Warped Tour Interview: Christopher Bowes of Alestorm


D: First of all, thanks for sitting down with us. I really appreciate it.

C: My pleasure.

D: So, hows the reception been to Alestorm at Warped Tour? Because I never thought I’d say “Alestorm at Warped Tour”.

C: Yeah, I know it’s crazy, you wouldn’t really think to see a band like us playing here, but you know, the lineup at Warped Tour has gotten heavier over the last few years, I mean we’re not really heavy, we’re just kind of weird. But, here we are, It’s really great. Like, you know, we seem to be getting one of the biggest crowds, at least at our stage, I don’t know about the rest, but its been really fun and we’re selling a lot of merch.  A lot of kids are coming up after the show saying “hey, sign my boobs, my butt…okay, we sign boobs and butts” and it’s great, so, people are loving it. We were very worried, is this going to be the worst thing we’ve ever done, is this going to be a big mistake, are we going to be stuck here for two months on this miserable tour, but its actually been really cool.

D: That’s really cool. So how does Warped Tour compare to some of the festivals in Europe?

C: There’s nothing like this that I’ve ever seen in the world, ever. I mean I couldn’t think another tour quite like this. The main thing obviously, this entire festival builds up and packs down in the span of 24 hours every single day for two months. It’s just amazing to watch it happening. You get up early in the morning, and see these trucks rolling in, teams of hundreds of guys just building all this stuff, and (fart noise) this kind of tent city appears out of nowhere, it’s really cool. I mean obviously, it’s not as big a scale as some of the fixed festivals. Our last show before this one was at Grasspop Festival in Europe and there was, I think, just watching us alone, like 50,000 people. which is insane. But the fact that this gets to travel the entire country, the number of fans we’ve gotten to play to is phenomenal.

D: Yeah, I can imagine. So now that the new album is out, how would you compare it to some of the older material?

C: Uh, better. I mean, of course its better. Songwriting is a skill, the more you write songs, the better you get at it. I don’t think there’s such a thing as any sort of weird, sort of, inspiration or anything. you just do it lots and you get better at it. We’ve been doing it a lot, so we’re better at it. so, that’s the way it goes. We’ve written some pretty cool songs. We’ve refined the songwriting. Cut off all the unnecessary bits. We’ve looked back at some of our songs and thought “God, that riff was really long and boring. Why did we have that there?” So this time around, we’ve really kind of cut it down, just the bare bones of what it needs to be to be huge and epic without being too long. so it’s, you know, refined.


D: Let’s talk about the theme a little bit. In terms of piracy, would you say you’re more formidable at this point than Running Wild? I mean, you’ve stormed the states…

C: Yeah, I mean, the Running Wild comparisons, we’re getting them less and less and less…

D: Yeah, because the sound isn’t there

C: Yeah, exactly. The only thing we have going similar is that we both sing about pirates. That’s it. They did this sort of weird 80’s metal thing, we’re nothing like that. Yeah, sure, certain scenes like in Germany, they’re probably still a bigger band somehow. Like, they headline Wacken. Even though it’s just one man and a fucking drum machine, it’s a bullshit band. But, it’s less and less we get people comparing us to them. which is good. Back when we started off, it was like, every second person “oh wow, they’re Running Wild…”

D: Yeah. It was the only point of reference at the beginning, but I feel you guys are definitely your own thing.

C: These days, they don’t even feel like a relevant comparison to anything. Which is cool. There’s not many bands that we can be directly compared to anymore. It’s just, we just do our own thing, which is kind of fun.

D: It’s hard to nail down a definitive genre for you guys.  Power or folk sort of fit but it’s not exactly that.

C: Yeah, because, also in the past we were kind lumped in with that sort of viking folk metal scene, but you know it’s…this isn’t viking folk metal, you know?

D: You’re not. Any of those bands that are viking or folk metal could not pull off Warped Tour everyday. There’s no way. Even the best ones…I’m not saying they’re bad, but they couldn’t do this.

C: It’s just a different world

D: Yeah, exactly, so your vibe is definitely different. Speaking of being on a festival like this, as opposed to your traditional metal fest, are there any other bands that you were really excited to see or that you’ve really enjoyed?

C: I’m still very stoked for possibly the last day of tour, because Goldfinger is playing. Because, you know, for me, the music I listened to growing up, one of the biggest things for me was playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and the soundtrack, and they’re doing that song they did from that, so it’s going to be really exciting. So I just, you know, like seeing all these sort of, late 90’s sort of bands, who were big back then. That’s kind of exciting. You know, I’m not so much into the kind of modern, sort of, metalcore-y, scream-y, djent-y, whatever you call it stuff. It’s just not my thing.

