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Children Of Bodom

A new album by Children Of Bodom is always a reason to sit up straight in your chair itself, but the recently releases album ‘I Worship Chaos’ is nothing less than a master piece, even if you reflect it upon the albums they made in recent years. During my summer holiday this incidentally was the only album I had on my phone and as if the devil played with it my cd player in my car stammered too, so yes, I heard it quite a bit. And every consecutive spin it got better. In the section Specials you can find another interivew in which Alexi Laiho and i talk about his gear, among which of course his recently reviewed ESP signature model, but in this interview we get into the last album, his inspiration and unfortunately not into the departure of Roope, but we do so a little bit about the process of trying to replace him.

By: Ramon | Archive under death metal / grindcore

Congratulations with the new album. It marks a new chapter of the band, as there is this line-up change (which we will discuss later on). Are you Happy with result?
Yeah absolutely, I am very happy with it. It is safe to say I think that it is definitely the strongest CoB album in a long, long time. So yeah, I am definitely happy with it.

Chris Cannella of ESP promised me, no he betted me it would be the best CoB record in at least ten years. He won, but I didn’t lose. What was so special in the vibe when you wrote and recorded this?
Well, the interesting part is, nothing really changes in terms of the writing process or anything, I did it the same way, meaning that I really didn’t really think anything beforehand, or I didn’t plan anything. I did whatever came on naturally and sort of went with it, you know. That’s all I can really do. If I started thinking too much like “people are gonna like this, or that”, you know or “how are the fans gonna react”, that’s just gonna throw me off. So you just do what you gotta do and do what comes kind of spontaneous, then you hope for the best.

That raises another interesting question, when you say you don’t want to act upon expectation of the fans, you just do whatever comes naturally to you, sort of. Do you ever write material of which you think “this is not Children of Bodom material”, I’ve got to skip this?
Yeah sometimes, you know, but…

And can I have those thrown-away riffs by the way
Oh (laughs) , well that’s another thing. If I come up with a riff and I try to fit it in a Bodom song and if it doesn’t make it on the record, then basically, to me it’s just fucking garbage. But then again, I’m into a lot of different styles of music, so sometimes I come up with something and I would use it for something else and, you know… it is what it is.

Right, let’s get this out of the way, right away. Your guitar buddy Roope left, he is not officially replaced by Antti (Wirman, the brother of keyboard player Janne), is he?
Errrm, no. At the moment Antti, Janne’s brother, he is filling and he is going to fill in for the rest of the year. And we are currently working on finding a new member. We have a couple of options, but nothing is an absolute 100 percent sure yet, so unfortunately I can’t give you any names. You’ll find out soon enough.

I am sure you will share it whenever you are ready. Is it hard to be second guitarist in Children of Bodom, alongside you?
Well, it depends on how well you know how to play (laughs), but…

That is exactly what I think is the tricky part. You have to play really well and be confident enough to take it on, but still be modest enough to stand alongside you who is doing all the leads and all the vocals and draw all the attention, that is the hard part (in terms of a profile) in my eyes, would you agree?
Well, but then again, if someone comes in and feels overshadowed, maybe this is not the right gig for you. You know what I mean?

Yes, but guitarists, especially good guitarist are at times not known to be the most modest guys around. You have to be really confident to think you can play in Children of Bodom, and still you have to accept you are not the man inside the band.
Yeah, but then again, I wouldn’t generalise guitar players like that, I know a lot of guitar players who take a lot of pride in being the rhythm guy. It is a very important part of any rock band. Sure thing. We got to find somebody who knows the deal and understands… and also the sort of a dude who enjoys playing rhythm. And it is not an easy part either.

Oh I know, I failed trying to duplicate on many of your riffs, so don’t tell me. Can you say more about the departure of Roope, why he left?
Honestly, we don’t like to go into any details, you know. The details don’t even matter. The fact is that we have grown apart as people. For example, the rest of us, the four of us, we needed and really wanted to push things even further and work harder and he wasn’t quite there with us as far as the level of work ethics and so on. So, you know, it was just better for everybody we parted ways at this point. It sucks obviously, he’s been around like forever, you know, but shit happens and you have to move on

Was he still in the party mode, or something?
I… errmm… no, I am not going to talk about THAT. You are going to have to ask it to him if you want (laughs)

Well, he is not doing the interviews to promote this record, so you are my only entrance at this point, but if you say you want to leave it there, I respect him and the whole situation, I respect that.
Alright man…

Still, I find it remarkable how quickly he (Antti) stepped in, this was something that was coming for a longer time, right?
Well, I am just gonna say that it happened pretty quickly. Basically we parted ways three days before we hit the studio, so obviously it was a pretty sudden thing. But just to make sure, like I said Antti is here filling in for the rest of the year and is not going to be a permanent member, but he was an amazingly quick learner, which was pretty awesome. I basically had to go through the songs with him as I was still working on the record. The fact that he is such a quick learner definitely made my life a lot easier.

Ok, well a good question just came up and now it is gone, give me a second. Right, that was it. You said Roope left a few days before you went into the studio, which means he already left when I interviewed you in Frankfurt he was already out a couple of days, why didn’t you tell me?
No, we decided that we were not going to talk about it to anyone until we’re done with the record. It would be just too much hassle, you know. We just wanted to concentrate on the record and actual writing and not talk about all this.

