Heart of Steel: Interviews

Children of Bodom's Alexi Laiho
Interview and live pictures By Luxi

The successful Finnish metallers Children of Bodom have without a doubt done their most aggressive and heaviest album since HATEBREEDER titled HATE CREW DEATHROLL. I decided to find out from the bandīs highly talented front man and main song writer Alexi Laiho some noteworthy reasons why our very favorite īBodom beach terroristsī decided to sharpen and polish their axes for a fatal sonic strike. A strike that will prove to be a bloody murderous rampage like in those īgoodīnīold daysī in the misty morning, somewhere near by the lake Bodom…

HATE CREW DEATHROLL surely is one hell of a punishing album and even more, but let Alexi continue from this on…

 

THE NEW ALBUM: "HATE CREW DEATHROLL"

Letīs have a couple of words of curiosity about the covers of your albums for starters. On FOLLOW THE REAPER you placed your own gruesome Grim Reaper in the middle of some graveyard scenes and on HATE CREW DEATHROLL we can see him playing with his main ītoolī on the edge of some urban city environment. Did you have some sort of a theme in mind when you decided to find him īnew scenes of murderī on the cover of this new album?

No, we didnīt have any pre-planned theme in our heads when we came up with this cover. Normally people used to see our reaper standing somewhere in a desert or in a forest, so we just thought letīs find him another, scene where people havenīt seen him before, so that urban city environment was eventually that kind of place we thought would be cool for him. We actually didnīt put that much thought into it, but thought this new environment fits well to our reaper. We also thought that we wanted to stick with a īreaperī-theme as itīs an integral part of the band, but now a significant difference is that our reaper is full in action on the cover of HATE CREW DEATHROLL compared to our previous album covers. As you can see, now heīs actually ready to kill someone on that cover as previously you have seen him just standing there without doing anything specific really.

 

 

As I have been listening to your new album like 20 times in a row now - and reading the lyrics and looking at the cover with a closer eye, I have come to the conclusion that this cover actually describes quite well and nicely the whole content of your new album; having a bit more aggressive, straight yet malicious approach than what your previous album FOLLOW THE REAPER had. Would you say the cover serves the songs on the album somewhat perfectly and vice versa?

Yeah, I can agree with you. This was actually our first time when we doubled the guitars on H.C.D.R.. To say it in the most simple way possible, usually I have played the first rhythm and then Alexander have played another in our recording sessions. But this time we figured out that it would be cool to get a bit thicker and more massive guitar sound for this album, so we decided to double our riffs on this new album and Iīm glad we did so īcoz as you said yourself the guitars kick your butt more than on our previous albums. And as far as the lyrics on the new album go, they are mostly based on all these situations that have happened in my real life situations; when you are pissed off at someone and hate someone so much that you kind of wanna spit out your angriness and pure hate via your own lyrics, yīknow. But also you need to keep in mind that we have a certain amount of īblack humorī included into our lyrics as well; in some lyrics a bit more and in some a bit less, but still that element always is - and will be a part of our lyrics for sure.

 

 

In fact, you can tell according to the song titles on HATE CREW DEATHROLL that thereīs a certain ītongue-in-cheekī -thing involved in them. Some people, however, have already misunderstood your song titles on your new album and said without any hesitations that they are the worst song titles you have come up with so far - without realizing and seeing through your īblack humorī there...

Well, luckily many people have been capable of understanding that we are not īthatī serious band as far as our lyrics are concerned. We havenīt dealt with that serious topics with our lyrics ever and have always tried to keep them on a certain level where you can have a bit of that ītongue-in-cheekī aspect as well. I wouldn't wonder too much if some stupid fuck took for example "Triple Corpse Hammerblow" a ībit tooī seriously due to its lyrical approach. Well, what can you say really... the case would be closed from anyone's part for sure then who cannot get them - īnuff said, I think, he-he!! I donīt feel like I should explain the lyrics to them any further...

 

 

As many people have surely already been marking when seeing the C.o.B. album artworks, the use of certain main colors on the covers of your albums have been following a certain rule. On your debut album SOMETHING WILD, the red cover was the main color, HATEBREEDER was blessed by a forest-green color, and on FOLLOW THE REAPER the main color was a deep blue. What made you choose a deep red as a main color for HATE CREW DEATH ROLL again?

