Over the past couple of years, rumblings throughout the rock and metal scene about “that new Danish band” have evolved into Volbeat becoming one of the biggest headliners in the genre. Europe figured it out well before the States, but thanks to a rigorous US tour schedule, success in radio, and the (fairly) recent addition of former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano to the band, Volbeat has fans across North America lining up to see one of the biggest hard rock tours of the year: Rock Allegiance.
I recently spoke with Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen about the band’s 2013 tour schedule and how they adapt for American audiences.
Volbeat has been out on several tours since the release of the new album, and you just got back to the States. Tell me your thoughts on Rock Allegiance as you head into this run.
Michael: It’s a lot of different bands, and we have the opportunity to hear a lot of new music, which I actually think is really good. They’re all good guys, and it’s good for us to be around those kind of different bands — it’s inspiring.
Do you take the time to go out and watch the other bands on the tour?
Yeah, ya know, we just got started. It’s been a good start, and by the time we’ve been on the road with these bands for the whole six weeks, I’ll have time to check them all out. It will be great.
When you go back and forth between European tours and North American tours, do you adjust your set at all for a European versus an American audience?
We adjust a little bit. We always listen to the fans and what they want to hear. There are certain songs that we were constantly playing in Europe, some European hits that we had. We just thought those were songs that Americans wouldn’t want to hear, but they’re actually starting to ask for those songs now, so we put them into the set and give them some stuff they haven’t heard, like “The Garden’s Tale” and “Maybellene | Hofteholder.” They are always great fun.
We’ve been touring a lot of the US, and it’s very cool that we actually have the experience now to explore our own set list and give people something they haven’t heard before. So yeah, we certainly adjust those set lists concerning where we are and everything — it works out really good.
Tell me about the set list for Rock Allegiance. With the new album just being released, can fans expect most of the songs to come from Outlaw?
Of course we have this new album out, and of course we want to play as much as we can, but at the same time, we have a lot of respect for our previous albums, and we know that the audience and our fans have their different favorites. What I like is that it seems like the fans don’t all have the same favorite, which is really good. It just means that every record so far has been important. That’s why I think it’s important to include material from each album when we go on stage, so that’s what we’re going to do, but I think we do have around six, maybe seven new songs in the set.
I remember from the last time I spoke with you that “Room 24” was inspired by a story about being on the road in Middle America, where you’ve been this tour. Has anything happened on this run to inspire any new material?
No, you know, the thing is that when I’m writing, I’m in this bubble where inspiration just constantly pops in. I’m totally on another planet, so when I’m finally in the studio recording those songs, I’m leaving that bubble. Right now, I have no idea where I’ve been.
Volbeat has had some pretty big names guest on your albums and even join you on stage. Can we expect any cameos on this run, especially at Aftershock Festival?
Everybody is just trying to adjust right now to being back on the road. To do those kinds of things live — we might have some things here or there — it’s still something we work on. Of course, I don’t want to say too much because if we do something, it definitely has to be a surprise, but we’re definitely working on something.
I saw the new live video for “Lola Montez.” Do you have plans to make another video that isn’t live, something produced?
The thing is — I gotta be honest here — I’m not the biggest fan of music videos. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them; I’m just not a fan of them. I’d rather be on the road and be on stage playing. I feel like doing videos is like a pose or something. We’ve been doing a lot of videos, so I had a wish for our record company that our next video be without the band.
The music videos I love most are the ones where you actually don’t see the band. People can always see the band on YouTube or see the band live, so I guess we will try to make a video, maybe for “Lola Montez,” where the band is not included. I don’t know. As I said, I’m not a fan of videos — I think it’s a bit of a pose — but I know in certain countries, they are important, so we do what we need to for the right kind of promotion.
Michael, you have Aftershock Festival coming up in the middle of Rock Allegiance. Do you guys do anything special for the big festivals or is this simply another tour stop for you?
It’s just a live show. It doesn’t make a difference where we are. We go up on stage and have a good time, and we appreciate the audience no matter where we are because they’re saving up money and some of them have been traveling many hours to get to the show, you know? We just want to deliver a really good show. We always have a good time on stage, and we always deliver 100 percent. We take good care of each other and try to do the best show we can. It doesn’t matter where we are.