Alestorm: on touring, drinking and being stranded on an island


Alestorm 2019 press

The infamous pirate metal band Alestorm continues its conquest of the seven seas this year while playing metal festivals all over the world. With the quintet’s current tour including Mexico, Russia, Japan and more, they will be stopping off briefly in Johannesburg on 7 September 2019 at South Africa’s very first Pirate Fest, hosted by The Kraken is Alive.

Alestorm setting Sail for South Africa… again

We recently caught up with Christopher Bowes, Alestorm‘s frontman, keytarist and founding member. Chris told us that Alestorm had an amazing time during their last trip to South Africa, and that it was exciting to finally get to play a show on our continent, since they have played in every other continent (besides Antartica).

“It was just great to go to a new place we’d never been to before. And it’s really cool when you go on stage in a country where people don’t really expect to see you, and we’re playing to people who are big fans (I hope!), and they never imagined they’d get to see us. You can sense from the audience that people are like, holy shit, this is actually happening! We had a great time last time, we even had time to go off into the wilderness and find some giraffes.” ~ Christopher Bowes

Alestorm likes the idea of playing in countries where fans don’t expect them to turn up, and are keen to play in China and India one day. Typical pirates, they have developed a passion for exploring and adventuring. Chris had the following to say on the matter:

“I just love ticking off places on the list, you’re going to all these new places, new countries, experiencing new cultures… for me the first ‘holy shit’ moment was 9 or 10 years ago – we had our first tour of Australia, and it was weird getting on a plane and going, holy crap, someone bought us a plane ticket to fly to Australia, that’s like a million miles away! None of us had really travelled before in our lives. I love going anywhere that is really far away, so that was fun. I think the further away and weirder or more remote, the better.” ~ Christopher Bowes

Alestorm 2017

Aye, more rum?

Maintaining their reputation as party animals, Alestorm is keen to make the most of their brief trip to South Africa and have a good time. Chris told us about his favourite hangover cure:

“Scotland has the best hangover cures in the world, we have a drink called Irn-Bru, it’s like a soda, and kind of neon orange, and it’s made from rust. Really, it’s literally made from rust and it’s weird! And it’s just so good, it eats all the alcohol up. It’s the best thing. If you’re ever in Scotland drink some Irn-Bru and your hangover will be cured.” ~ Christopher Bowes

As to what drinks the band members tend to like, the obvious answer would be rum, and unsurprisingly there has been an overflow of rum at shows…

“We used to drink a lot of rum, because you know, pirates! However, our fans also decided we should drink a lot of rum, so every time after a show we would go to the bar, and then the fans would say ‘your show was great! Drink this big glass of rum with me!’ It’s really rude to turn down an offer of a free drink, so, me being the gentleman I am, I’d always just drink huge shots of just straight rum – really nasty cheap rum as well, and you get really sick of rum eventually. So these days, we just drink wine. We’ve gone soft.” ~ Christopher Bowes

Shipwrecked… what if?

Despite the change in drinks, Alestorm, in true ‘pirate metal’ form, maintains a hearty pirate theme in their songs and music videos. We asked Chris what three items he would want with him if he was ever shipwrecked and stranded on an island.

“I can’t even think of one! See I’m a bit of a nerd, I spend all day playing video games on the internet… A little piano would be good, so I can play some music, I won’t go completely insane, maybe write a good album. Can I get a mini bar? Like a full cocktail Tiki bar? Plenty of sunblock as well, you know, we have dreadful Scottish skin, it’s just blisters anytime the sun shines on it. We’re not used to seeing sunlight.” ~ Christopher Bowes

Speaking of writing good albums, Alestorm‘s fifth album, No Grave but the Sea, was released in May 2018 and was hugely successful. Fans will be glad to know that the band is already busy working on album number six.

“We are gonna hit the studio in January… I’ve actually been doing some writing this morning before all the interviews. It’s gonna be good, it’s gonna be very fun, it’s gonna be very stupid… we’ll try and do a couple more serious songs, I know some people still like the serious songs, but it’s the fun party songs that really go off whenever we play them live.” ~ Christopher Bowes

Christopher Bowes Alestorm Witchfest 2015 Linda Evermore
Christopher Bowes live at Witchfest, Johannesburg, 2015: image courtesy of Linda Evermore

Some wise words on instruments and writing

One of the signature elements of Alestorm is their keytar, played by Chris himself. However, the type of keytar he plays is not always easy to find.

“It’s a very integral part of our show, me and this keytar. I used to go on eBay or Craigslist or any of
these online auction marketplace sites, any time we were in a town and someone was saying ‘oh I
have a keytar for sale’. I’d go buy it from them. So I have like five of them in my closet. But they’ve
[Roland] actually come out with a new one now, so I think we’re safe for a few more years.” ~ Christopher Bowes

Alestorm broke into the metal scene in 2008 with their debut album, Captain Morgan’s Revenge, and are said to have sparked a new sub-genre of metal. In his parting words, Chris offers some sound advice for South African metal bands trying to make it in a scene that is still very much underground:

“The main thing is to write good songs. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in the world, if your song-writing isn’t good no one is gonna care. There’s only so far you can go by being the most brutal, most aggressive, most metal or spooky band – it doesn’t matter if people can’t remember your songs. I think that’s how we got where we are, just writing dumb songs that everyone can sing along to. I’m not saying you have to write stupid pop metal idiot music like us, you know, good songs are all that matter these days. The internet is – you don’t have to get discovered by some agent at your show, just upload music, and if it’s good it will spread and people will love it.” ~ Christopher Bowes

Alestorm 2019 Pirate Fest

Watch Alestorm live in Gauteng at Pirate Fest

Pirate Fest’s second international act is American band Atreyu, gracing our shores for the first time. Atreyu will also be playing in Cape Town at The Final Quest on 5 September.

Pirate Fest: 07 September @ Marks Park Emmarentia, Johannesburg
Alestorm, Atreyu, Tweak, Fuzigish and Hellcats.

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Alestorm live at Johannesburg 2019

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