Well, we have always wanted to keep a certain type of theme on our covers as far as the use of main colors on them is concerned. As far as the cover and colors on HATE CREW... go, I have to admit we indeed did use a lot of time for pondering whether this or that color would fit it the best. For example yellow was out of question since we start thinking of it in the very beginning. First we thought to use black as a main color for the cover and then add some other color for it, too - like silver or something alike. We did try many things for it in order to get some ideas for it from some different artists, but eventually none of them did turn out too well and we simply abandoned all those sketches. We probably were pondering it too hard at one time; and eventually we got rather frustrated over the whole thing, I have to tell ya. Then we just started thinking of this īdilemmaī a bit more simply way and finally this red color was chosen for it as a main color again. Besides, this red color describes quite well how our reaper uses his ītoolī on the color - with all the drips of blood as you are able to see on it, too.

 

 

Also, I could add that red color describes very well the content of your album as itīs a rather aggressive effort all in all (compared to FOLLOW THE REAPER) and red as a color is normally known as an aggressive color as well...

Yeah, I agree with you. The cover matches together with the songs on it really well in my opinion, too. And yes, itīs a slightly more aggressive album as wholeness compared to our previous album FOLLOW THE REAPER.

 

 

You have recorded 9 songs for this album. Did you have some kind of theme in your mind that connects songs together one way or another - or does every song basically contain its own story without having no strings attached to the rest of the albumīs material?

In a way we have sort of a īfuck you!" theme on the album that links up each song together. Then I also have to admit that we cannot leave the lake Bodom happenings out of our albums completely as thatīs where we originally got inspired by in the very beginning. That īBodom thingī is a part of our band, yīknow. We have thought that way we just have to have at least one song on our albums that has īBodom-somethingī in a song title which tells something about those tragic events there in the late half of the 60s. Anyway, in a way most of the lyrics are based on, one way or the other, around those murders, but I cannot say we can talk about any concept album in here or anything īcoz thatīs what it certainly is not. Thereīs no connection between single songs on this new album at all. We have a song called "Bodom Teach Terror" on HATE CREW DEATHROLL that deals with those murders, but it also has its own ītongue-in-cheekī thing hidden in it as well. We wanted to describe some of those happenings there in a bit of an exaggerated way and bring a part of the whole story to completely new heights in a way, trying to achieve some sort of a horror story feeling for it.

 

 

Then you have a song titled "Angels Donīt Kill", the 5th song on the album, that is one of the heaviest songs you have ever penned...

Yeah, itīs indeed a very heavy and slow song according to our standards at least...

I was just wondering whether you wanted to get at least one totally heavy song for this album on purpose in order to add more variety and contrast for the album or did it just end up being there accidentally without intention

No, we didnīt plan anything during our rehearsal sessions when we chose these songs for the album. We didnīt make this song telling each other that this MUST turn out to be our heaviest song we have ever done before. Thatīs simply not our way to rehearse our songs in the first place. The whole song just turned out that way without any intentions to make it the heaviest song for H.C.D.R.. However, I have to say that we put lots of time and effort for that particular song. We had a bunch of really heavy riffs ready for that song and when we started to put all these riffs together at very early stages, we even slowed down some of the tempos in that song and turned down our guitars a little bit as well in order to make it sound even heavier than it was originally meant to sound. Like I said, it was a heavy and slow tempo enough song at very early stages already, but after all these things how we were working with it I mentioned just recently, it became probably the heaviest song we have made ever in our history. I wanna point out, however, that we never thought that this type of a song just needs to be recorded for our new album īcoz we have so many fast and aggressive songs on the album already. It kind of was born without any īforcedī feelings in our heads when we started working with it if you know what I mean.

 

 

JEFF IS THE GUITAR GOD....

The third song on your album is called "Chokehold (CockedīnīLoaded)" and excuse me, but I have to say in my opinion thereīs this certain Jeff Watersī school riff mastery there going on, so could you consider Mr. Waters as one of your favorite īguitar heroesī of all time...?

Yeah, I have to admit that I dig his playing style a lot and I donīt deny that song may have some similarities to some of those riffs and stuff Jeff has done on his albums. But in the very same breath I also have to say those riffs for that particular songs came for it just accidentally and not the way like I would have been after for any of riffs and stuff on purpose. So yeah, it has a certain Annihilator feel on it for sure, I donīt deny it at all. Jeff has always belonged to my personal TOP 5 list of the best guitarists and in my honest opinion heīs a very underrated guitarist who deserves more recognition. I have no idea why people donīt talk about him that much as a guitarist even if heīs one hell of a guitarist in my opinion; very talented and skilled with his 6-stringer for sure.

