Liam: So Volbeat recently released, ‘Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie,’ how have you guys progressed as a band from your last album back in 2013 – also the year you joined the band.
Rob: I think Volbeat as a band is constantly evolving. We feel really strongly about this new record and the songs on there. We’ve had some fans saying the project is less heavy, but I don’t agree with that at all. There are a lot of great moments on this record, heavy, melodic; it’s a really well balanced rounding of all the Volbeat sound elements fans are accustomed to.
Have sales for the album exceeded expectations or has modern media changed your release figures and what’s come to be expected?
It was an amazing first week. I think we were number one in 8 or 9 countries – something crazy like that. We reached number 2 in America, which again, is crazy. In the states it’s been going on 8 or 9 weeks on the active rock charts with Devils Bleeding Crown, it’s an exciting story right now. Everything feels really good.
Do you think these figures and success stories metal is currently achieving – with Volbeat, and a whole wave of other metal acts achieving that blend of commercial/critical success – Do you think metal will make a comeback into the mainstream like the late 80’s early 90’s saw?
I personally don’t think metal has ever gone away. The world is too fucked up for the genre to ever really leave us - the nature of the music and what it stands for; what it is. Like I said, we were in the Billboard top one hundred at number 2, that’s special. There are other bands around doing the same stuff, bands like Disturbed who made a great record as well - they’re having huge success with that. I think heavy music is here to stay. I think good records have always stood for themselves, and at the end of the day it’s really all about the music on them.
When you listen to new records, what are the specifics you look out for? Do you, with having a background as a producer; is it vocals, guitars, rhythms?
Nothing in particular to be honest. I listen to so many different styles and genres. A lot of people think I go home and listen to strictly metal and that’s just not the case. I like listening to music that takes me somewhere; I like the musical journey so to speak. I’m really into the new Radiohead record right now, I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s an amazing thing to listen to on headphones, there’s so much cool stuff going on.
Any guilty pleasure artists or perhaps songs out of character on your ipod?
Probably that new Radiohead record to be honest.
You’re a renowned producer and mixer, who’s been the most challenging band or artist to work with?
Cradle of Filth - definitely Cradle. It was a very challenging band to work with. Ultimately I think it was a really positive and great thing. I became a better producer after working with those guys and I also made some really good friends - Danny Filth and I good friends. Overall it was a great experience. I made a few records with those guys. It was difficult – but mostly fun, and always entertaining.
Do you remember a first gig you went to, a first record, music video you may have seen – anything that really changed your life and spoke to you? Something that made you say, this is the field I want to be in?
I had ACDC’s Back in Black as a kid. That was the first real rock record I ever had. It defitely changed everything for me. To this day they’re probably my favorite overall band; Angus is a huge influence on me. It’s interesting I actually just worked with Brian Johnson recently; he sang on a record that I produced. We made this kick ass rock-metal record. That was an amazing experience for me because like I said, that first record that really got me into wanting to be a professional musician and guitar player was Back in Black. Brian’s been my favorite rock singer forever. To have that opportunity was really special.
When you decided to be a professional musician, and told others, how were your dreams met by family and friends?
I grew up in a very supportive family. My dad is a music fanatic; I mean he named me after the singer Bobby Darrin. He’s probably more into music than I am! Every step of the way, from young to now, he was really supportive. I grew up in a household where there was always music playing; from 1950’s doo-wop to Elvis. No matter what it was, there was always something playing in the house, and I think that really helped me reach where I am today.
So you were a part of the Big Four shows when you played for Anthrax, which were recorded as some of the biggest metal shows in history, obviously the two are hard to compare, but are things different playing live show’s for the singular Volbeat?
The Big Four tour was something magical, I’m still so honored to have been a part of that. Obviously I was too young when the term Big Four was originally coined – to have been a part of that second time round was really special for me; kind of a dream come true, to get up onstage with bands like Metallica and jam a song with them. Comparing that to Volbeat, I don’t know if I can. The shows obviously differ in size, but honestly it gets to a point where you can only see so far into the crowd. I feel really blessed to have had the career I’ve had and where I am now with Volbeat, the shows are huge – it feels good.
From the new album, what’s your favorite riff, or solo to play live?
I’d have to say there are 3 favorites for me. A song called Let it Burn, I’m really proud of that solo. The song Black Rose also has a really cool solo. The last song, The Loa’s Crossroad is a great song to play too. The solo actually came from the demo. I tried to beat it in the studio but it just didn’t come out as cool as the original.
What’s the most bizarre moment you’ve experienced on tour?
I definitely have a lot of fond but crazy memories touring with Motorhead. Over the years Anthrax and Motorhead did a lot of touring together and those guys are definitely a trip – Lemmy was definitely the real deal. I remember always being very impressed with just how hard he went. He was awesome.
You’re currently in Odense, Denmark. How special is it for the band to be playing in its country of origin?
Every time Volbeat plays Denmark it’s a really big deal. It’s a hometown show so it’s always very special. I think the crowd tonight’s going to be insane. We’re really looking forward to it.
Finally, when’s the next time you guys will be in Australia. You haven’t been since Soundwave; are there any plans for the near future?
I’m really bummed that the festival isn’t happening anymore because it was one of my favorites. We’re coming to Australia sometime on this album’s tour cycle; we all love it down there.