Idag, den 2:a augusti, har Volbeats senaste skapelse, “Rewind, replay, rebound” släppts världen över och vi pratade nyligen med gitarristen Rob Caggiano. Det blev ett samtal om bl a nya plattan och några specifika låtar, studioarbete med Bruce Springsteen, Jesse Malin och Brian Johnson och uppväxten i Bronx och hans insatser i skolan:
“I was a terrible student. School wasn´t really my thing. It´s a required thing obviously, but I´d say I was a terrible student. All I wanted to do was music, really.”
Now that you´ve worked with a bunch of Danes for a couple of years, are there any differences that you´ve picked up on when it comes to Scandinavians compared to Americans?
Obviously there´s cultural differences, but other than that… that´s really it. I´ve been travelling and touring the world for a long time and I have friends all over the place, so I´m used to that. As far as the music goes, we´re all playing the same notes and it doesn´t matter where we grew up.
What are the major cultural differences then?
It´s hard to sum that up quickly. I guess I´m used to a ceratin excitement, being from New York and being in Denmark is really laid back. The people are really laid back. It´s cool. It´s just a different speed.
Have you been to Christiania (Freetown in Copenhagen)?
Yes, I´ve been there many times. (laughs) It´s cool. I don´t smoke weed or anything, so I can´t really take advantage of it. They have some really cool shows there sometimes.
What are your memories of playing at a sold out Telia Parken (2017), which was the biggest show in Denmark with 48000 people?
The excitement and the anticipation was really high level. Obviously, it was a home town show for those guys, so it was very hectic. A lot of family and a lot of friends backstage. It was crazy, a crazy night. We had a blast and the show went really well and getting to play with Lars (Ulrich) was pretty amazing too. A really big highlight for all of us.
Tell me about the new album ”Rewind, replay, rebound” How long were you working on it and so on?
We worked on it for quite a few months actually. We spent a lot of time in the rehearsal studio just working on the ideas and the songs and really trying to figure out what arrangements would work and tempos and this and that. We did a bunch of demos too for the songs, which I always think is a good idea before going into the studio. We mapped out like six or seven songs demo wise and it was a really good thing to sit back and listen to to kind of confirm what songs were cool.
How would you compare this album to the other two you´ve worked on?
This is a more diverse record. There´s a wide range of different stuff. There´s extremely melodic and catchy stuff, there´s the heavy stuff, there´s the old school stuff that kind of harkens back to the 60´s. I think there´s something for everybody really.
What´s it like working with Michael (Poulsen) and how do you two usually work together?
We actually work really well together. We bounce ideas off each other really well and that was kind of apparent when we first sat down together a few years ago, before the ”Outlaw gentlemen & shady ladies” record. We just seem to be on the same page musically and it´s working.
I picked three songs from the album that I thought we could talk about. The first one is ”Last day under the sun”, which has a bit of a pop feeling to it.
We´ve played it live twice now, but it went really well. We can´t wait to start playing that one for real. That song came about… I think a lot of that was actually done jamming in the rehearsal room. The opening riff and the verses, we kind of wanted to do something that kind of… you know, I´m very inspired by The Rolling Stones and their song ”Start me up”, those chords were definitely an inspiration for this riff. I kind of wanted to do like a classic rock and roll song basically. When we sped the tempo up a little bit it just had a certain feeling. I wouldn´t say poppy, but I can understand why you would say that.
Second song I picked is ”Parasite”
It´s one of the earlier ones. We actually started playing that song about a year ago. That´s just something that happened real quick when we were on tour. Michael had the idea and we just hashed it out and that was it.
What about ”When we were kids”?
It´s an interesting one. ”Last day under the sun” and ”When we were kids” are two of the songs that I demoed when I was out there in Copenhagen. Those demos, like a lot of the tracks, ended up being the final ones, like all the vocals and a lot of the guitar parts. Lyrically, obviously it´s a bit different for Volbeat, I think and a bit more personal. But also universal and the concept of that, talking about that kind of thing makes people think. Makes me think at least. (laughs)
You grew up in the Bronx. What was that like? Back in the 80´s you always read about that place and how you as a tourist shouldn´t go there.
(laughs) I mean, the Bronx is cool. As with every neighborhood, every place in New York right now, it´s totally different than what it was before. I grew up in… I would say half of the Bronx, half in Yonkers. I went to school in the Bronx so I spent a lot of time there growing up. There´s really not that much to see there, if you´re talking about tourism. I guess Yankee Stadium… (laughs). There´s no real reason for anyone to visit that as fars as sightseeing or anything, but Bronx is cool. There´s definitely a certain energy there that I dig.
I guess when you read about the Bronx it was said that it was a really tough neighborhood. Was that the feeling you had growing up there?
Yeah, I went to school in Fordham and that whole area around there is pretty scetchy, to say the least. (laughs) I actually think Ace Frehley´s from around that area. It´s a little weird. As a New Yorker you grew up kind of smart and wise to that kind of stuff and you learn how to be careful and when to be careful and where to go and where not to go. Of course there´s terrible areas, but there´s terrible areas in Brooklyn and everywhere. Everywhere in the world, even in Sweden.
What were you like in school? Were you a good student?
(laughs) I was a terrible student. School wasn´t really my thing. It´s a required thing obviously, but I´d say I was a terrible student. All I wanted to do was music, really.
When you were a kid, could you pick one album that kind of stands out for you? An album that made you want to become a guitar player?
