Volbeat’s Michael Poulsen on Tony Iommi’s Influence, Death Metal Beginnings + More
Danish hard rock act Volbeat are one of the most eclectic and unique sounding bands out there right now. They recently wrapped up their Rock Allegiance tour with All That Remains and HIM, during which Volbeat were promoting their latest album ‘Outlaw Gentlemen & the Shady Ladies.’
During HIM’s very loud soundcheck at the Brooklyn, N.Y. stop, Michael Poulsen sat down with us to chat about his guitar and vocal influences growing up and watching films to pass the time on tour. Poulsen also shared what he likes to indulge in while buying stuff when on the road. Check out our interview with Michael Poulsen of Volbeat below.
Being part of this industry for a good time now, how has your musicianship progressed from album to album?
Personally, I think every time we release a new album you can hear the progress in everybody. Every member in the band is just getting better at what they’re doing, you can hear that in the music. I also think I’m a better songwriter now, it’s all about experience. Now that we’re constantly touring and writing, it just seems like we’re getting better. The key word is inspiration. As long as you can keep finding inspiration then you have something to work with.
What started this whole thing for you? What made you want to sing in a band and play guitar?
The first time I heard Tony Iommi’s guitar sound, when I heard him play ‘Children of the Grave,’ it did something to me. That guitar sound, that rhythm I was just like, “Oh wow, I have to learn how to play that on guitar.” I was very young and I was singing along to a lot of Elvis and Johnny Cash and Shakin’ Stevens. Later on when I discovered the heavy metal stuff like Black Sabbath, Dio and Rainbow, the heavy metal stuff did something to me and I wanted to play that kind of music.
I started my first band Dominus, which was actually a death metal band and that’s where it all started. It was not enough to own good metal records, you wanted to play the metal and you want to feel what they were feeling. When you look at them on television, it always looked like great fun. We all know how it feels when we find that right record, it does something to you and you get goosebumps, you identify yourself with the music.
If you really don’t know what to do as a young kid, a lot of kids don’t know what they want to be so you grab to everything that you love and for me that was music. It was all about wanting to play that guitar and get together with friends and form a band, having fun and being part of something. You feel like you belong somewhere.
The last time we spoke, you said that Volbeat's forthcoming material would be inspired by the song ‘The Nameless One’ off of ‘Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies.’ How has that progress been?
I haven’t even started. [laughs] It kind of feels good to lock the door on the studio and not think about new songs and releases. I do have small ideas here and there when it comes to songs, maybe also a few characters. The song 'The Nameless One' the story is going to continue on the next record but I haven’t thought too much about it.
We were talking earlier and you said that you pass time on tour by watching films. What movies have you enjoyed recently on the bus?
I just saw this really cool movie called ‘The Iceman.’ If people don’t know about ‘The Iceman,’ it’s based on a true character, you can look him up and see a lot of documentaries. He was a hired killer and they just made a really good movie about him, which was the latest thing I watched.
With all of the bands that you have toured with, what would you say is group that has had a long lasting impact on you?
There’s a lot of them. We’ve been touring with so many great bands and they all somehow gave me inspiration. There’s, of course, Metallica, Motorhead, Megadeth, Iced Earth, Danko Jones, the list is pretty long. There are so many great bands.
What would you say is the weirdest thing on your tour bus?
The weirdest thing on this tour bus, that’s a good question. We have two junk bunks where people put all the stuff they buy on tour. Sometimes when you look in on the bunks you’re like “What the f--- is that crap?” People buy the weirdest stuff.
What do you like to buy on tour when you go to different cities?
Mostly I’m just seeking inspiration so we always go to record stores. I buy a lot of records and DVDs to kill some time but at the same time I also get inspired. We have a couple of televisions here, after a show we come back to the bus and watch some movies. That’s what we like to go find, DVDs, CDs and some great t-shirts. [Laughs]