 

Maybe heīs a bit underrated because I think people know him as a creator of great riffs and rhythms more than a guitar hero who churns out lengthy solos that steal most of the show on some certain albums of some certain īguitar heroesī like f.ex. Yngwie Malmsteen does on his albums...

Yeah, I agree that may be a part of the reason. But just think of NEVER, NEVERLAND from Annihilator and youīll notice that Jeff had some really hot and spicy solos on that album for sure. He absolutely kicks our butts with the tightest and sharpest riffs ever in my opinion.

 

 

BODOMSī CARCASS SONG TERROR

Then the 4th song called "Bodom Beach Terror" starts off with a very familiar drum part that seems to be taken straight from the Carcass song "Corporal Jigsore Quandary" off their DESCANTING THE INSALUBRIOUS album. How come that particular drum part came to that song? By accident, or was it some sort of a tribute from you guys to those English īgore meistersī?

I honestly have to say that I donīt know anything about it. I havenīt got the slightest clue that the same kind of a drum part can be found from that particular album as well. It had to end up being for our new album accidentally as I wasnīt aware of that earlier. Heh, thatīs quite weird and funny indeed... Anyway, I have to also say that the song itself has kind of a Carcass feel. For example, if you think of the chorus riff in that song, it has a certain kind of a Carcass vibe going on in it; in a way, I mean. But that particular drum part in question in the very beginning of that song came as a complete surprise even for me.

 

 

Letīs move on and talk about the song writing process for this album a bit more next. Did these songs you have on this new album come out any easier if we compare the whole thing to your previous album FOLLOW THE REAPER or any of your earliest works you have done before?

What surprises me a little bit is the fact it was actually kind of easy to get the songs done and together for HATE CREW DEATHROLL; actually much easier compared to FOLLOW THE REAPER for example. When we did FOLLOW THE REAPER, we toured a hell of a lot for that album - AND I was also committed to Sinergy; doing songs for them and touring for them as well. It took lots of time from me to do all these things together at the very same time. All this lead into a situation where I had even less and less time for Children of Bodom - I mean, some particular people were constantly hanging on my neck and pressuring me that I should get started writing new songs for this band again without realizing too well my situation that I was occupied with some other projects as well (doing songs for Sinergy + touring for them intensively around Europe, etc.). At one point I was totally wrecked due to all the pressure that was thrown toward my direction as they somehow didnīt realize that I was already involved with so many other things at one time. It all lead into a situation where I told them loud and clearly that they just MUST understand that I can only start writing new stuff for Children of Bodom when Iīm not on tour or I donīt have to think of any song writing for Sinergy and so on. They couldnīt realize that there was no more than 24 hours in a day. Itīs somehow funny that even if we didnīt write a single song for over a year after FOLLOW THE REAPER came out, of course we already had a bunch of riffs, etc. laying on some tapes and even in my head. Some people oddly think that if you donīt have any full songs ready within some certain period of time since your last effort came out, you kind of īfailī to make others around you convinced that thereīs still all the time you may need to get your next album done in an sufficient time. But some people just donīt get it and thatīs what irritates me a hell of a lot. 

When we started to put our songs together last February, to our surprise we got them ready sooner than anyone could have imagined in the first place. The studio was already booked for August and we almost had the songs ready in February already. Still some people thought that we didnīt have any new songs ready as we hadnīt sent any samples of them to anyone and August was only a few months away and we should have started becoming somehow worried about the whole situation. We just had to tell them to cool off a little in order to provide us some healthy space for working with them a bit more. And thatīs what happened. All the ideas were ready for them in my head and some riffs and shit were also written for them; and all we needed was just a certain amount of time to get them together, and that we did too.

Itīs always better if you can concentrate on one thing at a time - and not do many things at the same time, yīknow. Since I didnīt have any obligations for Sinergy either song writing or touring-wise, it gave me this chance to concentrate on the new Children of Bodom album only. Of course it always takes some time to finalize your songs as you want your songs to be perfect in every possible way. You just try to get 100% out of yourself when working with your new material and we all really working our asses off for this new album as hard as we possibly could at our rehearsal place. Also, I need to tell you if we wanted to have like 15 songs for this new album that would have well been possible, too. But on the other hand we thought if we have even one single riff that kind of doesnīt please each of us, then we simply abandon it without any hesitations. Thatīs also what we did on HATE CREW DEATHROLL. All the 9 songs on the album are results of many other songs. I mean, we may have used only one riff off some song that we left out from this album īcoz the rest of the riffs in that particular song may not have sounded good enough for some of us, yīknow. We have circulated many parts off some abandoned songs for these 9 songs that we eventually decided to choose for this album. Thatīs the way how we work usually. If some songs donīt kind of sound as good as some other songs for some reason or the other, we simply throw them straight to our own junkyard of abandoned riffs, etc.. 

