Towards the end of 2009, I found myself looking to expand my metal horizons. With a quick venture into some of the more eclectic sub-genres of metal, I started dabbling in “folk metal” and bands such as Korpiklaani and Ensiferum. However, I quickly found my attention turned toward a smaller group of acts which we lovingly refer to as “pirate metal.” I’m not talking about a song you illegally downloaded online, but I’m instead referring to thrash and power metal bands who enjoy singing about pirates. As I set sail into this unique and almost outrageous class of music, I stumbled across Alestorm and Swashbuckle, who bring a sometimes humorous, yet adventurous side, to not only their music, but to their stage shows as well.
To gain some insight into the scurvy world of pirate metal, Metalholic’s Gabe Baker sat down with Swashbuckle front man, Admiral Nobeard
Metalholic: For those who haven’t walked the plank yet, can you tell us a little bit about how Swashbuckle came to be? I know that Patrick and Justin actually met at a Red Lobster…does that have any impact on the whole pirate theme? =)
Admiral Nobeard: In mid 2005, The Commodore and myself got together, wrote some songs, found a drummer and basically started doing the goofy shit that the ‘buckle is known for today. As for meeting at a Red Lobster, yes it has an impact on our piratical shenannigans, since those cheddar bay biscuits are beyond delicious, we felt like we had to steal them. Oh sweet buttery goodness….nom nom nom.
MH: Can you tell us a little about the whole “pirate metal” genre? With bands like Swashbuckle and Alestorm, there is quite a following…
AN: It’s not a genre, that’s for sure. We play thrash metal, we just happen to sing about pirates much like Alestorm plays power metal and just so happens to sing about pirates as well. And with a handful of bands doing something with a theme, does it really constitute it’s own genre? Riddle me that, snapdad!
MH: Did the bands New Jersey root’s play a part in the whole pirate theme?
AN: Not really. Sure it has some history with pirates, but who gives a shit about history! This is our story! Wacka Wacka Wacka!
MH: Is the pirate theme a humorous attempt to loosen up metal fans…or do you guys actually feel you relate to the pirate lifestyle?
AN: Totally. We enjoy fun more than we enjoy shagging your scurvy-ridden mother, and we want to bring that to the legions of metalheads out there who also enjoy fun and shaggin’ yar mother. And if you can’t have fun with us, then go fuck yourself. As far as relating to the pirate lifestyle, being in a touring band is quite like being a pirate. You’re dirty, you smell, sometimes you steal necessities, you also pilfer and pillage peoples eardrums, and you always have some sort of authority trying to go against what ye do….fucking border patrol….
MH: When you first released the “Yo Ho Demo” back in 2005, did you find it hard to gain credibility as a “pirate” band?
AN: Credibility? Really? C’mon son! Who the fuck you kiddin’. We never looked for acceptance, we just played songs we loved, and did silly antics that we thought were funny. We still do the same shit today, just on a larger scale. We didn’t have goals to be “the most credible pirate metal band on the face of the planet,” because if we set out to do that, it’d be pretty fucking stupid. We have tricorn hats and frilly shirts. Who the fuck cares about credibility when you have a stuffed parrot on your fucking shoulder?!
MH: You guys have toured alongside bands such as Korpiklaani, Tyr, and White Wizzard this year…were there any memorable moments? How was the fan reaction to your stage show?
AN: It’s always a blast touring with Korpiklaani. Those dudes are just like we do, they don’t give a fuck about anything other than playing music they love, having fun, and drinking themselves into a party-enduced coma. White Wizzard we’re cool dudes, we had a lot of fun at the expense of their guitarist Erik. Dude would be passed out, drunk as fuck, and we’d end up just drawing dicks all over him with markers. It was glorious. Reactions to our set were rather good. There’s always gonna be people who either love or hate what we do, but damn us if we don’t make them mosh regardless, and that’s what we did.
MH: I know you guys have a reputation for pointing out fans who are not having a good time or enjoying your performance, I think that is fucking hilarious…how did that start?
AN: We’ve done that since we started playing shows. I’ve been doing that for years with other bands I’ve been in. It’s honestly a good kick in the ass to those sad panda bears who need to get back to the fun zoo. What’s better than embarrassing the shit out of someone who’s got a fucking sourpuss face on, with their arms cross not having fun? Get the fuck over yourselves, you paid money to see bands play, let go of the elitist-scenester attitude and mosh it up with everyone else.
MH: “Back To The Noose” was released in 2009. There was a three year lapse between Noose and your first album “Crewed By The Damned”, were you guys touring a lot, or is the songwriting and recording process a long one for Swashbuckle?
AN: A large portion of Back To The Noose was written during the time Crewed By The Damned was recorded. It just took a while to put out due to funds and trying to refine the songs to our liking. We write songs rather quickly, so it’s not like we need 17 years between records to write a riff. The recording process was a pain in the ass, we had to retrack drums, but once it got rollin’ everything else came quickly. Right now we’re in the middle of recording a new record that should be out sometime in September, so be on the lookout for that.
MH: I know you guys have to have some humorous stories from the road…care to share a memorable one?
AN: There’s so many to choose from, uh… let’s see. During the Vader tour, the dudes in Augury had this double-ended dildo that they acquired, so while we were playing a show in Pittsburgh, Matt (guitarist of Augury) and a couple of dudes from Rose Funeral ended up throwing it around in the middle of the pit during Vader. This random ass dude got pissed off and threw the dildo in the garbage. So Matt grabbed it out of the can and started fucking with the guy. He chucked the dildo at his head while he was watching the band, and then the dude flipped out. He took a swing at Matt, and then all the sudden Matt took him down to the floor and started hitting him in the head with the dildo, It was fucking hysterical. Once the bouncers saw it, they grabbed the dude and started dragging him outside, all while he started crying “He hit me with a dildo! HE HIT ME WITH A DILDO!!” Needless to say we all received a great laugh at that guys expense.
MH: Do you see a future for new “pirate metal” bands?
AN: No. No future at all.
MH: This spring I understand you’re be hitting the road in North America with Hyprocrisy. What else is on tap for 2010?
AN: We’ll be coming around with Hypocrisy in May, then with Soilwork and Death Angel in July/August. After that, we’ll be heading over to Europe for the Heidenfest in September, releasing our new record around the same time, as well as playing 70,000 Tons of Metal in Jan 2011. So if ye be looking for a real cruise ship terror, ye best get on that shit! Other than that, we’ll also be doing a shit ton of high fives, and playing enthralling games of Yahtzee.
MH: Thanks for taking the time to talk with our readers. Do you have any final thoughts to share?
AN: Ye be welcome. The only final thoughts I have, John Tardy already wrote.