The article was originally written by Rae Amitay.
Since the 2006 release of their first album, Captain Morgan’s Revenge, Alestorm has been simultaneously delighting, confusing, and impressing audiences around the world. Their third collection of pirate-themed metal, Back Through Time, was recently released in Europe, and will be available in the USA on June 14th.
Rae Amitay was fortunate enough to interview the deeply funny and incredibly forthright lead vocalist / keyboardist Christopher Bowes, where he discussed Bal-Sagoth, booze, recording budgets, and more.
MetalReview: If you could pick a few words to describe the creative process behind writing/recording Back Through Time, what would they be?
Christopher Bowes: Writing: Furious hacking away at a laptop while stuck on a tour bus somewhere. I seem to do my best songwriting while bored out my skull on tour. Recording: Immense boredom and insanity fueled by cheap German alcohol and microwaved TV dinners. We don’t have the budget to be creative in the studio!
MR: So what’s the recording budget like to create a pirate metal album?
CB: Somewhere between four and five figures. I won’t go into specifics, but it’s enough money to pay for a nice studio and some session musicians to come in and play real brass and string instruments. It’s enough money to get us through a bizarre month in the studio while living on microwaved meals, more importantly.
MR: How has Alestorm built upon the pirate theme since the first album? Where do you think you’ll go from here, in terms of future releases?
CB: Maybe we’ll become a punk band, maybe we’ll build upon the extreme metal side of things. Not quite sure. I’ve always wanted to sound like Bal-Sagoth, but I don’t think any of us have the technical ability to do so.
MR: What’s your favorite Bal-Sagoth album? Have you ever met Lord Byron?
CB: Their second, Starfire Burning Upon A Bunch of Stuff [Starfire Burning Upon the Ice-Veiled Throne of Ultima Thule] is probably my favourite. I love the bit in the title track after a couple of minutes, where it all stops and this huge heroic keyboard riff comes in. It’s probably the most heroic piece of music known to man. I wish one day I could do something like that. I met the whole band once back in 2002 when I was a little sprog, and got them to sign some CD’s. I was very shy and everything, it was so cute. Byron is a strange man, he needs to stop playing with his Legos and start playing more gigs instead!
MR: If you could say anything to metal elitists who call Alestorm cheesy or gimmicky, what would you say?
CB: Metal elitists are a rare breed of people found only on the Internet. I don’t think I’ve ever met more than one or two of them in real life, even at grimmer-than-grim black metal gigs. So what I say to them is – keep posting away on your internet forums, I’m sure one day someone might give a shit what you think! We know what we do is stupid and retarded. And we’re quite happy to be touring round the world doing it, thankyouverymuch.
MR: If / when you guys run out of swashbuckling themes, do you think you’ll start incorporating more Scottish influences?
CB: There’s some lass across the road who plays the bagpipes very loudly all the time, and it drives me mental. I don’t think I’d want to have any of that sort of traditional Scottish guff on the album. It’s mad kinds of cheesy.
MR: I’ve found Scots to be very divided when it comes to this subject. What’s your opinion on the movie Braveheart?
CB: Ehh…. pass. There’s a statue of William Wallace on a hill in Stirling, Scotland, near where he did all his epic fight-y stuff. There was a time a few years ago when people would go there and buy loads of Mel Gibson memorabilia. If that doesn’t say something for the cultural state of my nation, nothing does.
MR: You guys seem to have a love for the drink, and I’m sure this has made for particularly memorable tour stories. Care to share a favorite?
CB: I once met a homeless guy in Vancouver, and he and I tried to break into a skyscraper because we were convinced that our bass player Gazz [Gareth Murdock] had been taken hostage inside it. We couldn’t get in so I just decided to piss all over the door, until a security guard came along, so I ran away and left the homeless guy to his fate. I’m a really nice guy.
MR: Alestorm is touring with Kamelot soon. What are your thoughts on Roy Kahn leaving the band?
CB: I’ve actually got a bit of a hard-on because he’s been replaced by Fabio Lione, and I’m a massive Rhapsody (of Fire) fanboy. I’m gonna become his best friend and get him to come and sing “Holy Thunderforce” on stage with us! I totally can’t wait.
MR: You’ve traveled the world and likely met many interesting people. To end our discussion and answer the question of many a male fan, what city/country has the most attractive wenches?
CB: America is full of babes. Sweden is full of babes. But I think that Brisbane in Australia has the ultimate babe ratio. That place is awesome. Not that I’m a big dreadful womanizer or something!
So there you have it. Brisbane, Australia is the ultimate babe destination, and Alestorm’s frontman isn’t a fan of Braveheart. On a more serious note, if you want to see Chris and his crew in all of their reveling splendor, check out their tour page and see if they’ll be setting sail to a city near you!