Alestorm (Scotland)

The momentum around Alestorm is undeniable. A UK rock chart number 1 album Sunset of the Golden Age, touring relentlessly through Europe and the US, drawing unmatched crowds at the world’s biggest festivals… and most recently releasing their new album No Grave but the Sea. Now you are coming back to our shores in February for a string of shows that are sure to be amazing fun.

Metal-Roos: Thank you for chatting today! I know you’re an exceptionally busy man…

My pleasure. Thank you for having me!

M-R: I should start with the usual and standard, excited to be coming back Down Under?

Yes! I’m very excited. It’s a very happy place to play for us as it’s warm and sunny, you all like us, and for the most part we can understand each other. That’s is exciting, because we’re used to play Serbia and Bulgaria and places like that, where things are we say go straight over their head. So, yes it’s a nice change.

I’ve tried to tone down my accent over the years, but you know, sometimes I lapse into some unintelligible brough.

M-R: You are a frequent visitor to our shores! Coming over several times, can you tell me one thing you love and one thing you hate about touring Australia?

One thing I hate is having a get up before 4am every morning to jump on a plane to get across the country – the place is so vast. The one thing I love is a little cafe in Perth called Toast and they make a really nice breakfast. That’s the one thing I love about Australia.

M-R: I did notice that you are kicking off the tour in Perth. Is that just for Toast or did it just work out that way?

Yes! We are so excited! That’ll be great, as soon as we get off the plane we go straight to Toast and have breakfast… I think it just works out that way. It just makes sense to get Perth out the way before heading to the East Coast.

M-R: Your first time here was in 2010. How has international touring evolved for Alestorm?

We’ve got a lot more professional these days. Back then, there was just five guys in the band and some guy doing sound. We kinda just threw it together, it was a bit of a pub show. These days we bring a full crew, stage production, all this lovely stuff. It’s visually and sonically miles apart. We’re all better musicians, less drunk, more talented, better songs than we used to, it’s all very nice these days. If you only saw us on our first tour there 8 years ago or whatever, you’ll be in for a nice surprise when you come back.

M-R: I noticed that there are no VIP or Meet and Greet options, which seems to be a standard for most touring bands that come through, any reason for this?

We don’t do those because we see them as kind of lame. We think it’s stupid and dumb and I don’t trust anyone who would make someone pay money to say hello to you. I think it’s kind of a weird and creepy thing to do. I mean, I know people wanna meet the band, but I don’t feel like spending hundred bucks to do it is good… in any way shape or form. It’s something I feel quite strongly about. I don’t like it when bands do it. You do see it a lot these days, in Europe, the US, even Australia. We’ve done tours as the support band and the headliner has a meet and greet. Twenty little fans are shuffled into a production line, they take a photograph, then they’re washed out the door and told to buy merch at the desk. It’s just all very sad and I don’t like it and I wish bands didn’t do it. I know everyone wants to make loads of money but I think it’s a step too far. So, that’s what we don’t do those.

M-R: You have had a few fantastic support bands when coming through the last couple of times – like Voyager and Troldhaugen. You have had a continued touring relationship with Troldhaugen. Just wondering how you choose supports? Do you have a say over who supports Alestorm, or is it a booking/promoter thing?

I mean when it comes to local supports occasionally we try and have input in who it is. But obviously with so many shows we can’t think about every single individual one. This tour we just said ‘book nice bands, we don’t care’. When we do big tours around Europe or USA, anywhere we bring a touring support band, we like to tour with our friends to be honest. It’s the number one thing for us, we want to have fun, because there’s nothing worse than being stuck on a bus for a month on the road, with a support band that are just awful people, or, even just boring! It’s no fun. So, we just get our friends who have got bands, and say ‘hey, you want to come on tour and play to thousands of people every night?’ they usually say yes…

M-R: Your single Drink is a massive anthem. Coming from Scotland, and touring big drinking countries all over Europe and the UK… and obviously Australia where we celebrate our alcoholic culture… can you tell me in your opinion, who the biggest drinkers are? And who are the best to party with?

