The Danish band Volbeat may be on the verge of big things. The band returns to the United States this fall to co-headline an arena tour with Five Finger Death Punch.
“We can say that every time we come back to America, the ticket sales are getting stronger, the venues are getting bigger,” singer-guitarist Michael Poulsen said in a recent phone interview. “We actually saw the same things that happened when we were about to get big in Europe.”
That’s exciting in itself, but it’s obvious in talking to Poulsen that what really feels satisfying is not merely having success, but also knowing that it’s happening on the band’s own terms.
“We’re not here for all of the crappy awards and all that (expletive),” he said. “We’re here because of the music and the fans. That’s the main reason why we’re here, so we have a good taste in our mouths every day when we wake up because we know what we’re doing is honest.”
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And that meant building a career the hard way, tour by tour, album by album. Which is exactly what Poulsen was prepared to do and what he expected from the other musicians who joined him when he formed Volbeat in 2000.
And sure enough, Volbeat didn’t just walk out of the studio with its first album, 2005’s “The Strength/The Sound/The Songs,” and become instant stars. Slowly, the group saw its efforts pay off as the albums “Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil” (2007) and “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” (2008) came along.
“We could see how much it was progressing,” said Poulsen, whose band plays Intrust Bank Arena on Monday. “The bars became the clubs and the clubs became some venues and the venues became arenas, and suddenly we’re touring all around Europe and now playing arenas. It’s 20,000 seaters now, and it’s crazy when we look back at it. It’s like what the (expletive) just happened? Now we’re having a pretty good career in America, too. But it comes with a lot of road work. We used to play 150 shows per year. That’s a lot of shows, a lot of road work.”
While Volbeat flourished in Europe, the group also set its sights on making its mark in the United States. And with 2010’s “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven,” Volbeat saw its first album crack “Billboard” magazine’s Top 200 album chart. Sales of that album eventually topped 200,000 and set the stage for “Outlaw Gentlemen” to debut at No. 9 on “Billboard’s” Top 200 album chart. The album has since topped 300,000 copies sold.
“Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies” marked a new phase for Volbeat. While Volbeat was on tour, Poulsen met former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano while he was on tour with his side band, the Damned Things. Caggiano had gotten into producing, and he and Poulsen bandied about the idea of working on a couple of Volbeat songs.
So before Volbeat was set to begin work on “Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies,” Poulsen contacted the band’s long-time producer, Jacob Hansen, to see if he’d be willing to work with Caggiano on the album. Hansen bought into the idea of co-producing, and everything was set to go for the project.
But then something unexpected happened with Caggiano. “We kind of asked him to play some solos on some of the songs,” Poulsen said. “And when we started playing together, it was so easy. It felt right, and it felt comfortable. So it was like I told the other guys. I said ‘Why not ask the guy if he wanted to join the band. It’s so stupid that he should just be (only) in the studio.’”
The album that emerged in “Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies” continues to establish Volbeat (which also includes bassist Anders Kjolholm and drummer Jon Larsen) as one of metal’s most distinctive and accessible bands. The galloping beat in songs like “Dead But Rising” and “Lonesome Rider” betray Poulsen’s love of rockabilly and ‘50s rock and roll, while still sounding decidedly metal.
Meanwhile, Poulson’s taste for 1950s and ’60s pop is evident with the emphasis on strong vocal melodies, hooky riffs and guitar leads that make songs like “Cape Of Our Hero,” “My Body” and “The Nameless One” stand out. Volbeat can thunder along too, as “Room 214” amply demonstrates. (Poulsen had a death metal group, Dominus, before starting Volbeat.)
Poulsen said he has been writing for the next album, but the main focus is still on touring. That includes the co-headlining tour with Five Finger Death Punch, which will represent Volbeat’s fifth American tour in support of “Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies.” Fans can expect Volbeat to cover plenty of ground in its show.
“We definitely try to play songs from every record we’ve done so far,” Poulsen said. “And we’ll probably also try to play something new that people haven’t heard before or songs from our catalog that we haven’t played before or something like that.”
If you go
Five Finger Death Punch and Volbeat
When: 6:10 p.m. Monday
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
Tickets: $39.75, $44.75, www.selectaseat.com