By Ellie McGee
Ultimate Metal's resident folk metal obsessive caught up with Alestorm's Chris Bowes at a rather interesting gig in the depths of Wolverhampton's Slade Rooms. Apparently they're getting into time travel, and recruiting Sean Connery for the new album. Curiouser and curiouser.
Chris Bowes; vocals and keytar
So how’s the rock’n’roll lifestyle going?
Aye it’s alright. It’s been a nice tour, Sabaton are all really nice guys, all very professional, but it’s all so laidback. Everything just happens smoothly and we just do our thing and party all night long.
How different is it to touring with bands like Turisas?
That was a long time ago when we did that! Back then in 2008 we toured with them in the UK and we were just treated like shit. We would’ve considered a room like this [tiny dressing room, with sofa and fridge] to be the lap of luxury.
You were out in the corridor were you?
Yeah! We’re actually allowed on the tourbus now, so we get to get some sleep every night, so yeah it’s been nice. Nice change – going up in the world!
You’ve done three days of the UK leg so far, but it’s a rather long tour…
We’ve been on the road since the 24th of September, and we’re not gonna go home until the 28th of November, so it’s a bit of a long tour.
There was a point where you seemed to tour all the time, have you had a break?
Last year we did about a million tours, which was quite good, but this year we kinda did nothing – a couple of gigs here and there, and it gets quite boring. People aren’t supposed to have nine months of the year off, it’s soul-destroying really. Especially when you’re not particularly rich, I mean we live off this band but only just - we can afford to pay our rent, pay the bills and eat something, but when you’ve got nine months of free time and no money to spend, what the hell do you do? Life gets a bit dull, so it’s nice to back on the road for a change.
How’s the new album coming along?
Yeah, we’ve pretty much finished writing it, there’s a couple of songs need finishing. Gonna go in the studio starting 3rd of January in Lubeck in Germany, with the same guy who produced our last album because he was good. Then just make a record, have a little
party, then it hopefully comes out at the end of April.
Do you know what it’s going to be called yet?
That’s the only thing we don’t know! We’ve got all the song titles, all that nonsense, but we can’t actually think of anything to call the album yet. None of the song titles seem right, they just don’t jump out at you as album titles like Black Sails At Midnight
did; that was just the perfect album title.
Have you got to do voiceovers for this one? [Nuclear Blast insist on putting voiceovers on all their promos, which Chris recorded himself for the last album. Complete with piratical accent.]
I think we might hire someone famous – we’ve got a bit of a budget for this one, so we’re just going to spend all of it on getting some famous person to do the voiceovers! Sean Connery or something. We had lots of complaints [about the voiceovers] on our first album, because journalists are shit like that - they can’t appreciate that you have to do that otherwise your album will leak seven years in advance. So we just did these funny ones, and people appreciate these ones. I think we’ve sometimes got higher marks in magazines just because of the voiceovers!
Next album: are you going to bring the pirate thing right up to date and write a load of songs about Somalis with machine guns?
We were thinking that. I was going to write a song for this third album about Somalians actually, but I just ran out of songs. You know, you can’t have too many songs on an album otherwise it’ll be too long and too complicated. I think ten songs, forty minutes is all an album should be. Anything else is just boring. So we’ve saved the song about Somalians for the next (fourth) album along with a song about ninjas and things.
Are you going to do pirates v. ninjas? There got to be a concept album in there surely – double album, one disc of pirates, one disc of ninjas?
Of course we’re going to do pirates v. ninjas - the internet demands that we do it! Don’t quite feel like straying into concept album territory yet though – we’re too young and retarded for that.
Talking of new things, how’s Pete getting on?
He joined in dramatic circumstances when our old drummer Ian, the day before a really fucking huge gig at Paganfest in Germany, he sent us this email saying ‘fuck you, I quit, you’re all assholes’ and we’re like ‘ah shit’. So Gaz got his old mate Pete from his old band Runecaster
, from Ireland and said ‘hey do you wanna be in this band, fly over, we’ll pay you a couple of grand or something’ and he said ‘ah sure’. So he learned all the songs, flew over the next day, we played these five gigs and we got through it, but it could’ve been worse. Could’ve been a hell of a lot better, but he’s settling in fine now. This is his first ever big tour, so he’s all like ‘wow, we’re on a tourbus!’ and it’s all very exciting.
Going back to the new album, is there a cover version on this one?
Yes, there’s two actually. Oh no, god, there’s three! There’s one on the normal album and we saved two silly songs for the digipak, bonus, extended whatever you call it nonsense. I won’t say too much, but the one on the album is just some ye olde folk song thing, so I guess it’s about as trve as we’ll ever get.
No Eurovision covers this time?
No Eurovision. One of the bonus tracks is from some infamous children’s TV show, and the other one is a cover of a song by a certain West Country band.
Your new song’s called Rum. Any chance of a swap with Korpiklaani – you cover Vodka, they cover Rum?
The chorus of it’s just ‘rum, rum, rum, rum’ – we thought fuck it, let’s write a stupid song. As for Korpiklaani, we actually did a cover of one of Journeyman on our first ever demo. It was dreadful though, because I couldn’t sing at the time – still can’t sing, but I was even worse then.
When you’re coming up with songs, do you ever come with any that don’t fit the whole pirate theme and have to leave them out?
Well we write a lot of songs that, strictly speaking, shouldn’t even be about pirates, but somehow we just squeeze in some random bit of piracy at the end of it. We’re kind of getting away from the whole arr-our-songs-are-set-in-the-seventeenth-century-on-ships, it’s all a bit silly. We’re trying to get away from that cliché folk image, so we’re doing lots of stupid stuff with pirates in it, like there’s time-travelling on our next album. Time-travelling to kill Vikings and all that kind of stuff, so all the songs are going to relate to pirates, but not in a clichéd way. I mean, how many songs can you write about going on a quest to steal treasure? Our new stuff’s still going to sound like us, it’s just going to be a bit more interesting, I hope.
If you had a talking parrot on your shoulder, what would you teach it to say?
I’d teach it to sing abuse to the singer of Swashbuckle
, he deserves it.
Who’d win a swordfight out of you and Swashbuckle?
Well him, because he’s a big fat bastard – he’d kick my ass! He gets very stabby on tour, sometimes he gets a bit drunk, and finds a whiskey bottle, and smashes it and starts wielding it. It’s a bit scary, but he’s a nice guy nonetheless. Maybe.
Ever thought of doing some material with them?
I’d love to do a split 7” thing, that’d be really cool, like they sing a song with us, we sing a song with them. But it’s always like record labels messing, and unfortunately it probably won’t happen. It’d be nice though.
After the tour, what are you up to apart from finishing the album?
Well it’ll be Christmas, so I’ll go home and have a Christmas holiday! That’s about it really, just doing nothing for a month. It’ll make a change. Then back into the studio in January to record, and all the nonsense that comes with that; with videos, press and shit.
Do you have anything to say to Ultimate Metal readers before we go?
I think we still owe Deron like fifty quid, so I shouldn’t say anything bad to him. So no comment.
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