Volbeat. One word. One band. One inimitable sound. One matchless approach to music.
Yet the possibilities are endless.
And why shouldn't they be? When you have a band that is more than willing to break musical boundaries and the world's preconceived notions about musical styles you have a rarity-one that is anchored by a heady mix of rockabilly, early rock & roll and metal held together by a handful of pomade and nine gauge super slinky strings... A Danish wonder that has the metal world standing up, taking out their ear plugs and removing their blinders.
What you hear and what you see leaves you with a musical tattoo - indelible, signiï¬cant and most importantly, long lasting.
Formed in Copenhagen in 2001,and comprised of vocalist and guitarist Michael Poulsen, guitarist Thomas Bredahl, bassist Anders Kjølholm and drummer Jon Larsen, Volbeat has released four studio albums and one live DVD all chart toppers and/or certiï¬ed gold in Europe, with their seminal release "Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil" certiï¬ed Platinum.
Steadily increasing their fan base with their unique blend and style of music and uncompromising stage shows, Volbeat continues to marry Heavy Metal and Rockabilly, smear it with a kiss of crunchy guitars and drive away in a vintage Cadillac stuffed with Marshall plexis and ï¬lled with leaded gas.
Their arrival on the Metal scene brought about a colossal explosion in Europe heralded by "Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil". Entering the Danish music charts at number one this bottle rocket landed Volbeat on nearly every musical radar screen. Proving that they were no ï¬‚ash in the pan aberration - the album stayed in the top 5 ranking for ï¬ve months. Propelled by this reception, Volbeat went out on their second European tour pushing even further into the pages of Metal's history.
However, Volbeat's sound is more than just an amalgam, or even a fusion, it is the sonic antithesis to current trends in Metal and Rock. It's a musical rebellious hot rod chugging out heavy guitars, pounding bass and a relentless drum backbeat that grabs you in the gut and with a wink, says, "now listen to this!"
How did it all start? Well legend has it that it is what could have happened if Elvis's third cousin had gotten out of juvenile detention, started hanging out with Johnny Cash and Gene Vincent and the ï¬rst thing they got their hands on was a Slayer album. He would be singing metal a la Volbeat and vis a vis Michael Poulsen.
And if you ask Michael about his roots you may just begin to believe the legend.
"I think it all has something to do with the fact that since I was a child I was really interested in old rock & roll music. My parents were playing Elvis, Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard... all the music from the 50's - they were playing it all of the time, and generally my family were all interested in music but no one was writing or playing - they were just listeners. I remember listening to some of the old records that belonged to my sister's boyfriend. He had old vinyls from Black Sabbath, Dio and bands like that and early Metallica - I got really hooked into the metal scene. In school, I gathered some friends and tried to form a metal band but it seemed like I was the only guy that was 100% dedicated and serious. So I had to seek out something different."
That ï¬rst break with average was the formation of the death metal band Dominus in 1991. For almost a decade the band earned a solid respect and a dedicated following releasing one single, two demos and four albums, each differing in style - foreshadowing things to come.
Michael observes, "I ended up forming Dominus but as I got older and out on my own, I started missing the old rock and roll songs that I grew up with..and even though Dominus got pretty good respect and a name in Europe, I felt I needed to do something new."
Recruiting the ï¬nest musicians in Europe (current members are Thomas Bredahl, Anders Kjølholm and Jon Larsen) to hop on for a joy ride, the ground-breaking and pioneering Volbeat was formed but as with anything that breaks with the norm and predictable, the road to success can be paved with naysayers and skeptics, nevertheless the band wouldn't settle for anything less than getting their pioneering sound out to the masses.
The year was 2000 and the 21st century's metal engine was about to rumble, rev and tumble.
"Well we did a couple of demos and shuffled those around and ended up signing with our ï¬rst record label. Before that, I remember when we were ï¬rst shopping our demo to labels, we would be told "we really like your shit but we don't know who's going to buy it, so we can't sign you" but we kept on playing loud and the audiences kept getting bigger and bigger and suddenly we were written about in underground magazines, and the last couple of our records with our ï¬rst label were selling."
It only took getting 1,000 copies of their "Beat the Meat" demo tape into the hands of future fans, for Volbeat to get signed to their ï¬rst record deal by Rebel Monster Records, the most apropos name for a record company associated with Volbeat if there ever was one.
