Alestorm has been busy touring and writing new music in 2016. I had a chance to chat with vocalist, Christopher Bowes when they passed through Seattle and see what’s been going on and what’s coming up in 2017 for our favorite pirate metal band. So enjoy the candid and funny conversation. Keep your eyes out in 2017 for a new release from Alestorm. It’s going to be another wild year of plundering for these guys! Photos from their live show are at the end of the interview.
YesterdazeNews: You have been on tour since October, how has the tour been?
Christopher Bowes: It’s been great, great shows. This was our first tour in a long time with no days off. It’s literally been a show every single day and we’re nearly dying but we get through. Plenty of drugs like medicines and cough drops. But the shows have been great.
How have the fans been?
Everyone’s enjoying themselves and having fun. I don’t think anyone has gone home disappointed. I’ve never gone off stage and thought, “We’ve fucked up”, every show I feel has been a really good show.
What’s next for Alestorm after this tour?
After this is done we are going to go home and do the final preparations to go into the studio to work on our next album. We are going to record in January so we will have a new album and new stuff. It’s exciting. We’ve been writing and recording new demos. Everything is actually written, all the music and lyrics are all done. So we will spend the next few months just looking at it and making sure its all ready so when we go into the studio we can lay it all down. We only have two weeks of actual studio time. We don’t have time to be creative, we just have to get in there and get everything recorded.
You guys recently put out a single with your friends from Iceland, Skálmöld. Will the new album be similar to what fans are used to or are you guys planning to depart and head in a new direction with your sound?
Oh no, we’re going far more disgustingly sell out poppy cheesy sing along songs this time. There are so many songs we’ve written for this albums. Exactly 3 minutes long with 3 perfectly placed choruses. It’s disgusting. It’s everything that’s wrong with music instilled into the perfect songs for pirates. It’s fun, good fun. It’s not all just meat headed sing along stuff, there are some very intricate bits. We’re good musicians, we can play stuff.
So you guys are planning studio time, when that’s done are you already looking ahead to next summer and festivals?
Oh yes, already booking up. We are getting some huge shows. Some huge European festivals. This year we didn’t do any summer festivals. Since we did none of them last year, that lets us be open to most festivals this year, they don’t like booking the same bands two years in a row. The plan is to hit as many festivals as we possibly can so it’s going to be a busy summer.
How much of what you guys do is really you versus what’s just part of Alestorm?
I’ll be quite honest, we’re not like the people we are on stage. I mean, sometimes we are, but none of us particularly care about pirates, power metal or folk metal. We all like drinking, but that’s a different matter of course. It’s very much a persona.
So it’s just something to get out there and have fun with?
Yes. Back home we like listening to music, Gareth and Elliot like soundtracks from musicals. I like country music and the other guys like more extreme metal. We always come together and like having fun in the band with lots of silly nonsense going on. It’s a fun band to be in, it’s not necessarily out purest expression of the music from the depths of our souls it’s just what we like to do, to make fun.
Yes and that is what music should be, not so serious. It’s meant to be fun. So how did you decide to blend folk music with the Alestorm sound?
I don’t know, I just started writing stuff and it kind of happened. At the time I was a big fan of bands like Turisas, they already had that folk metal symphonic stuff going on and I also like a lot of proper cheesy power metal as well, bands like Rammstein. It was sort of just combining those things into one. We never felt, “oh we are doing something crazy by mixing power metal with folk metal”, it just worked. Happy melodies that sounded a little bit folky.
What’s the best part about what you guys do?
We don’t actually party that much anymore. We’ve noticed on this tour that tend to sit backstage and have a bottle of wine these days. We’re getting old. Like Peter our drummer, he turned 30 on this tour. Two of us are 30 years old now. It’s ridiculous, we are old people now. Personally, I love to travel. I get to see a lot. I had a great day today, go to go down to “the market” (Pikes Place) and get some crazy food then went up in the Space Needle, had a nice day in Seattle.
I get that. I love to travel so that would easily be the best part for me. Alestorm has a lot of eccentric fans, what’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen on your tours?
A couple nights ago in Spokane, very weird Halestorm was playing the same night too so a bit confusing for fans looking for Alestorm or Halestorm, but we had a couple get married during the show and their wedding vows were Alestorm lyrics. I was like alright and they were like, I now pronounce you wench and master. They were really into is which was great. That was pretty weird, never had that happen before. Someone had an entire wedding themed to Alestorm.
I’ve had a lot of people asking me to ask you guys what the story is behind your giant rubber duck you bring onto your set. Can you tell me about it?
Right, here’s the story. A couple of years ago we were playing a festival on a ship in Germany, something like Wacken Full Metal cruise I believe, anyway were on that ship, out at sea with no sort of internet connection. Just before our show they told us there was a digital backdrop and asked us to give them a photo or graphic to use and they would project it as our backdrop. We didn’t have anything with us and couldn’t download any of our artwork. So Elliot opened his laptop and the only photo he has was this picture of a banana duck that he’d sent to his girlfriend the day before as some stupid joke. We were like, well we have this. So we spend the next half hour making this backdrop of these two banana ducks and the word Alestorm and this neon stuff for a laugh, and we used it. It was great fun, we thought this us amazing lets see if we can get this printed for real. After that we had a print shop make us this huge backdrop with banana ducks and then we thought, let’s go with this and went onto Amazon and found this giant inflatable duck for $200 and thought good money well spent and we bought the duck. The ducks have just been taking over. Earlier this year we were on tour with Sabaton and they have this big tank on their stage and we thought what’s the best way to one up a tank so we stuck the stupid duck up on the tank and it was great.
You guys are Scottish/English yes?
Well that’s an interesting question. I was actually born in England, raised in Scotland and now live in America. Our bass player Gareth and our drummer Peter are Northern Irish. Elliot our keyboardist is English and our guitar player Máté is Hungarian. So the Scotland aspect has been watered down over the years. Gareth is the only one who lives in Scotland now, he actually just recently moved there but he’s not Scottish at all. He’s now our only claim to Scotland.
That’s funny. People have asked me, what’s their favorite thing to do back home in Scotland, but I guess that really doesn’t apply anymore. So where do you call home now?
Tennessee. Nice and warm there. I am up in the mountains area.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
We are pretty blunt with everyone, so there’s nothing hidden from our fans. But I would like to tell everyone to eat more recycled pork. It’s good for the environment. (I will leave that to you fans to decipher).
A very heart felt thank you to Christopher for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat.