I don’t really remember how I found them… I think I was reading some worldwide rock music article back in 2008 or 2009 and it mentioned this rock band out of Denmark. It was the name that caught my attention. “VOLBEAT“. Like the volume of the beat, or maybe some badass Danish word for “High Volume”? Either way I wanted to find out more, so of course I hit up youtube. From there I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough, dude.
I soon started secretly throwing in tracks here and there on my show (A big ‘no no’ in radio. You are really never supposed to mess with the playlist, but I believed in this band and music enough to risk my job if necessary). I remember the first time I rolled “Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood“, the phone lines lit the fuck up like a Christmas tree. That’s something that doesn’t really happen to often anymore. A few weeks later I filled out a national radio/music poll. One of the questions asked was: “What band do you feel that should be played on heavy rotation in your format that isn’t getting any attention”?. I didn’t even have to think about it. I answered: “Volbeat from Denmark. If you arent playing this band on your rock station, you are robbing your listeners from one of the coolest new bands out there. I guarantee results instantly with them”. A few days later I got an email from some big market jock/pd telling me that I was out of my element and I didn’t know what I was talking about blah blah blah.. I wish I would have saved the email so I could write him back.
Anyway not long after, Metallica announced a tour in which their opening band would be, you guessed it, Volbeat! They stopped in Boise, Idaho, and killed it!! I had finally made contacts with their promotion/record company in Europe and set up phone interview when the band returned home. My first interview with Michael Poulsen (below) is when the band returned from their Metallica tour. Michael called me all the way from his home in Denmark.. It was 3 a.m for him.
After the interview, I rolled a two Volbeat songs back to back, and once again the phones went crazy. I saved a bit of audio to send back to their European management company of their potential here in the U.S. Here is the reply I received:
Subject: Sv: RE: Michael – Volbeat
Hi Shawn, good to hear. I heard the mp3 you sent Steve and it’s spot-on “evidence” of the potential out there for Volbeat. I played it to the international marketing dept in Berlin on Friday and they were impressed. Can we catch your show online?
It wasn’t too long after U.S record labels and radio stations did start taking notice. The band had left a mark opening for Metallica, and were set up to do a national tour. And guess what? Missoula would be on that list! I was floored when we got the show booked, and the event company gave me an my show the “Presents”. They had heard of my support of the band, and what the name “Rockstar Radio™” could bring to the table to help sell it out. Of course it didn’t hurt to have Scott Ian and “The Damned Things” opening either! I remember as soon as I announced the show, Missoula went completely apeshit! This was by far one of the biggest highlights of my career. The band had only booked small venues in large cities, and Missoula was a huge risk. As it turns out, we were probably the safest bet.
After that show, nothing was the same. The band had stamped a giant VOLBEAT footprint in Missoula. You could have just put every album on repeat over the airwaves, and not one listener would have complained. That show was honestly one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. So many things came together to make it such an amazing experience. The bands, the city, the station.. It was even Michael’s Birthday!
Even with the bands stopping in cities 10x the size of Missoula, we were still by far the best crowd of the tour. Even Scott Ian agreed:
That tour was a huge turning point for Volbeat. They released a new album, and scored a U.S record deal. But most importantly, Rock Radio started taking notice. They were even invited to play at the Annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards in Los Angeles. I was on the Black Carpet to score interviews with the bands, including Volbeat:
Volbeat was creeping onto the airwaves across the country, and rock fans couldn’t get enough. (Who would have thought, right?!) It wasn’t soon after that the band put together a Summer tour with Cold. Once again the “Rockstar Radio™” name was to be given the “Presents” on the event. Only this time it was going to be an outside show, with about 1000 more tickets to be sold. And since I had been such a huge supporter of the band, It was going to be on my Birthday!!
But then a wrench got thrown in the gears.. for me anyway. The company that owned the station that I worked for (96.3 The Blaze) decided that my way of doing radio didn’t fit the direction they were going and let me go. Without my support and me hitting the streets and airwaves to promote the show, it quickly had to be moved to a smaller venue due to lack of ticket sales. That didn’t effect the performance of Volbeat though. That band can play for 50 people one night and 50,000 the next, and always deliver an incredible show.
Being a part of this bands success, no matter how small it really is, will always be one of the biggest peaks of my career. From watching a rock band in Denmark that nobody in the U.S knew about, to scoring their first #1 rock song in a few short years, I know rock bands like Volbeat still have a shot out there when they have support of fans. SUPPORT ROCK ‘N ROLL!