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Interview conducted November 07 2009
Interview published November 13 2009

Those bandy heavy metal pirates known as - Alestorm - describe themselves as being - "True Scottish Pirate Metal". However, they have more in common with Tankard, than they do with Running Wild. They are currently on their latest quest, touring the US for Heathenfest.

I caught them in Cleveland, and boarded their bus for a rollicking good time. I then prepared myself for a bit of that famous ol' spiced wit and keen whole sense of humour, I leveled my head, and accepted my dearth before their mass inquisition. I really enjoyed speaking with the band as a collective unit. Set sail and conquer, sally forth....

MettleAngel: Well my lads this all happened so fast, but I am honoured to be here with you to discuss the life of Alestorm.

  • Dani: No worries mate.

MettleAngel: I will try not to burden you will all the pirate question B$, but I am curious, who is youor favourite Scottish pirate, if there is one?

  • Dani: Chris Bowes is my favourite Scottish pirate. (Chris:) Well cheers to you Dani, God knows I love to get that booty!

MettleAngel: I know you are all about the "Wenches And Mead"! No seriously, you have William Wallace the famous Highlander who inspired "Braveheart", but there are not too many famous Scottish pirates, in history.

  • Chris: What about William "Captain" Kidd? He was a renown privateer.

MettleAngel: Yes, but his actual depredations, and or rumours of raping and pillaging were overexaggerated. I doubt that he was really too violent, or self seeking. It is suspect he was even a pirate. He was more of a mariner who came to terms with British Parliament, and that led to a trial, which is all hearsay.

  • Chris: Aye, they are all bloody vicious rumours.

MettleAngel: I mean, Running Wild did write the song "Ballad Of William Kidd" about him off their 'Rivalry' release, so I guess that accounts for something.

  • Chris: Since when did Running Wild become the authority on piracy? (Dani:) Ah fuck me mate, here we go again with Running Wild....

MettleAngel: What do you mean? After all, they were the first metal band to really begin the whole "Pirate Metal" thing, unless you account for Stormwitch and their song - "Tigers Of The Sea" from the 'Beauty And The Beast' album in 1987.

  • Chris: Stormwitch, that is a new one, I have never heard of them!

MettleAngel: Running Wild had 'Under Jolly Roger' which really got the ball rolling and set the precedent for their first years of piracy; something they would make a career out of, it seems.

  • Chris: How can you respect a band which is one man and his drum machine?

MettleAngel: Back in the glorious Noise era, Running Wild were awesome. Whiplash had the song "Walk The Plank" and Wisconsin's Num Skull had the song "Pirate's Night" from their 1988 'Ritually Abused' awesome thrash release.

  • Chris: I am not familiar with Num Skull either.

Check into them, they are great! Their early work is pure technical speed metal, then they devolved to a Death Metal act. Now, we have Swashbuckle, Verbal Deception, Skull Branded Pirates, etc. all adopting the "Pirate Metal" theme.

  • Gareth: Swashbuckle are a joke!

MettleAngel: They are decent deaththrash, and they do not take themselves too seriously, like yourself. In all fairness, Italy's Los Pirates have been around since 1999, but they just released their new album 'Heavy Piracy' this year. Let us also not forget the underappreciated Legendsea from France who have been singing about pirates since '98.

  • Dani: Fuck me, that many pirate acts! Swashbuckle are good guys, but they do not know shit about pirate history!

MettleAngel: That comes from watching too much Spongebob!

  • Chris: Honestly we are utterly sick to death of the pirate questions and comparisons! We really don't give a fuck about the other "Pirate Metal" bands, and all that shit! (Gareth:) We actually do not even like the music of Running Wild. (Dani:) We prefer the German thrash acts like Sodom, Destruction, and Kreator. (Gareth:) I guess because we sing about the past is why we get all these pirate comparisons. We would rather be called "Victorian Metal"!

MettleAngel: That is brilliant! That really does sum up your sound. After all, the pirate kitsch is really a ruse. I assume you love Tankard, because your songs are mostly about mass alcohol consumption. I get it, 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' is really another way of saying, I regret the morning after!"

  • Dani: Exactly! We love Tankard and we love to drink and party.

MettleAngel: After reading the lyrics more carefully, I truly detect a Tankard connection.

  • Chris: We are angry with being compared to Running Wild, just because they sing about piracy. I first heard Running Wild, two years after we started this band. They were never an influence.

MettleAngel: You mean when you began as Battle Heart. I downloaded some free samples of that a few years ago, and I loved it. Next thing I know you are signed to Napalm Records, and have changed your name to Alestorm. I love the new name, it is so befitting. After all, Battle Heart is a bit gay.

  • Dani: Yes, it is! When I first thought of the name, we were going to sing about eagles, dragons, unicorns, and shit. Then I sobered up, and we are glad we changed the name.

MettleAngel: I guess contractually Napalm was afraid of the confusion with their other band Battlelore. I assumed you were another "Pagan Metal" act, with Power Metal tendencies.

  • Chris: Why would you think us to be pagans?

