Interview with Rob Caggiano of VOLBEAT
Interview by Mark Dean
I recently had the opportunity to talk with guitarist, Rob Caggiano from the Danish metal band Volbeat. Rob and I discussed Volbeat’s anticipated sixth album titled Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie, set to be released on June 3rd through Universal Music Group. We also discussed his experience with Anthrax, his interests, preferences, touring, and lessons learned in the music business.
You’ve got a new album coming out. With the success of the last album, does that bring a greater weight of expectation for the release of this one?
Yes, absolutely. I think that’s a common thing, though, when you’re in a band and it’s getting bigger and bigger and growing, there’s more pressure on the band to deliver and to take things to the next level with every record. We feel really strongly about this record. We’re very proud of it.
You have used again the same artist with the album cover. How do you select the cover art? Is it a case of the band calling the artist for an album title, or does he submit images to you? How does that process work?
I think it’s a combination of a couple of things. The artist who did the album cover, his name is Carson Sand. He’s been working with Volbeat for a long time now. He has his own style and seems to really be fitting the music. Each album cover basically sums up what the album is about. It all basically stems from the music and songs and the concepts and the characters, the stories, and there’s a synergy there. Everything is kind of working together.
The band has been renowned over the years for doing different cover versions, and there’s quite a surprise with another cover version on there. The band have done several cover versions in the past, but I was really surprised to hear the cover of “Battleship Chains.”
Oh, “Battleship Chains.” Yes, Georgia Satellites. Well, actually, Georgia Satellites did not write that song. Their version is the version that most people know. It’s just a great song. We just said, “Let’s record it for fun and see how it comes out,” and it came out really good, so we put it on the record. The song is only two chords. It’s a really simple song, but it’s super catchy. It’s a great rock and roll song.
Once again, you have adopted the role of co-producer on this album release. Do you have more creative input with Volbeat than what you did previously with Anthrax?
Oh yes, absolutely. This is a much healthier musical environment for me to be in for sure. Now I have been in the band for a number of years now. We’re all very comfortable with each other, and I think we’re all on the same page musically, as well. It was a lot of fun putting these songs together.
Any particular new tracks that you’re really looking forward to going out and delivering live?
Well, we’ve been playing “The Devil’s Waiting Crown.” That’s been in the set for a little while now. That was also the first song we completed when we started thinking about new song ideas. That was the first one that came out, so we’ve been playing that for a little while now. Really looking forward to playing a song called “Gates of Babylon,” and also there’s a song called “The Loa’s Crossroad” on the new record, which I think is killer.
The bands have a very distinctive sound mixing up several musical genres. Were you in the position of being able to pick an ideal touring partner, maybe from a different musical genre, who that would be?
Oh, yes. There’s a record that I’ve been really excited about for a little while now. I’m really into it and I turned Michael onto it as well, but this guy named Nathaniel Rateliff. I don’t know if you’re familiar with his stuff, but the record is awesome. The full title of the band is Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. It’s amazing. He’s got the spirit of old school rock and roll mixed with old school Motown, a lot of soul in his voice, the songs are great. It’s not metal or rock in that sense, but I think it would actually go well with Volbeat.
What would have been the major changes and life lessons that you have learned since you first started playing music back in Boiler Room?
(laughs) Well, I’ve learned a lot. I could talk for days about that. I’m still learning. I don’t know. For me, it’s just all about I do what I do. I’m still the same guy as I was back then. I’m a musician. It’s in my blood. This is who I am, this is what I do. This lifestyle suits me. I wouldn’t know what else to do if I wasn’t playing music. I can’t even think about that. It’s crazy. One major life lesson I guess I can give you is take care of yourself as much as you can. There’s a fine balance of having fun and going a little wild sometimes, but you’ve got to take care of yourself.
You were quoted as saying, “This is an extremely difficult and emotional decision for me,” when you left Anthrax. I just wondered in hindsight, was that a correct move?
Absolutely. I feel like I’m in a much healthier place right now, and it’s much more fulfilling for me as an artist and as a musician. With Anthrax, I loved those guys. I’ve been playing with them for a long. I basically grew up in that band, and they’re like my second family, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve taken my role in that band as far as I could take it. It got to the point where there was a very real glass ceiling, so to speak. I just got bored towards the end there. My heart wasn’t in it, and I just knew I couldn’t go on. It wouldn’t have been fair to those guys and it would not have been to myself, either. I knew I needed to make a change, and yes, it was definitely emotional and difficult. However long that took, that time period sucked, but it needed to happen, and I’m definitely smiling right now.
What gives you personally more satisfaction, producing a great album or actually playing on a great album?
Both. I’m proud of everything. I put a lot of hard work in everything I do, and I usually work on something until it’s something that I can I’m very proud of. This latest Volbeat record is one of those records. The last Volbeat record was also another one. The last Anthrax record I did was “Worship Music.” I was also very proud of that record. For me, a lot of people think, “This guy’s a producer. He’s also a guitar player. They’re two very different things,” and they are, but in my eyes, they’re not. For me, it’s all making music. I love to make music, so whether I’m producing or just playing guitar or whatever the hell I’m playing, it’s all one and the same.
What do you do in your downtime? Do you have any interests, unusual interests or hobbies outside music?
Hobbies outside music? I like to read a lot. I know that’s not the most exciting hobby. I do love and enjoy a good book. I’m into movies. I’m into horror movies. I don’t have any exciting hobbies. I’ve never been skiing, I’ve never been hang gliding, I’ve never been skydiving. I’ve never done anything crazy like that. I’m not that adventurous in that sense. I like my rock and roll, I like my Scotch whiskey, I like a good book, I like good company, good friends. That’s basically it.
Do you still have hopes and dreams?
Of course. If I didn’t, that would be the most boring existence. Of course. In a lot of ways, I feel like I’m living my dreams right now, but at the same time, I still feel like there’s a lot of stuff I want to accomplish. I think I’m always evolving as a musician and as a person.
I see you have lined up dates in the US, but I just wondered when Volbeat will be rolling through on the album promotion through Europe, possibly the UK?
I’m in London right now. Are you talking about when we’re going to be playing? We’re talking about putting some dates together. I’m not exactly sure when that will happen, but it’s definitely happening. We can’t wait to get to England again, to Ireland again. I miss Ireland. I love it there.
I actually saw you with Anthrax play in Belfast, I think the last time.
Belfast. Wow, that was a long time ago.
Yes. I’ve only recently moved to England, so I was just able to have seen you coming through with Anthrax.
That had to be, was it 2003, maybe?
Just a final question. Who would you personally like to sit down and interview?
Eddie Van Halen.
Right, and just talk guitar.
Well, I’d like to talk guitar and a lot of things with that guy. He’s one of my musical idols.
Rob, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much. Congratulations on the album. I have been lucky enough to hear it already, and it’s an instant success with me personally.
Thanks, man. Thank you so much.
I love it. Thanks again.
Thank you, man. We’ll see you soon.
Yes. Cheers, Rob. Thank you.
All right, thanks.