Guitarist/vocalist Michael Poulsen of Danish/American metal rock 'n' rollers VOLBEAT was interviewed on the April 12-14 edition of Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
To see a full list of stations carrying the program and when it airs, go to FullMetalJackieRadio.com.
Full Metal Jackie: Let's talk about the sound and the band and Rob [Caggiano, guitar], the new member in the band. What changes to the sound and the band's dynamic has Rob, an American, brought to VOLBEAT, a Danish band?
Michael: He's definitely brought something, and it's very easy to hear it when you hear the record, but also when you hear the new live shows. Rob plays a really tight guitar; he's a really good rhythm guy but he's a brilliant lead guitar player, and he has his own sound and it's heavy. For the first time, I actually had the same guitar player in the VOLBEAT band to cut his own guitars in the studio. I've always been recording all the guitars, and I'm not saying that there was anything wrong with the other guys. When I write all the music, some of the songs, they haven't really learned before we enter the studio and sometimes, to get the right flow, it'd be normal that the guy who wrote the songs is cutting the guitars, but Rob was catching up so quickly with the new songs in the studio and I really like his way of playing combined with the way I'm playing. It fits pretty well, and you can hear on this album there are two guitar players, and you can definitely hear it live, too. He definitely brings a solid sound to the band.
Full Metal Jackie: The outlaw theme that runs through each VOLBEAT album is part of a bigger continuing story. Do you already envision the whole story or is each album a chapter that's entirely new to you when you're writing the songs?
Michael: I can say so much that there's a song on the new album called "The Nameless One", and that's a story that's going to continue on the next VOLBEAT album. When I started writing, I had no idea where I wanted to go. It's always tough to find the first four or five songs, because where do you start? Where do you want to go? It always ends up with me starting with ten songs that I trash because I need to be satisfied 100 percent. I need to have the goosebumps for my own material, so when I find the first three or four songs, I know exactly where I'm going and when those songs came up, I can hear the Western themes, the inspiration from the old spaghetti Western movies. That became a very organic flow to the record, those melodies from Western movies, so I thought, "You'd better start writing some lyrics about these outlaws and gunslingers"; it is movies that I've been watching since I was a little kid. My father was watching it all the time. It's just about the right time to do it, so when I start writing the lyrics, I bring some legendary outlaws and shady ladies to life, then pictures were just running in my head all the time and suddenly you feel you're in that bubble where you're like, "Okay I'm going somewhere, it's definitely an outlaw theme."
Full Metal Jackie: Michael, you're love of Elvis and Johnny Cash is pretty well known. Throughout your own growth as a musician, are you actively listening to their music to gain a new perspective on what they were doing?
Michael: I'm listening to their music in any kind of perspective. It's just music that really moves me and touches me, and I still put on these records and be inspired just as you think you heard these songs a million times — you just go back to a record you haven't been listening to for a long time and a new idea pops up. That's the beauty of it. I keep on getting inspiration from these guys, but at the same time, we also try on this album — you can definitely hear the country inspiration, you can hear the Johnny Cash and Elvis inspiration like always, but there's also some very heavy influence like King Diamond, who is part of the record, you can hear some MOTÖRHEAD, some really old-school METALLICA and stuff like that. We always like to do cover songs and we were looking at each other and we're like, "Why is it that we only been covering dead people?" [laughs] There's nothing wrong with that, I love to pay my respect to the dead and I will always do that, but we were also thinking why not try to pay respect to some new bands because there are new bands out there who are doing a good job. People would almost be expecting us to cover, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Elvis — it would fit pretty well to this theme on the record — but we took another challenge and YOUNG THE GIANT came up and we took the song I heard on my way to the airport with my wife and I was blown away by the song called "My Body". I thought it would be a little bit different to do a cover song like that on the album. I think that's a song that suits VOLBEAT pretty well if we do it our own way with our own sound. Of course, we always like to do the Johnny Cash covers, but this time around we decided to do something else. You can definitely still hear the inspiration of legendary performers on the album.
Full Metal Jackie: Does having an appreciation of such a wide range of music give you the opportunity to have a thriving career when you're older?
Michael: I'll say basically what I'm listening to is very old stuff, but now and then I like to explore the music scene and see, what's alive at the moment and there are a few good bands out there doing a good job and I can definitely be inspired by that. At the end of the day, I will always get back to my old records; it's just the place where I feel good.
Full Metal Jackie: You guys are going to be touring for the rest of 2013, I would imagine.
Michael: Totally. I'm going to speak like this for the rest of the year. [laughs] No shame sounding like Lemmy [Kilmister], huh? [laughs] We have a really tight schedule, but we are so happy to have that, because that means that we got work to do. It also means that our people out there appreciate what we're doing so having a tight schedule is not something you should complain about; it just mean theres are people out there who care.