Volbeat released their ï¬rst album, "The Strength/The Sound/The Songs" in 2005 with an early lineup for the album consisting of Michael Poulsen (vocals), Jon Larsen (drums), Franz Gottschalk (guitar) and Anders Kjølholm (bass). The album was a mammoth success in Denmark achieving a spot at #18 in the charts, critics were raving about this new sound, their live performances were already becoming legendary and the year culminated in "The Strength/The Sound/The Songs" snagging Best Album in the Danish Metal Musik Awards in 2005.
Since that ï¬rst release, Volbeat has relentlessly toured Europe, sacriï¬ced their selves to the music, dedicated their passions, given up jobs all with a singular vision that sometimes doing it the hard way means doing it the best way. That perseverance paid off two years later when "Rock the Rebel/ Metal the Devil" became a massive hit, charting to number one in Denmark and outselling the likes of Britney Spears and Bruce Springsteen. Charting number one was an accomplishment, being the ï¬rst and only metal band to ever do so in Denmark was yet another inauguration of Volbeat into the historic archives of music. 2007 was a vintage year for Volbeat-they opened the Roskilde Festival (one of the ï¬ve biggest annual music festivals in Europe ) and hired Thomas Bredahl following the recording of "Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil" as a replacement for Gottschalk on guitar.
Looking back, Michael remembers, "It was really crazy, we were suddenly all over the radio, we had this hit called "The Garden's Tale" and you know, we toured a lot with this record, and the venues and halls got bigger, the crowds got bigger and suddenly we were performing for thousands of people".
The news quickly spread that there was something infusing the European metal scene with a new kind of melodious adrenaline and the fans, critics and industry pros were reaching a fevered pitch.
As if this wasn't enough, Lars Ulrich, founding member of metal giants Metallica, got bored and started asking questions about what was the big fuss in Denmark currently and everyone's lips whispered the same answer "Volbeat".
Volbeat got the opportunity to play in front of Metallica and James Hetï¬eld joined the growing fan club as well, telling Michael after a show, "I heard you translate some kind of Elvis metal...I really like it!"
So much so that all it took was an exchange of cds at a release party, and a few transatlantic phone calls and Volbeat suddenly found themselves opening for Metallica on two world tours.
In 2008, Volbeat released their third album and ï¬rst album with guitarist Thomas Bredahl, "Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood" which topped the Finnish Album Chart straight after its publication. That year also saw Volbeat touring in the US with Nightwish and playing to 400,000 of their closest fans at the largest open air festival in Europe, Przystanek Woodstock.
It was a legendary combination of all the characteristics of a new age in heavy metal music and the reigning kings of metal and Volbeat brought to the stage an onslaught. Taking all of the pre-conceived barriers and shattering them with a thick, massive sound, distorted amps, unmitigated guitar solos, insistent rhythms and vocals that escape categorizing, Volbeat continued to thrust themselves front and center and they haven't stopped since.
With the much anticipated 2010 release of "Beyond Hell/Above Heaven" which continues the storyline from where "Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood" left off, Poulsen notes, "it's different but still holds true to the Volbeat style-We have fast, slow and mid-tempo songs. We still blend different styles of punk, rock'n'roll, rockabilly, metal, heavy metal, thrash metal, and country." Michael Poulsen has also revealed several of the guest musicians on the album stating "I'm very proud to have these ï¬ne gentlemen with me, since they inspired me a lot for a long time." Guest performers include such legends as, Mark "Barney" Greenway (Napalm Death), Michael Denner ( Mercyful Fate/King Diamond), Miland "Mille" Petrozza (Kreator), Henrik Hall - (Love shop (harmonica)),and Jakob Oelund (Taggy Tones (slap bass)).
With a relentless 2010 touring schedule across Europe and in the US, (including such stops as the Download Festival and joining Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer for Sonisphere) Volbeat is still as uncompromising and vigilant as they were when they ï¬rst started… their matchless sound is the result of a band with the guts to push musical boundaries, the undeterred individuality often not seen in the musical landscape, and a genuine artistry and talent.
A talent that is anchored by an indeï¬nable style and attitude that taps into your inner rebel grabs it by the jugular and takes it for a ride down a new highway... headed straight for an anachronistic reverberation that puts a much needed new spin on music today... modiï¬ed for a linear race to the top.
- Kim Thore
Taken from the Official Website of Volbeat