Rob Caggiano Talks Leaving Anthrax, Joining Volbeat, Rock Allegiance Tour + More
In the world of metal, the first big story of 2013 was the announcement that guitarist Rob Caggiano had left Anthrax. No longer attaining happiness from his time with the legendary thrash band, Caggiano left and began to focus on producing records. Caggiano’s first project since his Anthrax departure was to man to board for Volbeat‘s newest album, ‘Outlaw Gentleman & Shady Ladies,’ but he also ended up joining Volbeat as a full-time member.
Caggiano’s sudden shift drew mostly positive reactions from his former Anthrax bandmates, with no hard feelings felt from either side, although drummer Charlie Benante did call Caggiano’s departure “sketchy.” We recently spoke with Rob Caggiano about his timeline of leaving Anthrax, joining Volbeat and everything in the months since. Check out our revealing interview with Rob Caggiano:
Let’s start at the beginning with your involvement in Volbeat. You left Anthrax to focus on production and the first album you went on to produce was Volbeat’s ‘Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies.’
Yep, but I think there was a misinterpretation when I put out my press release, when I decided to move on from Anthrax. It was never really about giving up the guitar, or not touring anymore or any of that stuff. It was never about being in the studio for the rest of my life. [Laughs] It was more in my head, I just figured I would book a few records, do some recording and I was hoping that that would bridge the gap until I figured out what my next move was as an artist and as a guitar player. It was just that I didn’t expect it to happen so quick [Laughs] and all at once.
When you did get into the studio with Volbeat, did your experience as a producer really solidify your decision to spend a lot of your professional life behind the board?
No, I have always been fascinated with the art of recording and I have always been really into gear and stuff. I love recording studios, I love working with different bands and different artists. I love the magic that can happen in the studio. I was always obsessed with that. At the same time, I love playing live and touring. That’s very much who I am. It’s in my blood. That’s what I do. To me it’s all one in the same. I make noise; I love to make noise, whether it’s in the studio or on stage. Lately, what I have been doing is blurring the lines because I am producing bands that I am actually in. [Laughs] It works out great.
Talking about magic in the studio, what was the most memorable part of recording with King Diamond?
To be totally honest with you, he was not in the studio with us. We were obviously in Denmark, in the countryside. King wanted to do his vocals at his place in Texas, which worked out great. We sent him the track; that was one of the first tunes we worked on ‘Room 24’ and we knew King was going to sing on the song and we had to get that song ready for him. We sent him the track and he did his thing and he sent us his vocals and it was amazing. We all got goose bumps when we listened to it. Totally nailed it.
Since he sent it to you, as a producer, what was it like actually getting your hands on a King Diamond piece and having to shape it for the record?
Well, everybody in Volbeat, obviously those guys are all from Denmark so there is that connection as well, but we are all huge King Diamond fans and Mercyful Fate fans. He’s been an influence on me since I was a little kid. To me, ‘Abigail’ is one of the best metal records of all time. I listen to it constantly. It’s actually on my phone. I listen to it all the time. [Laughs] For me, of course, it’s an honor to be a part of something that King sang on.
The cool thing about that is, that track, the idea for that song, it was always meant to have King’s vocals on there, so musically it is very tailored to his style and his voice. To me it sounds like something that could have been off of ‘Abigail’ or ‘Conspiracy’ or one of those records from back in the day. From a guitar playing perspective, I really tried to capture that Andy LaRocque kind of vibe, obviously with my own spin on it, but I love Andy’s playing and I have always been a fan of what he does on the guitar. For me it was a lot of fun. I had a great time with that track.
As a member of Volbeat, have you noticed any changes in the band’s sound now that your influence has been added to the group?
We’re probably a little bit louder now. [Laughs] It’s hard for me to comment on that. If you ask the other guys, they might be able to answer that a little bit better. Right now I am just doing my thing and it feels like a really awesome two-guitar-player band right now. We are having a blast every night onstage and it sounds really full and heavy. We are having fun that is all I can really say about it.
You are about to headline the Rock Allegiance tour. It’s an interesting bill. You have HIM, All that Remains and Airbourne. What are your thoughts on the lineup?
