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CHILDREN OF BODOM (HENKKA T. BLACKSMITH/ ALEXI „WILDCHILD“ LAIHO)

Steffi Mahsmann hatte beim diesjährigen Wacken Open Air die Chance, einer der angesagtesten finnischen Kapellen auf den Zahn zu fühlen. Lest selbst, was Henkka und Alexi über Poser, Major Labels und diverse andere Themen zu erzählen hatten… YOUR NEW EP „TRASHED, LOST AND STRUNGOUT“ COMES OUT IN SEPTEMBER. COULD YOU PLEASE COMMENT ON THE EP TITLE… Henkka: It’s the title of the first track and it’s just being lost and strungout, being totally fucked up. RIGHT. IS THAT A TYPICAL SUBJECT FOR SOMEBODY FROM FINLAND TO SING ABOUT, BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY YOU GUYS IN SCANDINAVIA DRINK A LOT THERE. OR AM I WRONG ON THAT ONE? Henkka: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think we consume alcohol as much as other Europeans, but in a different way. It’s a lot harsher. When they do drink, they drink a lot. So, it’s yeah… Scandinavian style of drinking. TO A LOT OF PEOPLE’S SURPRISE WE GET TO HEAR COVER-VERSIONS OF ALICE COOPER’S „BED OF NAILS“ AND ANDREW W. K.’S „SHE IS BEAUTIFUL“ ON THE EP. THESE ARE ABOUT THE LEAST SONGS ANYONE WOULD HAVE EXPECTED FROM YOU. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THESE TRACKS INSTEAD OF GIVING THE „COVER“-TREATMENT TO A CLASSIC SCANDINAVIAN DEATH METAL-SONG, SOMETHING FROM AT THE GATES, MAYBE? Henkka: For us it’s the kind of thing with the covers, that it’s nice to do something that is surprising. And people will go like: „What the hell is…? Why? Why do they do these songs?!“ I think, it keeps the thing a little more interesting, you know. When people maybe want to hear, how does the songs sound when we’re doing Andrew W. K. Of course we could always do some Judas Priest or Slayer, you know what I mean? But it would be too obvious. I don’t know, if it’s that interesting. To me it’s more fun, and it makes this more interesting, when you do this kind of songs, people wouldn’t expect. That’s the point to me. DO YOU LISTEN TO THAT KIND OF MUSIC IN YOUR FREE TIME? BECAUSE, COME ON… JEEEEZUS – THEY ARE POSERS! Henkka: Yeah, of course I had a school prep. I’ve been liking that always. But we’re really Andrew W. K. fans. We used to listen to that on the last tour in the States a lot. Yeah, I like it. It’s a good song. WOULD YOU CALL CHILDREN OF BODOM A POSER BAND, TOO? BECAUSE THERE ARE SOME PARALELLS, WOULDN’T YOU SAY? Henkka: (irritated laughter) Poser?!? WELL, NOT POSERS IN A HAIRSPRAY WAY. I’M NOT SAYING ANYTHING AGAINST POSING, POSING ON STAGE CAN BE A WONDERFUL THING. LET’S CALL IT „DELIVERING A GREAT STAGE PERFORMANCE“ INSTEAD – HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT FOR THE BAND? Henkka: I don’t know, on stage we try to… I don’t know if it’s like posing. Maybe it’s like… giving some sort of feelings to the audience, I guess, and get the same feelings back. It’s like kind of aggressive or somehow moving. I don’t know, if you could call it like posing what we do on stage… POSING CAN BE DONE IN A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS. I WOULD CALL BANDS LIKE IMMORTAL A POSER BAND, TOO. BANDS WITH ANY SORT OF MAKE-UP, EVEN IF IT’S SUPPOSED TO LOOK VEEERY GRIM WITH BLACK-AND-WHITE FACE PAINT. WITH CHILDREN OF BODOM I’VE ALWAYS HAD THE FEELING THAT YOU WERE TRYING TO SET A COUNTERPART TO BANDS WHO TRY TO ACT „EVIL“ ON STAGE. YOU ACTUALLY SEEM TO ENJOY YOURSELVES ON STAGE. Usually we have a lot of fun there. Actually when we go on stage, we don’t do any sort of make-up or anything, we just basically go there as we are. And we have fun. That’s why we like it so much. Just to play there, to have fun with each other, and to see that the fans are being into us. It’s very nice. THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF MAKE-UP INVOLVED THERE, THOUGH… Henkka: Mhmhm… yeah, I think Alexi has a little bit of make-up on… LET’S TALK ABOUT THE LINE-UP CHANGES. IN A LOT OF PAST INTERVIEWS YOU STATED THAT THE BAND WAS A UNIT, AND THAT IF ANYBODY SPLITS, THE BAND WOULD BE OVER AND DONE. NOW LAST YEAR YOUR GUITARPLAYER ALEXANDER KUOPPALA LEFT THE BAND AND WAS IMMEDIATELY REPLACED BY ROOPE LAVALLA. Henkka: Yeah, that’s a weird thing. But since Alexander left – and he left so suddenly, in the middle of touring basically – we kind of had to keep on going. We had to do the shows that were already booked for us. Luckily we’ve had one month off, so we could get Roope. And he was rehearsing like hell to get the sixteen songs that we were supposed to play the next show. He did it. Then we just decided: why to quit? We could go on. The leaving of Alexander was a liitle longer process. He started to feel uncomfortable already on the tours we did in the beginning of last year. FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE WITH WHAT? Henkka: With touring. He just wasn’t as he was before. He used to be like 100% and even more into the band and touring, solely living for this. But you could see it from him that he wasn’t that comfortable anymore. And we actually knew it, that it’s not gonna last. That he can’t do that if he’s feeling uncomfortable. We