In our ongoing series of kick-ass bands to look out for in 2021, we take you overseas to Denmark for this segment. Copenhagen, Demark to be exact.
Let’s take a trip to the Southern tip of Sweden, the area is best known for Rosenborg Castle and the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, the author of “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Ugly Duckling” and many more childhood fairy tales we all grew up listening to. Much like the Little Mermaid having one of the most enchanting voices in the world, we take a full U-turn to come across one of the most dynamic front-men anywhere… Michael Poulsen leads what could be the biggest import to hit the sates in recent memory. The band is Volbeat!
Locally, the band has blown up with the help of 95.5fm KLOS. Over the past year this radio juggernaut has had a string of new bands that have literally exploded in front of our eyes. Much credit goes to Music Director Doug “Sluggo” Roberts and Program Director Keith Cunningham. The duo has definitely helped push a new era in rock to the airwaves. Volbeat is part of that refreshing new KLOS catalog and they’re also becoming a part of the soundtrack of our lives.
DIE TO LIVE
“Volbeat is what every Friday rock party should sound like. Aggressive, loud, very unique, and catchy as hell. It’s not possible for KLOS to play Volbeat without the texts and phones blowing up.”
KEITH CUNNINGHAM, PROGRAM DIRECTOR 95.5 FM KLOS
The band is just gaining traction here in the States but they have been around and creating massive hits since 2001. They have seven studio albums, one DVD. All of their albums having hit at least gold status in Demark as well as multiple platinum albums certified in multiple countries!
If you’re unifiliar with Volbeats sound, think in the family of Authority Zero meets Social Distortion meets AC/DC meets the Reverend Horton Heat. Their fans are devoted to them and go cartoon-crazy at all their shows. Why not, they’re good guys, playing music and having a great time entertaining their legions of fans worldwide.
Despite a language because the band speaks, you guessed it… Danish, we were still able to have a chat front-man Michael Poulsen.
By any standard of measurement, 2019’s release, Rewind, Replay, Rebound is by far at the top of the totem pole when you ask any rock fan (no matter where on the planet they call home). Their fans and even the critics here in the states love it.
We asked Poulsen how it feels to be getting this kind of acclaim that the band so richly deserves. He told us, “We put so much work into making full length albums and not just singles or EP’s, and when you spend so much time writing and going through the songs and getting them on the right path while you are writing, sometimes it feels like making an album takes forever. So, when you leave the studio and hear that listeners share the same love for the songs you worked so hard on, you feel very proud and happy. When we get to take those songs on the road and share it with the world, it’s incredible to see people feeling about these songs the same way that I feel about albums that I love. Seeing what the music does to our fans is a real gift.”
Their song, Die to Live has what we call tentacles. It’s radio friendly and can be played at Rock, ALT Rock, and Rockabilly format radio stations. It’s upbeat, fun and not your typical rock song. It’s only a matter of time before we hear it in commercials and every Hollywood movie.
We asked Michael if that was part of the band’s sonic vision, or did it just happen organically? He told us that their goal is not to write radio friendly” songs. When they go into the studio they focus on the whole album. He went on to say, “All of those songs are our babies and we nurse every little detail about them, but they’re all part of the larger whole of the album and to us it’s up to radio stations to decide if something we made is something they want to play. We’re truly grateful that so many stations have picked our songs to play on the air, and that’s something that we don’t take for granted. There are also millions of truly great bands out there who write the same way we do but don’t get a chance to be played on the radio because they don’t fit into a radio format, and we’ve been very spoiled to have it both ways, and we’re very grateful for that.”
