Children of Bodom keyboardist goes solo
Interviewed by EvilG
Many of you know the name Janne Warmen thanks to his work with the band CHILDREN OF BODOM. Just as many are probably unaware that Mr. Warmen is also a solo artist and the album BEYOND ABILITIES is his second. I spoke to Janne about everything from keyboards, his thoughts on other players to Britnay Spears?! An interesting and comical discussion was had indeed!!
I’d like to start by going back in time a little bit. Back to the beginning for the how and why you decided to put together a solo project.
It was really because of well, you probably know Alexi writes all the music for COB, and I also wanted to publish some of my own ideas and music. So that was kinda the idea behind Warmen.
So did you feel you were trapped to playing a certain style or feel with Children Of Bodom?
No, no. I really like playing in COB. I like the music and style very much. But I just got the feeling that maybe I should do some of my own ideas too.
And going even further back, what and who inspired you in the beginning, to decide to play keyboards?
I started to play the piano when I was 5 yrs old. My father was a musician and he put me into music studies. And then I quit playing for one year when I was 17 or something and then I joined COB when I was 18. So I’ve been playing the keyboards for 4 yrs and the piano before that. I personally think that the keyboards and piano are really different instruments. They may look the same, but in piano you have a certain feel and touch with the hammer action going on but, with the keyboard you have this shitty plastic shit. So it’s totally different.
So Children Of Bodom was your first band that you ever played with is it?
No, I played in many bands before that. Actually I was a drummer in many bands before that (laughs). And of course I was studying the piano in conservatory and I was playing the piano in a lot of jazz bands.
Were you ever in any metal bands?
No, not before COB.
I sometimes get the impression that your playing approach is not far removed from what you would hear from a lead guitar sometimes. I was wondering do you structure your solo parts like a guitar solo or have many lead guitar players been an influence for you at all?
I wouldn’t say that lead guitar players have been an influence to me but, what I am actually trying to prove is that a keyboard player can be as much as a “hero” like many guitar players are for people. For example, all the people know the guitar hero’s like Yngwie Malmsteen and stuff but I’m trying to prove that there is also really good musicians going on in the keyboard section.
So have you been trained in theory or technique or are you self taught?
I’ve been trained in theory a lot. I’ve had all the possible training you can have on music theory in Finland. I went to all the classes, so I have a pretty nice background of music theory.
So since you’ve done so much theory and stuff, what is left to challenge you musically these days? Or what things do you as a musician are you trying to better yourself in?
Janne Warmen: The one thing I’m not so proud of is that I don’t rehearse at all. I’m such a fucking lazy asshole! hahaha When COB is going into the studio, I have to rehearse something because Alexi writes pretty difficult things for me. But otherwise I never rehearse on my own. That’s something, I actually feel that I could be a pretty nice musician if I would just rehearse something but, I’m too lazy to do it.
So when you’re by yourself you don’t really pick up the keyboard or get at the piano?
No, and that’s my problem. When I’m by myself I don’t have the inspiration to rehearse or anything. I just play the shit I already know.
So what would you say the main difference is between your first solo album and the newest BEYOND ABILITIES?
I definitely enjoyed making the new one a bit more interesting for the people. The first one was mainly instrumental with only two songs with vocals. The second one we have more songs with singing and I also think that the arrangements of the instrumentals are a bit more interesting.
And with the title BEYOND ABILITIES, is that in reference to trying to play beyond your ability, or something else?
Yeah, I think that’s kind of an irony thing going on. I’m referring to myself in that I’m playing beyond my own abilities all the time.
When you are writing your own material, what things in what you are writing make you go “this would be good for COB” or “this would be more suited for Warmen”?
Like I probably already told you, Alexi writes all the music for COB, so when I’m doing Warmen songs I have only myself to judge which is good or which is shit. So I kind of decide what we are going to use. That way it’s like I already have in mind I’m doing a song for Warmen, so that’s what I’m doing. I don’t have to…..oh fuck…..I don’t know how to say it. But you get the point.
Yes I do.
So can you tell me a little bit about the guest vocalists you have on here? You have Kimberly Goss, and Timo Kotipelto – two very well known names in the metal realm. Can you tell me why you decided to pick those two?