I also need to admit, HATE CREW DEATHROLL isnīt that lengthy as a full-length album, but on the other hand why should it be in the very first place īcoz of course quality goes over quantity in this camp for sure. I donīt need any īso-soī -songs for our albums.

 

 

Besides, of course everyone who has at least a bit cultivated and sharp ears, can quite easily sense out of any album that this or those song(s) are out of line from the rest of the material if you are about to throw in a couple of īfillersī in order to give a more length for some certain album...

Yeah, I agree with you again completely. Thereīs no point of using fillers at all.

So, you only got these 9 songs out of your recording sessions for this album...?

Yeah, thatīs pretty much everything we got done during those recording sessions. Maybe a few useable riffs are still left to be used for something, but only these 9 songs were completed during our recording sessions.

 

 

What were you guys were thinking... you didnīt record any extra songs for a Japanese CD release as a bonus as they always want their CDs with some īextra joysī, yīknow...

Yeah, I know. This time they just have to become satisfied with some cover song that will find its way to a Japanese edition of HATE CREW DEATHROLL. There will be that Slayer cover ("Mandatory Suicide" that is) song in the Finnish edition that will be limited to first 5000 copies, I think. And the Ramones cover song that we originally recorded for our single "Youīre Better off Dead!" off HATE CREW DEATHROLL, will be included for the forthcoming European release of our new album. That single was kind of exclusively made to serve, in a way, for the Finnish fans as a main priority, meaning you have to buy the single if you wanna get it īcoz we didnīt want to get it included for the Finnish edition of the album any more. We originally recorded that Slayer cover song for a Slayer tribute CD, but as far as I know, it wasnīt that well available here in Finland, so we thought it would be kind of cool to get it available on this new album so that everyone would get a chance to hear it eventually here in Finland as well.

 

 

STONEīS HERITAGE FOR A YOUNG METAL GENERATION

Going back to your previous album FOLLOW THE REAPER with my next question, many people who got to hear it, came to a conclusion that it had its moments when the Finnish Speed Metal īlegendsī, Stoneīs name was brought up into the surface due to some similar hints to their material and so on, especially here in Finland for some obvious reason. Now however, while I was listening to your new album, you have left most of those influences more of a background; in fact you cannot find īthatī straight similarities to their material from your new album any more, but have concentrated on rather different musical venues on HATE CREW DEATHROLL. Did you somehow try to avoid to be compared to Stone on purpose while you were working with the material for this album or were there some other reasons involved since you started the song writing thing all over again?

No, we didnīt think of it at all. All these songs came together very spontaneously indeed without thinking too much whether we could sound like some other band or get some influences from some other bands. I havenīt ever thought that we should try to sound like this or that band - or avoid sounding like this or that band, yīknow. But I donīt deny that fact either that I still consider Stone as one of my main inspirations even today. Stone was a very underrated band in my opinion, too.

 

 

Could I possibly claim that when you were penning down riffs, etc. for the FOLLOW THE REAPER album, you had your strong period going on when you were heavily listening to Stoneīs material and thatīs the main reason for all that why some of that influence was grabbed by the songs on FOLLOW THE REAPER?

He, he... that may well be possible and I cannot see any reason why I should deny it at all. Stone was an awesome band and they have surely influenced many other bands here in Finland as well than us only. For example all those background vocals that Stone had on their albums, some of those elements have been used even on our new album as well. We do have some of those īshoutsī on HATE CREW... for sure, too. The old school Speed Metal rules indeed!! I am a big fan of the Stone albums and like 4-5 years ago I shamelessly tried to imitate some of those riffs on Stoneīs albums with my guitar īcoz those riffs and rhythms on their albums are actually quite wicked, unique and complex in many ways indeed. I can rather openly admit that I have learnt many cool things by listening to Stoneīs albums; understanding that thereīs so many cool ways to make your music sound unique and interesting and not always trying to find the easiest way out if you know what I mean by all this. Stone had some really crazy harmonies and stuff on their albums and I have always admired what f.ex. Roope Latvala (Stone, Waltari, Sinergy) did on Stoneīs albums with his īfire gunī. Heīs really an outstanding guitarist in my opinion. And itīs no wonder if people are able to spot some of those things from our new album as well īcoz that influential band they have always been for me, absolutely!