I love all of the bands that are on that bill. We have done a lot of shows with All That Remains. Even back when we put the Damned Things record out, we were on tour with All That Remains as well. Those guys are awesome. That is a really great band, really good people and it’s always fun to have them out. HIM — I have never actually seen HIM live. I am a really big fan of that first record [‘Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666’]. Actually, I worked with Ville — he did a guest vocal on a Cradle of Filth record that I was producing a few years back. That’s going to be fun to check those guys out every night. Airborne is an awesome band as well. We’ve played a couple of shows with them out in Europe. They opened up for us in Berlin. They are awesome; they just bring that rock ‘n’ roll crazy energy. It’s going to be a great show. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we are really looking forward to it.
You mentioned the Damned Things. As far as I know, you are still in that band with Scott Ian. Do you have any plans with them right now?
Right now it’s kind of in limbo. I shouldn’t say limbo; it’s kind of on hold because we are all doing so many other things. Obviously, I’m doing Volbeat full-time now; that’s my priority. Fall Out Boy is also back together so Joe and Andy are obviously very busy with that. Their new record is doing amazing. That’s great for them. They’re going to be out for a while working hard. Anthrax is doing their thing as well. I think there will be another Damned Things record; it’s just a matter of when. The stars all have to align themselves, but it’s something we all really enjoy and it’s something we all really want to do again. It’s just a matter of time I guess.
I remember when I saw you with Anthrax during the 2012 Mayhem Festival. I interviewed both you and Scott Ian. During the interview Scott was really talkative and you really didn’t say much at all. It left me thinking, ‘I hope everything is okay within the band.’ At that point, were you contemplating leaving Anthrax?
Yes. I can’t tell you that that was the reason why I was quiet in that interview, [Laughs] but Scott definitely likes to talk. It had been something that I was thinking about for a while. I had many conversations with Joey Belladonna, actually, on the tour bus. He knew where I was coming from. I think Scott knew where I was coming from, as well. I love those guys dearly. They are like my family. I just got to the point where I wasn’t happy. I felt like I was spinning my wheels and I wasn’t being creative. It wasn’t a creative outlet for me. Like I said, it just got to the point where I needed a change. It was awesome for a long time; the shows were great, we achieved a lot of cool stuff. The band has been through a lot and I am really proud of the ups and downs. I am really honored to be a part of their legacy; it’s killer. I just needed to make a move for my own happiness as a musician.
I think it has been, at least in my mind, obvious that you are much happier now with Volbeat. A lot of people I’ve talked to after seeing you live have said, ‘You know, Rob is really smiling a lot more on stage.’ Is that fair to say?
[Laughs] I think so. I’ve been hearing it from all of my friends too. I don’t know, I guess it is obvious. I am having a great time. I am really enjoying playing this music and I really love these guys as people. The shows are great. It’s been huge so far. I’m really excited and I’m very proud of our new record, ‘Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies.’ That was a really fun process and I think we made it really cool. I’m excited about it all.
In the world of production, is there any band that you’re dying to work with?
Metallica. [Laughs] There are so many bands that I would love to work with, of course. I don’t know. There are a lot of great bands out there and a lot of great records to be made. I guess we’ll see what happens. Right now we are so busy touring and focusing on this. We’ll see what happens.
Your name has been immortalized, along with those of your former Anthrax band mates, on jerseys hung up in Yankee Stadium. How cool is it to have your name up there?
That day was magical. I still don’t think it hit me yet. It didn’t because I haven’t really stopped since then. You know, I have really been working hard touring relentlessly. It was surreal. Just being from New York and being a Yankees fan. I used to play baseball as a kid; that was my dream before I discovered Eddie Van Halen. [Laughs] For me, to play Yankee Stadium [with the Big 4], it doesn’t get any bigger than that. They don’t even have shows there! That’s reserved for special events like Paul McCartney and Billy Joel. To have a metal show there; in my wildest dreams I never thought that I would be playing at Yankee Stadium. It was an amazing experience. It was awesome. I am very proud of that.