Interview: Pirates Alive

“There’s nothing better than seeing our songs played to surfing, which we love.” – Jarrod Inns


The sun is only just setting as Jarrod Inns of Pirates Alive answers my phone call. Himself and his fellow band member, Michael Cottrell are well on their way to a gig in Yamba, with the third member, Sam Dunlop, slightly ahead of the pack in another vehicle. The guys pop me on the loudspeaker and proceed to mystify me with mention of nicknames like Bubby Inns, Moochael Cottrell and Scooby Dunlop, as well as talk of being followed by Sailor Jerry rum.

I only have 15 minutes with the fellas, so I choose to try and shake off these outlandish claims and get this interview on the road. After all, Pirates Alive have played at festivals such as Gold Coast’s Big Day Out, Surfers Paradise Festival and the Bleach Fest. They’ve been the musical choice for a handful of board riding film projects, and they have most people who cross their path entranced by this dance-inducing mix of school mates, leading followers into fun-filled nights.

Who’s who and who does what?

I’m Jarrod Inns and I mostly play the guitar, and I play bass in a few songs. Michael Cottrell is our lead singer and bassist, and Sam Dunlop is our drummer.

How did you guys get together?

I met Mike at school in year eight. He left school in year ten to do tiling, and then Michael came to my school in year 12. We’ve all  sort of knew that we played instruments, so we would always have a jam. Sam was in the school band and grew up playing the drums. Mike and I would always jam a lot on the acoustics growing up.

Sam then moved out and got his own place. We’d hang out the back of his house and play acoustics. Then Mike and I moved out together and would hang and jam out to electrics. We just kept playing together, started getting gigs and just rolled with it from there.

What are the main venues that you guys play at on the Gold Coast?

You have Elsewhere, The Loft, Miami Shark Bar, The Clock is always good, and we go to Byron a lot because it’s always fun to play at. Yeah, we just grab hold of good shows when someone asks us.

How would you describe your music to our readers?

It’s a mixture of a few different things. We really like the Black Lips, The Hives and the Kinks, but then we also like bands like Nirvana and Tame Impala.

Our songs that are a mix of this, we’ll sing and have fun. Our new song ‘Modest’ is a lot heavier and darker, but that’s what we like doing. We kind of just have fun, and do the songs that we like playing on stage.

Modest is part of your new EP? When’s that dropping?

Yeah. I’m not sure. We’ve done two songs for it that we’re really happy with. I’d probably say in the next six months. We want to take a bit of time with it. Get about six tracks on it and make them good, make the sound that we want to enjoy hearing.

How did you get your first few festival gigs?

We recorded a demo with three tracks. Two of them we didn’t like, but we really liked ‘Sunshine Girl’. It was fun and cool, so we worked off that and released it as a single. From that, we just grew a name at gigs like the Loft. We had a lot of friends who would come to the shows and get loose. It was another excuse to party with our friends.

It grew from there, and we had these few songs that we could play together. So we went to Sydney a few times and put together some more tracks that we really liked and released it as an EP. And that’s where we got gigs like Big Day Out from. A lot of it grew from there. We just sort of did our own thing and kept partying.

What do you prefer, festival gigs or pubs gigs?

That’s a hard one. It’s good playing to a big crowd, but we have so much fun at a local gig with our mates. When they’re pretty much stealing the mics off of us and doing a full stage invasion before we’ve finished our sets. Yeah, I would definitely say the smaller ones; they’re pretty awesome.

You’ve had songs featured with Volcom and Quiksilver team videos. Did you guys gravitate towards projects like that naturally because you’re surfers?

Definitely. It sort of started off with us getting guys who had heard our songs and were filming their friends to throw us on. There’s nothing better than seeing our songs played to surfing, which we love. One of our songs got used in the Volcom groms team video of them travelling up the East Coast.

Then we went to the snow and met a few of the boys like Tom Pelley and Jai West. We hung out with them and they knew mates who liked our music, and so it went from there. One of our songs was used in the 2012 Dew Video Battle Quiksilver entry.

You’re sponsored by Sailor Jerry, you lucky bastards, what does this entail?

What they do is put on shows where they’ll bring about 6 bottles of rum for everyone. There’ll be bands like ours playing and they’ll have cheap drinks on. It’s a hell of a good time!

When do you think is the best occasion to knock back a glass of Sailor Jerry?

There’s never a bad situation to knock back a glass of Sailor Jerry.


Click here to listen to Pirates alive on triple J Unearthed.

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© Jonathan Boonzaaier 2016