In a world full of dark and brooding metal music, there is a bright spot full of rum, yo-ho-hos, and pirate-y good times. Alestorm never meant to be the fun guys of pirate metal, but their own, lively spirit made it clear that a more serious tone would never be an honest portrayal of who they were as a band.
“It sort of very quickly became apparent to us that it’s hard work pretending to be serious and pirate-y and stoic and all that stuff, so we just wanted to write dumb songs instead,” vocalist Christopher Bowes says. “We’re a bunch of dorks. We like dorky stuff. It’s easier on our mental health to just write whatever.”
The light-hearted, jovial essence of Alestorm isn’t a gimmick, and it isn’t the band’s attempt at achieving novelty; it’s an extension of the care-free nature that the members bring to the group. Alestorm aren’t trying to seem fun; they are fun.
“I think people try for this onstage image of being tough metal warriors, and then when they get off stage, they have to either hide from people so people don’t find out that they’re not really like that, or they have to, when they talk to fans or whatever, they have to pretend to be this guy,” Bowes describes. “I like to think we’re kind of more relatable than your average band because we’re not pretending.”
With the band’s upcoming, sixth album Curse of the Crystal Coconut, the band maintained their devil-may-care mindset, knowing that it’s probably their greatest ally when crafting new tunes. Alestorm had no great master scheme when penning the album other than to take listeners on a wild, musical ride.
“On this new album we’ve got coming out, there’s a lot of nonsense, absolute, complete nonsense. It’s terrifying,” Bowes says. “Sometimes, we do get caught in a trap of ‘What would Alestorm do; what kind of stuff would Alestorm write?’ And we just write kind of a bland song, but then when we think, ‘Ah fuck it; who cares; write anything,’ this amazing stuff always seems to happen.”
Curse of the Crystal Coconut delivers Alestorm’s particular brand of upbeat shenanigans, but also shows the band embracing new elements of their sound, most notably on the trap-laced track “Tortuga.”
“‘That one was a bit of a risk as a song,” Bowes admits. “You know what metalheads are like. ‘Oh, it’s false metal,’ but it’s basically, I don’t know what you’d call it, it’s got these kind of trap beats and all these electronics and stuff. Oh, that’s going to blow people’s minds. I can’t wait for the world to hear that.”
But Bowes says the band also wanted to make sure fans knew they weren’t straying too far from their pirate core.
“We filmed a little video for it, and we did the most pirate-y video we can,” he says. “We’re all just dressed up in these stupid costumes, and we’re on this tropical island drinking rum and doing all this pirate stuff. We want people to say, ‘Look, it’s still pirates; you don’t have to completely freak out; they’re not just a bunch of sellouts playing god-knows-what anymore.’ It’s a nice sort of contrast, this insane, stupid techno whatever music in pirate costumes.”
The loud and unashamed silliness that Alestorm embrace has brought out the party spirit in audiences all over the world. There’s no vying for praise from the musical elites; it’s just about crafting the sort of music fans can let go and throw a few drinks back to. The band have no qualms about filling this musical role for the people who get it.
“It’s all well and good writing a good album that people say ‘Oh, that’s a good album,’ critically acclaimed,” Bowes explains. “Then, in a year from now, everyone’s forgotten it. What’s the point? As long as a couple of songs stick in people’s consciousness, these just perennial songs, that would make me very, very happy.”
Bowes knows there’s nothing prestigious about the music of Alestorm, but what’s the point of prestige if you can’t maintain your sense of self?
“It’s like when you see all the movies that are nominated for Oscars, and it’s all like these sort of smarmy movies that are usually about Hollywood, and it’s got all these kind of trendy actors, and it’s a shit movie, but all the critics love it,” Bowes says. “It’s just that kind of thing, except for music. Whereas, we’re more like the next Avengers sequel, you know, dumb music for the masses is us [laughs], but guaranteed to never get an Oscar.”
For Alestorm, it truly isn’t about writing the best record. Making fun music is just what’s necessary to put on a fun show. As a band that have built their presence on their engaging live show, it’s all about bringing the tunes that will have fans chanting and dancing along. That’s the main ingredient that makes Alestorm the band they are.
“It’s definitely about the live arena for us,” Bowes relays. “That’s where we do our best work. We write these songs to be played live, so we just wanted to write a lot of fun things that would come across really well live, you know, lots of big choruses and lots of big sing-alongs, lots of good, headbanging moments.”
According to Bowes, Curse of the Crystal Coconut doesn’t fall short in that aspect.
“It’s not the sort of album you sit and go through and say, ‘Ha, yes, interesting key change.’ That’s not the album. That was just it; we wanted to make cool, fun songs.”
Curse of the Crystal Coconut comes out on May 29: pre-order here.