Alestorm to some are an unlikely success story. From their humble origins in Perth, Scotland to a global pirate metal force. They’ve proved everyone wrong to have won the hearts and minds of thousands of pirates across the world. In May, I spoke to keyboardist Elliot Vernon and vocalist Christopher Bowes about touring with Sabaton and Nekrogoblikon, the band’s new album No Grave But The Sea, the dog vocal special addition of the album, the pirate theme, festivals and, of course, rum.
Jack: Hi, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Hello! Doing smashingly well, thank you for asking.
Jack: Last year you toured with Sabaton and Bloodbound, how did you find the tour?
That tour was fun! We completely embarrassed Sabaton by playing an enormous yellow rubber duck on their tank and draped the whole stage with rainbow flags. They weren’t happy but we had a blast!
Jack: You also toured America with Nekrogoblikon and Aether Realm. How did that tour go?
That tour was also wonderful, but Nekrogoblikon enjoyed our duck so it went much smoother. It was fun to tour with a band that has a gimmick as stupid as ours.
Jack: You’re about to release your 5th album, No Grave But The Sea, do you ever get nervous before the album launch?
We don’t really get nervous but it’s always a very frustrating time between the album being finished and it being released – it’s out in a couple of days but we’ve been listening to these songs for months and we just want everyone to finally hear it!
Jack: For me it seems you’ve incorporated more harsh vocals into this album, what was behind this?
Our last album already had a couple of songs with those vocals, which are done by Elliot. We just like to shake things up sometimes and don’t want to be confined to a specific style or always have to sound like a pirate – it’s nice to bring in different influences, while also confusing and alienating all of our fans who don’t really like metalcore.
Jack: What was the recording process like? Does it contain lots of heavy drinking like people imagine it is?
Last time we recorded in Northern Germany where we had nothing to do all day but get drunk… This time we were in a lovely tropical climate in Florida, so we were having so much fun that not much alcohol was involved. I think we’re a bit more professional and serious these days and it’s much easier to sing without a hangover!
Jack: Where do you look for inspiration when writing lyrics?
Most of our lyrics are just stupid retarded things that rhyme, and they usually occur to us when bored on long flights or when sitting on the toilet.
Jack: There are different versions of the album that are available, including a special Mediabook edition with a second CD titled No Grave But The Sea for Dogs… which is the same album except all the vocals have been replaced by a dog barking. What inspired this?
That version of the album was inspired by a dog named Booboo who belongs our live sound engineer Fedge. It was her birthday when we were in the studio, so she came over and had special dog birthday cake and we sang her happy birthday, and then we decided to dedicate an entire disc of songs to her as a gift!
Jack: This is your fifth album, did you ever imagine you’d have done five albums and toured the world with this band?
No absolutely not, we thought everybody would hate the first album and then we’d have to go back to school or get normal jobs. I’m still worried that I’ll have to do that one day, but it seems to be going well so far!
Jack: What has been a career highlight?
It’s always fun to play in the places you’d never get to go otherwise – we’ve played in a lot of cities that would be considered holiday destinations, but we also go to so many places that you don’t even know exist and would never dream of going. The zoo in Boise, Idaho is a particular highlight!
Jack: What inspires you to keep questing?
Cold hard cash.
Jack: Is Alestorm your main work or do you have any other jobs on the side?
Yeah, this is our full-time job. We have quite a lot of time off, but our schedule is so random and chaotic sometimes that it would be impossible to do anything else properly.
Jack: On your recent tours some fans have speculated you’re moving away from the pirate theme due to the large duck, the banana ducks, the dog shirts and Fray Bentos drum kit. Would you say you’re moving away from the pirate theme when performing?
We have been consistently moving away from the pirate theme since our first album. Pirates are dull and boring and there’s only so much you can do with one of those stupid hats and a frilly shirt. We just like having fun!
Jack: You’re finally playing Download this summer, what can we expect from the show?
You can expect a lot of fun and an abundance of ham!
Jack: A lot of people want you to return to Bloodstock, would you like to play Bloodstock?
We always thought we’d like to play Bloodstock, but actually there are a few cool rock/metal festivals in the UK these days and we’re happy with Download and Sonisphere – they’re much bigger and cooler, Bloodstock is more for the serious metal bands and not really as fun for us.
Jack: What are your upcoming plans? Will you be touring the UK anytime soon?
We’re gonna tour the entire planet with this album and definitely do a full UK tour some time around next February!
Jack: Is Captain Morgan the best rum?
Rum is awful, I’ll take an Aperol spritz please.
Jack: Finally, what are your thoughts on the upcoming UK general election?
I think it’s all very silly.