Pirate Metal legends Alestorm will be setting sail for the Great Southern Land once more in just a few weeks, and in anticipation of the event – including a recently sold out Melbourne show – we had a chat with frontman and keytarist Christopher Bowes about their music and upcoming voyage.

With Alestorm’s latest album ‘No Grave but the Sea’ having been on shelves since 2017, Bowes reflects, “Musically, it’s been a party, this album. There’s a lot of fun songs. We’ve really honed our song writing craft in working out what works well, and what doesn’t. We do that every album, we sort of refine the music and figure out what was good, and what was bad, and really just distil it to the purest essence of what is good song writing as far as Alestorm’s concerned. We’re getting there. There’s still a lot of progress to be made; I’ve still got a lot of better songs I want to write one day in the future. But as far as what it’s meant for the band as a whole, this new album’s brought us to levels we’ve never had before. The shows are getting bigger and stupider and more ridiculous in ways we could never have possibly imagined, even a couple of years ago. So it’s definitely on the up.”

As for that future, Bowes continues, “We’re actually going to start writing the next album already. I’m probably going to think about that in the next month, start writing some shit and see where we go; and hopefully have something out next year.”

In the meantime, Alestorm are no strangers at all to Australian shores, and Bowes looks back on the memories of previous tours. “This is going to be tour number five for us. We first came over in 2010. For me that was the most phenomenal experience. We were a bunch of stupid kids playing stupid music, and someone actually said, ‘Hey, do you guys want to get in a plane and fly to the other side of the world?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah!’ That was mind-blowing, because where we come from, going to Australia is, if you’re lucky, a once in a lifetime experience, and here was us getting flown there on someone else’s dollar and getting all this cool stuff. It was incredible. That was the first thing that struck me, just how awesome it all was. And I love eating food,” he goes on wistfully. “I’ve had so much good food in Australia. It’s my favourite thing about that place, it’s just eating food. You have excellent things to eat.”

Given Alestorm’s obvious attachment to the fermented and brewed side of life, Bowes was given the brainteaser of describing Australia in terms of an alcoholic beverage, which took some consideration. “It’s not very sophisticated,” he begins, “but it’s very warm,” he adds with a laugh. “And it’s large. I guess a big, hot, steaming pan of malt liquor.” Still laughing, he observes, “Sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? If I were to make an Australia cocktail, it would be a giant glass filled with warm malt liquor.”

With that intriguing image in mind, Bowes goes on to describe what he’s most looking forward to about returning to Australia. “It’ll be nice to be back in a country where people can understand the nonsense that we say on stage, because on our last tour we were in Eastern Europe and Southern Europe, places where English is very much a third language. I like to say a lot of nonsense on stage and kind of waffle on between songs, tell some weird stories sometimes, and then I catch myself and realise that no one in the audience understands a single word that I’m saying. So it’ll be nice to be a bit more natural on stage and have some good banter.”

Speaking of weird stories, Bowes reveals that little of what he writes is based in real world history, but is far more a product of his imagination. “We’ve only ever actually referenced historical events twice. The song 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena) is about the Battle of Cartagena in 1741,” he points out wryly, “in which some British people all died trying to invade Columbia. Then the title track of our latest album, No Grave but the Sea, is based on some battle in 1783, I think, where the British fleet attacked the French fleet somewhere in the Caribbean. There was a big battle and all the French people died, the end. But apart from that, we don’t reference much that’s historical. It’s all just pulp, nonsense stories, really that inspire us. I occasionally like to make reference to more real things, but it’s easier just to come up with your own stuff rather than having to try and translate what could be a very complicated historical event into four lines that rhyme with each other. It’s a bit difficult. I’m sure some people could do it, it’s just beyond me.  I just like rhyming ‘treasure’ with ‘pleasure,’ and ‘quest’ with ‘west,’ that’s as deep as I get when it comes to lyric writing. It’s mostly just things we think about, what could be a cool idea for a song? Some madman with hooks for hands who kills people, there you go, there’s a song. Songs appear out of nowhere. It’s the best way to do it, I find.”

If you want to be one of the lucky swashbucklers to make it to the upcoming Alestorm tour, you’d better get in quick! With Melbourne already sold out, the tickets are flying off the gangplank!