The massive success of Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch in the last year has led to a co-headlining tour that is built on epic proportions. The lineup is filled out by rockers Hellyeah and Nothing More, and will wind up playing two shows in the Upstate area. I got the chance to talk with Rob Caggiano, the new guitarist of Volbeat, as well as alumni of the bands Anthrax and The Damned Things. We talked about what it’s like to be in Volbeat, and what this tour has in store for the fans.
Jeff Ayers: So the tour started last night Sept. 16, in Salt Lake City, how did it go? How was the first show?
Rob Caggiano: The first show went great, really good. As to be expected though, with any ‘first show’ on a tour like this, there are some kinks that need to be worked out, some technical stuff, but overall it was killer, and a great crowd.
JA: Yea I saw pictures online, that crowd looked insane! This tour is being heralded by the press as the two hottest rock bands co headlining a U.S. tour. Rightfully so, with both bands increasing successes. The response from the fans when you announced this tour must have been incredible.
RC: Yeah, there was a lot of excitement about this lineup, and it feels really good. We are very excited to be on this run, and all shows coming up.
JA: Awesome. Speaking on that a little, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch both have been doing great things for rock, and heavy rock, on the charts and off. Do you have any thoughts on Gene Simmons recent comments about how rock is dead?
RC: He’s been making a lot of comments lately, about [all kinds of] stuff. [laughs]. I don’t know where he was going with that. I saw something on twitter about that, but obviously, rock is not dead.
JA: You guys are a testament that it is not!
RC: I mean, the music business is very different these days, than it was even five years ago. So it’s changing rapidly, and things are different. Record sales aren’t even what they used to be, it’s a totally different landscape right now. That might be what Gene Simmons was referring to, but I don’t know. It is certainly not dead.
JA: Most definitely. So the most recent Volbeat album, Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies, which by the way, is an awesome title —
RC: [laughs] Yeah!
JA: [The album] has done really well since it’s release. You helped produce that album, how was that experience?
RC: It was great. We were in Denmark, on the countryside at a place called Randers, and it was cool. We were isolated in the studio, and totally focused on the record. We had a great team too, Jacob Hansen was also there, and has been Volbeat’s long time producer. I had one of my engineers out there too, Brian Russell, and it all came together. I am really proud of this record.
JA: Cool. You joined up with Volbeat in the midst of recording the album, correct?
JA: How did that come about, you guys all just hit it off in the studio?
RC: I have been friends with the guys for a few years, before I got that call to produce the record, so we get along great. I‘ve known them since about 2010 when they took The Damned Things on tour, and we would hang out every night on that tour. But I got [to produce the record] and we started going over the pre-production, to figure out what was going to be on the record. There were a few songs that were unfinished, and Michael and I started collaborating on few things. The chemistry was really great, and from that first pre-production meeting, it kind of set the tone for everything. A couple of weeks later they asked me to be a part of the band.
JA: That’s awesome. Before you joined up with Volbeat, you pretty much exclusively behind the soundboard for a little bit. Were you actively looking for projects at that time, or did this kind of fall in your lap?
RC: I think people misunderstood what I said in my press release when I quit Anthrax. It was never about not wanting to tour anymore, or not play guitar anymore. It was just about wanting a change, and I just wanted to produce some records while I figured out what I wanted to do next with my career as an artist, as a guitarist. When the Volbeat record came across my table as a production gig, I was like “Wow this is perfect!” I love the band, and always thought we could make a great record together. It was something we talked about on The Damned Things tour, years ago. Everything just happened at once! [laughs] I ended up producing a record and joining the band.
JA: You can’t beat pure serendipity like that though!
RC: Yes! Yeah, totally.
JA: Volbeat as a band is always so busy, since you joined, how many tours have you played with them?
RC: Wow. That’s a good question. Not sure I know that myself. [laughs]
JA: Yeah, I was trying to look online, and it just seems that Volbeat is constantly on tour.
RC: Yeah we are. I haven’t been home at all, it’s crazy. We have been all over the world a couple of times now, and honestly I don’t know the exact number.
JA: That is totally fine! [laughs] It’s great work if you can’t even count all the jobs. Speaking of circling the world though, with all the times you have with Volbeat, and also with Anthrax especially playing on The Big 4 tour, personally speaking, do you have a favorite place to play or return to?
RC: Oh, I have so many favorite places to play. In America, I love playing New York, I love playing Chicago, Los Angeles, I love Europe as well though. Scandinavia is great, and I love Germany. One of my favorite places in the world is Australia, because it’s so beautiful. I love going over there.
JA: Being an American in a Danish band, is there any culture shock?
RC: I don’t know if you would call it culture shock. It’s a little different for me, coming from New York, everything with me is fast paced, because of New York.
JA: Hell yeah!
RC: So I am always in that mode, where as these guys are little more laid back, which is great. We get along great, it’s really cool.
JA: So for this tour, with Five Finger Death Punch, Hellyeah and Nothing More, what can fans expect, are there any surprises in store from Volbeat?
RC: Well if we did have any surprises, I wouldn’t tell you!
JA: Good answer!
RC: [laughs] It is just going to be a great all around rock and roll show. I think the fans are going to be in for a real treat.
JA: Well the tour is going to be making a few stops in Upstate New York, one at the OnCenter in Syracuse on September 23rd, and then at the Times Union Center on the 27th. You being from the Bronx, and being in multiple bands, you have played this area a bunch. Do you like playing around here, any thoughts on Upstate NY?
RC: I always loved Upstate New York. To me, it’s so crazy. You know, coming from the city, there are so many amazing, beautiful places in New York, if you are a city person, you don’t even realize they are there. The crowds are always great up there though. Joey Belladonna from Anthrax, he’s from up there. [Oswego]. It’s cool, I love it up there.
JA: Cool. What’s next for Volbeat after this tour? Another tour? [laughs] Or are you guys going to take a break and write material, or what?
RC: After this tour, we are actually going back to the U.K. That will be the last thing we do for this year. Then we are going to lay low, the holidays will be coming up, and then we will get into creative mode basically.
JA: This tour ends in Vegas, what are your experiences playing there?
RC: Vegas is cool. For me, I have a three-day limit on Vegas. In three days I have to get out of there, because it is crazy. [laughs] But the crowds are really good, and Five Finger Death Punch is from Vegas, so that final show should be completely off the wall.