MettleAngel: Well, you covered Korpiklaani, who were just beginning to become successful; so much so that Nuclear Blast swooped in and took them off Napalm. Don't be surprised if that happens to you next year.

  • Chris: Korpiklaani are another band who love to sing about drinking.

MettleAngel: This brings me to your influences. Chris you are wearing a really silly pink shirt. You look like Billy Squire, or the dude from the J. Geils Band in that "Centerfold" video.

  • Chris: I'll have you know I am quite proud of my attire. This shirt has a digital clock on it.

MettleAngel: Yeah, now that is Metal! I guess since you play the key-tar, a instrument not commonly associated with Metal, it all makes sense. I take it you are stuck in the '80s.

  • Dani: We were born in the very late '80s, but Chris always dresses like he does not give a fuck.

MettleAngel: I mean, c'mon he looks like he is posing for one of the pictures straight out of a 'Living In Oblivion' '80s comp. of the most obscure bands out there.

  • Chris: Fair enough, but this is who I am, and what the fuck is 'Living In Oblivion'?

MettleAngel: Google it! It is a five disc summary of most of the '80s one hit wonders.

  • Dani: You ask about our influences? Chris does not listen to anything but Bal-Sagoth, exclusively.

MettleAngel: Bal-Sagoth! talk about pretentious, Lord Byron is a megalomaniac. What is with those album and song titles!

  • Chris: Bal-Sagoth is the sole inspiration for this band!

MettleAngel: No way! I mean sure you sound a bit like Lord Byron, and Martin of Skyclad. I guess your keyboards have a Bal-Sagoth edge.

  • Chris: For me that is the greatest compliment!

MettleAngel: When I first bought Bal-Sagoth, it was the album 'Starfire Burning Upon The Ice-Vieled Throne Of Ultima Thule'. That was the longest album title I had ever heard, up to then. I could not follow the lyrics, because they were all incorporated into the story, with no hi-lighted words to clarify.

  • Chris: Fuck the lyrics, enjoy the music!

MettleAngel: The music is vaguely tolerable. I just listened to the new TSO with lyrics last night, and the concept story is separate from the lyrics, which makes it easier to follow along. Also, TSO are waaaay better than Bal-Sagoth!

  • Chris: Blasphemy! (Gareth:) You mentioned Martin Walkyier, we know him. Obviously Sabbat and Skyclad are an influence on us. The rest of us do listen to more bands than Bal-Sagoth.

MettleAngel: That is good to hear! I just read that Martin is busy at work on new Clan Destined material with a female guitarist named Jacqui Taylor. Gareth, you left Waylander to join Alestorm, correct?

  • Gareth: Yep, and I am glad I did so. I love the lads in Waylander, but Alestorm is where I belong. (Chris:) We played a gig with Skyclad recently.

MettleAngel: Yeah, but they are fronted by Kevin Ridley. He too, is trying to sound more and more like Martin on their new CD 'In The... All Together'.

  • Chris: I can see why you say I sound like Martin, since Lord Byron does borrow from him, and I from Byron.

MettleAngel: Yeah, they both have that lisp, where every word ends in "ah".

  • Gareth: I see what you mean..."Do dark horses -ah....dream of nightmares-ah...". (Chris:) Or, "The imperial-ah lexicon-ah".

MettleAngel: You know I just got it, Battle Heart, could that also be on account of "Battle Magic" by Bal-Sagoth?

  • Chris: Ah hah, now you are starting to catch on! (Dani:) I must comment how impressed I am with how this interview is going! Most of the 99% of our interviews are so fuckin' boring. You really know your shit! Most have never even heard of Bal-Sagoth, no less Tankard. I usually get asked questions like this, "Why do you sing about pirates?" Why did you change your name?" I am so sick of that shit! (Chris:) When the interview begins to go that way, we give text book answers and just tune out, but this is really fun. (Gareth:) Yeah, this is a real laugh, and so reassuring!

MettleAngel: Thank you, I like to keep it entertaining. I assume even though this US Tour is called Heathenfest, you are really not pagans?

  • Chris: Fuck no! I have never worshipped Odin, or lived in the fuckin' forest!

MettleAngel: So I assume you are not into Asatru, and the pursuit of heathendom?

  • Chris: What the fuck does that have to do with piracy and partying!

MettleAngel: Exactly, and most pirates were in fact Christians!

  • Gareth: Indeed, they were terrified to death of God!

MettleAngel: You bet, and other fictitious beings like the great Leviathan!

  • Chris: It was illegal to not be a Christian! (Dani:) Alestorm does not want to be associated with any Pagan, Heathen, Pirate, nonsense. After this tour we are going out with The Rotted (formerly Gorerotted). People wonder why we are not going out with Finntroll. Fuck Finntroll, we want to tour and party with our friends.

MettleAngel: Heathenfest is just another excuse for putting like minded bands together, to draw a bigger audience. This line-up is really diversified with Vreid, Belphegor, Eluveitie, and the unpronouncable Kivimetsän Druidi. I just call them Leave's Epica.

  • Dani: We love these package deals, as they get us more exposure. We just do not want to be classified as a certain style.

