Interview with Chris, Alestorm – Heidenfest, London, 11th October

Planetmosh: Your new album back through time came out earlier this year. Hows the album been doing?

Chris: It’s sold three Billion copies which is pretty good – it means at least half the world has heard our music.  You’d have thought we’d be richer by now because of that but we don’t get to see any of the money.  So yes it’s been doing good.

Planetmosh: How would you say it compares to your earlier albums?

Chris:  If I was being completely cliched then I’d say it’s darker and heavier, but it’s not.  It’s lighter and stupider.  It’s a good album, I like it very much.  It’s got two more songs, and on this album three songs begin with the letter B.  On the old album only one song began with the letter B so I think that’s progression.

Planetmosh:  You’ve covered the Wurzels classic “I am a cider drinker” on the album.

Chris: Yes we did that, it was a good song. It’s made us very popular in Somerset of all places.

Planetmosh: So the question is…are you a cider drinker?

Chris: I’m a cocktails kind of guy.  I think my favourite drink right now is the Singapore sling, but I drink a bit of scrumpy now and then.

Planetmosh: How did you first become a pirate metal band?

Chris:  Well originally we were a PILOT metal band, we sang about aeroplanes and things and we had this whole theme about flying, but unfortunately the A&R rep at our label had a lisp so when we said pilot metal, he thought we said pirate metal and thats what he told the label and they signed us on the premise that we’d sing about pirates so we quickly had to change our theme, but it worked in the end.  I mean the whole pilot costume thing is not quite as universal as the pirate hat thing, so yes that’s how it all began.

Planetmosh:  The pirate theme fits in nicely with drinking and fighting.

Chris: Yeah we had a lot of songs in our earlier piloting days about drinking and it’s generally frowned upon to get drunk in the cockpit of an aeroplane, you’ve got many lives in your hands and people could die if you make your plane crash, so that was the end of pilot metal.

Planetmosh: Do you ever feel trapped into writing pirate songs rather than bring free to write other stuff?

Chris:  The thing is you can do anything you like really because… we’ve got songs about time travelling and Buckfast and ninja’s and things, and they’re really nothing to do with pirates, but all you have to do is say “It was pirates drinking buckfast” or “pirates killing ninjas” and you’re fins, so you’re pretty free to do what you like as long as you incorporate the word piracy in there somewhere stupidly and people accept it as valid.  That’s good enough for me.

Planetmosh: It’s only 4 years since you signed to napalm
Chris: Is it that long already?
Planetmosh: In that time youve already released 3 albums and toured large parts of the world.
Chris: Small parts of the world too.
Planetmosh: Did you ever expect things to take off like this?
Chris: I would have expected to have played Luxemburg by now, but we’ve not quite reached that stage.  No it’s been stupid it’s been completely stupid.  We had no idea this woruld happen, we just thought maybe we’d play five gigs in Germany and then go home and then go back to normal jobs, but it’s worked quite well.

Planetmosh:  Is there anywhere in the world that you’d particularly like to play that you havent played yet?

Chris: I’d love to play on the Pacific island of Guam. Guam’s always been a favourite of mine.  I’ve actually got the flag of Guam, its like a blue flag with a red border and there’s a device in the middle that says Guam and has a picture of a desert island. Is that not the best flag ever?  It’s kind of captured my imagination.

Planetmosh:  It’s somewhere different and you’d probably be the biggest band to play there.

Chris: “The biggest band in Guam” is our ambition – it’s going to be our tagline oneday.

Planetmosh:  You mentioned playing Germany.  Obviously Running Wild was a big pirate band there till they quite two years ago.

Chris: Yeah, they were.  I’m not really a big fan of theirs.  Not really into the traditional metal thing, I just like stupid music.  I don’t think anyone in the band is even the slightest bit a fan of Running Wild. It’s all just a terrible coincidence.

Planetmosh: Do you ever get time to take a break from writing recording and touring?

Chris:  We’ve been on tour since August 23rd now and we’ve got another couple of weeks left.  Not quite sure what I’m going to do when I get home, I’ve forgotten how to do nothing.  It’s terrifying almost.

Planetmosh: waking up in the same town you went to sleep in rather than being on a tourbus?

Chris: It actually takes a while to get used to that, you’d be surprised.

Planetmosh: How important is the record label in terms of getting tours etc?

Chris: In the beginning they helped us sort out our first couple of tours, but since then it’s our own steam that’s got us where we are.  We’ve got a lot of contacts and friends in high places who can force people to book us on shows which is quite nice, so  we get to infect people with our unique brand of crap.  It’s a good arrangement we have.

Planetmosh: Any plans to play any festivals next year?

Chris: We’ve been bugging our agency to get us onto things like Bloodstock, or Wacken, or even Hellfest in France.  We want to do some more big festivals that we’ve never been to.  We can always ask, but it rarely works, politics and business shit. There’s always stupid reasons for things not happening.

Planetmosh: What’s the best thing about being in Alestorm ?

Chris:  I get paid to drink alcohol basically.  Is that not everyones dream? Get paid to be drunk. “Chris you’re not drunk enough, drink more”

Planetmosh: And what’s the worst?

Chris: The hangovers. Oh god the hangovers. There’s nothing worse than waking up at 6am on a bus with a hangover.

Planetmosh:  You’re currently touring with Heidenfest.  How has that been so far.

Chris: It’s been fantastic fun.  We’ve made good friends with all the bands.  Some of the bands I’ve actually become a fan of – they’re really good bands, especially Skalmold from Iceland, they’re one of my favourite bands right now, I think they’re such a magical bunch of guys and I love their music.  It’s been very good fun, lots of parties.  It’s easy, it’s fun – it’s everything touring should be.  I’d do it again in an instant.

Planetmosh: I imagine it must be a bit chaotic with so many bands touring together.

Chris:  You’d think that but it runs pretty much like clockwork.  Not once has their been a single band over-running or going wrong.  Well apart from today – Arkona the Russian band, didn’t get into the country, they were denied entry at the border.  They’re Russians so they’re probably spies or something (laughing).  So that’s the only hiccup there’s been so far.

Planetmosh: We were told they weren’t playing but not why.

Chris: They didn’t have visa’s.

Planetmosh:  For someone who hasn’t seen Alestorm before, if you had to pick one song to introduce them to the band, which one would it be?

Chris: I don’t know.  Everyone’s favourite song seems to be Keelhauled, from our second album.  I think it’s a pile of shite, I don’t see what people see in it, but yeah listen to that – it’s fast and stupid and you can sing along with it.  I think that’s what people see in it.

Planetmosh: The video for Shipwrecked, the single from the new album, featured women, midgets and alcohol.

Chris:  Those women in it looked really sexy in real life and then they put this disgusting black teeth makeup on and these big frumpy dresses and it was like oh.  Because when they took off the costumes they had the best bums, imagine the perfect bum, it’s nowhere near as good as their bums were.  They didn’t speak a word of English and they thought we were all devil worshipping killers, but never mind.

Planetmosh:  And are you?

Chris: Only on weekends.

Planetmosh:  Ok thanks for your time.

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.