Hey, Dani! I keep missing you on-line! How’s everything going?
Hey, I’m doing well. Had a bit of a shitty week but getting past it and gearing up for the shows coming up in the next couple of weeks. Watching The Dark Knight while doing this interview, so you could say I’m going good!
I really appreciate you taking some time to answer some questions. Sorry it took so long. Back Through Time…it’s the new Alestorm CD, and it’s currently out. What’s the feedback been like from the fans and press? Was it what you expected?
Aye, it’s not a worry dude! I’ve not been at my best recently, a lot of interviews for the release!
The feedback has been hellishly mixed, which is entirely what we expected. Some people absolutely hate the album and have told us to stop making music, other people love it and want more and more. We don’t make music to change the world, we make fun music that people can enjoy. I think the people who hate the album are the ones who take music far too seriously or at least, take elements of music too seriously.
The biggest backlash we’ve encountered is with the title track “Back Through Time” in which we attack the whole ‘Viking’ side of folk metal. A lot of people have mailed us in regards to the track itself and asked why we’re going after Vikings, or telling us that we’ll be crushed by Oden or Thor or whatever fairytale they’re happy to spout, whilst on the whole, none of them understand anything about Nordic history and lore. We’ve no problems with that or the bands who play in that scene(hell we’re good friends with a lot of them, Heri Joensen (Tyr) plays a guest solo on this album), we just think that the kids of take that side of music too seriously are the problem. That’s what the song digs at more than anything.
You’ve played some shows as of late I believe. Did you play any of the songs off Back Through Time and, if you did, what was the crowd’s response at the shows?
We have indeed! We have played “Back Through Time”, “Shipwrecked” and “Rum” currently and we’re adding “Sunk’n Norwegian” and “Midget Saw” to the live set sometime in the coming weeks, mainly when we get some time to rehearse the songs!
The crowds response early on was unsure as we hadn’t released anything from the album but now we’ve toured some of the songs with the album backing it the crowds have been loving it, with the new intro and opener (BTT) the crowd gets involved extremely quickly and we try to keep that pace up for the whole set. We’ve been lucky getting a lot of longer sets up to 90 minutes which means we can play a lot of new stuff and a lot of the more popular songs from our back catalogue! Which I think a lot of people appreciate.
Before the album dropped you guys released the song “Shipwreck” on-line to give the fans a taste of the album. Do you think doing that had helped the sale of the album?
That was the main plan. Giving people a sample track early on means they’ll keep updated on the progress of the release and the other tracks we may release early. We released ‘Back Through Time’ as an iPod/iPhone/iPad sneak preview a few days before the first release date of the album. I think all of this will get people catching on and being interested in the album earlier which means more pre-order sales for us which means we’ll have more ability to go and tour all over the world sooner rather than later!
You also shot a video for that song, and I gotta say it looks very Pirates of the Caribean-ish. Was that sort of the goal, or do you guys not see it the way I do?
We didn’t really go in with any goal on the video. We wanted to make a video people would enjoy and have a good laugh with or indeed, a lot of drinks. The whole “beach” element came of it from the theme of the song more than anything. As being shipwrecked you envision a beach and a wrecked ship. I guess it does come across because of PotC but it wasn’t really our intention to copy that scene.
Is there any talk about a possible second music video from Back Through Time?
Of course! It won’t be for a little while yet but we most certainly want to do another video from the album. Who knows, we may even let the fans choose the next video. We’ll just have to see what happens!
When you go look back on the previous two albums, how do you look at Back Through Time? Do you guys think it greatly differs, or are you trying to retain that same generally fun sound from the first album. Why is that?
With the line-up changes, more on the recording side of things more than the live performance there was obviously going to be different attitudes going into this album as opposed to the last two.
The whole band was involved in this and we all recorded our parts this time around which, to us changed the whole dynamic as generally it’s sessions drummers and the like, which took away from the fun element of the albums for us. They were fun to make, no question but it didn’t feel like a consolidated effort. With this one we’ve taken all our influences and just gone all out with them. We always want to make a fun album but this is the first one that I’m personally completely satisfied with.
You mention in one of the songs that people claim you’ll run out of material. Just how much do you guys have in store for future albums, such as source material or anything new you may already have in mind?
At the moment, we’re not even thinking about a new album for another 18 months or so. We want this current tour cycle to run it’s course and then we can work on getting back to the studio for album 4. At the moment we’re concentrating on improving the live setting over anything else!
The more you think about it, I have to ask whether you think by writing a song not about pirates but essentially a “fuck you” track to them, you may have proved them right in their own minds?
By no means at all. There is such a plethora of things we can sing about with this band. It may have a main theme of pirates but we don’t feel constricted to sing about history and pirates of old. On the whole these are just fun stories about booze and partying. There’s not feeling that it has to be piratical and filled with reference.
