I sat down with Rob Caggiano, lead guitarist of Volbeat today, and as he sported his vapor cigarette filled with Kentucky Bourbon, a smoked vanilla and toasted almond flavor, which is stored in a whiskey barrel for three months, he spoke with me regarding his thoughts about the current Volbeat tour. Volbeat originally formed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2001 and has had multiple gold and platinum albums in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden and Austria. Now they are winning over the US with their originality and their distinctive sound. Though Rob was not one of the original members of the band, the chemistry between him and the other members is as if they’ve been together from the start. Rob started producing for the band about 2 years ago but what was in store for him was an amazing opportunity that would lead to the hell raising tour that he now finds himself an active part of every night. After the interview, as I watched the concert tonight, my second time seeing them on-stage, I was once again in awe of their ability to entertain so vividly, so completely, even when accommodating their younger fans in the audience AND their parents.
Interview with Rob Caggiano Of Volbeat
By Leslie Elder Rogers
Metal Exiles: Let me start by asking a simple question? How are you enjoying this tour so far?
Rob Caggiano: The tour is awesome. It has been phenomenal from the first show. I just think it’s a really great package since all these bands are so different, and somehow it all works and I think it’s a real treat for the fans.
Metal Exiles: Volbeat is co headlining what is arguably the best tour of the fall. What brought this together?
Rob Caggiano: I think Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch, as far as the concept and idea of that tour has been thrown around for a couple of years now. It’s just been a matter of the timing and right now it just makes perfect since for this to be happening. As far as HellYeah, we’ve all known those guys forever. I’ve been touring with Chad since I started touring, with my first band and when he was with Mudvayne. So yeah, we love Chad, we love Vinnie Paul and the band is killer. They’re really an awesome addition to this package. They’re really bringing it every night. It’s awesome. Nothing More is just a really cool new band that’s making a lot of noise so it just makes sense.
Metal Exiles: How do you think Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch complement each other?
Rob Caggiano: I think simply because we’re so different musically. I don’t know, I think there’s just a good balance of everything for the fans out there. They have their thing. They have their sound and their approach to their music and we have ours and I think it works as very well as a show.
Metal Exiles: Considering the differences in the bands, do you feel Volbeat is winning over a new legion of fans each night while catering to 5FDP’s fans?
Rob Caggiano: I think the crowd is kind of like a mix. There are definitely tons of Volbeat fans out there as well as Five Finger fans. It seems like they’re almost one in the same a lot of time too. The fans that are into this kind of music are connecting with Five Finger, they’re connecting with Vobeat, and with HellYeah and Nothing more so like I said, it works really, really well. Of course there are people in the crowd that have never heard of Volbeat or maybe never seen the band live and I definitely know we’re winning them over.
Metal Exiles: The single Warriors Call was just certified gold. Do you feel that this is a middle finger to those who feel that heavy music doesn’t sell well anymore?
Rob Caggiano: Well, there are a lot of middle fingers out there right now. This tour is one of them. You can’t say rock is dead and then have 10,000 people show up in an Arena. That’s crazy.
Metal Exiles: That one statement made by Gene Simmons has surely sparked a lot of controversy whether taken out of context or not. Everyone is standing up saying, “Screw that, that’s bullshit, rock is definitely not dead”.
Rob Caggiano: What I think he meant by what he said was that the industry is just completely different now than it was when he was coming up. Obviously record sales being the main thing. The music business and the industry is just changing. It’s morphing into something completely new and different and we’re in the middle of that right now, but live music, merchandise and publishing and all that stuff is still really going strong so the music business AND rock and roll is still VERY MUCH ALIVE!
Metal Exiles: To stay on that, Volbeat has slowly climbed their way, album by album, to the arena status they now hold, building the band name like the way bands used to do. What are your thoughts on the old school way your band has done things?
Rob Caggiano: That’s the only way. That’s the real way. I’ve personally always done stuff the old school way and Volbeat has as well, ever since they started the band. It’s been blood, sweat and tears, and a lot of hard work. Now it’s paying off. It was never about chasing a radio song or radio hit. It was never that mentality at all. We do what we do. We love what we do and we’re going to work our fucking asses off until other people love it too. That’d kind of what the work ethic is with Volbeat and I think it’s amazing; it’s great.
