Since their formation in 2001, Danish metal band Volbeat have faced their fair share of member changes. Although they had a slew of revolving guitarists over the past several years, the trio has found the perfect fit with producer Rob Caggiano, former longtime guitarist of legendary thrash band Anthrax as well as the driving force behind supergroup The Damned Things. Joining the band in early 2013, Caggiano was both a recording musician and producer for Volbeat’s fifth studio album, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, which was released on Universal Records last spring.
During a quick break from touring, Caggiano took the time to chat with The Aquarian Weekly about his motives behind leaving Anthrax, how he got started with Volbeat and what first sparked his love of recording.
How did you first get involved with the members of Volbeat as their producer?
Well, back in I guess it was 2010, the other band that I was doing with [Anthrax guitarist] Scott Ian, [guitarist] Joe Trohman and [drummer] Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy, The Damned Things, Volbeat took us out on tour. That’s when we all became friends and it was the first time I had really heard their music.
Back then, they were really into the way The Damned Things’ record sounded that I produced, and shortly after that, the Anthrax record came out, Worship Music, which I also produced. It was just an idea that we talked about back then, that we would maybe one day go into the studio and cut a song or two; maybe even a full record with me as a producer. It seemed like a good idea but it never really seemed all that realistic with their schedule and my schedule. But fast forward a few years and everything changed, and now here we are.
What was the moment that you realized you were a perfect fit as the band’s guitarist?
You know, the funny thing is, back then on the tour that I just told you about, they would ask me to come out on stage with them and play the Misfits’ song “Angelfuck.” So we all knew what it was like to jam together and kind of like, turned into this crazy thing (laughs).
Did it take a while to get adjusted to the band?
No, absolutely not. We’re just having a blast.
Was writing with Volbeat different than writing with Anthrax and The Damned Things?
Well, when I came on board with the Volbeat record, a lot of the stuff was already finished. But there were some things that weren’t totally finished, and I sat down with Michael [Poulsen, vocalist/guitarist] and that’s how we first started collaborating on a few songs. Right off the bat there was this really awesome creative chemistry.
In Anthrax, I didn’t have any writing freedom at all, which is why I left. With The Damned Things, Joe, myself and Keith [Buckley, vocalist of The Damned Things and Every Time I Die] wrote that whole record [Ironiclast, 2010]. That was very much my whole vision. Every situation is different; every band is different.
Do you prefer working behind the scenes as a producer or in the spotlight as a recording musician?
I like both, to be honest.
When did you first start producing?
I started producing when I was young. I’ve always been kind of enamored by recording equipment and studios and that whole world. Years ago, when I was younger, I used to work at a music store, and a lot of times I wouldn’t take home a paycheck; I kind of just worked for gear and paid gear off. I built a little recording setup back then, and it started out with me recording my own ideas and then recording my friends’ bands, and it just developed from that. I never really went to school for it because I do everything by ear, including my guitar playing.
Is performing with Volbeat different than performing with any of your previous bands?
Well, not really. I don’t know. There’s definitely more chicks in the crowd now (laughs).
What are your favorite songs to perform live?
I love playing “Doc Holiday” and I love playing “Hangman’s Body Count.” I also love playing “Still Counting” and as well as “The Mirror And The Ripper.” Those are probably my four favorites in the set.
What are the best and worst parts of touring?
The worst part is definitely being away from your home and your family and your friends. But the best part is just traveling. I love traveling; I love waking up in a new city every day. To me, I couldn’t see myself doing any other job to be honest (laughs). It’s definitely fun.
The band is heading back to Europe to hit a lot of festivals this summer. Is there any one in particular you’re looking forward to playing?
No, not really. I’m looking forward to all of them, but I’d say Download is pretty high up on the list. That’s one of my favorite festivals to play. I’ve done it a million times, and I’m really excited to get back there.
How do American audiences differ from European crowds?
That’s a hard question. We love playing in America and we also love playing in Europe. I think out there it might be a little different because I just think they treat the arts a little bit differently. Because in America, you know, especially the younger generation, they won’t think twice about downloading a record for free online, because that’s all they know, you know what I mean? But in Europe, it seems like it’s a little bit different. There’s more respect for the arts and there’s more… I don’t even know how to say it. But again, the shows are great worldwide for us, and it seems like it’s getting bigger and bigger, especially in America. It’s growing like crazy, which is awesome.
When you say that they respond to the arts differently, what do you mean? Like there is less digital downloading in Europe?
I don’t know, I’m kind of guessing, but it does just seem like that. Just from talking to fans and getting information about it that way, that’s just how it seems to me.
Where is your favorite place to perform?
Hmm, any particular place I like to the play the most… I’d say the United Kingdom is one of my favorites, and Australia is amazing. We just did Soundwave Festival down there and it was an amazing time.
Do you have any show experiences that stand out as being the most memorable?
I think any night is pretty memorable for me, you know? If I had to single out one show, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. When we were doing the arena tour in Europe, we had a couple special guests on stage, so that was a lot of fun.
Volbeat will be making two stops in the area as part of their headlining tour alongside Trivium and Digital Summer, the first being at Huntington, NY’s Paramount Theatre on May 8 and the second at Camden, NJ’s Susquehanna Bank Center on May 10. Follow Rob Caggiano on Twitter and Instagram @RobCaggiano, and visit the band at volbeat.dk.