“Scraping” is a song to all the people who hate us. Who compare us to Running Wild. They can take whatever they want away from that song but the song is telling all of those people that we will continue making this music as long as people will keep listening to it. Right now we’re on a huge upsurge in our careers and we aren’t going to stop because some people are too narrow-minded to see that we’re doing something right to still be around!
Well, hopefully you guys really don’t, but, I do have my own personal gripe with the album. With a title like Back Through Time and the first track setting up pirates going back in time to fight vikings, why didn’t Alestorm take advantage of that and make it a conceptual album with a story?
Concept albums are retarded. Basically. I refer back to my earlier statements. We don’t feel constricted to singing about pirates of old and all that. Writing a concept album wouldn’t work with us. We sing songs about stuff(loosely based on pirates), not stories. We’d get bored writing a concept album in days. I’ll leave that to the Swedes and Finnish.
Given the rather epic closing track, is it possible we could be looking at something like that, or perhaps a much more serious approach to the next album? Does the band actually want to eventually go in this direction to at least experiment?
Being a huge death metal fan, I would have loved this band to be like that the whole time. Though of course, it would not have worked.
We are certainly going to be taking the response from “Death Throes” and considering it heavily in the next writing process. It has had rapturous applause almost across the board so we’re wanting to continue with something similar in the future. Possibly, who knows, we’ve yet to start writing anything yet!
How did the concept of pirates vs. vikings actually come about anyhow?
I have no idea. I’ll blame popular culture.
I don’t know, I don’t pay attention to what the kids talk about these days. I think it was something to do with that..this isn’t my area, I just play guitar.
How about “Midget Saw”? How does that track fit in with the pirate lyrical theme?
Well, I think we can safely say we like to take things to the illogical extremes sometimes.
This song came about more so out of drunken fun than any on this album. Pete (drums) came up with the little melody at the beginning and some of our mates came up with silly lyrics. Christopher put it together into a song, I added a solo and there you have it… Midget Saw!
In answering it though, I have no idea. It’s just an awesome sounding song!
There’s also the six second track “Rumpelkombo”. Was this Alestorm’s random Grindcore moment, or does it have some kind of importance to the band, music, or the track the hits right after, “Barrett’s Privateers”?
This is on the album more for the band and close friends/touring buddies of Alestorm.
The story goes: In January 2009 we were on tour with the aging German heavy metal band Grave Digger. Doing a Spanish (or Italian) show where there was no backstage and virtually no space behind the stage. Chris Bolthendahl (?..I don’t care) was conducting an interview with a Spanish (maybe Italian) journalist and when asked what he thought of touring with us, our lead singer overheard him calling us a ‘Rumpelkombo’. We’ve asked around our German speaking friends and the best we could come up with as a translation is some form of “noisy band”, essentially calling us shit. So we took that and Chris wrote the couple of seconds of noise that is the song in question!
Were there any problems writing the material for the album or during the recording phase?
Not at all. With this album we had the smoothest and easiest sessions we’ve ever had. This line-up is a lot more talented than anything we’ve ever entered the studio with and this made the actual recording a lot faster and smoother.
We entered the studio with all the material written and rehearsed to some extent. Everything was done within a month and then the mixing was another couple of weeks and then we had a finished album within 2 months, and I must say we couldn’t be happier with the final product!
How about any interesting stories that happen to be tied to this album. Got any to share?
To be honest, when we’re in the studio we’re all taking it easy. There wasn’t too much in the way of debauchery while we were there. We hit up a couple of gigs in Hamburg (namely our managers band, Kataklysm) but we tried to take care of ourselves so we could make the recording go smoothly. That was our main aim!
I see you guys have plenty of shows lined up, including some US dates. Are you all anxious to get back to the States?
I cannot wait. It’s been far too long since we’ve been in the US and now we’re all just chomping at the bit to get back over there and hit up those shores again. We’ve got a lot of mixed shows coming up including our first ever Mexican show so we’re all extremely excited about kicking that tour off! It’s going to be a good one!
Now, I know you’re a gamer. Is there anything you’re playing right now, interested in playing, or wish you had the time to play?
Well, as you well know, I’m a dedicated Xbox gamer. At the moment I’m playing far too much! *Laughs* On my 360 I’m playing L.A. Noire, Red Faction: Armageddon, Star Ocean 4 and Castlevania: Lord Of Shadows,/b>. On my laptop I’m playing Dawn of War II and all its’ expansions.
I’m also geeky enough to have a Windows Phone. I’m only playing Plants vs. Zombies on that at the moment though. Waiting for some other good games coming out before I go nuts and buy everything!
…All I gotta say to that is good luck with Star Ocean…I love those games but there’s just so much to do… Alright, Dani. Before I let you go, is there anything else you want to mention to the readers out there?
Just to say thanks to you, good Sir Weiss for the awesome interview. Sorry it took so long to get back to you (it took about 10 days for those of you reading this)! All the people reading this, thanks for all your support or hate of this band. You’re all furthering our cause and we won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!
In closing, Eat Scottish Beef.
Interview conducted thanks to Alestorm.