After the success of Captain Morgan's Revenge, Alestorm, those heavy metal scallywags have a new one fer ye, Black Sails At Sunset. The Scottish lads latest collection of pirate tales is a fun metal album; vocalist and keyboardist Christopher Bowes gave some interesting, not to mention humorous feedback, about Alestorm's music, their history, and the popularity of pirates, to Sea Of Tranqulity's Scott Jessup.
SoT: Hi and thanks for your time, how is the new album being received? Like Captain Morgan's Revenge I found it most enjoyable.
Christopher: Cheers dude! Yeah, this album is doing really well so far. It's even got into the charts in Germany, which was a massive surprise. A lot of people have said it sounds a lot more "piratey" than the last CD, whatever that means. I just reckon that the songs are all around better. So aye, we're all very happy with it here.
SoT: There must be a market for this genre; you just have to look how well Pirates Of The Caribbean has done, to see people have quite the fascination with pirates.
Christopher: People just love silly little catchy songs about drinking beer and fighting. Stick in an opportunity for everyone to dress up in stupid costumes, and it's an instant winner, haha! But aye, PotC came about at the perfect time for us... I guess it made piracy cool, just as we were starting to get going. Which was nice.
SoT: How successful was Captain Morgan's Revenge?
Christopher: For a debut album, it did bloody well! The sales of that CD did so much more than anyone was expecting. However, that CD annoys me a bit these days... the keyboards sound dreadful, and there's a lot of production things that I would have liked to have changed. But there's nothing that can be done about that, I guess. At least the fans seem to love it.
SoT: Where do you look for inspiration for your material? Books, Movies other bands?
Christopher: I dunno dude. It kind of just appears from nowhere in my head, haha! I guess I'm inspired by all those cheesy epic bands like Bal-Sagoth and Turisas, anyone with far too many keyboards really. None of us have the slightest interest in historical piracy though; we couldn't give a shit about that, hah.
SoT: Was the recording of a Black Sails At Midnight a long process? The production is really good, no problems cranking this one up, you must be pleased.
Christopher: It was actually horrendously rushed. I started writing songs for the album in September, and we went into the studio for three weeks in November to record. And that's it, pretty much. I wish we had more time to record, there was loads of cool silly bonus stuff I wanted to make. The songwriting process was the worst bit though; I've never been so stressed in my life!
SoT: I suppose your music would allow you to be quite creative, with Alestorm's live shows?
Christopher: Thing is, there's a fine line between being creative, and dressing up like an asshole. We refuse to wear costumes or anything on stage, much to the dismay of our record label. I'm all for having an awesome stage set, with flags and pirate ships and cannons everywhere. But that costs money, money which we don't have. These days, we just go on stage, strip naked, and rock the fuck out. No gimmicks.
SoT: The instrumental "No Quarter" is great, and I imagine a lot of fun to play?
Christopher: Aye, it's actually one of our oldest songs; we've been playing it since back in 2006 when we were called Battleheart. I love the wee sneaky "Pirates of the Caribbean" melody towards the end. We still haven't played it yet as Alestorm, but I think it's the next song we're going to add into our set. At least it gives my voice a break for a while! Singing gets pretty tiring at times, rapes the throat something awful.
SoT: Can you tell us about Alestorm's origins; had you been performing together for long? What made you decide to go with pirate metal?
Christopher: The origins of the band are kinda pathetic really. We got going in 2006 under the name of Battleheart, had 4 rehearsals, 3 gigs, and 2 demos. Nothing else happened until late 2007, when we decided to try and get the band going again and get signed. And it worked. We've always been about pirates, right from the very beginning. The first song we ever played was "Heavy Metal Pirates", which appears on the Leviathan EP. Cheesy fun.
SoT: The performances on your albums are certainly of able musicians, what other groups and musicians do the band follow?
Christopher: Our drummer Ian likes metalcore, the guitarist Dani listens to black and death metal mostly, and our bassist Gazz is totally moist for blackened thrash. And I love avantgarde extreme symphonic shit. So yeah, none of us really like folk or power metal. We're all in the wrong band!
SoT: What are the tour plans now the new albums out?
Christopher: We're on the Paganfest in September in Europe with Korpiklaani, then off to America in November. Apart from that, it's just a couple of summer festivals. A more relaxed end to the year, than that hectic start!
SoT: Whats the future hold for Alestorm, can you see yourselves playing pirate metal for many years to come?
Christopher: Oh aye, we're always gonna sing about pirates and drunkenness in one way or another. And we'll keep on playing until everyone gets totally bored of us. I'm in the process of starting up a new band though, with an astronomical/spacey theme. Something to do in the meantime, to get away from songs about fucking pirates!
SoT: How about doing the soundtrack for the next Pirate movie?
Christopher: Ha, yeah sure why not. Easy publicity that.
SoT: Thanks again, I know I'm looking forward to future releases from Alestorm.
Christopher: Cheers dude!
(Click here to read our reviews ofBlack Sails at Midnight)