Interview With Alexi Laiho Of Children Of Bodom
Band Photo: Children of Bodom (?)
On November 22nd, I had the honour of interviewing one of my favourite Finnish bands, Children of Bodom, when they rolled through Vancouver for a headlining show. I did not know which member I would be interviewing until I got to the venue at 4:40pm. It was then that I found out I had lucked out and scored an interview with frontman Alexi Laiho. The band was in a rush to get to the autograph signing at Scrape Records and was supposed to leave the venue at 5. However, it was a few minutes until 5 when a very tired Alexi walked in. I used whatever time they gave me to ask as many questions as I could. And this is how it went:
darkstar: How is your first headlining North American tour coming along?
Alexi: It’s going really good. I mean, for me and I think for everybody else. We didn’t know what to expect. We kinda figured that, you know, nobody was going to show up. But, you know, it’s been going pretty good. It’s like almost every show has been sold out. So, definitely, it’s been way better than anybody thought it would be.
darkstar: Has the crowd reaction towards Children of Bodom changed since your first tour here with Dimmu Borgir in 2003?
Alexi: Well, I think now you can actually see now that we actually did a lot of touring. We did the Dimmu tour, then we opened up for Iced Earth and did the Lamb of God thing. We did over a hundred gigs, you know, within one year. It was a lot definitely. You can see that, like, on the Dimmu tour, most of the people didn’t even know who the fuck we are. This time around, at least they know who we are.
darkstar: How do you feel about Children of Bodom’s rising popularity?
Alexi: I feel good about it definitely.
darkstar: Tell us a bit about the new album, Are You Dead Yet?
Alexi: Well, I don’t know. What is there to tell? I think that a musician to kind of, like, try to give a review of his own album, you know, it’s always kind of fucked up. People usually end up saying the same shit, like, you know, “It’s better, it’s new, its different but it’s really good.” I think that it’s definitely super heavy and really aggressive. I think that it’s still Children of Bodom and somehow we actually managed to make it sound kinda different. It’s not like Hate Crew Deathroll part 2.
darkstar: What influenced you guys to take your music into a more industrial direction?
Alexi: I think that the only industrial, or even techno or whatever with the keyboards on the new album… The keyboards were used were a little bit more industrial sounding or whatever. It’s just the way they were used. For example, they were doubling a lot of the guitar riffs. We didn’t really do that much before. The keyboards are there all the time but in a less obvious way. You don’t necessarily hear it but you feel it.
darkstar: How did Kimberly Goss come about to writing the lyrics to “Bastards of Bodom”?
Alexi: Towards the end of the recording process, you know, recording my vocals, I didn’t have lyrics for three songs so I was like super fucking stressed out already, you know. After the recording, I was like “Dude, I’m going to have to take a couple of days off and write lyrics for…” It might have been four songs, actually. So what I did, I was sitting in my apartment, you know, drinking whiskey and writing lyrics for days in a row. I just happened to be talking to Kimberly on the phone and I was telling her… I was like, you know, bitching about the whole thing. I was kinda like “Yeah fuck, I gotta write these fucking lyrics. Blah blah blah.” And she was like, “Well, I can help you out with that if you’d like.” I was like, “If you can, that’d be really cool.” And she ended up writing the lyrics, which I think was a really cool thing. Like I said, I was really stressed out already. She was helping me out with that.
darkstar: What’s it like to be working with your new guitarist, Roope Latvala?
Alexi: It’s going really good. As a guitar player, he’s a lot better than Alexander was definitely. You know, as a person, he really fits in. Actually, that’s why we were saying, all the time, he was a session member when he first joined. We wanted to make sure he was the right person for the band. I mean, for us it’s so important that we find a guy we can get along with. We don’t fight or we don’t, like, get sick of each other. We always get along and everything. So that came as really important. The wrong kind of person could fucking ruin everything, you know. He’s the right guy definitely.
darkstar: Do you know what Alexander is doing these days?
Alexi: I don’t really keep in contact with him. I’ve gotten like a few text messages over the last year or something like that. I don’t know. He’s got like a kid and I guess he’s married. I guess he’s doing some job or whatever.
darkstar: About your Britney Spears cover, I know it’s a joke and all, but why did you have to do something as horrible as “Oops I Did It Again?”
Alexi: [Laughs.] Apart from it being obviously a joke anyway, it was the fact that we just had to pick something that definitely surprised and, you know, even shocked people. We had done like … Okay, first we did, like, the Ramones cover and then we did stuff like Billy Idol. And then we did Andrew WK. You know, after doing Andrew WK, it’s like I don’t know where we can go anymore. We’re like fucked so we’ll like do something really crazy like Britney Spears or whatever. I think it turned out to be a really cool cover though.
darkstar: Do you know what Britney thinks of your cover?
Alexi: I don’t think she’s even aware of the fact that, you know, there’s some fucking crazy metal band out there covering her. I would definitely want to hear what she would think if she ever heard it. She’d hate it.
darkstar: There are many people who were like “I’m so disappointed in COB for doing a Britney Spears cover. I have lost all my respect for them.” Was that the kind of reaction you were expecting?
Alexi: Yeah, definitely. It was actually one of the reasons why we did that as well. It’s very entertaining for us to read that kind of shit. You know how people take it so fucking seriously. Like, “My god, these guys are not true metal anymore because they covered Britney Spears.” “I just fucking threw all my Children of Bodom CDs out the window and I just burnt all my shirts.” “These guys are so not metal anymore.” Dude, you’re fucking telling me I’m not metal? You’re fucking insane, that’s for sure. Like I said, you know all these people who take metal so fucking seriously, take bands so seriously, I think it’s plain funny. You know, just to read these kinds of reactions, like I said, is entertainment definitely.
darkstar: What is that conversation in Finnish in the song?
Alexi: It was, like, in the original song, they were saying something about some dude bought a fucking diamond or some sort of whatever for Britney or whatever. It was a conversation between me and Janne, saying, “Janne, you bought a six-pack for me.” Like a six-pack of beer. I was like “Oh my god, you shouldn’t have.” [Laughs.] It’s really funny though.
darkstar: Who will you cover next to top something that extreme?
Alexi: I don’t know. Seriously. I don’t know. Like you said, I think, to top Britney Spears is near impossible. I don’t think there’s anywhere to go. So I don’t know. We’d have to start doing something else.
darkstar: I hear Kevin Federline has a new single out and it’s so bad that even Britney Spears laughed at it.
Alexi: Kevin who?
darkstar: Kevin Federline? Britney Spears’ husband.
Alexi: So he’s like singing now or something?
Alexi: Hah! And then Britney laughed at it?
darkstar: Yeah. It was that bad.
Alexi: [Laughs.] If Britney laughed at that, I don’t want to cover that. But I definitely want to hear it though. So apparently he got to put out a single because he’s Britney’s husband or whatever?
darkstar: Probably. Your cover of Iron Maiden’s “Aces High,” is it released on anything?
Alexi: Yeah. The reason why we did it was because we were asked to do this Iron Maiden tribute thing or whatever. So we did it for that. It’s released on…what’s it called? The Best of the Beast or something. It’s an Iron Maiden tribute thing. A bunch of bands playing Iron Maiden covers.
darkstar: Will you feature it on any of your own releases?
Alexi: I think they already did it. Maybe it was like some edition of some European release, or Japanese or something like that. I forget what it was, but yeah.
darkstar: People have tried to label you black metal, speed metal, thrash metal, power metal and death metal. What would you consider COB’s music to be?
Alexi: I don’t think… At least, I’m not able to categorize or label like that. To me, it’s just metal and that’s it. It’s not black metal, it’s not death metal, it’s not thrash. It’s like, what the fuck? We don’t spend too much time thinking about labels. They don’t mean shit anyways. For me, metal is metal, music is music. So I don’t really care about labels. But, you know, if somebody says we’re black metal or they say that we’re thrash metal, I’m ok with it. I don’t really care as long as they don’t call it power metal.
darkstar: If the Lake Bodom mysteries were one day solved, would you ever consider changing the band name?
Alexi: No. It was actually this close to getting solved. I don’t know if you actually knew about it. But that’s another thing. It’s pretty funny. Apparently, when the guy got charged for the murders and stuff and they were holding him in jail or whatever for that shit. When people heard about it, they were all over the internet saying “Children of Bodom are going to have to change their name. The whole murder got solved.” It’s really funny. I think, first of all, it’s just a name. It doesn’t matter. Even if the killer got caught, it’s still a pretty great story anyway. I don’t think it will lose its mystique or whatever.
darkstar: Are you performing any songs off Something Wild?
Alexi: Normally we do but we haven’t on this tour. We usually do, like, one or two songs. We try to play songs from every single album. But I don’t know. This one we haven’t played anything from Something Wild.
darkstar: Do you ever play “Children of Decadence” live?
Alexi: No, not anymore. We did it for like a few times. But it just doesn’t work live. First of all, it’s too damn long and…I don’t know. There are certain parts that shouldn’t be there.
darkstar: What’s one thing, besides your guitars and stuff like that, must you have on tour with you?
Alexi: iPod, eyeliner, bottle of whiskey or something like that. It has to be there.
darkstar: How often do you guys get drunk while on tour?
Alexi: Pretty often.
Alexi: Almost, yeah.
darkstar: Do you perform drunk?
Alexi: No, no. We don’t get drunk before the show. I mean, that’s like… We don’t have set rules but it’s pretty obvious for everybody that... I think it’s the most stupid thing to fuck up your show because you’re drunk or something. It’s respect for the audience. I would never want to do that anyway because I would just kill myself after that, you know, for playing like shit. I could take a few beers or whatever but not getting wasted or anything.
darkstar: What’s your favourite drink?
Alexi: I drink beer, whiskey. I like whiskey a lot. Jack Daniels. White Russian, that’s a good one definitely. It’s got vodka, Kahlua, some coffee liqueur kind of thing. I guess normally, after that, you put cream in it. It’s really good. You could have like 20 of them and get really fucked up. You wouldn’t get sick of it or anything.
darkstar: Who runs the official COB Myspace page?
Alexi: First of all, I’m not even quite sure what the whole Myspace thing even is. I’m not into this whole internet thing so I don’t really know.
darkstar: So it’s not any of you in the band?
Alexi: Not that I know of.
darkstar: Tell us something about the band or yourself that most people don’t know about.
Alexi: Probably there’s a lot of things, but I don’t know what people know about me exactly. People seem to know a lot more about me than I do know about myself. [Laughs.] I don’t know. You can ask me anything but… I don’t know. They know that I play and that I drink. I don’t know seriously.
darkstar: How did you get your nickname Allu?
Alexi: I don’t know. I think it’s really common for someone called Alexi. I got it when I was a kid. It’s been like that since I was a kid. Someone just started calling me that. I don’t remember exactly, but yeah.
darkstar: You want to tell us a bit about your punk rock side project, Kylähullut?
Alexi: Yeah. It’s like a fun band really. We don’t play live or anything. We record like one album per one year or even like two years or something. We go into the studio for like three days. We never practise before that or anything. We just go there and we drink a lot and just play punk rock, you know. We just come up with the song in the studio as well. The last album actually turned out pretty good. The whole album. I was actually surprised. It was like, the next day, nobody remembered what we had recorded. It’s just for fun. It’s nothing serious. It’s a therapy band for everybody, you know.
darkstar: How do you find time for all your side projects?
Alexi: I just enjoy playing so much that, you know, I just spend my free time playing whatever, hanging out, drinking with my friends. Children of Bodom take up most of my time anyway. It’s not free time. It’s definitely a lot of fun, you know, just drinking with your friends, playing punk rock.
darkstar: Any last words for the readers of MetalUnderground.com?
Alexi: A huge thank you and respect for anybody who’s buying Children of Bodom albums. We definitely appreciate that a lot.
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