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Volbeat — Danish Dynamite

Posted in boom boom magazine, danish heavy metal, danish music scene, metal, Volbeat with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2009 by boomboommag

The Finns have bowed down in admiration in the snow. The Germans have hailed them as über-cool. Their own compatriots have succumbed too. Volbeat are Denmark’s biggest-ever heavy sensation!

Volbeat -- Danish Dynamite
Volbeat — Danish Dynamite

It’s been many years since singer Michael Poulsen and his band played to tiny audiences and slept in flea-pit hotels or on cold trainstation benches while on tour. At the time Poulsen was in Dominus, a  hard-hitting Danish death-metal band that released four albums between 1995 and 2000. Not many people were listening, but Poulsen kept up both the momentum and his faith in the music.

In 2001 he formed a new band, Volbeat, whose heavy sound also reflected his love of ’50s rock’n’roll. One bright scribbler dubbed the band “Elvis metal” – and that’s alright mama, ’cos soon the heartbreak hotel days were behind them, and Volbeat no longer faced being lonesome tonight when they played live.

The band’s 2007 breakthrough album “Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil” was a bona fide sensation that topped the Danish charts and went platinum – something no other Danish heavy metal band has ever achieved. The follow-up, the critically acclaimed “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood”, also made it to the top in Denmark.

Volbeat’s success has also been spreading through Europe. The famously metallic Finns sent the album  right to the top of the charts, the Swedes took it to no.4, and it entered the Top 30 in Germany, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The hard road
All this success may just be the beginning, as the group continue to tour with an intensity that would impress even B.B. King. “We played about 30 festivals this summer, and now we’re touring Denmark and the rest of Europe,” says Poulsen. “If we can fit it in, we also hope to make it to the USA in 2008. We’re on a real roll at the moment – in 2007 we played 103 gigs in nine months. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. When I get home from touring I soon get restless. As soon as I’ve zapped through all the TV channels I start thinking: ‘I’ll go for a walk, then.’ Musicians are like rats in a cage. If you pull us off our wheel, it won’t be long before we jump back on again.”

The singer and songwriter thinks that the lean  years, when they had to fight tooth and nail forgigs and a breakthrough, helped toughen the group’s metal soul: “We put up with a helluva lot. But ultimately it’s helped us. Our success  hasn’t been easy, like winning a competition, but our boyhood dream has been fulfilled. We make a living from playing, and we enjoy it. Who knows when the ship will sail in the other direction…? But even when things do start to turn we’ll just keep on going, ’cos we’ve already tried  scraping rock bottom,” he promises.
As the King sang, “It’s now or never!”

TEXT ANDERS HOUMØLLER THOMSEN
PHOTOGRAPHY NIKOLAJ PALMSKOV

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Spot on Denmark

Posted in alphabeat, boom boom magazine, danish music scene, danske uafhængige pladeselskaber, dup, mxd with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2009 by boomboommag

Marketing music to promote a particular nation? All you have to do is produce some glitzy material, hire   trendy nightclub in the capital city of the country you want to make it in, and then just spoil a mob of party-animal industry types with live music hors d’oeuvres and lots of free drinks. Right?!

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Erase and rewind. If they even remember anything the next day when the hangover kicks in it’ll probably be a blurred mixture of coloured cocktails and a band that was called, err, ‘something or other’. No, a completely different strategy is called for, according to Music Export Denmark (MXD). The organisation has staged successful “Spot on Denmark” events in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany  and France in recent years in collaboration with ROSA — the Danish Rock Council — and DUP (Danish Independent Records Labels).

Instead of trying to force feed industry people with Danish music, MXD tries to engage record company people, managers, venue staff and journalists in choosing what music they’d like to get to know better.

“What’s unique about Spot on Denmark is that we build on a ‘pull’ strategy. It’s the local industry people who decide what we promote in their regions. For example, we invite them to the Danish SPOT festival in Aarhus, where they help decide which bands should take part in Spot on Denmark events in their countries. It stops MXD acting like some kind of omniscient arbiter of taste. Greater involvement helps push the music,” says Thomas Rohde, the head of MXD .

The strategy pays good dividends. Following a promotion in Brussels in 2007, melancholy dreamrockers Murder played several gigs around Belgium, and ended up selling more records there than at home.

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The 2008 promotion in the three Benelux countries also generated a great deal of media coverage for the groups Slaraffenland, Tone and Said the Shark, who have since had contracts waved under their noses for record deals and/or live gigs. “SPOT on Denmark is a good method of building Danish music as a brand. It’s all about drawing the links between the big hits – like Trentemøller and Alphabeat – and Danish music as a whole. It helps up-and-coming Danish bands on their way. In the autumn, when SPOT on Denmark came to Utrecht in the Netherlands, a lot of people told us the hype about Danish music right now is on a par with the buzz that surrounds Icelandic music. Names like Saybia, Mew and Under Byen are well-known among music fans in the Netherlands. The whole of the Danish scene is skyrocketing because the music is associated with quality, excitement and innovation,” says Thomas Rohde, who plans to roll out the SPOT on Denmark concept in several other countries.

Photography: Raw Format
Text: Anders Houmøller Thomsen