VOLBEAT GUITARIST ROB CAGGIANO TALKS ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM, COACHELLA, AC/DC AND MUCH MORE...
Luke 'Loki' Milne
First of all, I'd like to wish you all the best with the upcoming release of 'Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie', which is out on June 3rd. What would you say were the driving inspirations behind the content of the album, and how does it develop on the material of previous releases?
"Volbeat as a band is constantly evolving, I think that's really evident in the song writing, the structure and the overall sound of the records. I feel like we're constantly honing our skills. Even though I'm the newer guy in the band, I think I speak for the rest of the guys as well [when I say that] with the new record, we went in there and tried to put the best batch of songs together that we could... that's really all we ever try to do!"
The lyric video's been out for a while now, but the official music video for 'The Devil's Bleeding Crown' was released just last week. Could you talk a little about the work that went into recording the video?
"We did the video out in Denmark. Somewhere in the countryside, in the middle of nowhere!" [a brief discussion emerges between the people present in the room, which results in a general agreement that nobody can remember exactly where the video was shot!]
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"It was this old, dilapidated house – really gritty and grimy-looking inside. I think it fits the vibe of the song and the vision perfectly. It's cool."
Speaking of 'The Devil's Bleeding Crown', I'm a huge fan of the track and for me it feels like a really strong foot for you guys to lead with and introduce the album to the fans – but what's your favourite track on the album, and why?
"Oh! It's hard to pick a favourite track, y'know? I'm so close to it, having worked on it for so long now. 'The Devil's Bleeding Crown' is definitely one of them. 'Mary Jane Kelly' is another one of my favourites and 'The Loa's Crossroad' is too. I just think it's a well-varied record, there's a lot of different stuff on there; from the melodic side, the heavier side... and there's some punky elements as well."
This is your second studio release with Volbeat since 2013s 'Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies'. Now, originally you were called in as a producer for the album, but you ended up joining the ranks of the band as a result of the chemistry you had with the band during the recording process. Is there anything that you felt you "learnt" while working on 'Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies' that you made a conscious effort to change or tweak this time around?
"I just think we all know each other better at this point. Having done all the touring that we've done and having been in the band for a few years now... it just helped with the overall comfort level, y'know? I think what it mainly does is that all of our musical instincts get aligned and we're all on the same page. In other words, if we're working on a song and something doesn't feel right, we all know it. It's not like one guy says 'oh that's fucking great' and everyone else thinks it sucks. Everyone knows it doesn't feel right, and vice versa; If something's working, it's working."
You've recently announced that Kaspar Boye Larsen will be joining Volbeat as the permanent bassist. Could you give a little insight into how this decision came about, or the process involved?
"Well that's an interesting story. I wasn't in the band back then, but Kaspar actually did a tour with Volbeat years ago... a lot of people don't know that. I don't really know why that happened, what the reason was, but the guys already had that relationship with him. Kaspar's a great guy, a great bass player.
"When the whole thing with Anders went down, we basically made the record with no bass player. I played all the bass on the record, which is fine, I do that all the time. I say that just because I've been working on a lot of records over the years as a producer - if it's a band like The Damned Things, I played all the bass on that record as well.
"But the bottom line is that in the rehearsal room, pre-production and the stage(!), we had no bass player, so it was just me and Michael – very guitar heavy. But we had an offer to play Coachella, this killer festival in the States. We put in a two-week tour based around that, and Kaspar came in and we did some rehearsing with him. But in the rehearsal room it's hard to tell how he's going to be onstage, 'cause you're not performing in a rehearsal setting, you're just going through the songs. Everything changes when you're up onstage, but we did that two week tour and he really proved himself, and everything seems to be working."
As you've just mentioned, you've just got back from your US tour. Performing at Coachella must have been a great experience...
"It was our first time playing Coachella, it's a massive festival in the States and it's... I don't want to say 'cool', but it's a very revered festival. For us it was interesting, 'cause it's not your typical rock festival, and that's what we as a band are used to. This thing was something totally different, as far as the line-up of the bands that are playing. It's so diverse and varied and... eclectic, almost. The fans were different as well, the people that were there."
"I dunno, it's hard to explain. It was more of a party vibe, I guess, than everyone being there to see the bands. I didn't see a lot of band shirts out there. But it was great, for us it was a great experience, I feel like we played in front of a lot of people who've never heard of us before, as well as our fans. It was kind of a mixed crowd."
At Coachella, you must have seen Guns 'n' Roses playing with Angus Young, what were your thoughts?
"We actually didn't see that. We had to leave the site two songs before that happened! But... I don't feel like I missed anything!"
Leading on from that, have you heard much of the new Axl Rose/AC/DC combination? What are your thoughts?
"Yeah, I don't understand it. I don't get it. Brian's actually a friend of mine, I just worked with him. I got to record him on a track I produced, and he sang his ass off! And this was recently, a few months ago - he's singing on a record from this guy Jim Breuer, a comedian in America. Brian came in, he sang his ass off. He told us something about his hearing but at the time it didn't seem like a really serious thing, but maybe it was. I really don't know.
"But this whole thing with Axl Rose and AC/DC, I mean... it's not the band that everyone loves. It's not the AC/DC that I know, but I also think it's weird that they can continue without Malcolm Young. I mean... he was the heart and soul of the band. But I still love them, respect them... I will always love Angus Young, he's one of my favourite guitar players. They will always go down in history as one of the best rock and roll bands of all time."
You're due to start another tour through Europe in just a few week's time. How do you guys keep ahead of the game when you're flying around all over the place from gig to gig, the studio and meetings like this?
"That's a good question! I think we're all pretty conscious of how we treat ourselves. I'm probably more hard on myself than anyone else in the band! I try to eat right as much as I can, I know everyone else in the band is on the same page with that. Sleep is very important too!
"I've been doing this a long time now, I'm kind of in a – I don't want to say a 'routine' – but I'm in a groove with this stuff. I'm so used to this lifestyle, living out of a suitcase. I also think it's suits me, it suits my personality. When I'm not on tour, I go crazy! When I'm at home, I stay in hotel rooms, because I like feeling like I'm doing something!"
What's your personal goal (or even your joint goal with the rest of the band) for Volbeat's future? How much further can you take the band?
I knew you'd say that!
"I mean, we wanna take it as far as we can take it, y'know? We're very proud of this new record and we just can't wait to get back on the road and start playing these songs for the fans. Hopefully we get to hit some markets that we didn't hit on the last album cycle, like South America. We want to get back down to Australia again... can't wait to play the UK again. We're gonna just hit it really hard and work out asses off. We love what we do, but you're probably gonna get sick of us soon!"
Do you have anything you'd like to say to your fans and following out there?
"Yeah, our new record comes out on June 3rd - 'Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie', pick it up and hopefully we'll see you guys at a show real soon!"
Luke would like to extend his thanks to Rob for his time, and to everyone involved in the arrangement and execution of this interview.
Volbeat will be touring a number of locations across Europe, starting with Germany's Rock Am Ring festival.