D: Yeah, I was actually just talking about how I wish Goldfinger would have been on this date. It’s cool you’ll get to see them. So, how is it playing a festival like this as opposed to your club shows that you would do?

C: Short, is the main thing. It’s over before you know it, which is great, because that kind of club tour, where you’re playing like, 90 minutes every night, it can start to wear you down over the course of a months tour. But this one, we get off stage and we don’t even feel like we’ve hurt ourselves, damaged ourselves, done anything too exhausting. It’s just a half an hour of fun. The most stressful thing is the signing session afterwards. It’s usually like, literally an hour long, a line of people, and it’s a mad ruckus, there’s no order to it. You’ve kind of got to do your own crowd control. That’s difficult and stressful. But, obviously we love doing it. We love getting to say hi to all the people who have come out to see us. Everything is so well run, the crew on our stage just do their jobs so well. We don’t have to think of anything. We just turn up 20 minutes before the show and pick up an instrument and walk on stage and that’s that.

D: Speaking of just breaking into worlds that are a little bit unexpected similar to Alestorm on Warped Tour, do you think there’s any opportunity for your other band Gloryhammer to break into the states? 

C: yeah, if Gloryhammer was here…how wild would that even work? Again, if you think Alestorm is unique here, then Gloryhammer would be a whole fucking new level of it. There’d be nothing like that. It’s more like, I don’t know, a cross between us and Gwar in a way. Yeah, the problem with Gloryhammer is it’s really hard to get US visas. Alestorm, you know, we lucked out ten years ago, we got our first visa. Because, you have to go through all these hoops to prove you’re a relevant and important enough band, and we got that with Alestorm. Once you’re in, you’re in and you can get it renewed every year, no problem. Gloryhammer got denied the first time, because we couldn’t prove that we were a reputable enough band. It’s all these stupid hoops you have to jump through. Even though we’ve played huge festivals and headlined shows all across Europe and stuff. It’s just getting that next step of when we get into America. And that’s not sorted, So, yeah, I mean we are going to try and tour the US with that band at some point, when the visa comes through. When we can get one and (snaps) done, you know. We’ll be over.

D: Yeah, because I know there’s definitely a small but passionate power metal following here.

C: We could definitely pull off a good tour here

D: Absolutely you could. So, this is an odd one, you might not have an answer, but, do you have a favorite professional wrestler?

C: Oh wow. Um, not me personally. I’m not massive into wrestling. It wasn’t really my thing, but Gaz, our bass player and our sound guy,  they love wrestling. Actually, it was a couple of weeks ago we found out on Twitter that Eric Rowan, a wrestler, loves Alestorm. Gaz was like “oh my god that’s awesome.” He was like “hey, do you want to come to our show?” He was like “yeah, yeah I do!” So, he came along and he was such a nice guy, like, fucking eight foot tall giant, but super nice down to earth guy. Just hung out all day. I think he was just as excited to meet us as we were to meet him, so it was kind of weird. So, yeah, he came along and he liked our show and that was cool.

D: Yeah, that’s really cool. So, what’s coming next?

C: Oh, we have so much going on. Straight after Warped Tour, we’re flying to Europe for four little festivals in Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, and Romania of all places. Actually playing next to Dracula’s castle which is quite cool. Then, we have a break, a couple more festivals, blah blah blah, but then a big ol’ headlining European tour. Which is going to be crazy, insane and awesome. We’re going to bring the most ridiculous production stuff. We’re going to have like, a backline and a semi truck with Alestorm branding on it and stuff, because, why the hell not? Then, we’re going to Russia for a tour. Then, we’re going to South America for a tour, we just announced that last week, and that’s going to be crazy. Twelve shows across Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Columbia, Peru and Chile I think? Maybe one more. But yeah, loads of countries. That’s going to be big. That brings us to the end of the year. In January we’re doing 70,000 Tons of Metal Festival in the fucking sea. In the Carribean Sea, of all places…

D: You guys haven’t done 70,000 Tons of Metal?

C: We have done it before…actually, this will be our third time.

D: Actually makes sense you’d be on there.

C: Yeah, not many bands have been there three times, but we swung it. We said, “get us on this fucking boat!” That’s going to be so cool. Then after that, we’re going to do a big UK tour. We’re gonna go to Asia, we’re gonna go to Austrailia, we’re gonna go daft places, probably come back to America again. so, we’re going to be very, very busy just promoting the crap out of this album for the next 18 months.

D: Sounds awesome

C: It’s going to be exhausting, but fun.

D: Yeah, it sounds like it. Well, I really appreciate you sitting down with us and having this conversation with us. 

C: No problem.

 

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Interview conducted by Sean Cantor:

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