The Mass Appeal of
August 3, 2020 by Kreig Marks
If you put the influences of David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Mick Jagger in a petri dish to create the perfect Rock n' Roll front man of this decade, well, that's what you'll find in Michael Poulsen, lead singer of Volbeat. He is high energy and the fans are drawn to him and the band.
Michael hasn't always had it easy with circumstances in his Rock life. In 2017, while touring with Metallica, Poulsen's girlfriend gave birth to their daughter two months early. Michael was unable to be there for the birth of his daughter, yet he cancelled a show, hopped on a plane, and two days later met the love of his life. The next day, he was back on a plane and landed just in time for the band's next show on the tour.
2019 was a great year for Volbeat. They enjoyed a successful U.S. tour with Godsmack, and got a lot of radio play on SiriusXM. Looking forward to 2020, the band had big things planned. Another U.S. tour to promote their new album, "Rewind, Replay, Rebound" was inked. Promoting another version of their Volbeat Rum, aged up to 15 years, this one being Volbeat Rum III. Then Covid-19 pandemic brought those plans to a screeching halt.
About a month ago, around 7AM in the morning, Eastern Standard Time in the US, I was in my car driving on the Florida Turnpike to my office. The phone rang and it was definitely a number outside of the United States. For some reason, which I never do, I hit the accept button on the media screen.
TRR: Hello, this is Kreig.
PUBLICIST: (In a Swedish accent? "Hello Kreig, I'm here with Michael Poulsen of Volbeat. Do you have time for a phone interview? I'm sorry for the early call. I know we had scheduled an interview many months ago and had to cancel. I apologize again for that.
TRR: (At Tru Rock, we've learned to juggle a lot of different things at once, so I slowly merge over to the side of the road, and made sure to be very far away from the traffic). These South Florida drivers are a bit strange behind the wheel. Sure, I've got about 20 minutes if that'll work for Michael.
PUBLICIST: Yes, that would be great. Again, I apologize for this. (puts Michael on immediately)
TRR: No worries. Let's talk, Michael.
MP: Hi, Kreig. This is Michael. I hope this is not an inconvenience for you. It's about 1pm here, so it's probably pretty early in the morning where you are. You're in Florida, correct?
TRR: Yep. About 20 minutes North of Fort Lauderdale. No worries, at least you didn't call and prank me, like Peter Frampton did a few months ago when I also had to pull over, ha.
MP: I read that interview. That was pretty funny.
TRR: Yep, that's Peter. He has a great sense of humor.
MP: It seems like it. He's such a phenomenal talent. Great songwriter, incredible guitarist. Well, I hope I didn't wake you up.
TRR: Not at all. It's 7:15 in the morning. I'm actually in my car on the way to the office.
MP: Are you sure this is an OK time to speak?
TRR: No worries, I'm far away from any traffic. So, Michael, what's going on in Denmark now with the whole pandemic taking over the world?
MP: Well, I'm sure it's a lot like what you've been experiencing, along with everyone else. Cancelled shows, staying home a lot, catching up with family and friends; although it's often from a distance. I'm watching a lot of shows and movies on television. The band, we've been writing a lot of new material, too. So, in a way, it's been a good thing, because it's made all of us slow down and look at life differently.
TRR: I know you and the band had a big tour scheduled for the United States that had to be postponed because of the pandemic. How difficult was that for all of you?
MP: You know, whenever you have to cancel a show, it's a big deal. Yet, in this situation, it's not about us, it's about the safety of everyone; the band, our crew, and all of the people who come to our shows. We would never want to put anyone in an unsafe environment. The show will go on, eventually, that's a given. What's not a given is that there will be some people who won't be able to go to our next show or to the movies, or be with their family or friends, because they lost their life to this illness.
TRR: It's awful. How has your country been dealing with the pandemic?
MP: Fortunately, it hasn't been as bad here as it has been in other places, like Britain, France, Spain and of course, in the United States. We've all been very careful, my family and the band, to avoid big gatherings. I think most of the people here in Denmark have been safe, and it's paid off. We're fortunate to not have had a huge pandemic like in other parts of the world.