Everyone drinks in different ways, you get the countries in like Western Europe, where it’s all very casual about the drinking. Then places like the UK and Australia where it’s like a sport… where we have to drink as much as you can before the pubs close and lock you out. I guess British people make the biggest fools of themselves when drunk, I reckon. Even worse than the Aussies, I would say. It seems to be just the misery of England makes people drink too much for no reason at all.

Your latest release has some interesting bonus tracks on the deluxe edition. Can you explain where the For Dogs idea came from, and what was the reaction from Napalm?

Record labels these days just want you to have bonus or exclusive content so they can make more grandiose expensive limited edition box sets… apparently for sales or whatever. But, we’re not really a fan of releasing exclusive bonus content. We reckon the 10 songs on the album should be the 10 new songs. It just feels to me to make an actual song as bonus content is the same as that downloadable content with video games nowadays. You have to buy all the DLC stuff to make it a full game, which is just stupid. So, we thought that we should just make bonus tracks be a load of crap. We thought of the worst thing that we could do, and I said ‘I know! Let’s just cut the vocals. I’ll get a cheap Casio keyboard with dog sounds and we’ll play it as the vocal, just one take and just go for it.’ It only took us like 45 minutes and for some reason people liked it. It went really well, we thought it was kind of the worst thing ever! I guess it just shows of what we don’t know what people like and what people like is a lot of junk.

Napalm don’t care what we do. The bonus tracks could have been, you know, 30 minutes of me farting into a microphone…they just want something, anything, that they have the rights too, they don’t care…hahaha

Then the problem was so many people listened to it, and thought that version is the actual album, just dogs for vocals. We’ve had people come to us and say what the hell Alestorm the new albums just dogs!?! What happened to the Pirate Guy! So that’s a problem we didn’t foresee.

M-R: Would you or have you ever considered remixing the album into one long DJ set and call it No Rave but the Sea?

That’s a good point. We should have done that that would have been great if we hadn’t done the dog thing that wouldn’t a bit amazing this to just a techno those of the whole album. I think next time we’re going to do that. Something similar to that because obviously we can’t do the dogs doing all over again. It’s done that you know so we’ll pick us up. I was thinking an entire techno or chiptune of the around would be great.

M-R: Napalm have recently signed your Plate of Beans project. Can you tell me the story behind that?

Did you see the video where we announce the signing, with me and just a plate of beans? That’s pretty much a true story. Me and my friends were just discussing record labels and all that. We thought ‘Napalm would sign anything, I bet they would sign a plate of beans’. So, we said ‘let’s do it! let’s make an album where the theme is a plate of beans! Or one of the band members is just some beans on a plate!’. They said ‘yes sure’. Obviously, they only took it because it had my name attached to it. They thought it would sell, Alestorm fans would buy anything… but yeah that’s actually exactly what happened. Then we did it, and I actually really like the music! I guess a lot of people thought it was just going to be fart-jokes for half an hour. But all the songs all the music was written by the guitar player of Troldhaugen from Wollongong. Matt wrote all the music, we collaborated on the structure and the lyrics, and for the show in Sydney Beans is going to be the opening band. Matt and Simon from Troldhaugen are the musicians in the band and I’m singing. So, it’s going to be our world exclusive first ever show as Plate of Beans in Sydney. I’m absolutely crapping myself because all the songs are really difficult and complicated! All electronic stuff, it’s all going to be live, with backing tracks, but live with crazy break-beats on drums and all that stuff, so yeah.

M-R: Already having a No: 1 album and selling out shows all over the globe. What do Alestorm want to achieve next? Is there anything you want to do that you haven’t been able to?

I mean, I wouldn’t say no to a Grammy but yours gotta have a goal, right? I just want to keep on getting bigger and better and doing bigger things. I love the whole giant metal circus huge soak show thing. So, I think it’s great fun we could do some cool stuff with that so just keep on getting bigger and better and hopefully not get forgotten about… so we’ll see.

M-R: Lastly do you have a favourite Aussie beer/booze? And how does it compare to the rest of the word in your opinion?

I’m a bit of a piss drinker. I would never say no to a pint a VB to be honest. However, your runs a pile of shite Bundabergs awful…

Interview Date: 2019-01-07

Interviewer: Jonathan Hurley