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Interview von: arne mit Thomas, am: 11.09.2010 ]

Das vierte Album von VOLBEAT heißt „Beyond Hell / Above Heaven”. Die Dänen um ihren charismatischen Fronter Michael Poulsen bringen in plakativen (Wort-)Bildern auf den Punkt, worum es ihnen geht und was sie inhaltlich transportieren. Das Quartett bringt Klischees verschiedener Spielarten und Schweregrade unterhaltsam und eingängig zusammen. VOLBEAT stehen für mitreißende Heavy-Hymnen, die vor allem zwischen Heavy Metal und Rock’n’Roll entwickelt werden, die aber gleichfalls auch Elemente aus dem Country und Blues integrieren. Wilde Attitüde und relaxte Rockigkeit bilden die Grundlage für den intensiven Sound von VOLBEAT.


Musicscan: After 9 years of playing in Volbeat: Are there still things left to say and worth singing about? How do you stay motivated with what you are doing?

Volbeat: There is always things to sing about. A lot of things happens in the world and in our private lives, which inspires us. Besides that new movies, new bands and new albums see the light of day and that all inspires us to keep on writing music.

Musicscan: Why is music your privileged form of expression as opposed to other artistic avenues? What makes music special in this regard?

Volbeat: Playing music is not a single mans work, so you are never alone. We are four guys in the band. We bring a live crew of really nice people that makes the shows happen. And last but not least the audience play a big part of a concert. Without all these people it would be a pretty lonesome ride and I think a lot of other type of artists have to fight that lonesomeness while working.

Musicscan: Whether you’re going for rock’n’roll or punk: it tends (or is told) to be a youth oriented movement. How do you stay young in the genre?

Volbeat: You dont have to stay young. Its impossible after all. But you can keep your mind young and fresh by trying new ways of writing and thereby challenging yourself to not write the same album over and over again

Musicscan: What effect(s) do you hope to generate through your music? And what makes Volbeat special out of your view?

Volbeat: We all love music and we love what we do. We hope we can make people happy and give a musical shoulder to lean on doing hard times.

Musicscan: Is there something like a main theme or a main idea that runs through all of your music, something that perhaps connects the individual songs you‘ve created over time?

Volbeat: Yeah. There are a couple of stories that have connected songs on different albums. First the story of the Ness family, which have been told on the three previous albums and still could continue in the future. Then theres the Guitar Gangster story that started with a bunch of songs on the last album and which we finish on the new album. Besides that almost all Volbeat songs are tragic lovesongs in one way or another.

Musicscan: Due to the success of your previous records you definitely had to deal with high expectations. How did you cope and deal with these expectations when you were writing and recording Beyond Hell/ Above Heaven?

Volbeat: We try not to think to much about it and focus on writing and working on the album at hand. Guess we would go insane if we had to think about the succes and expectations all the time.

Musicscan: How has the songwriting approach evolved since you started Volbeat years ago? What has taken the music to where it is now? When you were writing the songs for the new album did you have certain issues you specifically wanted to address? Which, and did you succeed?

Volbeat: The songwriting process have pretty much been the same all the way through. Michael is basically writing everything besides a few riffs that I come up with. He normally comes up with music and melodies before lyrics. Then we jam Michael more or less finished ideas in the rehearsalroom or at soundchecks and we collectively change the arrangement if needed. Michael might have ideas for drums, bass or guitarparts aswell or we come up with them ourselfs while jamming the songs. As I see it Michael has grown alot as a songwriter since the beginning and we have all become better musicians, which gives you the updated Volbeat.

Musicscan: A lot of bands change their sound over time, but much to your credit the band has kept the successful sound your fans have grown to love. Has it been hard to stay true to that core-sound Volbeat is known for or do you guys just play what feels right?

Volbeat: No its been pretty easy. We simply use the same studio, same producer, same guitars, same amps ect. Of course everything changes a little over time, but the core of the Volbeat sound is still unchanged. We try not to think to much about what we play and just play whatever we feel good about.

Musicscan: Is it necessary to create a certain distance between you and the music in order to get a better understanding of its inherent quality – what do you think?

Volbeat: Not really. We write, record and play the songs. So somehow we are the music. Its hard to distance yourself from something you created and are doing 24-7.

Musicscan: Do you sometimes feel the urge to write a gentle pop song but then dismiss this idea again, because you think it does not fit the Volbeat aesthetic?

Volbeat: Basically we dont have any rules about what to or what not to play. Every genre is possible, but no matter what we play it always ends up sounding like Volbeat.

Musicscan: Where do you see the line drawn between progressing on what you do well, and completely offering a new direction or sound?

Volbeat: Theres always a thin line between wanting to go different ways and experimenting and then wanting to keep a red line from previous albums. We and our fans want to hear something new and interesting, but at the same time none want the band to change to much. We try to and manage to walk that line.

Musicscan: Do you think there are still genuinely new sounds to be discovered or can modern music basically be said to be a recombination of already existing forms and elements?

Volbeat: Its hard to come up with something that hasnt been done in some way before. What we do is basically blending all the different sources of inspiration we got and that turns out to be pretty original. So for future bands and genres I think we are gonna see and hear some new and ever tried combinations, but I hardly believe something totally new music will come up. After all combinations of the existing is and has always been considered innovative.

Musicscan: And do you think modern information technology will change not only the way music is listened to but also how it is written? Some bands seem to focus only on strong singles nowadays… Do you think it is reasonable to assume that the concept of an album will soon be a thing of the past and people will solely listen to certain songs? Will the songwriting and the music change as well because of that?

Volbeat: Sure IT makes songwriting possible in a totally different way. Suddenly everybody can afford a homerecording studio and everybody can basically release their homerecordings really cheap as downloads. There is a chance that the album as a format will disappear and then we will be back to the 50s, where singles with a bside was the format. Anyway, I think its a little bit sad if the album dies, cause albums forces artists into writing a bunch of songs during a longer period of time and normally brings alot of different songs to the table. To much focus on singles will might destroy some of the diversity that you find on an album. Anyway, only the future can tell...

Musicscan: From being out on the road, what are the things that made the biggest impressions? I'm sure driving to and from a venue almost every night leaves you ample time to sit and think about things and life in general. Unless you're too tired to do so, of course. Do you think being a touring musician has made you a stronger person at all?

Volbeat: Well, its hard psychically and mentally to tour and be away from your family and loved ones constantly, which I believe makes you think a lot and make you stronger as a person. Besides that you learn alot about yourself and others when you are together constantly and enjoy good and bad times together. When the going gets tough the tough get going :)

Musicscan: What do you hope people to take away from Volbeat?

Volbeat: I hope we inspire some young kids to pick up a guitar or some drumsticks and start a band. Besides that I hope that people can use our music for everything from party to getting over hardtimes in their lifes.

Musicscan: Final thoughts?

Volbeat: Thanks to everybody who loyally comes out to our shows and buy our albums. Without you we would be nothing. Hope you all enjoy the new album and see you out there on the road in the fall.