It turns out the answer is five.
That’s correct, five. Each person is allowed to start up to five buccaneer-themed rock bands in their life. I use the term “pirate rock” loosely. The five bands listed below may not always talk or dress like pirates, but you can be assured there is a thread of pirate story among all their songs.
Here are the pirate rock bands I’ve started or helped start. Please let me know in the comments which pirate rock bands you’ve started. Then we can trade tips and techniques for pirate rock band starting.
Hucklescary Finn (1990 to present)
My first pirate rock band, Hucklescary Finn, has released a string of underground EPs dating back to 1990, each centered on the mythology of the pirate kingdom of Scamalot and its fiesty inhabitants Scabby, Otis Rex, Skreebeard, and Perko. I started the band with my best friend Matt Giger, who drums on most of the recordings.
It was for this band that I purchased the used Musser xylophone that has since appeared on stage and in recordings by nearly every band on this page (with the exception of Postmodern Pirates).
The song “Otis Likes it Rough” is about the adventures of Perko, the mysterious onetime king of Scamalot. Although this band rarely performs, its pirate rock sound was emulated by Pirate Jenny, Captain Bogg & Salty, and Postmodern Pirates. All three of those bands covered numerous Hucklescary Finn songs.
Pirate Jenny (1994 to present)
Pirate Jenny’s first album “Never-Sea Land” was hailed as “The Pet Sounds of Pirate Music” by Portland’s Willamette Week, which also chronicled their shows at the 1201 Club, Berbatis, and Satyricon in the 1990s. Although the band was an outlier in a city full of grunge, they drew their own crowd of fanatics, and even induced a few bands to cover their songs.
Regardless of their new-wave pop and metal sensibilities, Pirate Jenny will always be known for ska beats and dime store costumes. And also Paul Iannotti’s stormy xylophone solos, which he carried over into his post as Captain Bogg & Salty’s sea cook Sunny Jim.
Still together and recording, Pirate Jenny will release their fourth full-length album in 2020. If you want to be informed about the new album, please sign up for my monthly newsletter.
Captain Bogg & Salty (1999 to 2009)
Captain Bogg & Salty took Portland’s pirate rock to a whole new level, creating a blistering new brew of metal, folk, ska, and jazz that ignited a second-wave of pirate rock fandom. Led by the tough but lovable Captain Angus Bogg (Loren Hoskins), they were the first pirate band to stay in character, and the first to venture beyond Portland — touring NYC, and Southern California.
The Never Land Pirate Band (2009 to 2013)
When Disney discovered Captain Bogg & Salty, and then hired myself and Loren Hoskins to compose music for their new show Jake & The Never Land Pirates, we never anticipated the wild ride we were in for.
After animating our likenesses into the show, and inviting us to provide singing voices for those characters — Sharky and Bones — Disney sent us on tour as the live action pirate rockers of the Never Land Pirate Band, playing the songs that we’d written for their show. We also performed in live-action music videos on the Disney Channel.
Postmodern Pirates (2018 to present)
After production of Jake and the Never Land Pirates finished, I was looking forward to playing pirate rock around Portland again. So I found some good friends to help me start up a new band.
With the help of drummer Thom Sullivan, bassist Jeff Langston, and saxophonists Willy Matheis and Bruce Withycombe, the band surpassed all my expectations for what a pirate rock band could sound like. What made Postmodern Pirates extra special for me was the addition of the horn section — a pirate rock first.
After a year spent carving out a small but loyal fanbase, unexpected shoulder surgery sidelined my plans. A Postmodern Pirates EP is still in the works, and hopefully a new show sometime in the future.
What’s Next for pirate rock?
Now that I’ve reached my five-band limit, I have nowhere else to go but back to one of my prior bands. Or maybe I’ll rewrite the rules and start a sixth pirate rock band. Would that be legal in Oregon?