Interview with Christopher Bowes and James
Cartwright from Gloryhammer
Interview by Rowena Lamb
Photography by Steve Brown
For their penultimate show on their UK tour Gloryhammer hit The Garage in London. Just prior to the show Metal Rules spoke to Christopher Bowes (Keyboard) and James Cartwright (bass) about their tour, the thinking behind Gloryhammer and the long line of albums yet to come.
So how are you feeling about the gig you’re about to play tonight?
CB: I’m feeling good about this. It’s going to be the biggest one. It’s London. It’s always good. I feel great, I feel like having a party.
JC: I would say it’s going to be good. Big old sing along. A bit of theatre thrown in. [CB: A few goblins here and there.] A big old boozy party hopefully.
So this is the penultimate night of the tour….
Z: Yes tomorrow we have Bilston. The legendary citadel of Bilston.
JC: I’m sure you’ve heard of it. (MR shakes head.)
CB: You’ve heard of Unst, haven’t heard of Bilston! Maybe we’ll put Bilston on the map tomorrow…or take it off the map.
JC: Yeah. I think what you meant was the penultimate gig for Bilston. [Laughs] I’m pretty sure the Robin 2 will close down.
CB: They’ll declare bankruptcy. They’ll be, we give up. We’ll never have any more bands again, this is a bad idea.
Do they know this, that you’re going there with that aim to close them down?
CB: Well we don’t mean that but it’s inevitable really. We can’t help it, it’s just who we are.
Is this your way of saying this could be the penultimate night for the Garage?
CB: Oh no, The Garage will be fine. This gig’s going to be great, it’s gonna be a nice night. No worry. No worry Garage, London you’re fine!
You have the Darkest Era and Dandera on your tour. How did you decide which bands you wanted to come with you?
CB: Darkest Era, I toured with them before as Alestorm, last year they supported us and they’re good guys and good fun, and their manager sent me an email and say ‘Hey, do you want Darkest Ear your tour’? Yeah they’re a band, people have heard of them, that’ll do. Because quite frankly, Gloryhammer is not exactly the biggest band in the world. We’re struggling to find bands of any repute who wanted to play with us. So yeah.
JC: There were a few big names that wanted in but..
CB: Well they kind of did but then they said yeah we’ll play if you give us thousands upon thousands of pounds. No! We don’t have that money.
JC: But we have good bands on the tour. Dendera they’re obviously up and coming.
CB: Darkest Era are doing their second album and Dendars their first one was out last year, so they’re coming along. Yeah, it’s a good little tour.
How did you come up with or decide to come up with the story behind Gloryhammer?
CB: Me and Gaz the bass player from Alestorm we were on your in 2009, tried to think of the most ridiculous concept for a song or a band or an album, and then we just suddenly out of nowhere said the unicorn invasion of Dundee. But yeah, that is the stupidest thing we could possibly think of and me being me I kind of got carried away with it and yeah, wrote an album, and got a record deal and hired the Hootsman …and here we are.
JC: Then it went too far.
CB: It’s gone far too far.
JC: And now we’re playing The Garage.
How did you decide on your different characters?
CB: I don’t know.
JC: Well Winkler is probably the best looking male I’ve ever seen.
CB: Yeah, our singer’s a very handsome man so of course he has to be the prince.
JC: He’s a prince of Dundee; they’re all good looking guys from there.
CB: Oh very handsome city, excellent gene stock in Dundee.
JC: Zargothraz, you are pretty evil.
CB: You like saying ‘hoot’s [JC: apparently] and you look like a Viking so you had to be the barbarian guy.
CB: Ben our drummer, I think he lives in a cave so it makes sense for him to be the cave dwelling hermit. I think the characters are just a reflection of our real personalities. Yeah our guitar tech dresses like a goblin, cause he looks a bit like a goblin.
JC: It’s a reflection of people’s actually personalities.
So, the invasion of Dundee by undead unicorns as far as being an evil wizard it’s probably one of the cruelest things you could have done, to pick a unicorn.
CB: As everyone knows in the lush green fields of Fife the great herds of unicorns roam free across the lands and [JC: band things happen some times. Sorcerers come along] ..they need an army so they may as well. Here’s some unicorns [snaps fingers] you’re undead now….fucking attack Dundee.
So it’s more about recycling?
CB: Yeah, he’s a very conscientious sorcerer. He’s part of that slow food movement so he likes to source his undead armies from the local area.
I read in another interview that you have 21 albums planned for Gloryhammer.
