The pirate metal band known as Swashbuckle has been something of a Central Jersey phenomenon for several years. A thrash metal band that sings songs about parrots, booty and swabbing poop decks. All your typical pirate fare. You know, something to drink to and have a good time.
So it was something of a surprise to everyone (most of all the guys in Swashbuckle) when after being noticed by current GN’R guitarist Bumblefoot, they released a debut album that got the attention of Nuclear Blast, leading to their signing, their sophomore release Back To The Noose and tours across the U.S. and Europe. Not bad for three guys from Trenton dressed up as pirates sporting names like Admiral Nobeard (bass, vocals), Commodore Redrum (guitar) and Captain Crashride (you figure it out). They’ve also been animated in an English video game called Buccaneer (that they’ve never played) and had a themed online video game where you shoot cannons at ships (that they love).
The Admiral, who prefers pineapples to oranges for fighting scurvy and made sure to take the band’s beachside press photos far from the location of Jersey Shore, took some time while preparing for the band’s upcoming stateside land voyage to talk about the band’s rising stock, the pagan and rethrash scenes, and a forthcoming album (spoiler: it’ll be about pirate stuff).
Swashbuckle thing’s really paying off, huh?
Hey man, we’re having fun, and we get to travel the world doing it, so be it.
When did you start this band?
I’d say we started around mid-2005. Just me and the guitar player, Commodore Redrum, messing around writing songs. Picked up our drummer, started playing some local shows, put out a couple demos, played some more shows and basically got to the point we are now.
So this tour with Korpiklaani is kind of like Paganfest 3: North America Edition?
Not really, no. It’s Korpiklaani going out with bands they apparently enjoy. We happen to be one of them, which is weird, I don’t know why (laughs). Awesome dudes though. This is our third time touring with them, so we know each other’s shenanigans by now. I don’t see White Wizzard as being a pagan band, they sound like old Diamond Head/Judas Priest. We are definitely not a pagan band. We sing about stupid pirate bullshit and play thrash metal. Tyr and Korpiklaani are the only pagan-y bands I guess, but even that’s kind of stretching it.
You were on the Paganfest tour with Korpiklaani and Primordial.
The second Paganfest for the U.S., yeah. I don’t know why we were on it, but I mean, it was awesome, we had so much fun, it was great being able to see those bands every night but we don’t really fit the pagan bill.
I’m not really even sure what the pagan bill is.
Apparently it’s some stupid title people slap on the tour so they can get kids who like to wear skirts and throw axes while they’re at home to come. That’s about it dude (laughs).
How much did meeting Bumblefoot catapult this band, in a weird way? He saw you at a show?
Yeah. Well, a while back, he did that ‘Made’ TV show. The first time Bumblefoot ever saw us, the kid who was on that show had a band and he was playing and set up his birthday show and he wanted us to play it, so we played it, and Bumblefoot was there as was all his family and friends. Basically we were running late because no one told us what time we were supposed to play, we ended up showing up late, having our set cut 15 minutes, and that was including setup and breakdown. We got up there, set up within two minutes, and thrashed out 10 songs in under seven minutes.
It was kind of a mindfuck. Bumblefoot was like, ‘Wow. These guys are idiots, they dress like pirates, and they play fast.’ After that, he told Ball Of Freak Music about us, basically got us a record on their label, which was our first record, Crewed By The Damned. Then everything started on the up and up for us. We never really figured we would amount to being on Nuclear Blast and touring the world. We figured we’d just be doing it DIY, playing shitty punk rock (laughs). Now you’re playing with bands you grew up with. It’s nuts.
At this point, how much source material do you have left to mine for pirate clichés? Scurvy, parrots, ships?
Uh, we have at least seven records ready to go, so that’s how much source material we have. So that answers your question (laughs). Dude, you can do whatever you want with this shit. We could do pirates back in time, we can do pirates of the future, we can do space pirates. It doesn’t fucking matter. We can do pirates on the couch watching TV—it’ll be called Tube Surfing.
It’s not a matter of source material, I mean, how many times can you sing about Vikings doing the same shit? And there’s a thousand fucking bands out there doing that stuff. How many times can you sing about Satan taking over the world and being evil and epic? How many songs can you write about Lord Of The Rings? Source material, of course, is always going to be limited. It’s just a question of how well do you use your imagination?
Would you consider your aesthetic to be more like GWAR in that?
Yeah. I mean, we’re there to entertain, but we’re trying to write a little bit better music. Not that GWAR’s not good, I love GWAR, but I try to write a little bit catchier songs, a little bit more memorable stuff. GWAR is an influence just as Iron Maiden would be as would be Def Leppard or Alice Cooper.
As far as the thrash revival goes, why haven’t you been touring with bands like Municipal Waste?
I would love to tour with Municipal Waste, I think that’d be fun. We just did the Vader tour and Warbringer was on it, and we got along with those guys really well, cool dudes and they write killer songs. With us, even though we are a thash band, we don’t have that retro-y feel to it. We don’t really care about hi-tops and skinny-ass jeans and fucking denim vests and stuff. I think that’s why a lot of kids are turned off by us is because we’re kind of a slap in the face of that too-serious-for-everybody deal.
I don’t think I would ever accuse you guys of being serious.
No, no one does and that’s awesome. But a lot of kids are put off by it because they can’t get over themselves and have some fun. Therein lies the trouble. But we need those kids in our lives because they’re always good to make fun of.
Is 2010 a touring year for you?
We’re gonna be doing a ton of touring; we’re also going to be writing our next record this month while we’re on the road, and then recording and putting the final touches on it next month and March as well, so we’ll might have a release probably summer, maybe fall. So there’s another record in the works already. We’ve got six songs ready to go. Have maybe six more or seven more after this tour, and then 45 more once we’re home.
Do you find it easy to write on the road?
This’ll be the first time we actually write on the road, so we’ll find out. But as far as writing goes, it’s riffs we want to hear, we want to play, we don’t really give a shit whether you’re gonna like it. If I like it, then I’m gonna put the stamp of approval on it. I’m writing for me, if people happen to enjoy it, that’s awesome, if not, more power to them.
How many pirate costumes do you have?
There are at least three frilly shirts and we have a couple different changes of coats and vests. When you’re touring, you don’t really get to wash your clothes very much, so that shit really stinks after a week. You change it like once a week and you’re good, but the stench always lingers around. It’s a rather potent musk.
Where you do you get your pirate clothes?
We actually order them online. It’s not very pirate-y. There’s a website called dresslikeapirate.com. That’s where we get our pirate clothes. Hopefully, they hear about that and they sponsor us. That’d be awesome. Free pirate clothes.
You don’t wear the costumes at home I’m hoping.
No, I’m wearing it right now. I wear it every day. We’re real pirates. From Trenton.
Swashbuckle play the Gramercy Theater on Jan. 14 with Korpiklaani, Tyr and White Wizzard.