 

 

COPY PROTECTION & PIRATING

Your new album is also copy-protected...

Yeah, thatīs what I have heard, too...

So, are you saying that you havenīt heard from someone yet that some people could have bought an illegal copy for your new album from some well-known pirate countries...?

Luckily I havenīt heard that kind of ībad newsī from anywhere yet, but if ever that kind of news hit me before the album is released officially, ...perkele!!

 

 

Did those kind of ugly things happen with your previous album FOLLOW THE REAPER with illegal copies floating around before the album was officially released?

No, I cannot remember such things happening, but afterwards it was found from the internet and thereīs was probably a few different bootlegs for sale from that album as well. But what is bugging and worrying me mostly at the moment is that our new album would end up being available from the internet before itīs officially released. It would a disaster. And to be really honest with you, thereīs actually one other thing that kind of pisses me off. Namely it will be released here in Finland 6th of January 2003 and in the rest of Europe sometime around March, so there will be a rather long gap between the release date in Finland and the rest of Europe. That means that thereīs always a danger that someone will put it on the internet some day for a free download and thatīs why Iīm quite worried. I honestly think itīs just unavoidable that it will be found from the internet some fuckinī day. But thereīs of course a reason for all of it why the European release date will be as late as in March 2003. They need more time to do all the ground work for promotion and that kind of thing, yīknow. So in a way I can relate to them, too. Here in Finland we are able to do all these interviews for example, within a little amount of time as Finland is a relatively small country compared to may central European countries and we have much less media here than in Germany for instance. I mean, interviews and such promotion for certain new albums can be done within a few days whereas in Europe they need like 2-3 months for the promotion due to a vast number of more media. They have hundreds of music magazines in such countries like Germany or France or Holland, etc., so naturally all the promotion takes just much more time over there than here in Finland. In the other words, now when our new album will come out in Finland on the 6th of January already and in the rest of the Europe in March, thereīs a great unfortunate possibility that our album can be found from the internet before that. And as I said, I donīt like that at all. I hope that all those who possibly may download it from the net in advance, could also buy the real thing once it will hit the stores around the world.

 

 

As we were talking about the lyrical side of your songs on this new album a while ago, thereīs a lot of pure hate involved in them against certain kind of backstabbers, shit talkers, etc. Now I was just wondering whether you could pick up one song off your album and dedicate it to all these rip-off assholes exclusively who are running some bad intentions in their swollen heads and pondering to get H.C.D.R. available in the net for a free download for everyone who basically donīt wanna pay for anything, what song would it be off the 9 songs you have on the new album?

Itīs definitely the last song - and the title track of our album "Hate Crew Deathroll" in that case. I think that song involves a message in itself to all these scumbags of the earth. Itīs for all of YOU ASSHOLES who try to rip us off or talk shit behind our backs. Itīs really sad that someone tries possibly make some money out of something thatīs not his/her property at all. Itīs great, though that now people are more aware of this ugly pirating thing in the net and keep on talking about it constantly on how to try to fight at least a bit against it. Many people in the music business are loosing shitloads of money because of this, so itīs great that some action has taken some place in order to get rid off some of these assholes on the face of the earth. Itīs also great that thereīs actually some laws and rules made in our society as far as copyright and stuff are concerned.

 

 

Out of my own curiosity, what kind of collection do you have of Children of Bodom bootlegs in your personal collection?

I have some and naturally I have always wanted any C.o.B. item for my collection that has come on my way. Thereīs actually quite a few of them available; like this strange live-CD that was recorded in Japan some time ago.

 

 

Have you ever checked out eBay what they have available there, by the way...?

Yeah, I know the thing, but havenīt been curious enough whatīs for sale in there...

 

 

Well, I just recently was surfing there a little and found this: A bootleg or a CD-R containing Children of Bodomīs B-sides of some certain singles, some cover songs you have recorded and the Inearthed demo as whole on it as well.

Whatta HELL...!!? Someone is selling them there...?! Fuckinī FUCK!!! Damn... this really pisses me off. This is so fuckinī outrageous. This fuckinī homo is making money at our expense. This guy needs to be eliminated for once and for all. Fuckinī gay!! I have nothing against it if someone puts our demo in the net for a free download, but making money out of it all is a completely different thing for sure.

 

 

"NEEDLED 24/7" - A NEW VIDEO

Then moving toward a ībitī lighter subjects... you just made a video for a song called "Needled 24/7" just a while ago. What kind of a script did you have for that video?

