With their distinctive vocals and melodies, Volbeat is one band that’s hard to ignore. The Danish heavy metal band has been around for over a decade and has the fanbase to show for it. They’ve spent years on the road touring with bands including Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.
Their fifth studio album, Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies, brought their success over to the States. Former Anthrax guitarist, Rob Caggiano, helped produce the album and became their newest member shortly after. Find out what he had to tell The Aquarian about the writing process, touring and more.
Outlaw Gentlemen And Shady Ladies came in the Top 10 on the Billboard charts. Were you surprised with the record’s success?
I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. We’re definitely very proud of the record and we put a lot of heart into making it. Like I said, I think it’s something we’re all really proud of. It’s not like we, you know, as an artist … you can’t really write songs and work on album with success in mind or making formula radio hits. I just feel like that’s a recipe for disaster or failure (laughs).
The only thing we can really do is make the best music we can possibly make at that time and if the fans dig it then that’s great. That’s amazing. And we’re really blessed in that department, I guess.
The last album was heavily influenced by western films. Will the next album also borrow inspiration from this genre or are you working on a different direction?
It’s probably gonna be a little bit of a different direction. It’s too early to say right now because we don’t really have any tunes. We have a couple of ideas, a couple of riffs here and there, but it’s too early to say. The lyrical themes and stuff like that … we don’t have any of that stuff yet, but it’ll probably be different.
The record included an unexpected cover of “My Body” by Young The Giant.
Yeah, we like to have fun with that stuff. Volbeat’s always done that. Even when I was in Anthrax, Anthrax always did covers. It’s just a fun thing to kinda put your spin on a song you really like or a band that has influenced you or whatever. I’m sure there’s gonna be more cover stuff. I don’t know exactly what yet but we’ll figure it out, I guess (laughs).
“Doc Holiday” has this amazing intro. Do you come up with the melodies first or lyrics first?
It’s usually the music first. Michael [Poulsen, lead singer] might have a character or a lyric idea in mind maybe but the music usually comes and then the vocals fit around it.
Do you prefer writing on your own or do you like to collaborate with someone like Michael and just bounce off ideas?
I love to collaborate. As a record producer, I’ve been working with a lot of different people over the years. I’m definitely into collaborating. I think a lot of times that’s when the best stuff comes out.
Are you inspired by your own experiences or more of a storyteller and you put your own touch?
For me, yeah, I guess a little bit of both. The way I play guitar is definitely influenced by not only music I grew up with but also life in general. I think where you live has an effect on how you play, that kind of stuff. So yeah, I think it’s all kind of combined really.
All the other members in Volbeat are from Denmark and I saw you’ve spent some time over there too. What’s it like being the only American in the group?
(Laughs) It’s cool. It’s definitely cool. We all get along great. They’re really good guys. We’ve been friends for a while so it’s not like a brand new relationship. I’ve known these guys for a few years. It’s great. We’re having a really great time on the road.
Do you know any Danish?
I know no Danish at all. My tongue doesn’t even make those sounds (laughs).
You’ve performed with a handful of bands during your career so far. Are there any other bands you’d like to work with?
As a guitar player?
I’d love to tour with AC/DC.
You produced a song for them?
I’m producing Jim Breuer. He’s a big comedian in the States. He’s making a rock record and I’m producing it and I’m also playing the guitar and writing all the music and stuff. But yeah, we had Brian Johnson on one of the tracks and that was amazing. It was surreal. One of my idols.
You’re touring with Anthrax. What’s it like watching the band perform without you?
I actually posted a picture last night on my Instagram from the crowd watching them. It’s a little weird. It takes some getting used to, I guess.
Do you ever just want to jump in?
Well it’s not really that. It’s just having played those songs so many times over the years and now watching it from a distance. It’s a little bit of a Twilight Zone kind of vibe (laughs). But it’s cool. They’re killing it on this tour.
Do you think traveling around so much plays a part in your inspiration and passion for performing?
Yeah, absolutely. I love traveling. I love touring. I think you’re either built for this kind of lifestyle or not. Some people just can’t do it. Me? I love it. I love traveling. I love waking up in a different city every day. I actually sleep better on a tour bus than anywhere else in the world (laughs).
So for me it’s great, it’s perfect. But yeah, it definitely has an effect on … The more you experience in life the more comes out in your music or your art, basically. That’s how I see it.
With Anthrax you didn’t have much say in the lyrics, right?
In the lyrics? No, I had no say in the lyrics (laughs).
Now with Volbeat you have a little more freedom to add your input. Is the writing process easier for you?
Yeah, it’s definitely different. Every band does their own thing; every band has a different way of doing stuff. Volbeat, since the beginning, it’s been Michael writing everything and I think having someone else in the band that has an opinion or bounce ideas off of and collaborate with is actually a really cool thing. It’s great for me. It’s great for him and I think the overall end result is going to be great. We’re really excited about this new album coming up. I can’t wait to get into the studio.
What do you plan to work on after the tour?
After the tour? I have to finish up the Jim Breuer album. He’s got a few more vocals to finish. We’re actually doing one show in Denmark on August 1. I’m going to be in Demark for a while, probably the better part of this year. We’re going to be writing and rehearsing and all that stuff.
Volbeat will be performing with Anthrax at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC on June 2. For more information, head to Volbeat.dk.