Having made a mark in its homeland and across Europe, the Danish hard rock band Volbeat sees the United States as its next land to conquer.
The fact that Metallica is on the band’s side is a huge step in that direction.
Speaking from Denmark during a recent phone interview, Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen said his band’s connection with the biggest metal group on the planet began about 18 months ago. Volbeat supported Metallica during a show in Denmark, Poulsen said, and he quickly formed a bond with Metallica singer James Hetfield. The two talked music, cars and family before Metallica left, but within months Metallica called Poulsen to have Volbeat perform with them when they returned to Denmark.
“We saw Metallica wearing a Volbeat T-shirt on YouTube,” Poulsen said. “(Hetfield) knew song titles and everything, and I’m thinking, wow, this is crazy. I’ve been a fan of this guy since I was a teenager, and now he knows my songs.”
Two days after that second concert, Hetfield called Poulsen looking to hang out. They did that night, then again two days later, when Poulsen had to call his wife home from work to cook dinner for the two men.
“She screamed when she heard the news,” he said. “It was so weird, seeing James come into my living room and play with my dog.”
When the talk turned to business, Hetfield said Volbeat should tour with Metallica on this side of the pond. A call from a booking agent transformed that talk into action, and Volbeat’s been touring with Metallica for a few weeks now, beginning with an Oct. 26 show in Toronto.
The support helps, but Volbeat might not have needed a boost here. Since forming in 2001, Volbeat has topped the charts in Denmark and Finland while receiving heavy radio play in seven other European nations and performing sold-out shows across the continent. The band’s latest effort, “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood,” puts a metal spin on Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams and other vintage U.S. pop stars.
“That’s all I listened to growing up,” Paulson said. “I just love that type of music.”
That love led Paulson to vacation in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., in February. He quickly fell in love with America, he said, and the band quickly spawned a U.S. tour that began and ended this past spring.
“I was really eager to go over there. It was such a beautiful feeling. I was actually looking for the camera. I thought I was in a movie. I just fell in love with America,” he said.
The current tour, which last through Dec. 12 and includes a handful of headline shows, is what Paulson considers a natural next step for the band.
“In the beginning, only concentrated on playing Denmark. Suddenly, that turned into … Europe. Now we’ve been doing that for a while, we pulled very big crowds,” he said. “Now I think it makes more sense to do the U.S. We knew one day we were doing to do the U.S. It was a matter of timing.”
Paulson said regardless of how his band’s music is received here, he would consider moving to the United States to live — although he was quick to defend his home nation’s history and living climate.
But before any homesteading considerations come up, there’s work to do. He hopes that Volbeat takes North America just as the Viking ancestors of his homeland did, but he knows that any success won’t come easy.
“People can expect a lot of energy at our show,” he said. “We’re so much into people buying tickets, buying merchandise and buying our CDs. We always go out after the show and talk to people. We have a lot of dedication.”
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: Metallica in concert with Lamb of God and Volbeat
• WHEN: 7 p.m. Nov. 10
• WHERE: HSBC Arena, 1 Seymour Knox Plaza, Buffalo
• MORE INFORMATION: Call (888) 223-6000