"They called him Captain Shady,” Captain Dan said. “He died young, like 22, had a couple kids and he was a rabid fan. When he passed, his friends called us and said: ‘He loved you guys so much, would you send us some instrumentals for us when we walk his casket in?’”
They made an entire song about him: “All Me Mateys Dead and Gone” -- a thank you to one fan, and all fans by extension, for listening. The family was extremely grateful.
“It was a very touching moment,” said Brad Podray AKA Sea Dawg, current leader of the Scurvy Crew. “You wouldn’t expect that from a goofball pirate rap group, but here we are.”
Other pirate metalheads in the genre aren’t known to treat their patrons or crowds with the same light-hearted deference. Swashbuckle’s Admiral Nobeard, real name Pat Henry, has a legendarily dark sense of humor.
“We don’t take bullshit lightly, and we’re very vicious with our humor,” Henry said. “We’ll verbally berate the entire crowd, and sometimes they get butt hurt about it. But really, dude? We’re up here in frilly shirts -- you should probably laugh.”
Deckard Cordwain, who plays the Octave Mandolin (a lower-pitched mandolin) in the Dread Crew of Oddwood, recalled a particularly harsh moment during a shared bill with Swashbuckle.
“So we have this thing called a rowing pit, where basically like 30 people in the audience all drop to the floor and start rowing together,” Deckard said. “We were playing with Swashbuckle and Pat [Henry] sees this and just stops the show to talk sh*t: ‘What the f*ck are you guys doing? You all look so stupid.’”
“A lot of people are turned off by the humor, but if you look at it, all metal is goofy as f*ck,” Admiral Nobeard said. “Like the birth of black metal, with all the face paint, and they’re crawling in the woods and sh*t -- that’s hilarious. Before that, Judas Priest, wearing all leather, talking about ramming it down, so ridiculous. I always found humor in the metal I listened to.”
He admits the pirate shtick is a gimmick, but it pays the bills better than any of his previous thrash bands ever did. It’s a common theme. The pirate life wasn’t many of these bands’ first choice, but it has given many artists the ability to travel around the country, and in some cases the world, leading nightly brawls and living a life of adventure. Alestorm continues to book bigger festivals, and find more like-minded bands that can keep up with their lunacy. The audiences’ enthusiasm shocks even the veterans sometimes.
“It’s a beautiful sight,” Bowes said, awe in his voice as he describes the reactions to Alestorm’s latest gag: chucking an 8-foot rubber duck into the crowd and urging them to tear it apart. “A sea of pirates swarming a rubber duck -- not a thing you’d expect to see at a metal show, but it’s what we do. We love it. It’s definitely still on the way up. As long as I can keep writing good albums, or at least acceptable albums, and the songs don’t suck too bad, we’ll see how this goes.”