Children of Bodom
Interview with keyboardist Janne Wirman
Interviewed on June 30th, 2011 by Monika Deviat
Janne Wirman from Finland began playing piano at the age of five. After graduating from the Helsinki Pop & Jazz conservatory he was invited to join Children of Bodom on keyboard. Children of Bodom has recently released their seventh studio album Relentless Reckless Forever [Spinefarm Records,2011] and are touring in support of the album. They are currently on the North American leg of “The Ugly World Tour 2011”. Metal-Rules caught up with Wirman for an interview after Children of Bodom’s set in Calgary, Alta. at MacEwan Hall on June 30th, 2011.
How was the show tonight?
It was good. I heard there were some technical problems from the crew’s side. Some of the PA’s were flaking, not working well and the lights were weird. Last time we played here we played in another room.
You guys played in the room downstairs the last time you were at MacEwan Hall.
Yeah, in the bigger room. I thought that was a nice space but when I arrived here I heard all about the technical problems and I was like “shit”. But you know it went well.
You did get a good response from the crowd.
Yeah we did.
Children of Bodom has been coming back to western Canada approximately once a year for the last few years. How do you like playing here?
I love it. We really like Canada. And talking about statistics, Canada has become our second biggest market after Finland. It used to be Japan, but now it’s Canada.
And Japanese fans are known to be pretty fanatic when they’re into a band.
Yeah that says something right there.
How are the North American fans’ reactions to hearing the new material live?
So far so good. We’ve had four shows…no five shows before this. The tour is still fresh but so far so good.
What is your favorite song to play live off the new album?
I have been saying that it is the number one track [“Not My Funeral”] on the album. It’s weird because it’s the longest one, but somehow it works as an opener for the album and it works as an opener for the gig. When we are putting the track list together I was like “how you can put the longest one first? That is not going to work”, yet somehow it works.
Which song has your favorite keyboard part?
I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on the keyboard solo on “Shovel Knockout”. I’m pretty proud of it.
What do you do to warm up before a show?
I don’t do anything. I change into my stage clothes or whatever and that’s it.
Did you guys have much input on the other band included on this tour?
To be totally honest, no. But we kind of never do. Sometimes they give us a list. Right now it’s the summer festival season so touring here right now doesn’t make any sense but we wanted to tour the release so that it’s not too long after the release.
I know you guys toured Europe first in support of the album.
Yeah, this time around.
Are you enjoying touring with Canada’s Devin Townsend Project?
Yeah totally. I watched their show in Vancouver which they almost missed. I heard they got stuck at the border and then their bus broke down. If they were going to miss their home town gig that would really suck. I watched the show, I’ve been getting lots of interview questions asking “isn’t that a weird package” but I don’t know, it’s cool.
Well the bands on this tour seem to be comprised of great musicians in general, so everyone has that in common.
Yeah I don’t think it’s that odd. I think it works well.
You’ve listed your primary influence as Jens Johnnsson from Stratovarious. Have any new keyboardists caught your attention?
Unfortunately no. I check out new bands sometimes but at the same time I’m lazy and may have missed hundreds of bands that may have keyboards in them. But to be honest I have not heard anyone that I would give any credit to.
As your musical style evolves is it ever hard to find a new fit?
No because we don’t really think about it. We just do what feels natural at the time. I’m not saying that we have had lots of misses. Not that we go through albums and say, “What the fuck were we thinking?”, nothing that drastic, but it would be so fucked up to sit down and analyze the songs. We just do what feels natural and I will still stand behind each album and everything we have done as times change.
You seem to keep a very good rapport with your fans and you get out to meet the fans. Do you have an interesting or crazy story about an encounter with a fan you could share?
There would be so many. Whenever I get put on the spot I can’t think of one. There’s a lot of weird stuff that goes on. I really don’t like the situation where a fan asks you sign their arm or something and then tell you they are going to tattoo it. One time I was drunk out of my mind in Germany and was like, “Fuck no, you’re not going to tattoo that” and just put an ‘x’ through the signature and he tattooed it anyway. So that’s not good.
Did he send you a picture?
No, I just saw him on the European tour just two months ago. I was like “Fuck, why the fuck did you do that?”
The band has a reputation as being big on partying. Do you guys limit yourselves on how much you party before a show?
Totally. We do not drink before the show. Maybe a maximum of two beers before the show. I mean I drink a lot during as you may have noticed, but we do not drink before the show.
I noticed you sometimes get a bit of a break in between keyboard parts. What do you think about?
Its’ funny you know, sometimes I think about changing the brakes on my race car but yeah I have a couple breaks. I usually go down to meet my crew guys, my technicians, say hi, have a drink then wander back to the stage.
Is anything going on with your racing now that you’re on tour?
No! Because we are on fucking tour all the time. I would love to be at home, because you know it’s the season in Finland. Half the year it’s snowing and icy and you can’t do shit. I love being on tour right, but I would also like to one time spend a whole season in Finland for racing.
How often do you practice and what does a practice entail?
It really varies now days. When I am home – I have a little recording studio there now – I go there to jam and play along with the randomest pop music or whatever. I don’t call it practicing but in a way it is. We used to practice like hell when we were younger. We had band rehearsals five or six times a week even though there was nothing coming up, like a tour or an album. Now days, luckily, the band is more relaxed and doesn’t practice as much. I just grab a glass of nice whiskey and go to my home studio and just play a little something. It’s not really practicing, but at least its playing.
I know playing a piano and keyboard are very different for many people. How often do you go back to a piano?
Dude this is a really good question because I don’t. I don’t own a piano and have not gone back a piano for years and I hate myself for it. I’m really picky with pianos but I really should have bought a Steinway Grand or a Yamaha Grand instead of a sports car. But I didn’t. I really need to buy a piano to get back on it.
If you could have any non musical skill, what would it be? And it can’t be race car related.
Not musical? Shit. And not race car? You just ruined it. I’m pretty skilled I don’t need anything.
I suppose that’s a pretty good answer.
I wish I could swim better actually. He [Henkka Seppälä] swims a lot and it keeps him in good shape. Sometimes I wish I could have the skill to go do something sporty. But I don’t.
What is your favorite thing to eat while on tour?
Taco Bell. It’s so bad that it’s good.
What do usually get?
What do you like to do on your days off while on tour?
I love days off. What I do is I get a hotel room and what I don’t do is hang out with the guys. I just like to hang out by myself.
Is there anything you wish an interviewer had asked you but didn’t?
Oh shit that’s a really good question. Probably there used to be. So far you’ve had really smart questions.
Anything else you’d like your fans to know?
I would like our fans to know that we love Canada and we love coming back here. As I said, it’s our second biggest market after Finland and it’s awesome. We love the shows here, love the fans here and really hope to keep coming back.