MUSIC INTERVIEW: Kaspar Boye Larsen – Volbeat

Great Danes Volbeat brought their ass-kicking, hip-swinging, mud hole stomping brand of distinctive, melodic and thoroughly unique metal-billy to Glasgow recently. They are the band Elvis Presley would have fronted had he hooked up with metal guitarists on a three-day bender with a pair of punk rockers. On their recent run of UK headline shows, Bring The Noise UK sat down with Volbeat bassist Kaspar Boye Larsen on the band’s lush tour bus – their home from home during their tour.

How’s thing today Kaspar, how has the start of the tour been?

It’s great to be on tour and I’m excited rather than nervous. The tour started in Newcastle last night (Monday 23rd September) and we were a little rusty and we had a few technical issues but it worked out.

Do you get nervous before a new tour starts or does it take a few shows to get into your live stride again?

I don’t get nervous any more but the first show I ever did with Volbeat was Rock Am Ring in Germany, so to play a crowd of that size having only ever played venues of 200 before and then that show was also delayed all the time because of bad weather so I was getting even more nervous. I was really nervous that day but now I don’t get nervous at all, more excited.

In continental Europe you guys regularly headline festivals. Here in the UK you have a huge popularity as well but you haven’t been given the UK festival headliner slots yet. Is headlining Download or a UK festival a target?

I don’t know how big we are here in the UK, but it would be nice to get a headline festival shot here as we want to play as big a stage as possible with as many people watching us as possible. It’s always been like since I was playing with Volbeat. The growth of the band has been huge. In 2006 I played a session job with Volbeat in Europe and the band were playing really small crowds. But you always want to expand and I have seen huge growth with Volbeat and I have known Michael (Pouslen) for a long time since he was doing death metal in the 90s.

You also have a death metal background. Was it a big change going from that to the more melodic metal of Volbeat?

I came from death metal in the 90s so adapting took some change. When I first started I still played very much as had in the day with hardcore punk and stuff like that, so I changed it in first couple of tours but now I’m playing with my fingers instead and I feel very comfortable. It is totally different to play this kind of music than playing really fast. It took some time to adjust but now I feel very comfortable.

The new record was the first you had a part in helping write. Are there any songs which have your particular musical fingerprints on?

Some of the songs on the album were taken in fully completed by Michael and didn’t need anything as they sounded perfect. Some others he just had an idea, vocal line, or guitar melody then we worked as a band together a lot on those songs. I can definitely hear my touch on a lot of those songs, but that’s probably because I’m listening out a lot for my bass of course. I had free hands to do whatever I wanted, but Rob (Caiggano) helped me a lot working on the basslines. He guided me in the right direction because I was still maybe a little bit too much hardcore thinking, so I needed just a little melodic guidance from Rob as he has a a great ear for melody and basslines. Three of the songs were actually written in one weekend in December just before we went in to record the album as Michael felt something was missing. So in one weekend he wrote three songs just like that and we recorded them just before New Year – the songs were Pelvis On Fire, Cheapside Sloggers and Sorry Sack of Bones.

Were you nervous releasing the album and wondering if people would like the new songs and your contributions?

I was nervous when the album came out as it was my first album recording with the band so I was pretty nervous about that. We had worked so long on the songs so to send them out was weird and we wanted people to like them, but I think overall the response has been great. As always some people think we have gone too soft but we still like a good heavy riff but it is not just going to be in every song but who knows … maybe the next album will be harder.

What does the next year look like for Volbeat?

We are playing Europe until December 1st and we have a few festivals confirmed and others we are not allowed to say that. I think we are going to play a lot of festivals next summer.

Do you approach a headline show any differently to a support show? Is there any more pressure?

I think there is more pressure because you are the headliner. It is way easier when you play a support slot as you only have one hour and if the crowd doesn’t go crazy then you can always say they are in for the headliner. It’s all up to you when you are the headliner.

How was the recent run supporting Metallica and Slipknot?

We were in the US recently with Slipknot, Gojira and Behemoth which was so different. We initially thought we have to play as heavy a set as we could but our heaviest song is just pop music compared to some of their stuff so we just decided to play what we usually do which was absolutely the right thing to do.

How different is your set tonight in Glasgow compared to Newcastle last night? Do you mix it up a little from city to city?

We change the set more in the beginning of the tour to see what works and what doesn’t so we might change it a little for the next day. But within some shows we find the formula but there are always some spots to work something different in.

We always wondered how you choose from your singles or big songs to put on a live set. Cape of Our Hero is one of our favourite Volbeat songs but in the last six or seven times we’ve seen you live, it hasn’t made the set.

We actually love Cape Of Our Hero and personally it’s one of my favourite Volbeat songs, but it is just so weird that whenever we play it, which we do occasionally, it has a such a weird response to it. I don’t know how to explain it. We would rather play a song the crowd like and sing back and have a good time to, rather than just play a song we like personally but the crowd just kind of stand there and very often Cape doesn’t get a good reaction live.

Interview by: Eric Mackinnon

Eric Mackinnon
Long time journo who sold his soul to newspapers to fund his passion of following rock and metal bands around Europe. A regular gig-goer, tour-traveller and festival scribe who has broken stories of some of the biggest bands in the world and interviewed most. Even had a trifle with Slash once. Lover of bourbon, 80's rock and is a self-confessed tattoo addict.