More on the album later on, I promise, don’t worry. You did the project with 100 guitarists, tell me about it!
Yeah, it was basically The Helsinki City Festival, which is one of the oldest and considered among the most prestigious ones in the country, that is known for a lot of classical acts and a more of art-based events, you know, whatever. They approached me with an idea, can you write a fifteen minute guitar piece for a hundred guitar players, and I just went “WHAT?!!! Are you kidding me”. But obviously I thought “hell yeah, I have got to do this”, you know. It is just too insane. So the timing wasn’t exactly the most convenient, I was still working on the new Children Of Bodom material, but I pulled it off, so… and I had tons of right people around to help me out and it was amazing to perform it on stage.

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You didn’t just step in right? From what I heard you were part of the selection committee for the guitarists and handpicked the candidates.
Yeah, I picked the ones that were basically the so-called section leaders. And then the actual 100 guitar players, we sort of did an audition in which they sent their videos and we picked the 100 out of the almost 500 guitarists, I think it was 430, something like that?

From 22 countries, right?
Erm, yeah! I think so

So that was all sponsored by the city of Helsinki?
Yeah.

Would you consider to do that again, say in Frankfurt Musikmesse or at NAMM in the US?
(Sighs long…) Well, probably not anytime soon, but (laughs), let me just deal with the Bodom thing first and then we will talk about that later, hahaha

Hahaha, ok I understand where you are going, that’s why we are here, but now I am off my track. Back to the record, I notice a lot of anger and despair, but it seems that you have broadened your perspective when you write the lyrics, am I right?
Yeah! Well obviously there is a lot of anger in it and a basically a lot of negative, well, not negativity, but bad things that happen in life and I sort of just … I try to savour them and then put all of that into the music, that’s part of a therapy to me. I know it is kind of a cliché to say that, but it is very much true in my case.

What could happen that you put into your music?
Anything could happen, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so dramatic, you know.. Any sort of feeling of anger or feeling of sadness, or feelings that I can always take advantage of and use that in the music. It’s a way for me to take something negative and turn it into something positive.

The funny thing is that recent studies show that the aggression that metal kids are exposed to does not affect them in a negative way, it does not make the majority of the fans aggressive, it work therapeutic on them.
Well yeah, that was what it was like for me when I was a kid and I think it is pretty awesome that kids can relate to that and it sort of helps them out too, because I’ve got a lot of kids that come out to me and say “listening to your music has gotten me through a lot of bad times”, or whatever. So that sort of things always makes me very happy.

Well, I am a little too old now to share those kind of stories, but still I can become very happy listening to you guys, so take that, a good thing there.y
Oh well, that’s good.

The song ‘Morrigan’ intrigued me, at first I think it was a love song, that is not entirely true, is it?
Yeah, it kind of is actually, but it is a very dark and twisted sort of love song.

Morrigan is a fictional character, right?
Well, Morrigan is a goddess yeah, she is the goddess of the underworld and for some people it is fictional, for some people it is real, it depends on where you are standing, I guess?..

And where are YOU standing then?
To me that world of witchcraft in general is very intriguing and I learned a lot about it. I find it very inspirational , which therefore makes it, believe it or not, more realistic to me. So if that is what you referred to with broadening perspective, in that case you are right. And I think that is a good thing, not just being stuck on one thing. As opposed to spending your life going like “fuck this” or “fuck that””, you might want to try something else for a chance.

Good if that works for you. Another song I found very intriguing was ‘All Or Nothing’, it has that same vibe to it, could you tell me more about that one, musically?
It is very different from anything we have ever done and it was a challenge for the band to make it work, which we did. It definitely has a special vibe to it and it is also the longest song that we have ever done. It is different and it gives a good contrast in the album, in between all the craziness and the madness, all of the sudden it is the slower song. I think it fits the album perfectly.

Oh, you covered ‘Black Winter Day’ by Amorphis as a bonus, but they returned the favour, right? What is that like for you?
That was the whole plan. Out drummer came up with this idea, which I think was pretty awesome, tht we should sort of challenge Amorphis to cover Children Of Bodom by telling them that “we just covered one of your songs, so now it is your turn to do the same thing”. As far as I now, they are working on it right now and I am dying to hear what comes out.

Do you know which song it is already?
I am not sure, we’ll just have to wait and see, I honestly don’t know at this point, and that’s the truth.
(It turned out to be ‘Everytime I Die’, Ramon, LoM)

Do you agree with me that your new album has this old, ‘follow The Reaper’ kind of vibe to it, but much more mature elements to it? Is that what made this album what it is?
I suppose, there is definitely a lot of old school CoB elements to it, it definitely has more modern sounding elements to it too. I do agree.

I think previous albums have been modern too, but this time you just added the modern aspects to it, is that right?
I suppose, but like I said, nothing was really consciously planned, but little things here and there. The fact that we low tuned the guitars even lower, we went to Drop B, which gave it a really good kick, without it becoming too drastic.

Ok, you are coming out on tour with Sylosis and some dates with Lamb Of God. Did you plan that yourself, or is that done for you?
Sort of, mostly with the help of the management. But I am SUPER excited about that one, I think it’s gonna be a big one.

What other big plans you have coming?
We have a bunch of stuff lined up until the middle of 2017, so it’s gonna be a lot of touring.

Yeah, you said that the last time, people responded massively to that when you posted it on you Facebook page. So good luck with that. So good luck with that.
Yeah, thank you.

Is there anything you would like to say to close the interview down?
Thanks to all the CoB fans and hope to see you all of the road.

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