TRR: Let's move to a happier topic. Tell me about Volbeat. You know, we had you scheduled for an interview almost two years ago, and it had to be cancelled in the last minute. Next thing we know, you guys were all over satellite radio, and on tour. Congratulations on all the success.
MP: Thank you. Yeah, the past few years have been a blur. With the band, the tour for Rewind, Replay, Rebound, and becoming a new dad.
TRR: Yes, congratulations on that! I read about how that happened, with you being on tour with Metallica when you got a call that your girlfriend was having the baby early.
MP: Yeah, I was in the middle of the tour and got the call. I ended up cancelling one show, hopped on a plane, and got to meet my daughter two days later. Unfortunately, I wasn't there for the birth. Then, I was back on a plane to finish the tour. It was a crazy few days there. I'm fortunate it all worked out and that everyone was safe and healthy. We weren't expecting our daughter's arrival for a few more months, so I thought being on tour would be OK.
TRR: What was it like the first time you saw your daughter and held her?
MP: Magical. Man, it was magical. And now, with this whole pandemic, I've been able to spend a lot of time with her. So, there is a blessing from this madness.
TRR: I know that feeling. How are you keeping busy with the band now?
MP: We've been writing more material and keeping in touch with our fans through social media, and hoping this pandemic ends soon so we can get back out there and be on stage and do what we love; which is performing live, and being with our fans.
TRR: Through your singing and performing, it's obvious that you are a fan of Elvis and Johnny Cash.
MP: (laughing) You think so?
TRR: Absolutely. But, when you're on stage, you are you. There's no denying that. The influences are there, obviously, but there was only one Elvis, one Johnny Cash and now, one Michael Poulsen.
MP: I love both of those guys. They were and are a huge influence on me growing up, and I love that Rockabilly sound. My dad was always bringing home lots of records, and that's what really got me interested in music. I loved those records. My dad was also big into 1950's Western type shows. I miss him. He died in 2008.
TRR: Did he get to see you perform, to see Volbeat?
MP: Oh yeah. He was a big fan of ours, probably the biggest. He was very proud. I'm glad that he got to see and experience Volbeat.
TRR: That's very cool. He sounds like he was a pretty cool guy.
MP: He was. He was also a big influence on my songwriting. Not just from the music he introduced me to, but from who he was.
TRR: I heard that your song "Light a Way" from your Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood album was played at his funeral.
MP: Yes, it was. It was written with him in mind.
TRR: That's awesome. I'm sure he was smiling down on you. The Volbeat sound is very identifiable. Rockabilly on steroids.
MP: LOL. Haven't heard that one yet. I like that. Yeah, with Volbeat, we've taken that and upped the Rock level, and I think it's worked to our advantage. I've heard from a lot of fans that, they grew up on Elvis and Johnny Cash through their parents, or the older fans say they were fans of them, growing up. They tell us they really like how we bring some of that Rockabilly sound into some of our songs, and throw in the Hard Rock grooves. But man, there was only one Elvis, and only one Johnny Cash. To be mentioned in the same sentence as them, as a singer, is the ultimate honor.
TRR: I understand you are also a huge fan of Iron Maiden.
MP: Oh yes, since I was a kid. My favorite album of theirs is Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Man, I listened to that every day. I still love it.
TRR: Great album. "The Evil That Men Do" is one of my favorites.
MP: It's just a great album from start to finish.
TRR: What about Volbeat? What is your favorite song that you've written?
MP: Hmm. That's a tough one. Can I say all of them, to be politically correct?
TRR: Your choice.
MP: You know, it's really hard to put a label on one single song we've written. I'm proud of all of our songs. After being together for 20 years as a band, there's a lot of songs we've written, and a lot of good miles on all of them. I'm going to say all of them. I really get energized when we do "How About You." What's your favorite Volbeat song? Am I putting you on the spot?
TRR: Nope. I'll answer that. In no particular order, "Sad Man's Tongue,"" A Broken Man and the Dawn," and "Leviathan."
MP: But, out of those, which is your favorite?
TRR: I'd say "Sad Man's Tongue." I like the Rockabilly feel of it, but how you rock it. Straight out of Johhny Cash, yet Volbeat style on that one.