Metal Exiles: Where does Outlaw Gentlemen stand in your achievements as a producer?
Rob Caggiano: I’m extremely proud of this record. I had a really great time in the studio making it and it was just a blast from beginning to the end. That was the crazy thing is that I was asked to be the new guitar player shortly after we started drafting. That in and of itself changed it dramatically because I got a chance to look at it from not only a producers perspective, but also now, how am I going to put my stamp on this record musically as a guitar player. It just opened up all these doors for experimentation and we’ve had a lot of fun.
Metal Exiles: Was it a hard decision to go back to play guitar, now with Volbeat since you’d left Anthrax to produce?
Rob Caggiano: No, it didn’t take me long to decide at all. I love the music. I love Volbeat. I’ve known the guys for years and we’ve all really good friends. We’ve been having such a good time from the day I jumped on board.
Metal Exiles: When you came to Denmark to produce the album what was the status of the material and what did you contribute right off the bat?
Rob Caggiano: The first thing that happened was I sat down with Michael to do a pre-production session to try to figure out what was going to be on the record; what songs were finished and what songs weren’t. He was just giving me all these different ideas. There were a few tunes that weren’t totally finished yet and we ended up collaborating together and co-wrote a few things and the songs came out great. I think that created the chemistry as we set the tone, or set the stage so to speak, for what was to come a couple of weeks later when they asked me to join the band. I think that’s really what happened. As a record producer, I’ve made a ton of records over the years and getting creative and collaborating with artists is a very common thing as a producer so I didn’t really think anything past that at the time.
Metal Exiles: In what ways were things done differently from your procedures with Anthrax to Volbeat? Being more specific, in the music that you create, what do you do differently with Vobeat that you didn’t with Anthrax?
Rob Caggiano: Talking from my perspective and my role, with Volbeat for me, I’m being creative. There’s tons of guitar playing and I’m just having a blast. Not to say I didn’t have a blast playing for Anthrax because of course I did. We achieved some amazing stuff and I’m very proud of my time with them but my role was very limiting and limited. I played the solo, cool, I love guitar solos. That’s what I do, I’m lead guitar player, but there’s definitely way more to me than that and it just feels really good to me to be able to express that right now.
Metal Exiles: Considering Anthrax and Volbeat are different sonically in certain ways, did you have to change your rig at all and if so what are you using differently now in the studio and live?
Rob Caggiano: My rig is exactly the same, there’s just more of it and way louder. I have my own sound and my own thing and it just so happens that it fits very well with the Volbeat sound.
Metal Exiles: One Anthrax question: Worship Music is possibly the best Anthrax album to be conceived to date. How do you feel about going out on that album?
Rob Caggiano: I feel really good about it. That’s another album that I’m really proud of and just being in the trenches from start to finish with that record and going through what we went through as a band, I’m really proud of everyone involved. I think the record speaks for itself and it is a really strong album.
Metal Exiles: You guys have done some big tours as well as the big festivals. Where does Volbeat go from here?
Rob Caggiano: Is that a big picture question?
Metal Exiles: Yes, definitely a big picture question.
Rob Caggiano: Well basically we’re going to finish up this tour the end of October and then go to the UK in November. Then things wind down. We’ve been working so hard on the road that we really haven’t been home at all. It’s been really full on. It’s going to be the holidays and family time and then next year we will start getting into creative mode and start figuring out the new record. We’re supposed to be going into the studio somewhere around August. It’s too early to tell what kind of direction we will take with the new album. One of the cool things about Volbeat is that there are no rules. The sky is the limit.
Metal Exiles: Can we expect to hear Ring of Fire (Sadman’s Tongue) tonight because I’ve seen it on some prior set lists and not on others?
Rob Caggiano: It’s a staple in the Volbeat set and we play it every night so look forward to it.
Volbeat website: http://www.volbeat.dk/
Buy Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/outlaw-gentlemen-shady-ladies/id621603570
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