not quite “sharp”, but the arrangements
and so on, we’re completely in control of.
you think it’s expected, that you stay by the same style or that
you try to develop it?
Michael - There
are some people, that have asked what the new album is going to be
like, and the short answer is: Volbeat! Fortunately the numbers
from ”The Strength…” that people like the best, aren’t the
same, but at least a 5 – 6 different ones, and that gives and
that gives a wider freedom to
make something that people like.
you keeping up the known style on the new album?
Michael - I
think we do – It’s me who writes all the material, and being
as it is I write as I write, but I also think that we are
developing the Volbeat-sound – the new album will be kind of
”The Strength…” II, a continuation of the style of the first
album, but in a more developed version.
had generally very good reviews of your début (among others
95/100 on our page) – does that put a pressure on ahead of the
- When it has went so well as it has with the first one,
we’ve won prizes and so on, there will always be a certain
pressure, but I actually work best under pressure, so that’s
fine with me.
you thought about what it takes to ”go all the way”
review-wise with the new album – does it matter to you?
Michael - No,
that’s not something I think about like that, but I think the
new numbers has a high quality. I’ve written 21 new songs,
whereof there has been sorted out, so only the eleven best will be
on the album, so we can keep up a really high level. Of course it
means something how the album is received by the reviewers, good
reviews do it easier to reach a bigger audience.
do you think the new numbers are received live?
Michael - Very
positive. We’ve played 4 or 5 of the new numbers on the tour so
far, and the reception has been really good.
you considering new cover tracks on the new album (it doesn’t
look like that according to the provisional track list…)?
Michael - No,
not really – we have a number that’s ½ Johnny Cash, or
J.C.-inspired, and I thought it would be too much with that and
a ”whole” cover track on top of that…
about the title for the album – do you still keep up the triads
as on the first album and your homepage?
Michael - The
album title came yesterday, so that’s completely new: ”Rock
the Rebel /Metal the Devil, it sounds great, and shows that
Volbeat is both.
the moment you’re on tour in Denmark with prebands – how has
that been going?
Michael - It has went
really well, there has been sold out in most places, and it has
been great to get out and fire away, not only on the bigger
stages, but also the smaller ones in the provinces, so we covered
some ground. We’ve had Gob Squad along in most places, unless
the organizers wanted something local, or they haven’t been able
to make fit into their calendar, and that has worked really well.
It’s also great that our audience has been broadened, so
everything from puberty kids to 60-year-olds is showing up, so it
shows that we hit a wide audience with Volbeat.
do you expect from the forthcoming tour in Europe with HateSphere
Michael - We know the guys
from Raunchy and HateSphere really well, and many times we’ve
talked about that it could be fun going on a joint tour, but it
hasn’t seemed very realistic before, but we are very fire dup on
going, and if nothing else comes out of it, we’ll get a trip
with our friends, doing what we like best.
there any difference in the reception in Denmark and abroad (is
there an extra local-patriotism in Denmark towards you)?
Michael - It’s obvious
that we still have the biggest and best audience in Denmark, but
it has gone incredibly well abroad too. On the FULL FORCE Festival
in Germany there were fans up front with giant Danish banners
receiving us that were a wonderful sight. We are looking very much
forward to the European tour, where we’re going out to meet all
the foreign fans we’re in contact with.
was the reception on the bigger venues during the summer (
, Hard Rock, With Full Force and so on)?
- We’ve had almost just positive experiences with the
festivals during the summer, only on Summerbreeze we had a
negative experience, when our bus broke down on the way there.
That mint a lot of waiting, and as we were actually to open the
festival, we only made it there to play 15 minutes, without being
warm or anything, so we never really got started. That was an
experience we could have done without. But apart from that, has
being on the big stages just been something you dreamed about,
when you were standing in the audience., so it has clearly been
great, and the reception has been fantastic.
it like to be on the big stages in comparison to the smaller ones
(as at the moment)?
Michael - To be on a big
stage is a dream already from when you were young – it’s
beyond description… but also being on the small stages with the
public up close, gives you something special.
heard that you played some stanzas from ”Reign In Blood”
on Soulweeper live at the WFF – who came up with that –
was it a tribute or a gimmick?
