One of the major rock ‘n’ roll success stories of the past decade has been Volbeat, who have topped the rock and metal charts around the globe, toured extensively with Metallica and became the first Danish band to headline and sell out their massive hometown venue, Telia Parken, which seats more than 48,000.
Now, frontman Michael Poulsen and company are back with their seventh studio album, Rewind, Replay, Rebound, and they’re also currently on the “Knotfest Roadshow”, touring North America with Slipknot, Gojira and Behemoth.
Poulsen checked in with Heavy Consequence during the Knotfest tour kickoff to talk about the new album, the importance of maintaining Volbeat’s unique sound over the years, and how becoming a father has influenced Volbeat’s lyrics. Read the full interview below.
On the meaning behind the title of Volbeat’s new album, Rewind, Replay, Rebound
When it comes to the music, there are certain songs that we kind of go back to — some of the older stuff — so it’s kind of rewinding and replaying and rebounding the old songs in a new way for 2019 that makes them stronger. In the lyrics, I also go back to my old childhood and many of those good memories. Especially now that I’m a father as of two years ago, I can relive and replay my own childhood, so there’s also something about that in the lyrics and title.
On how becoming a father has changed his approach to writing songs for Volbeat
First of all, I know it sounds like a cliché, but I think becoming a dad is the best thing that has happened in my life. It’s a wonderful gift, and I think most parents would agree. I don’t think it has reflected in the music, but I feel like it definitely changed in the lyrics. You suddenly look at things a little bit differently, and you look at life differently, too. So, that leads you to pick up subjects that you might not pick up if you didn’t have children.
On how the musical chemistry between Volbeat’s current band members
I think it’s very important that you have good chemistry in the music onstage and also when you’re offstage. Sometimes it takes time to find the right people to work with, because as people, we change and go different ways and directions. It’s not easy to stay together in the same lineup for many years. It’s like a relationship. When it doesn’t work, you have to move on. I can say 100 percent that I feel this lineup is the strongest lineup in the Volbeat history so far, both when it comes to working together on the music and being together offstage. I feel that leaves a very important mark in the music, where I can hear that we are having fun.
On Volbeat’s unique blend of rockabilly, metal, and hard rock, and how they’ve maintained their identity over the years
For certain bands, it can take a lifetime to find their sound or style, but for us, we found our style from the very beginning but also managed to, on each album, come up with something we haven’t done before. We have always kept the signature sound for Volbeat. I think that’s part of the reason we’re doing well, because no matter what direction we go, when it comes to style, we still have that signature sound. The most important thing is that we found our sound from the very beginning, and I don’t see us changing it, but we will always be very curious when it comes to being inspired by new stuff we haven’t done before.
On the inspiration behind the band’s current single “Last Day Under the Sun”
First of all, I would like to thank all the radio stations who are playing it, and we’re very happy about that. It’s a song that shows some new flavors in Volbeat, musically. When it comes to the lyrics, I got inspired by reading a book by Johnny Cash about his life. He became really tired of his life and walked into the woods where he found a cave, and he was so intoxicated with drugs and alcohol that he didn’t want to live anymore. But, he wakes up in this cave and feels like he’s been given a second chance in life.
There’s something beautiful about coming out on the other side as a new man. I could use that, because I think each one of us is going through some tough times in life. We fall into this black hole and need to get out on the other side. That’s what “Last Day Under the Sun” is about. It’s about forgiving yourself and forgiving the people around you and finding the options to get better in your own mindset. The reaction to the song is amazing. It seems a lot of people can relate to it.
On Volbeat touring as part of “Knotfest Roadshow” with Slipknot, Gojira and Behemoth
I think life is about challenge. You can, each day, go into certain routines where you’re doing the same stuff over and over again and get into a comfort zone, but for me, we like the challenge of going a tour like this. We’re aware that the other bands are a little bit more extreme than Volbeat. Those bands are really heavy and brutal! Volbeat is more rock ‘n’ roll music. So, that’s a challenge.
Going onstage and trying to convince the audience that we can be part of a package like that is a great challenge. We know that we have our own Volbeat fans out there who are going to help us, but what else is great is that we will hopefully convince Slipknot fans that we are here for good, and hopefully they will become Volbeat fans, too.
On what it’s like performing for American audiences
We like touring all over the world. When we’re onstage, we could be anywhere in the world, because it’s a live show and we always enjoy performing live. Being in America as a Scandinavian and European band, it’s great, because the fans and radio stations and people over here have been very kind to Volbeat. They’ve really embraced us, and they’re been really good people, so it’s always been great to come to America.
On Volbeat’s history touring extensively with Metallica
Having the offer from Metallica to tour with them was a huge compliment. First, you’re really high on getting the opportunity and getting picked out by Metallica. After that, it’s about sharing that stage with Metallica and being inspired by them and seeing how the big guys are doing their whole thing. There have been a lot of opportunities to watch how the machine of Metallica works, which has been really inspiring. You kind of get to know the guys and find out they’re just as normal as you. They might be your idols, but they’re just human beings going through stuff in their lives, so that’s been very emotional and inspiring. We’re very proud of being on tour with Metallica.
On what he admires about Metallica and how they’ve handled their career
They do exactly what they think is right for the band. They don’t compromise. For them, it’s always that it has to be fun for them to go out on the road, because they have kids — now grown up kids — and a private life. So, if they’re going to do this, it’s going to be on their own terms, and it has to be fun. You have to tip your hat off to a band that is still really relevant to the scene and a huge inspiration for a lot of bands, including Volbeat. They’re carrying the metal flag high. Watching them be so strong and find new ways to do things that haven’t been done before is very inspiring.
On why he’s excited for fans to hear Rewind, Replay, Rebound
Of course, every band wants their fans to like their albums. But, I think the most important thing is that when you do an album, you as a band are satisfied. We have to go on the road and play this record and these songs, so it has to be fun. It has to make sense to go out and play the new record. You can only hope that the feeling you have when you’re leaving the studio is the feeling you can share with the listeners and the fans out there. For us, the most enjoyable thing about releasing new music is to go out with it on the road, because it’s always fun to play new material so you aren’t doing the same things over and over again.