Well Kimberly was singing on our first album too, and back then we decided that she would work with us in the future as well. She was a natural choice for the second album. And then Timo, he’s about to release a solo album too so we did this nice exchange deal in which I play the keyboards on his solo album and he sings on the Warmen album. And the third guy, it’s really funny because we had the song done and we didn’t have a singer for it and I was drinking in a bar in Helsinki and then this one guy (Pasi Nykanen) starts to sing real loud (real drunk) in the bar. And I was like “Hey dude, you’re going to sing on our album” and he was like “ok”. So that’s how I found the third singer.
Yeah, he’s in another band also but I’m not familiar with his material or what type of music it is.
Yeah, he joined the band Thorn of Chaos.
What type of music are they?
Shit, I don’t know. I don’t like them.
Just don’t tell him that right?
Who else to you dream of eventually having as a guest appearance on an upcoming Warmen album?
For the guitar player I would really like to feature Michael Romeo. You know, the dude from SymphonyX. He’s a fucking brilliant guitar player. And I hope I can work with Timo as a singer in the future too. And of course Alexi because he’s a pretty fucking talented guitar player.
What bands or other albums to date, have you played on besides Children of Bodom and Warmen?
Well like I told you, Timo Kotipelto has an upcoming solo album, and then I have this project going on; well actually I’m a member of the band. Like you probably know, Helloween split with Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch quitting the band. And now I have a new band with Roland and Uli. It’s called Masterplan, and I’m playing on the new album and it’s going to be released in April or something. So I’m a member of that band too.
So what can you tell me about the stuff your doing with these ex-members of Helloween? Have you started recording anything with them or has it gotten that far?
Yeah, I recorded my parts already and it sounds pretty good. It’s going to be a bit like Helloween stuff, but a bit more modern and nice vocals every now and then. So yeah, I think it’s going to be quite nice, something I haven’t done before so I’m really looking forward to how it’s going to do.
Do you expect them to ask you to play live with them or is this more of a studio thing for you?
Well I’m kinda a member of the band so I’ll be playing live if they’re playing live.
Have you ever played a live show as Warmen and if not, do you ever hope to or plan to play live with that line-up?
After the first album came out we did some live shows in Finland and some television shows and everything. And now we are planning to play some shows in Finland with the second album line-up. We’ve even had some discussions about playing some smaller festivals with the second album line-up, so we’ll see.
I was wondering, why did you decide to cover a song by Heart? And has it gotten the band the airplay that you hoped?
Well I’m a big fan of the 80’s of course, and Kimberly Goss kinda suggested that song for me. And I was like “yeah it sounds good”, and I get to play some real piano which is something I really like. And I love her singing for the song “Alone”. I think it’s a nice cover version.
Was the reason for covering the song because you figured it might attract some listeners who might not hear of Warmen otherwise?
Yeah, maybe. It was released as a single in Finland.
Yeah I read about that. So did it actually get played on the radio there?
Yes, but not so much. Just a couple of times.
Did you consider any other songs for covering or was that the only one?
No, that was kinda the only one.
What are your expectations with Children Of Bodom fans being also fans of Warmen? Or do you think that the people who would probably listen to Warmen are more the Stratovarius type fans?
Yeah, In my opinion I think that COB has different types of fans. They are fans of Alexi’s playing because he is a really fucking good guitar player. And I also like to think of myself as some kind of keyboard player at least, so there are fans of the playing and then there are the typical fans of the death metal, heavy metal aggression shit going on. I think the fans of the playing can also appreciate Warmen, but then again, like you said; I think even some Stratovarius fans or fans of music like that can like Warmen. I don’t know really.
I’m one of the type of people who love both, but I know some people who only like the light stuff or they only like the aggressive vocals, but to each their own I guess. If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask your opinion on maybe a few other musicians that are probably influences of yours. If you give me a brief description of what they meant to you as an influence or maybe what you think of them? [Yeah sure!]
Ok, well the first one is, in my mind would be a fairly obvious person that might be an influence; and that’s the keyboardist from Stratovarius – Jens Johansson.
So like I’ve told in every interview I’ve done….He’s my idol. For me he’s the one keyboard player that I really like to mention every time because his playing to me is perfect. He has killer sounds, he has killer scales, and everything he’s playing is just fucking perfect.
Maybe someday you can have him on your album and have dueling keyboards solo’s eh?
Yeah!!!!!That’s something that already kinda happened because he was in Helsinki and I had this plan that I would get him really drunk and drag him over to the studio and make him play something but it didn’t happen (laughs) so…hopefully in the future.
Ok another one, also from Finland, Nightwish. So what do you think of Nightwish and their keyboards?
