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Alestorm: Avast ye revellers

Alestorm are the go-to parody band for a good laugh with friends. Who hasn’t enjoyed a good old scoff at a bunch of Scottish lads dressed up as pirates and playing folk-infused metal, singing songs about plundering ports around the world?

“We always know we’ll get a lot of bad press and people complaining, and we don’t care at all, but these tunes are designed to be played live. It’s like pop punk with a violin with this new record”, says frontman Christopher Bowes when we catch up ahead of the band’s Download Festival run.

“We don’t feel like we have to dress up in pirate costumes all the time. We’re just ourselves onstage, we don’t pretend to be anything.”

Of course, behind the free-spirited veneer of Alestorm sits a very talented group of musicians with a real knack for arranging folk-infused metal. That’s something that Chris notes will be taken to the next level with their next LP Curse Of The Crystal Coconut, set to drop on May 29th.

“We don’t feel like we have to dress up in pirate costumes all the time. We’re just ourselves onstage, we don’t pretend to be anything.”

“Back in the day, everything apart from the drums, bass and guitars, it was just all keyboards. It was really a cheap and nasty 90’s keyboard sound”, he reflects.

“Our producer knows everybody in Germany, and he gets all these random players to come in and do stuff. We thought this time around we would make more of a deal of it – we had the singer of Finntroll to sing some stuff – we all got drunk last year in Germany together, and we drunkenly asked if they wanted to be a part of it – and they were like ‘yeah sure!’”

“We also had this thing called a Hurdy Gurdy that’s like a cross between an accordion and a violin and we came across this girl called Fabi who played in another pirate metal band called Storm Seeker, and she was super keen. It’s awesome because we don’t need to worry about shitty keys anymore!”

The band have built up a reputation for their raucous live shows – but Chris assures us that there won’t be any hurdy gurdy action onstage any time soon, and that Aussies can expect a classic, pirate themed party when they touch down later this month.

“We’ve totally considered bringing these people out for some big-ass festival slot with all these cool live instruments. It’s an idea that we have ticking away, but it was hard enough just getting them into the studio, never mind getting them all to come out on the road with us!” he laughs.

“Our label in the past really wanted us to dress up, play the part….”

“This is our first time in Australia not doing our own headline shows, so we’re considering it a bit of a showcase – we’ll keep it short, sweet, have a good party for an hour and then go home!”

Folk metal is, admittedly, something that can be a bit ‘geeky’ for the average punter to throw themselves into when it comes to listening to heavy music. However, any fan of the likes of Dune Rats or Totty should also find themselves at home at an Alestom show. The band have even traded their pirate garbs for snap-backs and big ducks onstage in recent times, as Chris explains.

“Our label in the past really wanted us to dress up, play the part…their press release was like ‘ahoy mateys, rum-squabblers Alestorm are back!’ – and we’re just like ‘hey, we’ve just got a record ready’” he says.

“I don’t feel like I have to be like ‘ahoy matey, it be me captain Chris’ when I meet someone at a festival…it’s better for your mental health to be chilled.”

“I love being very candid about what we do – we try and be on the same level as the fans and not some weird pirate overlords – because people like getting close to the bands that they like.”

And as for the aforementioned duck?

“That started in 2016 when we toured with Sabaton, and they had this big old tank onstage – so we decided to get this 7-foot tall inflatable duck online, we just thought ‘yeah, fuck it, that’ll do!’”


Friday, 20th March
Melbourne Showgrounds, Melbourne
Tickets: Download Festival

Saturday, 21st March
The Domain, Sydney
Tickets: Download Festival