When Volbeat announced that Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano would not just be producing their fifth album, 2013’s Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, but joining the band, eyebrows were raised.
Did the shredding, ESP-wielding beanie aficionado fit with a band whose stock in trade is fusing metal with 50s rock ’n’ roll and rockabilly?
Clearly, yes - …Shady Ladies was a hit, reaching the top 10 in the US album charts (the first Danish act since Aqua, no less) while the album track Room 24 was even nominated for a Grammy award.
So with Caggiano now firmly in the fold, fans wondered if new album, Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie, might continue the heavier vibe that’s brought them global success, but singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen wasn’t sweating expectations for album six - he just took his time.
“I decided to stay at home for half a year and write,” he explains. “I took my time to get the details right and just followed what I had in my heart. I wasn’t thinking too much about whether I needed a rockabilly song or a metal song or a country song… it was more about getting into the essence of Volbeat.”
Tapping in to that essence, however, required a change of plan…
“I was originally supposed to continue the story of the previous album,” Michael reveals. “But then when I got into the mood, I just sensed that was not the direction I wanted to go in. So I just started from step one again.”
Step one was The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, the album’s opener and lead single - a foot-stomping riffathon that Michael describes as “a signature Volbeat track” - but the other songs sprang forth from a more unfamiliar place.
“I was sat down with a guitar and the melodies just started flowing out of me, and I was like, ‘What’s going on here?!’” Michael recalls. “I looked at the guitar and noticed that it was tuned in E - we almost always tune in D! But it gave me a lot of space to work with the melodies.”
If the tuning wasn’t the Volbeat norm, Michael’s gear choice is rigid - recording was done with the Gibson SG and Marshall combo he describes as “like putting on the right pair of shoes”, and that’s it.
It’s a stripped-down approach that carries over to the studio sessions - something that contrasts with the mindset of the band’s newest member…
“John [Larsen, drums] and I, we can do a record in three or four weeks and then we’re done,” he notes. “Rob is more of a studio guy than we are. He loves it - if we don’t pull him out, he’d still be in there now!”
Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie is out on 9 June via Spinefarm Records.