It's no accident that Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen often delivers his lyrics in a trademark bellow that recalls the bass-heavy, authoritative tone of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley — they're two of his formative idols. To that end, early on in Volbeat's career Poulsen actually had the opportunity to "play" Elvis for an evening, when he fronted a band made up of some of the musicians who had performed and recorded with Presley in the '50s and '70s.
"That happened after our first record," Poulsen recalls. "A few of Elvis' old musicians were touring around Europe together, and I knew the guy who made the arrangement for the show in Denmark. He asked me if I wanted to go onstage and sing a couple songs with the band, and, honestly, I thought he was joking. I said, 'Fuck you, man! I don't touch the King's work!'" He laughs. "And I turned the offer down. But later on I called him up because I said, 'I have to do it or else I will regret it for the rest of my life!' I ended up singing a few Elvis songs, like 'Suspicious Minds' and 'Don't Be Cruel.' And I was an emotional wreck — after the show I went straight to the toilet and cried like a fucking baby! Because being there onstage with Elvis' musicians, it was too much."
And yet, the King's men saw something in him. "After the show, Bob Moore, who was Elvis' bass player, came up to me and he said, 'You know, Michael, you're a really good singer. I'm not kidding you — you could make it big in America!'" At the time, however, Volbeat had yet to ever tour in the U.S. "But I guess he knew what he was talking about because now we're doing very good there!"
These days, Volbeat are doing "very good" not only in America, but, it seems, pretty much everywhere else in the Western world. "You know, when we were trying to get a record deal in the beginning, nobody seemed to want to touch Volbeat," Poulsen remarks. "It was like, 'What the fuck is this?' And of course, later on all those labels were knocking on our door, like, 'OK, now we get it!' And now we tour all around the world as headliners, and do what we love to do. This is not something we could have ever foreseen, but it's something to always remember, how we got here. We pretty much left all doors open, and we never painted ourselves into any corners. And it became what it is now. And what it is now, is just Volbeat."