Interview: Alestorm founder Chris Bowes talks 'No Grave But the Sea'
Rustyn Rose

Ten years into their collective mission to pillage, plunder, and violate earholes worldwide, Scotland’s Alestorm have returned with their latest album, No Grave But the Sea.. The disc is the band’s fifth full-length studio affair, and marks the debut of new guitarist, Máté Bodor. This week, AXS caught up with frontman, Chris Bowes, to chat about the band’s upcoming run on the Vans Warped Tour, the new record, donkey shows, and whether he’s a boxers or briefs man.

The band, which also features bassist Gareth Murdock, drummer Peter Alcorn, and keyboardist Elliott Vernon, like to make every record a party, and No Grave But the Sea is no different. “It’s kind of more of the same usual Alestorm stuff,” Bowes offers of the new record. “but I think we’ve amped up the amount of catchy sing along melodies, choruses and things, and cut down on the dumb pointless riffs that no one likes. So it’s just a really condensed version of Alestorm with all of the things you love and none of the things you don’t like.”

The album’s latest video single is for the raucous, tongue-in-cheek track, “Mexico” which hails the heathen virtues of its namesake country from tequila and wenches to donkey shows. “I’ve never, ever been to a donkey show,” laughs Bowes. “I’m not even sure if they’re real. Everyone says they’re real, but everyone else says they’re not. Maybe with the power of this song, ‘Mexico,’ we’ll finally get invited to a donkey show and see what it’s all about. I think I’m going to regret writing the song.”

Such is the twisted sense of humor for a band that plays folkish pirate metal. While the band has fun with the theme of buccaneer marauders who live for tankards of mead, and sailing the high seas, the music is their primary focus.

“Humor is always a big part of it,” admits Bowes, “but first and foremost, we take the music seriously. It’s real serious music. We write it with real songwriting craft. But the lyrics, we just have fun with those. It doesn’t really matter what the lyrics are. We might as well make it fun and exciting. There’s an element of humor, but it doesn’t mean we’re a joke band. There’s sort of something in between going on.”

Alestorm add some new sonic elements on the new record, offering fans a mix of the band’s classic sound while opening some new doors. “We don’t want to keep writing the same album over and over again because that would get incredibly boring,” shares Chris. “We always try and add something new. So this time we added a lot of extreme influences, like all these screams and almost metalcore riffs here and there, along with other stuff. No one wants to hear the same album over and over again. We just do what we like. We don’t really feel constrained in what we do. We don’t feel like we have to stick to a genre, otherwise our fans are going to hate us. We don’t care.”

The band’s ability to blend in with other genres is evident by the eclectic and varied tour packages they are invited to play. This summer, Alestorm will set sail for two months on the Vans Warped Tour which is primarily a pop/punk tour with elements of hardcore and a touch of metal. They will join fellow metal artists like Hatebreed, Beartooth, Doll Skin, Gwar, and Falling in Reverse.

You can check out the full interview with Chris Bowes above, as well as the video for “Mexico” below.