Alestorm: Riding the lager hurricane
by Caitlin Cohen & McKenna Cardwell
What do pirates do when they’re not sailing the seven seas? They play heavy metal music and perform on international tours, of course.
Alestorm, a pirate metal band that hails from Scotland, is coming to the USA on their Super Smashed Turbo Tour this October. Bellingham will be one of the stops and yes; they are bringing their giant inflatable duck with them.
Vocalist Christopher Bowes, guitarist Máté Bodor, Bassist Gareth Murdock, Keyboardist Elliot Vernon, and drummer Peter Alcorn formed the band in 2006 when they were all adolescents. After Napalm Records heard their demo, they were given a record deal. As they became closer to adulthood, their music grew with them.
“Being useless teenagers, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing,” Bowes said. “Eventually (by about the third album or so), we got the hang of being an international touring metal band.”
When Alestorm was first born, Bowes found enjoyment in writing the lyrics and the song writing is what his goal was then. Now, the focus has expanded to the aesthetics and foundation of live performances by bringing more inflatable ducks and foam cannons to the stage.
Although maintaining their pirate image is important to them, they aren’t shy from adding a little variety to their sound. However, what they find truly vital is that their music satisfies their loyal fans.
“I think we’ve always had a mantra of writing songs that people actually want to hear. There’s no room for self-indulgent prog epics in Alestorm. It’s a non stop party with the pirates,” said Bowes. “Of course we use loads of traditional sounding folk melodies, and most of the lyrics are still about stealing ships and drinking rum. Yet, these days we’re not afraid to go into weird non-piratey territories with our music. Anything can happen!”
Alestorm has developed quite a dedicated fan base over the years and Alestorm sure enjoys getting to know their fans. Creating that bond with their fans is not only one of their many unique qualities but also a priority to the band.
Fans dig the pirate theme and attitude which helps keep the interactions interesting and light-hearted. The Alestorm fan base also keeps the band into character which makes those connections fun for them.
“We like being very down to earth people. We don’t really choreograph anything on stage, and we’re not afraid to just hang out and party with our fans. Also, we really love personally insulting people on our Facebook. It’s a nice personal touch that a lot of bands don’t have. I guess that’s worked in our favor over the years,” said Bowes. “We like our fans! Of course some of them are a bit weird, but that sort of goes with the territory of pretending to be a pirate.”
Pirate related topics and lingo are still what heavily influence the lyrics. Now that Alestorm is open to mixing up their sound, their influences are coming from unexpected places.
“Back in the day when we first started out, we’d just shamelessly rip off all the other bands who were making folk metal. It worked for a while but it got kind of boring,” said Bowes. “So, these days we’re more likely to be ripping off a Lady Gaga song and turning it into a party metal anthem without anyone realizing. “
Although not everything about being part of the music industry is perfect, the pros outweigh the tedious bits of making music.
“Every day I wake up and realize that someone is paying me to go on stage and drink beer and shout piratey nonsense at a crowd of people I’ve never met before. It’s an utterly surreal existence, but I love it,” said Bowes.
Alestorm will perform at the Wild Buffalo on Oct. 18. For more about the band, follow their Facebook page or see www.thepiratebay.org.
Published in the October 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine