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Modus Operandi: Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom)

Door: Ramon

Bij gitaarhelden worden meestal de oude, bekende namen uit een inmiddels redelijk ver verleden genoemd. Maar de generaties daarna hebben ook zo hun halfgoden, waarbij niemand, inclusief de oudere goden, ook maar iets af kan doen aan het feit dat Children Of Bodom gitarist Alexi Laiho in dat rijtje thuis hoort, misschien zelfs wel bovenaan. We spraken hem in Frankfurt op de Musikmesse en vergaten door de tijdsdruk nog een paar cruciale vragen voor deze rubriek te stellen. Dat kwam helemaal niet slecht uit, want deze maand brengt Children Of Bodom het album ‘I Worship Chaos’ uit, waarvoor ik hem toch weer moest interviewen. En aangezien dat één van de beste albums is die hij in tijden heeft afgeleverd, was ik in opperbeste stemming. In de interviewsectie tref je een interview over dat album aan, hier gaat het om gear. En we dwalen af en toe een beetje af, omdat het zo leuk is.

Modus Operandi

band imageGuitars: ESP Alexi Laiho signature model, with a 25,5 scale. I probably have about ten of them. But they are scattered around, half of my guitars are in The States, where I live part time (SCOOP). I also have one ESP Eclipse there, also one Eclipse in Helsinki. I never play live with it, but I love the damn thing.

Furthermore, I don’t know if I can say this…(looks at ESP artist relation manager Chris Cannella, who approves of his answer with a generous smile) but I have a Stevie Ray Vaughn signature Stratocaster, which I found in New York. It’s just for fun, nothing that I would use professionally.

Chris Cannella of ESP fills in: we are all fans of gear, so we understand that you can love one thing and still love something else which is completely different too, no problem.

Bass Guitars: I have two, one is a fretless Yamaha that I got from my cousin when I was thirteen. I just wanted a bass. And it is fretless, so it is pretty insane. My cousin is a jazz player, so. Anyway, I have that and an ESP, the Tom Araya model, based on the F-shape.

Pickups: EMGs, the passive bridge pick-up, because that is all you really need.

Amps & Cabinets: I rode with this Lee Jackson pre amp. (GP-1000) for over ten years. It is a really weird one, it’s from the eighties, but I just loved the tone, which actually had a lot to do with the gain boost in my guitar. The thing is, the tone is just so fucking awesome, it’s just like a punch in the face, but it didn’t really give that much distortion out . That’s why I had the gain boost. It wasn’t actually my idea, I think the Anthrax guys came up with that back in the day. So with the passive pick up and the gain boost I get the perfect amount from the Lee Jackson. So I was rolling with that for over ten years. But it was a pain in the ass, as it kept breaking down and it was overheating. It was a fucking drag, and I wanted to try something new, for ‘Halo Of Blood’ I went through a lot of amps for what I was looking for, which is basically a mid-range with a little more end then I got from the Lee Jackson, through several amps to using the Marshall. I have been rolling with Marshall ever since.

Note: this was an old, much used amplifier, Lee Jackson has assured us that this problem is not a thing they got many complaints about.

That is hardly any original, is it, but if it works, it works?
Yeah, it does.

Picks: Dunlopp Jazz 3

That is not particularly original either…
Well, excuse the hell out of me (smiles)! If shit works, it works. It is not about being original when it comes to stuff like that.

Effects: I have the super chorus pedal, the digital delay and the Kirk Hammett signature wah-pedal.

Strings: DR Signature Strings, 56 to 10.


band imageWhen did you start playing guitar?
I started playing guitars when I was eleven. I started the violin when I was seven. I got my first bass when I was eleven.

On which piece of gear do you keep your most beautiful memories and why?
Of course my first guitar, that was just insane. My dad got it for me, it was a Tokai Stratocaster. And that’s a good guitar. I was just the happiest fucking dude on the planet when I got it. I am literally obsessed with guitars and especially electric guitars for years and I finally got one, I would go to sleep with that thing.

Do you still play violin every now and then?
Nooooo, actually I haven’t picked one up since I was twelve. I am sure I could pick it up, but…

That is fretless too…
Yeah, it sure it. I never wanted to anymore.

What was your worst purchase ever and why?
…and this is where the interview derails and we talk about all kinds of stuff not gear related, like old American cars. I will pick it up again at the gear section for you.
Oh right, gear, worst purchase you asked. I don’t recall making one. You would think that, as I went through a lot, but I always knew what I wanted. My first rack set-up was with Jackson and with Rocktron, like an effect thingy, a Rocktron pre-amp. Then I switched over to Engl pre-amp and EVH, which was the best. Then I went to, you gotta help me out here dude. I understand the question, but…

So basically, before you ever made a purchase, you already made your decision wisely in advance?

Okay, that is an answer. Not the answer I was hoping for, but it is an answer…
Oh I am sure I will be making a lot of bad decisions in my life later (laughs), so I will tell you then!

Who are your influences, or better, what made you wanne play guitar?
My earliest memory of guitar music is when I heard my dad play ‘Money For Nothing’ of The Dire Straits from his radio. And I heard the main riff and I went “what is that?!”. And he told me it was a guitar and I must have been something like four and it sounded SO heavy to me.

That is indeed a pretty heavy riff when you are four, isn’t it?
Fuck yeah, man! It still is heavy to me. It is just so ingenious and…

Why don’t you do a cover of The Dire Straits then?
Oh no, I wouldn’t dare touching Dire Straits. Well I suppose I could, but it’s just, I still love Dire Straits and I don’t wanna touch…

You didn’t mind touching Britney Spears!
Oh I loved touching Britney Spears (smiles). Mark Knopfler on the other hand… no, no, seriously though. Nothing but respect for those guys, Mark Knopfler is a fucking badass guitarist. He is awesome. So Dire Straits. And my older sister started to get into hair metal bands and glam rock, that kind of stuff. And I still have a soft spot for that, I still love it. It is always gonna be a part of me.

What was your first guitar/bass/keys/drums?
A Tokai Stratocaster was my first guitar.

What is on your wish list?
Well, I recently bought the Stevie Ray Vaughn, it is fucking amazing, but I am not using it professionally. And I think I want to buy an old school, like an actually old Les Paul. I’m going to have that one day. Those are the sort of things, not for me to work with, they are just for fun.

Ultimate goal as a musician?
I just want to keep on better

Well, yeah

What is “better” in your world?
It’s basically, being a better player in playing stuff that makes the music sound better. And that is what it is all about. You get experience of years and years of doing it and not being stuck on the same thing. You gotta love to play with different people and try out different things. So that is one and the other is just keep making records and keep improving. That’s basically it, you REALLY got to fucking love it to become better.

Previously in Modus Operandi:
Peter van Elderen (Peter Pan Speedrock, Four Headed Dog)
Timo Somers (Delain, Vengeance)
Merel Bechtold (MaYan, Purest Of Pain)
Paul Allender (White Empress, Cradle Of Filth, The Blood Divine) & Will Graney (Damnation Angels, Cradle Of Filth session)
Paul Baayens (Hail Of Bullets, Asphyx, Thanatos)
Ed Warby (Gorefest, 11th Hour, Hail Of Bullets, Ayreon)
René Rutten (The Gathering)
Martijn Peters (Stream Of Passion)
George Kollias (Nile)
Michael Angelo Batio
Courtney Cox (The Iron Maidens, Phantom Blue)
Mark Jansen (Epica, MaYan, ex-After Forever)
Pablo van de Poel (DeWolff)
Danny Tunker (Aborted, Alkaloid, ex-God Dethroned, ex-Prostitute Disfigurement)

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