To tell you the truth, it happened quite spontaneously as a matter of speaking. First off, nobody asked us anything or heard what we may have wanted to be included for it or anything even if we should have been heard out in my opinion. Even a director was chosen for it in advance without hearing our opinion first, so we basically said: "Ok, letīs just do it...". Then we were told that this particular video in question will be shot in some sort of a circus tent. First we were heavily against the idea, but eventually we agreed to do it there with big teeth, though. Then we got to read a full script for it and became very suspicious about the whole thing again īcoz someone had planned to get some ballerinas, clowns and that sort of īnot-so-cleverī things for the actual script. I saw this video just yesterday as I have been a month away from everything and had no idea how the final version of it may look like. And when I saw it, I was so utterly pissed off at what I saw. But also the rest of the guys in the Bodom camp became pissed off īcoz they didnīt like the video a bit... first. We told them that we donīt need any damn ballerinas for our videos or anything alike for that matter. There, however, was one kind of neat thing in that video of which I was kinda pleased. There were these two guys who are able to do some extreme things in their life generally; piercing their nipples and dragging some metal cages behind them only using their nipples for that eye-catching purpose. That was the only cool thing in that video in my opinion. Those kinds of things represent very well for us and what we are after indeed. Then there was this one guy in that video with a top hat tightly placed around his head, sitting at the seats inside that tent; a ballerina flying across the air, etc.; just terrible. Also the other stupid thing is that video was that the only close-up footages were basically taken from me and Jaska, our drummer - and the rest of the guys were totally left unnoticed which is unfair and just wrong in my opinion. It would be have been much better if some of these pathetic ballerina and other circus characters had been replaced by some footages from the rest of the guys in this band. Well, the video is done and it would be just a waste of time cry for it afterwards. We cannot do anything about it any more.

And what channels will show that video then...?

Here in Finland I can only think of MoonTV and thatīs all about it. If itīll be shown through some cable channels around Europe, then thatīs just fine. I must say thereīs nothing wrong with the quality of that video, but Iīm afraid to say that the content of it doesnīt please me too much, unfortunately.

 

 

Has that kind of thought ever crossed your mind that you might link it up for your own official homepage and all the curious parties would go there and down load it for free for their own computers? Namely as far as know, there are some countries on this globe that havenīt got any channels for this kind of īmarginalī music...

Yeah, why not... it would a cool idea to serve all those people that way who havenīt got a chance to see or get it otherwise from some cable channels, etc. Not a bad idea at all, I have to say.

 

 

Why did you actually choose to make a video out if this song - and not using your single song "Youīre Better off Dead!" for it, f.ex.?

Well, I donīt know. Maybe thatīs because it was already released as a single and we wanted another song released as a video. Also, I think "Needled 24/7" fits quite well for a video īcoz the song itself represents us very well musically. It was all of us first option for a video track without any compromises to tell you the truth.

 

 

When will your new album be released in the States? Have you been informed anything about it yet?

Well, I donīt know for sure, but I assume that it will be released over there exactly the same time as in the rest of Europe as well, sometime in March 2003.

... and in Japan?

I guess it will come out in Japan a bit earlier, around in February or so.

 

 

FROM JAPAN TO BACK HOME TO EUROPE TO...

Talking about Japan just a bit more next. You have a great fanbase in that country and lots of your albums have been sold there. You have visited Japan with the band two times previously, right?

Yes, thatīs correct...

And in March 2003 youīll go there again to do 6 gigs in cities like Tokyo, etc., supporting Rob Halfordīs band on those gigs. How on earth was this opportunity offered for you guys? Did he contact you personally or did this request come from their management?

Their manager contacted our management and asked whether we would like to support them on those forthcoming gigs. The original idea was that we indeed wanted to go there alone first and do our own headlining tour there, but now we got this chance and are able to play slightly bigger places in that country which is fuckinī cool. Besides I think both Halford and us make a really cool package together īcoz we now have a chance to introduce our band to Halfordīs loyal crowd as well who otherwise may not have heard from us before. If we can get even one new fan for this band playing with Halford, then thatīs cool.

 

 

Do you have any idea whether Mr. Halford himself has heard your band before, by the way...?

I have no idea about that. Would be nice if he heard our band, though. I know that he also digs newer bands quite much like Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and so on. And thatīs really cool in my opinion īcoz everyone of us surely knows where heīs coming from. Itīs also great to notice that he hasnīt stuck with the past and has constantly been moving on, finding and trying new elements musically with his band.