MettleAngel: The whole pagan thing is just another rebellious fad in the US. It is just like the late George Carlin said, "It is all Bullshit, and it is all Bad for you!"

  • Gareth: You are right, pagan worship is the latest fad. It is bullocks, and we want no part of it. We just like to party with the bands. (Dani:) We hung out with Unleashed, and had a blast. Everyone thinks they are the ultimate "Viking Metal" band who started it all, well except for Bathory, but essentially, they just wanted to get plastered and have a jolly good 'ole time, like we do.

MettleAngel: It seems like drinking is the key thing for the bands and fans, across the board. I assume you still take the music part of Alestorm very seriously, though?

  • Dani: Abso-fuckin-lutley! Alestorm has become quite succesful in a short amount of time. This is our full time job. I just bought me mum a house. This is because we have our heads screwed on, and we are dead serious about what we do, and accomplish as musicians.

MettleAngel: Wow you just bought a house, that is succesful!

  • Dani: Well I also moonlight as a guitar-tech for certain bands like Decapitated and The Bezerker. This allows me an opportunity to create more spending money, outside of the band.

MettleAngel: That is so cool. When you switched from bass to guitar, I was impressed with your playing capability. You shred like George Lynch, Jeff Waters, or Manni Schmidt of Grave Digger.

  • Gareth: Manni is no longer with Grave Digger, nor is Thilo Hermann.

MettleAngel: Really, that is news to me. Manni is what made Grave Digger still appealing after all those years.

  • Gareth: We just toured with Grave Digger and they were total dicks to us, well Chris Boltendahl sure was an asshole!

MettleAngel: Really, but they are your label mates.

  • Gareth: Yeah, but they are way bigger than us. (Chris:) They should have called it quits years ago.

MettleAngel: Well without Manni & Thilo, they may be done in my book.

  • Chris: Rage need to end it too, they have too many albums!

MettleAngel: Aw c'mon Rage rule! All those once great Noise era acts were amazing back in the day. I love Rage, and I always will. It sucks that Running Wild are no more, but I love them too. I love German Metal. I am working on publishing my interview with Udo Dirkschneider.

  • Ian: We may not like German Metal, but we do have a big fan base in Germany.

MettleAngel: Wow! the silent drummer speaks. All this time you have been sitting there ever so quietly in your Heidevolk hoody....

  • Dani: That is one of only five Heidevolk hoodies in the world!

MettleAngel: Really, Ian must be a big fan.

  • Dani: Well that, and the dude from Heidevolk got so damn drunk and sloshed that he pissed all over Ian's hoodie. When he sobered up, he felt bad, and gave this one to him, to compensate.

MettleAngel: How noble, now where were we?

  • Chris: To sum it up we hate Pagans, Heathens, Pirates, and Germans...

MettleAngel: You mean Traditional Teutonic German Metal. After all, you did record the German version of "Wenches And Mead" ("Weiber Und Wein") for the 'Leviathan' (EP).

  • Chris: Well, yeah, there is that....

MettleAngel: Let us not forget your rendition of "Wolves Of The Sea" formerly done by the band Pirates Of The Sea.

  • Chris: What about that?

MettleAngel: I like that cover, it is so catchy, and perfect for Alestorm. Do you think you will cover Bal-Sagoth?

  • Chris: You can count on it!

MettleAngel: Tell me about your performance on the Wacken DVD which comes with the bonus version of 'Black Sails At Midnight'. I picked that one up at Hot Topic to get the promo pirate flag they were offering.

  • Dani: We hated that Wacken show, we sucked so bad! I am amazed they used that footage for a bonus DVD. Hopefully, we can get some good live coverage off this tour to make a DVD that we can be proud of, to offer our fans.

MettleAngel: Fair enough, I enjoyed watching that bonus DVD.

  • Dani: Wait until you hear us live tonight, we are so much more tight.

(Actually they were not tight at all when they played Peabody's. They were super sloppy, very drunk, and not too well-rehearsed. The crowd did not seem to care that they did not wear their pirate outfits, opting to just go topless. The Cleveland audience so enjoyed the show, that they sent fans to keep bring double rum shots for the band to partake in, after each song; thereby making them even more inebriated by the time they got to the end of their set)

MettleAngel: Well you have had a solid line-up now since December, so I am excited to see you play the two albums, and prove to us that Alestorm are a band worth watching.

  • Chris: Alright, I am hungry..."Where is Ana (from Eluveitie) with our damn dinner!"

MettleAngel: So I will let you get to your meal, and I will see you inside.

  • Dani: Definitely, I look forward to chatting with you more. Wait until I tell you about our outting with Unleashed!

MettleAngel: That sounds cool. All you brethren in the almighty Alestorm, Hail! Chris I was just kidding about your choice of wardrobe.

  • Dani: No you are right he looks like a wanker! (Gareth:) Really, Michael this has been a total blast. (Dani:) It may be awhile before we actual enjoy doing an interview again, so thanks so much and cheers! (Ian:) Yes, I must agree! I seldom join in for interviews, but I found this one to be most festive, informative, and downright worth participating. All the best to you brother, it was great to make your acquaintance.

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