Children of Bodom
Interview with Janne Wirman
March 12, 2017 – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Interview by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
We spoke to Children of Bodom keyboardist Janne Wirman prior to their show at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London last Sunday. Read on to find out about the band’s struggle with relearning old songs, what goes into choosing songs to cover, and upcoming album plans!
Hello, my name is Toby and I write for Metal-Rules.com.
Did you have the time to check out London at all today?
Well, I did go to the Westfield mall, did some sightseeing around there. Got some food there, but I didn’t go out to see any other places.
You played Manchester yesterday, how was the audience there?
It was good. The venue was full, almost sold out, so the crowd was really good.
Do you hope to reach more of the UK on upcoming tours, not just Manchester and London?
Hopefully, yes. I’m not fully sure why this tour was so compressed, I was hoping this thing would last a little longer. Maybe we’ll book another one that will hit the cities that we now missed. I would’ve liked to go to other places around here too, but this time it’s only those two cities.
How did you find Forever Still and Oni to tour with?
Oni just toured with us in the US, so they asked if they could open for us here too. The middle band slot got changed so many times, there were bands booked and then something happened, somebody had a baby and someone got kicked off their record label [laughs]. So there was a lot of back and forth with the middle slot band, but then our record label suggested Forever Still.
Have there been some funny behind the scenes moments on this tour yet?
Well, you know, there’s been some pretty funny fuck-ups on stage, because we haven’t played some of these songs in like 18 years. But everything else has been going pretty smoothly.
As you said, you’re bringing out some songs you haven’t played in a while on this tour. Did some of them prove to be particularly challenging to relearn?
The song “In The Shadows” from the first album, we’ve never played it live and it’s such a retarded song [laughs]. I don’t think it’s meant to be played live. It’s not necessarily relearning, it’s going back to the time when I was 17 and we recorded it, and then we’ve never played it since. It’s more than relearning, it’s like ‘what the fuck is going on’ [laughs]. But it’s been surprisingly good fun, figuring out the old songs.
Is “In The Shadows” one of the songs you fucked up on stage?
Which of these old songs have proved to be the most fun to play live?
Well, some of them actually are really fun, but some of the old ones one the first album are so weird, like “In The Shadows” and “The Nail”. It’s very complex, with so many different riffs and parts and, I don’t know, it doesn’t really seem like a song to me nowadays. Just a different collection of weird stuff [laughs], so those are quite challenging. But the more we play them now, after a week, you kind of start to get them in your muscle memory, cause in the first shows we were like ‘what the fuck is going on’, so it gets more fun now as the tour goes on.
Would you say that the early songs from Something Wild and Hatebreeder are more complex and complicated than, say I Worship Chaos?
Well you know, I mentioned “In The Shadows” and “The Nail” and those are both seven-minute songs, and have like 20 different parts, so in that sense our never material are way more straightforward, you have an intro and this part and then a chorus, so there’s maybe six or seven different parts but not 20.
Do you think some of these songs would end up in a regular setlist after this tour?
I would think so, after a tour like this, some of them will maybe make us go ‘okay, we can keep this one’, so I’m sure something from this tour will be kept in the setlist.
Something Wild is 20 years old this year. Obviously, your style has changed a lot since then, do you ever think about sort of returning to the roots with your music, bring back neoclassical influences and such?
No. I think with the neoclassical thing, we were kids so it felt right at the time when we did the first albums, but then around the time of the fourth album [Hate Crew Deathroll] none of us were feeling it anymore. So I think that was the turning point, and I still feel strongly that it was the right decision, although I understand there’s a lot of fans who are just fans of the neoclassical stuff. We can go back and do weird stuff, but I don’t think the neoclassical thing will ever be a part of our sound again.
Looking back on your career, do you have any regrets?
Some, but only really minor ones. Looking back, we’ve toured the world for 20 years, we’ve been pretty drunk and partied hard all over the world. At one point, I remember I sat down with the sound-guy, who is unfortunately not our sound-guy anymore, and I said ‘we don’t understand how anyone didn’t get killed during the crazy years, cause we were fucked up all over the world’ [laughs], so now looking back, some of the partying could’ve been toned down a little bit, but we all survived somehow.
Which city were you the most ‘fucked up’ in?
Tokyo. Tokyo gets you, it never shuts down. You can party 24/7, it never closes down, it’s amazing.
How has Daniel Freyberg influenced the band since his arrival?
Well, we’ve just played live so far, and he’s just been learning the parts that’ve already been there, so I don’t think he has actually influenced us that much. But he doesn’t need to, cause he’s just there to replace and play the stuff that’s already there. He’s such an easy dude to work with, he plays exactly what you ask him to play, so it works well, it’s a good match.
Has he or will he contribute towards future song writing?
At this point, I do not know. It hasn’t been discussed.
Would you ever consider remaking old albums with your new sound, different gear and new line-up etc.?
I kind of don’t see the point in some of that, cause if we would now record it with the recording gear and mindset we have nowadays, I think it would be a little pointless. Just because when we recorded the first album we were 17 and just kids, and you can hear all that there. It would just lose it’s magic, I think it would become boring. I don’t know, I know some bands are doing it, but I personally would not do it.
Over the span of your career you’ve done quite a few cover songs, the whole Skeletons In The Closet album and most recently an Amorphis song. How does the process of choosing what songs to cover go?
I mean sometimes it’s easy, what’s always easy for us is like 80s and 90s pop songs, some of them translate so easily into metal versions. We did this trade off, Amorphis did our song and we did one of theirs, which was fun. They did a much better job at it though, they arranged it more. We had some ideas where we could have gone crazier with the arrangements, and I think we should have, but we kind of made it a bit too easy. Cover songs is always fun, that’s the thing. We’ve done everything from CCR to Britney Spears [laughs] and all that kind of stuff, but it’s fun, it always is.
Are there any artists or songs in mind that you would like to cover in the future?
Lately it’s become a little more difficult to come up with stuff, artists that we haven’t covered and songs that wouldn’t be too obvious. We’ve never done Madonna [laughs], that could be a good one.
Are there ongoing plans of an upcoming Children of Bodom album?
Yes. We will start writing and recording this year. We’ll do this tour and then we will move on to the song writing.
Do you still keep in touch with the past band members; Roope and Alexander?
No, unfortunately. I was just talking about it recently that maybe I should contact Roope at some point, but unfortunately not. No particular reason, we just went our different ways. Our lawyers were in contact some time ago [laughs], so that kind of tells you what’s going on.
What do you personally do when you’re not on tour or working on new material?
I have a little recording studio at home, I fiddle around with things, I’m currently actually producing this Finnish pop music album, which is funny. Non-music related, I like cars, I have a couple of old cars that need a lot of work. That really takes your mind off music, cause when you’re working with music on your free time and you want to do something completely different, it’s awesome to start tearing apart an engine and rebuilding it and stuff like that.
What are your plans following this tour?
Just song writing. I would say the album release is probably next year. If we start writing and recording this year, that wouldn’t make sense, we need a good 4-6 months for the songwriting usually.
Is there anything you would like to add in the end?
Like I said, yesterday was a good crowd and a lot of people showed up. I’m aware that Gojira is playing here in London tonight, so that’s a bit of a bummer, I hope we both get a decent crowd, but I want to obviously thank everyone who’s coming to the shows. This is a special setlist, and I hope people will enjoy it.
Thank you for your time, and good luck with the show and the rest of the tour!