Recently I had an opportunity to throw some questions at one of the most entertaining men in metal: Christopher Bowes from Alestorm! Check out his thoughts on the new album and other topics below.
Skull Fracturing Metal (SFM): Hi Chris! Congratulations on the new album, “Sunset On The Golden Age”, which is another fantastic Alestorm record! Did you specifically set out to do anything different with this record compared to the prior three albums?
Christopher Bowes (CB): I think just writing cool songs about pirates was the only concern when we started out working on this album! I wanted to make sure it was incredibly catchy, and that it would work in the live enviroment. Since we play so many live gigs, it would be a bit unfortunate if the songs didn't work live. I reckon it's alright, as far as albums go.
SFM: Some new elements I noticed were the death metal vocals in “1741” and “Surf Squid Warfare”, and the rapping in the cover song. Why is it important to add these sorts of elements to your albums?
CB: We kinda came to the realisation that we aren't a folk metal band, nor a power metal band, and so there was nothing stopping us from incorporating whatever styles we wanted into the music. I think that's my favourite thing about this band – we aren't pandering to a bunch of nerds dressed in chainmail and thor's hammers, nor are we aiming for kids in frilly shirts who demand millions of true metal guitar solos. So expect even more genre bending nonsense in the future!
SFM: “Hangover” is certainly one of the more interesting tracks on the record. Lyrically it fits in perfectly with Alestorm, but the original song certainly isn’t well known for many metal fans. What inspired doing this cover?
CB: Basically I was just driving around one day and this song came on the radio – I instantly knew that it just had to be an Alestorm song. I mean, come on, it's so perfect – it's got a catchy melody and it's all about getting drunk. Add a few guitars and a bit of accordion, and it's an Alestorm classic! I really hope a lot of people get pissed off by the rapping!
SFM: “Sunset On The Golden Age” is the first Alestorm album to feature Elliot Vernon on keyboards. Does this free you up to focus more on vocals, or does it allow you to do more interesting things on keyboards because you have two keyboard players?
CB: A bit of both! I'm pretty terrible at playing keys while singing, so previously one had to be sacrificed for the other, in the live setting. Now we can have crazy keyboards all over the place, and still keep them going in the background while i'm singing away. I love the versatility it offers us :)
SFM: Alestorm has announced tour dates up through November at this point, but that mostly covers Europe. Can we expect an Alestorm North America tour in early 2015? If so, will you be headlining?
CB: Yes! We've given up on doing support slots now (unless Metallica or Iron Maiden come asking), so expect to see us hitting North America for a headlining run in early 2015, maybe soon after the “70000 Tons of Metal” festival which we've just announced. Party times imminent!
SFM: One of your upcoming tours is with labelmates and one of my favourite bands Crimson Shadows. How did you guys hook up with them for the tour?
CB: That's one of the joys of having a record label – they practically throw ideal support bands at you for your tour. So it was all Napalm's idea, haha! We've known the CS guys for a while now, having played a few shows in Canada together in the past. Looking forward to some more!
SFM: Now that you’re four albums in, it must be more difficult go about how choosing a setlist. How do you decide your sets these days? Do you mix it up each night on tour? Are there any songs you won’t play?
CB: Most of our songs are terrible, particularly the deep album tracks on our debut. I've never met anyone who actually likes the song Death Before the Mast, so we never do it. We only have like 10 popular songs, and we love pandering to the lowest common denominator, so we just play all of those on repeat! I'm sure there's a bunch of people out there who would love to hear us play Keelhauled 15 times in a night. Weirdos, haha!
SFM: A lot of metal bands tend to prefer playing small club shows to bigger festivals, but Alestorm is one band that strikes me as being perfect for festivals like Wacken and Hellfest because of the sing-along nature of many of your songs. Which type of show works better for you?
CB: They both have their charm – I like to make the show as interactive as possible; having wee chats with people in the crowd and stealing their beer. You can't really do that at huge festival shows, but they totally make up for it with the huge crowds of people singing along. It's a feeling that can't be beaten!
SFM: With your busy touring schedule for Alestorm, will you be writing material for Gloryhammer while on the road?
CB: Hmm yeah, I should probably get round to doing that. A 2nd Gloryhammer album would be fun. Might start working on it soon!
SFM: Bonus question: what is the best non-Alestorm drinking song?
CB: Seven Drunken Nights by the Dubliners!
SFM: Any last words for the fans out there?
CB: Every time you take a poo on a plane, god kills a kitten.
SFM: Be sure to check out and like Alestorm on Facebook!