CB: There’s going to be 3 sets of 7. I think the first 7 are going to deal with Angus McFife and his descendants and ancestors, because it’s a sage that spans across the entire galaxy through space and time. Once those 7 are done I think we’ll change the theme completely.
The next one is set in space and the one after that is set in 17th century Japan and then after that we go back to Fife. And then the fifth one is basically James Bond but its called Casino Dundee. Coming to a cd player near you in about 2027. I’ve got as far as 5, I’ve not thought of 6 or 7 yet. Maybe there’ll be a cowboys and Indians one.
Why is the next one set in space and then the next one back to ancient Japan?
CB: Well ok….at the end of the first album, I’m not sure how in-depth familiar you are with the stupid lyrics. Basically the evil sorcerer falls from the top of a tower and lands in this frozen pool of liquid ice where he gets totally Hans Solo’d and frozen in carbonite, cause he’s immortal so he gets frozen there but he’s still alive. But then the knights of Kreal have sworn to watch over his frozen body for generations. Fast forward a thousand years later to the year 1992 in the far future the knights of Kreal are guarding his body on Triton which is the largest moon of Neptune. So he’s there in a space prison guarded by space knights. But then some occult of chaos wizards come and they attack and kill all the space knights and release Zargothrax. But his body is all battered and torn and so they have to rebuild him Darth Vader style so he’s all like this [Darth Vader breathing] “I am Zargothrax”.
So anyway, he sets out he fly’s back to Earth and once again attacks Dundee, cause the whole reason he’s attacking Dundee is that it’s built in a volcano. In real life it’s built on a volcano it’s called the Law it’s a dormant volcano. Underneath the volcano is an galactic nexus that was built by alien civilisations countless millennia ago and that is the key to unlocking a great gateway to the parallel dimension through which some sort of great alien, tentacle monster of doom can come through and he’ll take over the universe, and the evil sorcerer is basically his servant.
So he sets about doing that and all the while Angus McFife the thirteenth, his great, great, great, great (etc) grandson is the prince of space Dundee. He comes back to defeat Zargothrax, but he doesn’t get there in time and the only way to stop him is to destroy planet Earth, which is a big crisis of confidence, he’s like ‘ah I can’t do it’ but he has to, to save the universe he must destroy his home. So he destroys the planet Earth and it sort of collapses into a black hole. It’s actually a worm hole, so Zargothrax escapes through the worm hole and Angus McFife has to follow him through the worm hole and of course it pops out in 17th Century feudal Japan, with samurai and stuff.
So Zargothrax and Angus McFife continue their battle in Japan with metazors and power rangers and stuff.
How does your mind work?
CB: I don’t know. [Laughs]
JC: I’m really looking forward to seeing that in print.
CB: That’s album 3. I’m not sure how we’re going to get to 1950’s Montecarlo and James Bond, but you know, we’ll find a way. Got a couple of years to think about that yet.
Is that what’s next for you after this tour you’re going to get together to write it?
CB: Well we’re going to do a few more. We’re going to try and play everywhere. We’ve got a few festivals lined up but we really want a proper European tour. The land of power metal in Germany where it gets very confused. They take power metal very seriously over there and then they’ll see us and they won’t know what to think.
How was Metal Days because I hadn’t heard of that before?
JC: It’s quite a big festival.
CB: Roughly 10 thousand people all nestled into the alpine mountains of Slovenia. It’s very nice.
JC: I was very pleased with the turn out there, especially as I think we had the best crowd for our time slot throughout the whole week.
CB: And that’s probably the biggest stage we’ll play for some time; main stage at a European festival, that’s pretty wild.
Well you played it twice…
CB: Yeah I played it twice that day with food poisoning. It was one of my least happy days of the year. Just after Gloryhammer finished I went behind the stage and vomited and then I continued vomiting all afternoon and when it was time for the Alestorm show I went on stage. Had to go off stage twice to vomit during that show and spent one song sitting down singing because I just could not stand up. I felt really bad for everyone, because there was some kid in the front row just giving me that look like ‘Why?! I came five thousand miles to see you.’
JC: But we pulled it off. If anything it was funny just looking at your face on the big screen. [Laughs] Slowly walking off into the distance to vomit in a bucket…coming back out to do a keyboard solo laying down, with a green face. I think it was the best time I’ve ever seen you.
CB: No. No it was not.
All credit to you, you went back on stage.
CB: Yeah we played the full show, played for an hour and then I continued to vomit for the rest of the evening.
Thank you for chatting to us. Before we go is there anything else you wanted to add?
CB: Bee bee