The pirates of metal, Alestorm’s philosophy is one of alcoholic sweary fun on a heaving longboat. Formed in Scotland by vocalist Chris Bowes, the five-piece have been making waves ever since the release of debut album ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ back in 2008. Five albums and countless shows later, they recently weighted anchor at Download Festival. We shared a flagon of rum with Chris for a chat about their nautical approach. Black sails at midnight; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Chris, how are you today?
I’m doing all right. It was a nice little show. It’s nice to be back playing festivals in England and doing all those rock and roll things. Good times.
It was a nice relaxed, mellow chilled set from you today.
Yes, forty minutes of relaxed music in the morning to get the blood pumping! It was a good show. I think people enjoyed it, and we enjoyed it.
Isn’t beer and metal the perfect mix?
People like drinking. It was a bit early in the day, but the people of England are renowned for their alcoholism, so they got into it nice and early; it’s a whole nation of reprobates and piss heads!
A band like Alestorm is built for festival performances, aren’t you?
Exactly. This is where we excel, because let’s face it; we’re one of those sort of daft bands, with very casual fans. So at a big old festival where everyone’s off to see another band, they think; “Oh, I’ll go and see Alestorm, that’ll be fun!”, and sometimes there’s a million people there going crazy.
You played on the Zippo Encore stage today; is that the biggest stage you’ve played on?
The big razor stage, absolutely. Ach no, we’ve done some big, daft shows. Our biggest was probably Graspop festival, like 40,000 people; big old mad nonsense! In terms of the UK, it might be one of the biggest we’ve done. It was a big old time. It’s nice to come and play big shows in the UK, because festivals sometimes neglect us here. I don’t know, maybe they think we’re a pile of shite! We are a pile of shite, but we put on a show!
Will you get the chance to catch any of the other bands playing while you’re here?
No, we have to piss off tonight. But we’ve got another show in a few hours on the Firestone Tyres stage. I think they’re paying us with a free oil change. After that we’re going to head off.
Do you find that you convert a lot of fans with festival appearances?
Yeah. I had a wee walk around the arena earlier, and a bunch of folks came up to me and said; “Oh, I’d never heard of you before this morning, but you were great fun”. So aye, I guess we convert a few people at these sort of things. We’re bringing them over to our way of thinking and drinking.
After five albums, is it getting more difficult to come up with pirate-themed songs?
You’d be surprised at how many times you can rhyme ‘treasure’ with ‘pleasure’.
And a few nice chosen swear words too.
The old ‘Fucked With An Anchor’ song seems to have the right sort of nerve with this country, and people are enjoying our use of ‘fuck’, ‘cunt’ and ‘wank’. We’re becoming that ‘sweary’ band, and I don’t like swearing. I’m a good boy most of the time.
Do a band like Alestorm offer an escape from what’s going on in the world?
Exactly. The reality of the world is a strange place, and I think we are just the perfect antidote to the whole thing.
What’s happening going forward for Alestorm?
We’ve more festivals, and then we piss off to the USA for two months to do the Vans Warped tour, which is a big deal, with all these bands all summer long with 20,000 people every day, which is going to be crazy. Then there’s European tours and South American tours. We’ll see where else we get to.
Do you find that American audiences take to your sound?
Oh aye. It’s a thing where we have a very sort of unique sense of humour, that often doesn’t quite work in the rest of the world. But funny enough, the Americans like it fine, yeah. It’s worse when you’re in somewhere like Southern Europe, where their English is not the best, and everything we say goes over their heads. But we get through it. They all like us for different reasons.
Where do you get your most hardcore audience?
I think Australia is great. They’re a nation of swearers and criminals, so I think we resonate well with them!
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Alestorm are on tour in the USA, Europe and betond until the end of the year. For a full list of dates visit the official Alestorm site.