 

 

Letīs have a word or two about the Japanese media. I remember seeing your face in the cover of one issue of BURRN! magazine, well, was the year 2000 or 2001 - I cannot remember precisely any longer, but you were chosen as the guitarist of the year in some award by the readers of the BURRN! magazine. How did it actually feel like to get your face on the front cover of that highly respected magazine?

Actually I wasnīt chosen as īthe best guitarist - or newcomer guitaristī either - or anything by the readers of BURRN!, but I just made it as far as to the īTOP 10 guitarists" list or something. Janne won the award as the best keyboard player in that year (2001), though. Anyway, I have to say I donīt know what kind of characteristics they use there when they were giving votes for the best guitar player of the year 2001 īcoz the final results turned out to be a bit odd and strange for my taste to say the least. I cannot remember my position on that list any longer, but such legendary guitarists as Steve Vai, Satriani, etc. got les votes than I did. It honestly went all beyond my own belief, I really need to confess that. Japanese tastes concerning some musicians seem to be kind of strange sometimes, he-he!! Of course it felt rather flattering and cool to see my face on the cover of that highly respected magazine. Itīs definitely my favorite metal magazine out of all metal magazines in the whole world. I also consider YOUNG GUITAR magazine as the best guitar magazine made ever on the face of the earth. The only thing that bugs me is that I donīt understand their language at all. That magazine contains some īreal guitaristsī and thereīs no space for some Papa Roach guitarist that some people may consider as some of a guitarist of modern-day īmetal musicī.

 

 

Then moving on backwards again a little to things concerning your gigs. After you have come back from Japan in March, you start preparing the band for a tour here in Finland...

Yeah, weīll go to all these familiar cities where we have already played before: Tampere, Oulu, Nivala and so on...

And after that youīll have your own headlining tour in Europe?

Yeah, thatīs right, Weīll start touring there around in April 2003 and tour in different countries for 5 weeks in a row. This time we will be playing in England for the first time, too. Hard to say how they will dig our band in that country, but that remains to be seen then. I hope at least a bunch of people will show up for our gigs in that country.

 

 

Are you going to have any support bands on this forth-coming European tour?

I know for sure that at least Swedish metallers Soilwork will be one of the two support bands on that tour. The 3rd slot is still a bit open, but will be announced soon, I guess.

 

 

A BRAVE NEW DEAL WITH SPINEFARM

You made a new deal with Spinefarm Records as FOLLOW THE REAPER was supposed to be the last album from you guys as a part of your old contact with them. What made you re-sign a new contract with them again? Was it the fact Spinefarm made a contract with Universal Records in order to make a better distribution for their own releases, getting a better promotion for the Spinefarm releases under this new kind of co-operation, etc.?

Yeah, you pretty much summed it all up. That was the main reason why we ended up signing this new contract with them. When we got to hear all the news about a joint venture between Spinefarm and Universal, we were a bit skeptical about it first īcoz Universal is so much bigger as a company compared to Spinefarm that has been an independent label for all these years. You cannot be too sure whether this kind of cooperation is meant to be successful or not, so of course itīs only natural that you wanna look at it from many different perspectives first. But eventually we started to believe that all the effort that itīs possibly to get from their direction for this band, will take this band a couple of steps further toward better things in the future. Thereīs always a risk, but without any risks you cannot go too far and make an impact you may deserve. I hope we did the right move. Only time will tell. On the other hand, we have been working with the Spinefarm staff for so many years already and have been very pleased how things have worked out between them and us thus far, so we know that we can at least trust them. In a way, I have to say we wanted to stick with them originally īcoz they have been doing great work for this band.

 

 

I remember you had these plans to release a Children of Bodom DVD with them some time ago. What happened with those plans?

Well, weīll put one out eventually, but we donīt want it to be any rushed project. We still need more footage for it and we want it be be professional and all that. It wonīt come out in 2003 yet, but maybe a year after that in 2004 or something.

 

I was wondering if there are some major countries for metal music where your album hasnīt been released yet? Have any of your albums been released f.ex. in Australia under a license deal or something, for example?

I guess so, but I donīt think our albums have done too well there. Officially our albums have been released in Russia as some sort of license deals that our label Spinefarm Records has offered to them. But I guess in countries like Russia a normal format to get music out quite usually is a cassette format; just like in countries like Poland, Hungary, Romania and so on.

 

 

ABOUT ACHIEVING STATUS...

