Interview: Volbeat Singer Michael Poulsen on Danish ‘Metal Rock,’ Touring with Metallica

Volbeat, Courtesy Photo

Danish Metal Royalty Volbeat Mix Rockabilly, Metal

Five years ago, Volbeat were No. 1 on the Danish Top 40 chart, but still pretty much unknown in the U.S. Now, thanks to a load of hard work (and a little luck in the form of Metallica taking the guys along on their 2009 stateside tour), Volbeat are selling out clubs across the U.S.

The Danish “metal rock ‘n’ rollers” kick off a North American club tour with hard rockers Cold July 24 in Toronto, Canada, and the tour wraps up Sept. 4 at the Anaheim, Calif., House of Blues.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Michael Poulsen chatted with Audio Ink Radio about the band’s curious blend of punk, rockabilly, metal, country and ‘70s hard rock.

Audio Ink: What are your first memories of music?

Poulsen: My parents were very musical. They always had music from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and music was a big part of our home. We were always playing Elvis, Johnny Cash, Little Richard. All of those singers from the ‘50s.

Audio Ink: How did you discover metal?

Poulsen: As a teenager, I discovered the heavy metal scene. My big sister had a boyfriend — her husband now — and they both listened to Deo, Metallica, Black Sabbath. So, I got hooked on that. At first, I loved the album sleeves. Metallica and Motorhead albums always looked really cool, and bands like them are why I got into heavy metal and now formed my own metal band. But, all my melodies come from the ‘50s. Somehow, I wanted to keep the distorted sound from the guitars and the pounding drums and combine that with the ‘50s melodies.

Audio Ink: Volbeat mixes so many different genres, from metal to rockabilly to punk.

Poulsen: Yeah, we use a lot of different elements, because I was inspired by all these different artists and styles, so for me, it’s natural to write music like that. It comes from the inside. It’s straight from the heart, and when I sit down to write music, I don’t think about it too much, because then you fail. It has to come naturally.

Audio Ink: What was it like touring with Metallica on 2009’s World Magnetic Tour?

Poulsen: It was so weird, because I remember when I was a young kid, laying in bed and looking at my posters of Metallica. It’s amazing what you’re capable of achieving if you work hard and are dedicated. Dreams come true. Metallica are true gentlemen and such nice people. We did 50 shows in the U.S. and Canada and also a European tour. We’re still in good contact with James [Hetfield, guitarist]. It’s an emotional thing, and I’m proud of it.

Audio Ink: What’s the writing process like for you?

Poulsen: I write all the material, the music and the lyrics. I always have words spinning in my head. Sometimes I wish I could turn off my mind, because there’s music in my head all the time. I believe that’s what you call inspiration. I sit down to write a song, and the magic thing about it is just like when you put on one of your favorite records and get goose bumps when it moves you, when I write a song, it has to move me. I have an interesting process of writing. It can happen anywhere. A lot of times, I’m writing when we’re touring. I sit backstage with an acoustic guitar and just write. All those pieces become songs, over time.

Audio Ink: Why do you call your fans, “Rebels and Angels?”

Poulsen: The name is our way to tell our fans, “Hey, this is part of a family. Let’s do something together. Let’s be a family.” It’s a way to give people something they belong to and to know we’re one. “Rebels and Angels” is one part of that.

Watch Volbeat’s Live Video for ‘Fallen’

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  1. […] Erickson of Audio Ink Radio recently conducted an interview with VOLBEAT singer, songwriter and guitarist Michael Poulsen. A […]

  2. […] Frontman: METALLICA ‘Are True Gentlemen And Such Nice People’ Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio recently conducted an interview with VOLBEAT singer, songwriter and guitarist Michael Poulsen. A […]

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