Volbeat has a great rock/rockabilly/alternative rock sound. You could say its rock for everyone, but we wanted to know what kind of draw Volbeat had (pre-COVID) and from what kind of rock genre they pulled fans from. Michael told us: “From the very beginning of the band, it’s been a mix of different fans coming to our shows. We all came from metal bands so at first it was mostly metal fans coming to see us, but as more people heard the music and heard that we were connecting so many styles we could see the audience becoming more diverse and there was a great mixture of people showing up. And no matter what style of music brought them in they’re all going home and listening to the same band, which is a beautiful thing. I love looking out into the crowd and seeing so many different fans, it’s a big mix out there”
Here in the states we have a thriving Rockabilly scene, we wanted to know what the “rockabilly scene” was like in Demark. Their song, Sad Man’s Tongue creates the vision that the rockabilly scene is bigger than ever in Demark. Michael told us, “I’m not a part of it so I don’t even know if there is one!… I think they (Rockabillies) look at it as something that started out as dangerous but is now more nostalgic, and if for some reason it exploded into the mainstream it would not be as charming as it is… Personally, I think it’s the best music in the world, but it really isn’t a big scene and never has been, and probably shouldn’t be since it’s something so different than modern music.
We asked Michael why Volbeat has such a diverse rock sound and how they choose what style to go with what song when they’re writing. He said they didn’t want to paint themselves into a corner. Smart move if you like to bounce around in style and show appreciation to different sounds. He also said he listens to many different styles of music including rock, punk, metal, gospel, blues, the list goes on! Michael said that’s what helps contribute to the “Volbeat soup.” A delicious entrée indeed!
As I mentioned earlier with a language barrier, you might be surprised to hear that lead singer Michael does not speak English. Listening to their music you would never guess that. Even though their lyrics seem to be predominantly in English, Michael memorizes his lyrics in a language different than his native tongue to be sung with perfection in pronunciation and meaning. He told us, “Since I was a child and up through now, all of my idols have been international bands who sing in English. I only listen to a few bands who sing in Danish… I feel most comfortable singing in English, so when I started out it was obvious that I had to sing in it as well.”
Singing in a language that you don’t speak has to be excruciatingly difficult, a challenge that not many would take on but he’s charged head first in to this with open arms. We asked if he works with English speakers to help him find proper pronunciation and inflection of these words? “Every now and then when I do my lyrics, we have people from America or England correct my grammar, so you get this experience where your spelling and grammar can be a challenge. It’s the same thing with singing, the challenge to pronounce the words right, but what I love when I listen to bands who are not from the Americas or England and I hear the accent… so I say leave in the accent because it is part of your sound, and I’ve strove for that with Volbeat. There are times where I leave in mistakes because your voice is an instrument and it’s not always about the word itself but the sound, and it is part of the Volbeat sound. So, it’s a matter of respecting the language while also respecting your voice as an instrument.
Volbeat is such a unique name. When we asked where it came from, he said that it came from an earlier death metal band he had named, Dominus. They had an album called Vol.Beat (“Vol” for volume and “beat” for rhythm.) and he liked how memorable it sounded and kept it.
Volbeat has toured with bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Motorhead, Anthrax, Gorjira, Slipknot, and many, many more great rock bands. Michael said touring with Metallica and Megadeath was great! In 2013 they announced that Rob Caggiano formally of Anthrax was joining Volbeat as their second guitarist.
Volbeat is scheduled to play Aftershock here in California in 2021, Michael says that they are still waiting on the official green light about the show so they try not to get their hopes up but they love playing in America and will be humbled and thrilled to be back on stage again because it’s what they love doing. They are looking forward to playing with such incredible bands.
When asked what 2021 had in store for Volbeat he said, “It’s all up to the big monster Corona(virus)… but a new album is coming, and if we can, we’ll be out there playing all the shows we possibly can.” One thing is for sure, we can’t wait to watch Volbeat live and see their huge crowds rock out to their diverse and electrifying sound.
One thing is certain about 2020, it has robbed us of several things. One was being able to see Volbeat live. This band electric, sonically diverse and simply fun to watch. Roll that all up into these guys also being great entertainers and you get Volbeat. The band features Michael Poulsen (vocals & rhythm guitar), Rob Caggiano (lead guitar & backing vocals), Kaspar Boye Larsen (bass & backing vocals) and Jon Larsen (drums). Seriously, put this band on your must see lost in 2021, and definitely pick up their music. They’ll put a smile on your face and make your head bob over and over and over!