Alestorm's Chris Bowes talks pirates, chips and having sex with Kangaroos

What is the deal with pirate metal? Alestorm Keytarist Chris Bowes tries to explain...

Too many bands take themselves far too seriously; fortunately Alestorm don’t fall into this category, and the increasing popularity of ‘pirate metal’ seems to indicate that metal-heads feel the same way.

So why opt for the pirate metal genre?  Alestorm vocalist (and keyboard player) Chris Bowes puts it very succinctly: “Babes.  Babes love pirates so we’re pirates and we love babes.  We’re influenced by all the nonsense folk metal bullshit but we make it cool…a lot of these kind of bands take it all a bit too seriously and they all sing about their pagan bullshit, and that’s a load of rubbish, so we just sing about killing things and drinking other things”
I'm very relieved that he doesn’t conduct the interview in a pirate accent.   Although he might be wearing a puffy shirt and eyepatch; you just can’t tell these things over the phone…

Chris is getting revved up for Alestorm’s whirlwind six day tour of Australia, promoting the new album Back Through Time.  They kick off the tour on May 10th in Perth. 
Chris says “We came through last year and it was great.  I think the whole reason this tour was booked because basically we came out last year and were given a chance, and it was such an amazing success that promoters said ‘Holy shit! You’re coming back next year’…it was amazing so we’re going to be back and it’s going to be fucking awesome. We did a couple of gigs last week [in Germany]...it was grand and it was good fun…we’re just really looking forward to getting to Australia.  We’re flying from London to Amsterdam to Singapore then to Perth, and then we play our first gig the next day after arriving, then it’s a gig every day for the next six days.  I think we’ve got a total of something like 15 flights in the space of one week to get around the world and play six shows.  That’s what it’s all about. “

I’m guessing the guys will just have to drink through their jet-lag…

The album Back Through Time is released on 3rd June and according to Alestorm’s Facebook page: “…it’s an epic adventure through piratical badassery in 11 tracks, with more drunken singalong anthems than you can shake a stick at. There will be songs about midgets. There will be songs about Wisconsin. There will be songs about travelling through time to kill Vikings.”   Er…OK…so what can we expect?

"A lot of the time we’ll play crappy support slots where we get to play for 20 minutes but since we’re headlining in Australia I guess it will be 90 minutes or so.  Anything longer and we start running out of songs and people start getting bored.”

So what are the main influences on Alestorm?  And please don’t say rum and treasure and parrots…

"Symphonic, epic nonsense.  Right now my favourite band is Bal-Sagoth (English symphonic black metal band).  They don’t really do much these days, which is kind of depressing - bunch of lazy arseholes!  But they’re worth a listen.  They’re really epic and where we get most of our influence from.  Epic nonsense”

In July Alestorm will play the (relatively new) English metal festival Sonisphere which is being headlined by Metallica.  Chris is still quite blown away by the fact that they’re playing there; “Sonisphere just turned up two years ago, all of a sudden with huge bands. It came from nowhere and it’s fucking on.  We’re looking forward to playing it.  It’ll be one of the biggest things we’ll have played ever so it’s going to be cool”

Alestorm describe themselves as ‘the world's second best True Scottish Pirate Metal band’ so I have to know; who is the first? Apparently it’s Rum Ahoy – “A really grim, underground pirate metal band” according to Chris.  But what about Swashbuckle? ““They’re American.  They’re not true pirates”

Ooh!  If Swashbuckle ever hear about this there’ll be trouble on the high seas…

So with all this tomfoolery, what happens if any of the band want to do something a bit more…well, serious?  Won’t the silliness of Alestorm be an albatross around their necks? Chris is adamant it won’t be an issue.

"We’ve got a lot of friends who are ‘serious’ musicians and they all think it’s cool.  I’m sure one day when this all this falls apart or we get bored of pretending to be pirates then we’ll do something more serious but it’s not going to get in the way.  Nobody really cares…some of the fans might say 'Oh no, it’s the end of the stupid band’…some people get all ‘emo’ about music”

Back Through Time is the third album so after the tour what’s next?

"We might leave it a couple of years before doing the next album.  We don’t want people to get bored of hearing us over and over again so we’ll probably give it a rest for a bit.  Maybe do some side projects or some bullshit like that.  Maybe just have a sleep for a couple of years?”

I agree; professional sleeper sounds like a pretty sweet job.

So what tourist bullshit will Alestorm indulge in?  Apparently Chris wants to have sex with a kangaroo… We get into a discussion about cultural differences between Scotland and Australia, and I have to explain the expression ‘drinking piss’.  No Chris, it doesn’t mean consuming your own urine, although that would be a pretty pirate-esque thing to do.  I also have to explain the difference between chips and hot chips, although Chris makes it clear that he is a massive fan of both. 

I’m glad we got that one cleared up.

The guys are looking forward to abusing the free bar on the plane trip to Australia and you can be sure there’ll be lots of pirate-based mayhem going on during the tour - you can check out the tour dates and album release on Alestorm’s Facebook page.  I’ll leave you with the little known fact that Chris’s favourite pirate is that well known buccaneer Indiana Jones
Alestorm; a little bit silly but a lot of fun.