I remember when your debut album SOMETHING WILD was released in 1997, it started some sort of a boom at least here in Finland when metal bands started to add some keyboard sound into their own music; bands got overall very technical and got recognized by different forums and people because of that, too. How do you feel for being some sort of a road sign or a milestone for all these young, but very talented bands that have been trying to follow your musical path and obtain similar elements into their own soundscapes; with this question Iīm referring now to such bands as Throne of Chaos, Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Kalmah, Norther, etc.?

Well, that was a hard question. I have listened to all these bands such as Kalmah, Norther and so on, but I have to say itīs kinda hard for me to be any judge whether they have - or have not imitated a bit Children of Bodom musically. But I also donīt deny it that some of these bands have some similar elements that we have in our own sound, too. But as you may understand, I cannot start pointing my finger toward any bands for ripping us off musically or anything īcoz every band basically is influenced by some other band in this world. Itīs only natural that some bands have this tendency to sound the same; itīs actually very unavoidable. If some bands shamelessly admit to be influenced by Children of Bodom, then of course that feels great and everything. Still, itīs hard for me even nowadays to place myself into some certain position and simply be some kind of an influence and inspiration for some younger musicians, yīknow. I still cannot think that way at all as Iīm still learning things myself even these days, how to be a better musician, make better songs and overall make this band working out effortlessly and so on, yīknow.

 

 

However, nowadays when you read some reviews or interviews of some certain, most often new bands, quite often Children of Bodomīs name pops up here and there in all these articles, etc. as you may have noticed yourself as well? In my opinion Children of Bodom as a single band has gained some amount of some sort of a īstatusī as a very technical and skilled metal band that combines keyboards with other instruments successfully and is able to impress a lot of people because of all these previously mentioned ingredients. Any comments to this?

Well, I have noticed that Children of Bodom has been compared to some technical, atmospheric sounding Black Metal bands due to my īshriekingī vocal style, keyboards in our sound and the technicality that we have in our music. It ainīt any bad thing by any means. Actually it feels rather nice to become compared to some bands every now and then.

 

 

Also, itīs been quite hilarious from time to time to see how people in general have tried to fit C.o.B. to some certain categories; some successfully and some less successfully as your music is pretty damn hard-hitting and mostly īgenre-freeī īcoz you seem to combine so many different styles into your music. Thereīs one guy on the message board of Metal-Rules.com that gave the following description about your style by describing it the following four words. He said that you are: īNeo-classical blackened Power Metalī. What do you think of that?

WOW...!! That was one hell of a description for sure... cannot deny that. But when you listen to our new album, I personally would drop two things away from that description; the first is: Power Metal. I cannot say we have anything to do with that category at all. Thatīs simply not us. I have to say Iīm not too thrilled myself about that category as a description ībout our music, sorry! Not even our FOLLOW THE REAPER album had that much to do with that category at all in my opinion. As far as īthe term īNeo-classical ī goes, I admit that our first two albums contained some elements that had something to do with that terminology, but already on FOLLOW THE REAPER we had pretty much dropped all those īneo-classicalī elements away from our music. It would be easiest way out and just say we play metal and thatīs it. I havenīt ever liked when people try to fit bands under different categories and come up with new categories for them all the time. Therefore, in many cases, itīs kind of a restrictive thing to bands to expand and develop their music further from their original roots, yīknow. As for our music we are representing these days, itīs a tough thing to put it under any category that could describe us what we are musically. We have some elements from Speed Metal, Black Metal, Punk Rock, etc. in our sound, so try to figure out a suitable category for us by keeping mind all those elements. I personally wanna call our music simply as īmetalī and that should be enough to describe this band in my opinion.

 

 

What kind of music or what kind of bands do you listen to nowadays? I assume that each of you have a long list of your own personal favorite bands that you have been dug and are digging even nowadays...

Yeah... we dig and listen to many different bands. Everyone of us has his own fave bands for sure. I have been digging the old-school ī80s metal for years; bands like Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P., etc. - and the list goes on. As far as newer metal bands come in question, I like f.ex. In Flames, Dimmu Borgir and Hypocrisy a lot. But I also like bands like Nine Inch Nails and Billy Idol very much as well as The Ramones and Sex Pistols have both always been close to my heart. Iīm a rather open-minded guy for different kinds of music as a matter of speaking.

 

 

This was it... thank you Alexi for your time and best of luck for 2003. Any last īcliche-filledī words for the readers of Metal-Rules.com?

Mega-thanks to everyone of you who have bought our albums. Drink (more) beer and listen to more metal!! Cheerz...!!!


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