I like the new album and I think it’s really nice sounding on the…..shit……on their own style I think they’re fucking good. But as a keyboard player I don’t appreciate Tuomas that much. I think he writes really nice songs but in my opinion he’s not much of a keyboard player.
Ok, and how about Alex Staropoli from Rhapsody?
Oh shit….you don’t want to hear this….(laughter)
I’ve heard some pretty nasty rumors about them. So I can tell you on the first album he didn’t play anything. Everything was done with the computer by the producer, so I can’t appreciate that kind of shit.
What about their newer stuff or have you just given up on it?
No fuck, ah shit, I don’t like it. I liked the first album music wise, it was very nice, but all the stuff that came out after the first album I really don’t like.
Ok we’ll leave it at that for Rhapsody. [Yeah].
How about a non keyboard musician Yngwie J. Malmsteen?
Hmmmm yeah…I can find a lot of similarities between his playing and mine. The way he plays his guitar, he plays it rhythmically accurate, and I have found similarities in my playing when I play the fast shit, which isn’t always on time, but it sounds pretty good. So yeah, I really like him as a musician.
And what about a different type of band. Some people like to call them black metal; and that is Dimmu Borgir? They have a lot of keyboards in their music. I was wondering what your opinion is on that kind of stuff?
Well I can tell you that I don’t listen to that kind of music at all. Although I play in COB, but the way I see COB is like they we have this really nice fast playing style that Dimmu Borgir doesn’t have. I haven’t really listened to their stuff and I don’t know anything about their music.
Perhaps you can give everyone a general idea of the type of stuff that you would pop in and listen to on a day off when you’re not thinking about your own music.
Well, I listen to a lot of different kinds of shit. Like I told you, did I already tell you? Fuck…I’ve been doing already 10 interviews today, I’m sorry. I’m a big fan of movie soundtracks like “The Rock” soundtrack, and the “Gladiator” soundtrack. So lately I’ve been listening to a lot of the Gladiator soundtrack. Fuck…what else have I been listening to lately???? Ahhhhhh, the new Arch Enemy album. I think that’s a really nice band and they have really good guitar players. Like I told you I listen to a lot of shit and I’m also a big fan of Britney Spears.
Uhhhh…a fan of her music or a fan of her
I think more of her…
Yeah, that was something I was going to say… “What would you be able to tell people that you listen to that would probably shock them”….
Then it’s definitely going to be her. When COB was touring South Korea and Japan, I bought this killer Britney Spears double dvd karaoke thingy from South Korea, and it’s fucking great. I’m singing her songs at home everyday. Nooooooo haha!! But I have to say that I really like the production behind her songs. It’s very powerful.
Okayyyyyy……it’s funny, you don’t like Rhapsody but you like her.
Actually yeah. If you were to ask me if I would rather listen to Rhapsody or Britney Spears I would rather listen to Britney. Yeah….
That’s funny…(AKA you are fucked up haha) So back to Warmen. What does the future hold for Warmen? Will there be another solo album coming next year or what?
Yeah, just last week me and my brother were drinking in my apartment making some new songs. So hopefully we are going to release a third album in the next year. Warmen is something where I can publish my own music and ideas. it’s really fun for me to do because I don’t have such a great expectation about the sales figures and shit. I hope we can release a new album next year.
Well this album is just coming out now here in North America through Century Media, but, it was out last year through Spinefarm Records, so will the third album be put out with Century Media or do you know what’s going to happen with that?
No I don’t know yet. But so far I’ve been very pleased with the work that Century Media has been doing.
Well they got you lined up with a lot of interviews I take it. Hehehe
Yeah, 16 for today, man that’s 8 hours. So I’m pretty drunk already…
I just got the album last week. They sent me a promo copy and I listened to it all weekend and it is really, really good.
Thank you, thanks a lot. You know it’s very nice to hear from you. I’ve been doing a lot of these interviews and everybody has been telling me they like the new album a lot and it makes me feel really good to know that people appreciate what we are doing.
It’s hard to go wrong when you mix together your background with Children Of Bodom and you have guest appearances like Timo Kotipelto, who is just about my favorite vocalist anyway!!
Stratovarius is kinda my all time favorite because Jens is playing on the band so…For me it was kinda like a dream come true to be able to work with Timo Kotipelto.
That’s all the questions I had so I’d like to wish you the best of luck with your solo project and hopefully we’ll hear more of it.
It was really nice talking to you.
Yeah, thank you!
- Transcription by Ronnie -