Volbeat still does it for the fans, despite critical reception

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Introduced to American music by his parents, Michael Poulsen of the Danish rock band Volbeat, quickly became obsessed with the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams.

Now his life has come full circle, having found success in the United States with his quartet, which marries rockabilly and metal.

“It’s taken a lot time to get into the United States,” acknowledges Poulsen. “When we were making noise in the U.S. underground, people were asking for Volbeat.”

The band was hesitant to fully tour the United States until it had, what Poulsen calls, a decent distribution deal.

“It would have been tough to go all the way to the U.S.,” he says. “We were not sure anybody would show up. We waited until the distribution got a little better and people could find the record.”

Fans are definitely finding the music now. Volbeat’s song, “A Warrior’s Call” from its fourth studio album Beyond Hell/Above Heaven, was recently certified gold for sales of 500,000 units.

That’s one of the tracks concertgoers will hear when Volbeat performs in Downtown Phoenix along with Five Finger Death Punch, Hellyeah, Killswitch Engage and Nothing More as part of KUPD’s “Big Red Night of the Dead” on Saturday, October 25.

Volbeat has come a long way since its initial club tour with the Finnish metal band Nightwish. The band impressed booking agents and its peers and was recruited by Metallica to open for it in the United States.

“They’re such nice guys,” he says of Metallica. “We’ve been huge fans of Metallica since we were back in school, and are still very much inspired by Metallica. Now we have a really good, close friendship with those guys. It’s very inspiring to see how they work on the road, with the crews, at shows. You can always learn a few things from those old dogs.”

Volbeat will take a break from touring in early 2015, however, to pen a new record.

“I have a half year to write the new album,” he says. “I already have lots of ideas. Everything is going in the right direction right now. It’s really normal that I write around 30 songs. Then I skip half of it and the other half is the half that I’m working on.”

He’s looking forward to pleasing the fans once again—not critics or academy members, who nominated Volbeat for a Grammy.

“I’m not trying to be cocky here or anything,” Poulsen begins. “…It’s really not the reason why I’m here doing what I do. We love being on the road, interacting with fans, giving the fans the power they deserve.

“I’m hoping at least in the future that all the award shows can give a little more power to the fans. After all, they’re the ones who go out and buy the records.”

KUPD’s “Big Red Night of the Dead” feat. Volbeat w/Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Hellyeah and Nothing More, Downtown Phoenix in parking lot between First and Second streets and Washington and Jefferson streets, ticketfly.com, Saturday, October 2 p.m., $40 adv

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