When the then-teenage members of Scottish metal group Alestorm formed in 2004, they wanted to distance themselves from the saturation of European metal groups singing about things like Vikings and dragons. So instead, they decided to seek inspiration for their brand of power metal from pirates.
"Because pirates are cool," band leader/vocalist Christopher Bowes says. "They're good role models for us to live our lives by!"
On albums such as their 2008 debut Captain Morgan's Revenge and 2011's Back Through Time, Alestorm uses the medium of heavy metal to tell tales of pirate-influenced mayhem. With a subtle snarl, Bowes mutates the pirate sing-along into guitars-and-keyboard-driven tunes that inspire moshing and
Alestorm's songs may be about pirates, but Bowes is quick to point out that the band's image is not overly threatening.
"We're more like Disney pirates. My favorite pirate is probably Johnny Depp [who] embodies what piracy is all about for me. Getting drunk and being badass."
This emphasis on drunken revelry is especially prevalent in tracks like "This Famous Ol' Spiced" and "Nancy The Tavern Wench." Bowes credits the prospect of drunken shenanigans at an Alestorm show as the reason they have slowly gained a Stateside following.
"Other metal bands don't get drunk any more. They're too busy protecting their voice or making sure they can play their minor-seven three-note arpeggios every night."
There is an aura of cheesy humor to Alestorm's brew, but they are perfectly okay with being the fun band on tour lineups surrounded by more serious-minded acts.
"Too much metal music is difficult to comprehend and get into," Bowes laments. "There are no good bits for banging your fists. I sometimes laugh at the people that take metal too seriously."
Bowes tells the tale of an encounter with one such metal fan.
"We were on tour with Tyr, who is a super serious Viking metal band. All of their songs are about killing Vikings. There was a guy in the front row one night standing with his back to us, angry and holding up the middle finger. Later in our set, the singer of Tyr joined us for a song. The kid turned around, and the look on his face was hilarious. It was like he was seeing his whole world come crashing down around him. His hero and his worst enemy were singing these silly songs on stage."
Given the group's focus on fun-loving pirate-fueled drunken mayhem, which drink should one hoist in the air while singing along?
"The best thing to drink while listening to our music is a well-made cocktail...like a Singapore Sling," he says. "That's the ultimate drink, because it's fruity and boozy just like us. And drink responsibly...but regularly."
Alestorm performs at the House of Blues in Hollywood tonight
Follow Jason Roche on Twitter @JasonRocheLAW.
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