MP: Yep! You hear it, huh? Folsom Prison. "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die (singing the words)" Damn, Johnny was cool.
TRR: You guys have been together for a long time, so how has the band's sound evolved over the years?
MP: I'd say we've remained pretty consistent to our sound. Our lineup has changed over the years, but, like a fine wine, I think we've gotten better over time. Having all the experience in writing, playing our instruments, and being on stage is a lot. I think we've maintained the high level we've always strived for.
TRR: Being on stage a lot. You guys are notorious for being Gigaholics.
MP: (laughing) Gigaholics. That's a new one. Can I use that?
TRR: Be my guest.
MP: Well, yeah, we've done a lot of shows, I mean A LOT! When we started out, we tried to get as many gigs as we could all over Denmark. But, Denmark is only so big, so we had to go to other cities, countries, you name it. And we had bills to pay! But, let me tell you, I loved and love every minute of it. And these days, in this industry, you have to tour. Album sales are very few. The paycheck is in the touring. I've got a daughter now! Kids are expensive! (laughing) Thankfully the diaper stage is gone. Those things are expensive, man! And, it seems like they go through a box a day!
TRR: I feel your pain. I have 8 year old twins at home, and two adult kids. That was a ton of diapers. Did you change diapers?
MP: Oh yeah. And, like you said, a lot of them! But, I wouldn't change a thing about that. My daughter is my life. I love her to death.
TRR: The Rock n' Roller who Rocks as a dad! Let's keep that in here.
TRR: Back to Volbeat and the nonstop touring. How does it feel now, being in the midst of this pandemic, and you can't be on the road. How badly do you miss going from show to show, city to city?
MP: I miss it. I miss it a lot. But you know, we were all thrown into this, basically, overnight. I'm not alone in this. We're all together in this crazy mess. Yet, it will eventually end, and then we'll be back out there again. Having the time off from touring the past several months, it's given me the time to really catch up on life, and that's been the real blessing from this. That's one thing I wouldn't change, the moments I get with my daughter and my wife Jeanet.
TRR: Your daughter is now 3 years old?
MP: Yep. And man, she's all energy, and so smart. It's going to be tough going back on tour when this pandemic ends, so I'm getting as much father-daughter time in now.
TRR: What are some other positives that you've gotten from the pandemic besides spending a lot of time with your daughter and family?
MP: Exercise, better nutrition, a lot less drinking. Writing more songs, getting in touch with fans through social media. Maybe we all needed this pandemic to slow us all down. When it first came about and we had to cancel the 2nd part of our Rewind Replay Rebound tour in the states, I was really down. I mean I was feeling almost depressed. I'm so used to touring, and a very hectic life schedule, and this forced me to come to a stop. After a few weeks, maybe a month or so, it was almost like a cleansing and rebirth. It's made me so much more appreciative for what I have. You see the number of people who have gotten COVID and survived, and then you see how many others didn't, and you really feel for their families. I truly appreciate all the moments in life now more than ever. Sometimes life has a strange way of making you stop, look and listen.
TRR: When do you think you'll be back out on tour?
MP: Well, it's really not up to us, it's up to Science, I suppose. We're planning sometime in the beginning of 2021.
TRR: Michael, I know you have to go, and thanks for the surprise call this morning. I'd really like to speak to you again and pick up where we left off. There's a lot more questions I have.
MP: I'd like that. Let's see if we can make it happen soon and not have to wait another two years.
TRR: That would be very cool. Congratulations on your now three year old daughter, your family, and the rest of the tour as soon as it's resceduled.
MP: Thank you, Kreig. This has been cool. I enjoy it when the interviews are more like a conversation.You be safe and we'll be in touch soon.
KREIG MARKS, Editor & Founder, Tru Rock Revival
Kreig Marks' vision has brought us Tru Rock Revival, and now Bandivious.com; to promote new Rock music easily. He is also co-MC for the Tru Rock Show, streaming live on various platforms. When Kreig isn't interviewing musicians or promoting them, he is known as a top national trainer for fitness or neurologic diseases. He has been featured internationally for his KinesioArts training style. He's the dedicated dad of four kids. He has more in the works for Rock music, just watch...