- It actually came on by coincidence – Franz (guitar)
started playing it, and then we went along with it, but it
wasn’t planned ahead. We got a real cool response, and then we
used it at 6 - 8 shows right after, but decided, that we
shouldn’t build up an expectation, that we would do it every
time. That’s not something that’ll be on the new album either,
but who knows what can happen live…
do you keep up the spirit playing live with a relatively small
back-catalogue to choose from?
Michael - It’s true,
that it can be a killer practicing the same numbers, but live they
suddenly seem new and fresh, and with the cool backup it never
gets boring. We enjoy what we do.
Is there a new wave in Danish
rock and metal these days?
Michael - There
are really a lot of good bands in Denmark at the moment, and I
also think people in bands found out to help each other with
contacts and such, instead of competing. A new wave - yes perhaps…
the sales figures match the good reviews of the album?
Michael - It’s really
going well – after
we entered the Danish Top100. We entered as #76, and we thought:
”Hey, that’s great”, and we counted on no more than a week,
but the following week we had risen to #18, and had surpassed many
major names, and sales wise we’re the highest ranking hard rock
band in Denmark in several years. So we and the record company are
both really very satisfied.
are the sales abroad – where are your strongest position?
Michael - I actually
don’t know – the European tour will probably show that more
clearly – on the face of it I think
, but maybe it could be
you make a living of it, or do you still have to have regular jobs
on the side?
Michael - Two of us have
quit our jobs to devote us to the music and all that comes with it
– there’s a tremendous lot of organizational and such that has
to be dealt with.
is the support from promotion, record company and so on, for you
and abroad? You did have some trouble or difficulties with the
release of the first album…
Michael - In the beginning
there were many that hadn’t got our record out – you know,
those shops that only know the ten most known that’s played on
the radio, but after
things started happening, and with the next one there shouldn’t
be any problems.
one reads, you’re obviously ”the main man” of the band –
are you the only one who writes the numbers or does the others
participate in the song process?
Michael - I’m the only
one writing the numbers, and when I’ve got a pretty finished
idea, the drummer and I go to the practice room and puts some
rhythm on and perhaps change the arrangement a bit, and not until
hen the others step in.
do you compose – is it from a riff, a melody line or…?
Michael - It differs a lot, I’ve always got melodies in
my head - it can be both. One goes around shopping in the local
store, when some piece of melody appear in the head, then one have
to record it on the mobile phone and go home and try it out.
Usually it’s a melody in the song, where I put some guitar on
that supports the song.
you have one or a few main sources of inspiration when you write?
Michael - No, it would be
wrong to emphasize anyone especially, but I’m marked by having
been listening 50’s-music already from when I was very young.
do you go from death metal (Dominus, M.P.’s former band) to Rock
’n’ Roll-metal – How does a hybrid between Elvis and metal
Michael - I was so fed up
with and tired of the death metal genre and the whole environment
around it when Dominus was dissolved, and I didn’t think I could
try out the things I wanted to try out within that frame, that I
needed something entirely
new. Apart from that, one gets older , and is probably able to see
more nuanced on things, so it was quite natural to think in an
entirely new direction – that’s how Volbeat was formed.
you speculate in ”catchy” refrains for sing-along (like …Booze,
Michael - Clearly I do –
I like it to be, that one remembers a number once you’ve heard
it a few times.
very much classic metal in your music – but what about solos,
those are there none of on your album or live?
Michael - I think solos
are too outdated – Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi does it
FANTASTICLY, they can tell a whole story in a solo, but generally
it’s pretty much an 80’s-thing, and it’s not something I
think fits Volbeat. On the new one we however play a little with a
couple of solos, but that’s more because our sound engineer
asked if he shouldn’t do a single solo or two on the disc, ha
- You’ll hear, when it appears in the end of February/beginning
of March …
do you think is most exciting in the metal stage right now – in
Denmark and abroad?
Michael - I don’t know
really – maybe that there’s so much different happening right
now, everything is sort of allowed…
last question: Isn’t there a question you wonder why you’re
Michael - Naah, I think
we’ve covered the most – or else it’s that you don’t think
of until the receiver has been put down.
for your time – I’m looking forward to seeing you in Wacken
next summer, packing a new album.
Michael - Thank you :-)
by Claus Melsen, October 18th 2006