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Jon Larsen (Volbeat)

Interview with Jon Larsen from Volbeat
by Maria Voutiriadou, Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 27 September 2010, 3:09 AM

If you read my review on the new VOLBEAT album then you probably know that I am fan of this high energetic Danish act. So, a couple of hours before the triumphant performance in Chicago, we met Jon Larsen instead of Michael Poulsen who had to protect his voice since his throat was a little bit sore. But the interview turned to be really cool with the tall drummer who was in the mood to chit chat despite the hangover from the previous night…

First of all, how is Michael with his voice?
He’s a bit sore right now, that’s why he couldn’t do the interview, he has to rest his voice, but he’s doing ok, you know.

That’s fair enough. What about Thomas; will he manage to get here for the rest of the US dates?
Actually, we are waiting for him. He should be here hopefully in 15 minutes or something. We are lucky. Finally, he’s got his visa this morning, so, he’ll join us today.

That’s nice. So, how was the US tour so far?
I think it was going pretty good. There’s been a good turn out, I wouldn’t expect it. New York show was sold out, last night at Flint, Michigan was pretty close to sold out, and today is going very well too. The good thing actually is that there are more people than I could expect, so, first time as headliners in he US. It’s going pretty good.

Do you find differences between the US crowds and the European ones?
No, not really. It seems that’s all pretty much the same. In Europe, there’s maybe a bit normal around the crowd but here all people standing and have their own way to express their feeling. It seems like that the US crowd takes care to each other; if someone go down, then the others just pulling him up. They have seen so many bands here, after all.

You have a new album on the way; what can you tell us about it?
There’s no doubt that you are gonna notice right away that is ‘us’. We recorded it at the same place like we always did, Jacob Hansen is our producer again, but this time we try to put a variety in our stuff, maybe a little more than the previous ones. We have more melodies, more ‘pop’ tunes you could say. On the other hand, you can find a more Metal stuff in here. In a way, it’s kind of a compilation of all our albums in this one.

You have some pretty interesting guest appearances; how can Barney sing with VOLBEAT?
Well, you’ll notice right away that is him. I mean, he is one of the best in what he does and we met him last year, I think it was in a festival and actually, his girlfriend is a huge fan of ours. So, he was forced to listen to us (laughs) and he actually liked some of our stuff; then we talked to Barney and then the idea came up to have a song with him in our next record. Michael asked him about how would he feel about it and he said, ‘sure, no problem’. Michael wrote the lyrics for the song and he sent them to Barney and we got him in the studio for 4-5 hours, he did his vocals and that’s it! We were kids when we were listening to his voice and now, ‘yeah, we’ve got Barney! I don’t know if we could play this song live because Michael doesn’t do that kind of vocals anymore, so, we have to see if we could find someone for the tour, we’ll see. If Barney is available, I’m pretty sure he’ll do this for us, but we have to see.

What about Petrozza and Michael Denner?
The story with Mille is actually the same thing; we met him over the last few years a lot of times actually, especially when we were playing around his home area, Germany, and he came to our show and he likes our music a lot. Again, we just started to talk about it and then the idea came up and he did it. Pretty much the same happened with Michael Denner; we know him for many years, he has a record shop also. So, we proposed him to play in a song for us and he said ‘ok, no problem’.

Did he write also the guitar riffs?
No, Michael did that and when Denner listened to it, he wanted to make some additions and we had no problem with that. So, he did his thing and threw his ideas in the studio and as soon he started to play, you can hear right away that is him! It’s the MERCYFUL FATE guitar and actually when he was plugged in he just said ‘oh, this sounds like when we recorded “Abigail”. Don’t ask how we did it because I do not know. (laughs)

So, the new album is a concept one?
No, not really but there are two of the songs that close the story of the previous one; “The Mirror And The Ripper” and “7 Shots” conclude the story.

What about the artwork? Has anything to do with the story?
Well, the artwork actually has the guitar gangster on the cover with an angel. It depends from which point of view you see it; it has two options, just like the album title “Beyond Hell / Above Heaven”. Michael probably knows more about that.

After the album’s release, will you change the setlist?
Of course. Once we go home from here, we have a few weeks off and then we start all the promotion for the new album with a tour in Europe. Then, we will start the tour on October 1st, and then we go the whole Scandinavia and then main land Europe, Germany and Holland, Belgium.

Belgium loves VOLBEAT; we were actually in ‘Graspop’ last year and you were amazing!
Yeah! Actually, Belgium and Holland are the two countries outside of Denmark that love VOLBEAT so much. Well, Holland was the first one. After Holland and Belgium, we have to go to England for the tour. That’s going to be really interesting. We did London twice and ‘Download’ twice and we’ve never been anywhere else, so, we are curious and anxious too. So, it’s gonna be a huge challenge for us and so far we have heard that people there are waiting for us and are so excited. Newcastle, Manchester and stuff like that and the ticket sales are going pretty well actually.

So, this is my last question, all this success and publicity adds anxiety to you? Are you feeling stressed when you are writing new music?
No, I don’t feel stressed.

Do you have to compete yourself and be better and better?
Yeah, that’s what you do; you have to have that certain competition within yourself, to make it better. But on the other hand, there’s always a very thin line you walk on because if you change and go complete to another direction, you will possibly be hateful for that and if you don’t change, they will hate you for that as well; ask METALLICA about that one! And MAIDEN as well, yeah.

The best way is what? To do what you feel?
Absolutely. Michael has a pretty clear vision of what he wants with the music and instead of doing one, maybe four Metal albums, someone would do it completely different, always small changes here and there. But he knows pretty good what his concept will go for everything actually, to the music, the lyrics, artwork and stuff like that. Of course there is a competition but I’m not sure how much he thinks about it but there is some stress in it, especially when we suppose to record an album in this month and we are not ready with the most parts of the songs. So far, that part actually goes pretty good for us.

As long you feel ok with yourself, it’s nice.
You have to feel ok with yourself. You have to say easily which of the songs you like and if people like it, you have scored; if they don’t like them, well, what can you do about that? We always have been asked from people about how we would know if a song could be a hit. And yes, the answer is ‘we don’t’. For example, “The Garden's Tale” was a pretty long song and it was not for the radio at all, but for some reason people went absolutely crazy on it. We never said ‘we are gonna write a hit single’. We never have and never will because the thing is that if you really wanna do that, it’s gonna happen. If a song becomes a hit, it’s good; but if it doesn’t, another one will become a hit as well. We don’t wanna have ‘a’ hit single, we want all our songs to be loved and favorites by the people.

Did you record any bonus tracks for this record?
Yes, we did a cover song by THE MISFITS, “Angelfuck” but it will be released I think only at iTunes. Maybe will include it as a b-side or something in the future.

The new album will be released in vinyl, right?
Yeah, it will definitely. I’m not sure when, but there will be a vinyl edition. Vinyl always comes later anyway but so far, The CD version will come in four different versions of the album. One with a DVD, one without the DVD, one with something extra and online stuff and all that.

Ok, we can wait. Jon, say whatever you like to end this conversation.
We love to be here, finally! I really like to be in Chicago, this is my first time here. I’ll just wait for Al Bundy, where is he? I hope to come here tonight and watch us (laughs)!


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Edited 17 October 2021

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