I´ll give you two. AC/DC´s ”Back in black” (1980) and Van Halen (1978). I was a huge Eddie Van Halen fan. He´s my favorite guitar player. Eddie and Angus are my two favorites.
When you started out playing, did you in any way try to mimic what they were doing?
Not really. I was not that kind of guitar player and I never tried to copy or emulate anyone. With Eddie, if you go to far down that road, you end up sounding like a copy cat. I was really careful not to do that, but the spirit of Angus Young… I feel I incorporate that kind of feeling into my playing a lot. Just the spirit of his playing. Both of those guys really shaped me as a guitar player, but I never tried to copy them.
Have you ever been fortunate to meet them?
I´ve met Angus and he´s a super cool guy. I met him on the ”Stiff upper lip” tour in New York and I talked to him for like 45 minutes. He was trying anew amp that night, I think it was a Wizard amp or something and we were just talking about his tone and he was really into what I thought of the sound that night, which was crazy. He´s a really nice guy and very recently I actually got to work with Brian Johnson. I produced a record (Jim Bruer, Songs from the garage, 2016) and he sang on one of the tracks that I wrote, so he´s actually singing my lyrics, which is insane. It´s called ”Mr Rock and roll”
What´s it like working with Brian?
Amazing! A super nice guy and very professional. This was a few months before the whole thing happened with AC/DC and everything got weird. He was great to work with and hed id his tracks really quick and then he invited us to his house and cooked us an amazing steak dinner.
At a moment like that, do you get startsruck in any way?
I do. It depends on who it is obviously. Usually I don´t, but someone like Brian… the vocals on ”Back in black” are my favorite rock and roll vocals and to be able to work with him was crazy.
You´ve been in the band for six years now. How would you describe those years? It seems like Volbeat is just getting bigger and bigger.
It´s amazing and just the fact that the shows are getting bigger and bigger is amazing. Sometimes it´s overwhelming. It´s a really good feeling and I feeli like the band, as you said, is growing everywhere. Obviously there are some markets where we´re extremely big and there´s some markets that are still building, but we´re up for the task and we can´t wait for this new record to come out and we´re just going to be out there on the road.
Do you set new goals for each record?
I just think that we want to play to as many people as possible and play as many places as possible. I really want to go back to Australia again and we need to go to South America again. We´ve got a UK tour coming up and I´m excited about that. We´re just going to be out there working.
Playing with Volbeat and Anthrax and everything else you´ve done, has there ever been incidents where you´ve played live and you haven´t felt real safe? Security didn´t work or you had too many fans in a small place?
Oh yeah! It´s happened a million times. I´ve played a lot of crazy places and even when I was in Anthrax. The place where Dimebag was shot (Alrosa Villa 2004), we had played there just a few months prior to that. It could´ve been anyone of us, which is a crazy thing. Of course I´ve played scetchy venues and where security was no present at all, but I´m still here.
You must meet some scetchy people as well when you´re out on the road?
Absolutely, but I love meeting the fans and I usually talk to all of them. If they´re outside the bus and they want to chat I´m there for them, but of course I´ve met some scetchy fans. I don´t know if scetchy is really the right word… obsessed maybe… (laughs)
Any fun Spinal Tap moments?
Not really actually. Nothing comes to mind. Other than the usual madness of being in a rock band. ”This is Spinal Tap” (1984) is a brilliant movie because it´s really not that far from reality. (laughs) Just in general it really is.
You worked with Jesse Malin, right? Quite different from Anthrax and Volbeat. How did that come about?
He´s from New York and I´ve known Jesse for a long time. He´s a good friend of mine. A brilliant songwriter. He called me one time and wanted to record a few tracks that he´d been working on. We went into the studio, did that and it came out really good. That was a crazy record because Bruce Springsteen was on that record, so I got to work with him too. Three of the nicest guys I´ve ever met in my life were Bruce Springsteen, Brian Johnson and maybe Jerry Only from The Misfits. Bruce was amazing. He was so professional and so humble and that was an amazing experience for me. It was great.
Are you going to see The Misfits at Madison Square Garden?
I don´t know. I have to look at the dates. I really want to. I saw two shows, Vegas and LA Forum and both shows were great. The sound was a little weird on the first show but LA was killer.
It´s funny that back in the day they played really small clubs and now they´re selling out arenas.
They had a huge influence on a lot of people and obviously Metallica covering ”Last caress” and wearing Misfits shirts and all that stuff…
Final question. You´re home alone on a Saturday night. Which record do you put on?
First of all, I´m never home on a Saturday night. (laughs) Usually when I´m home I´m not really listening to anything metal really. If I do, it´s more the classic stuf like older Judas Priest. I listen to a lot of diverse stuff. Right now I´m listening to Marci, I´m listening to a band called Night Moves that I think is really cool. They kind of sound like old Fleetwood Mac, which is nice.
Do you still buy records?
I actually don´t buy records. I´m a huge streaming advocate, even though I know it´s a little weird. I pay for Tidal, because it´s high definition streaming and it sounds better and a I pay a little extra for it. As a fan of music I think it´s amazing and it has introduced me to so many new bands that I never would have heard of or never would have come across. I really, really like it. It´s definitely the future. I don´t even have a way to play CDs anymnore. (laughs) I´m always on the go. It´s the way of the future. It is what it is. For me being on the go all the time, streaming is the only way to do it.
Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen
Foto: Therés Stephansdotter Björk, Björn Olsson