could sense it that something was gonna happen. Then when he told us that he can’t do this anymore, he was… Of course, it was a surprise, because we never would have actually thought that he would leave the band. But on the other hand it was not that much of a big surprise, because we could see it from him that he wasn’t so comfortable anymore. So, that’s why. I mean, it was easy for us to decide, we will keep on going and took Roope. Because Roope is doing his job now very good, and we like him as a person, too. So, it’s easy to go like this now. SO YOU GET ALONG ON A FRIENDSHIP-LEVEL? Henkka: Yeah, we knew him for a long time anyway. I READ, HE WAS AN EARLY INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN OF BODOM WHEN HE USED TO PLAY WITH HIS BAND STONE? Henkka: He was a big influence on Alexi’s playing especially. It’s kind of funny that now they play in the same band. And of course he played in Sinergy, too. But to have him in Children of Bodom… it’s funny that Roope is here now. I really like it. ARE THERE ANY HARD FEELINGS TOWARDS ALEXANDER BECAUSE HE QUIT AND BASICALLY LEFT YOU OUT IN THE RAIN, OR ARE YOU STILL IN TOUCH WITH HIM? Henkka: There’s no hard feelings. First it was a little bit disappointing, because we felt there was not enough time to get a new one, to get a replacement for him. But later on, it’s like, there are no hard feelings, actually. But he’s changed his life totally, like upside down. We are not in contact anymore that much. He’s just hanging out with his girlfriend and he got a kid and an apartment. It’s like totally different kind of lifestyle. He was best friend of Alexi’s for many years, but nowadays they don’t… I mean, maybe he calls once in a month to check out what’s happening, that’s it. But there’s no hard feelings, no. YOU ARE WITH A MAJOR COMPANY NOW (UNIVERSAL MUSIC). DID YOU FEEL THEY COULD DO A BETTER JOB PROMOTION-WISE THAN A SMALLER LABEL, OR WAS IT REALLY THE MONEY? Henkka: We had of course options, when the latter contract was done. And, of course, it’s always really hard to decide, which label to go in. And of course, there is money involved, too. But the most important thing is, how the band is treated inside the label. And we knew, that it’s a huge risk to go to a major label, because we could end up with: „We don’t care about this punk band from Finland, this punkmetal band from Finland!““ Because they have much more selling artists, of course. But in the end we decided to go for this, because we knew we would have some sort of possibilities to go further with a bigger label. Actually, the fears that we’ve had became true. Because on some territories people don’t care about us, but on some territories we have been raising the sales a lot. So, I think we made a good decision. But… yeah, on a major label it’s a little hard. BUT BEING WITH A MAJOR LABEL ALSO OFFERS YOU A LOT MORE OPPORTUNITIES WHEN IT COMES TO SPENDING MONEY ON THE PRODUCTION OF AN ALBUM. HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT GETTING ONE OF THE „BIG“ NAMES IN, LIKE ONE OF THE „CELEB“-PRODUCERS? I’M NOT NECESSARILY SAYING RICK RUBIN, BUT ANYONE LIKE THAT PLAYING IN THAT LEAGUE? Henkka: Actually, the thing with the contract is, we’re still doing it with Spinefarm. We’ve always been with them and we still are. So, this is a part of Universal company now. So, the deal when it comes to that kind of money for the album production, it’s not that different than before. We are in the same position still. So, in that way the major thing hasn’t affected us anyhow. But, there were some discussions about getting a big producer in maybe. But then, we’re not that much into that kind of thing, somehow we don’t need any producers. I don’t know, we just kind of do it by our own. And we actually never had thought we should hire anyone to make it somehow different. (ALEXI WALKS IN AND SITS DOWN) ALEXI, DO YOU HAVE A HISTORY IN LISTENING TO „OLD“ BANDS LIKE MÖTLEY CRÜE, HANOI ROCKS OR SKID ROW? BECAUSE YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE IN THE BAND WHO WEARS MAKE-UP, AND YOU’RE ALSO THE FRONTMAN WHO I WOULD DEFINITELY CALL A „LADIES GUY“. YOU HAVE A LOT OF FEMALE FANS, … ACTUALLY… I FEEL TEMPTED TO CALL YOU THE „VILLE VALO OF DEATH METAL“! Alexi: (laughs) No… I mean, yeah! That’s the kind of stuff that I grew up with. Like the glamrock bands. I’m still into Mötley Crüe, I’m still into Skid Row. Yeah, maybe that’s where I get like the whole bracelets/ eyeliner-thing. It’s just something that I grew up, idolizing guys like that from these bands I still dig, actually. Of course, I’m a little more into extreme metal nowadays, but I still dig the stuff I grew up with, you know. BUT YOU’RE THE GOOD-LOOKING GUY WHO IS GETTING ALL THE COVER STORIES, THE „COVER GUY“ SO TO SAY. AND YOU DO DRAW A LOT OF ATTENTION FROM THE LADIES. DOES THAT BOTHER YOU IN ANY WAY? Alexi: Why would it bother me? Of course, it doesn’t bother me. Well I mean, if… (laughs out loud) I don’t know. I don’t really think about stuff like that seriously. But, you know, if somebody likes the way I look, that’s nice. That’s all I can say. ALEXI, YOU ARE THE MAIN SONGWRITER IN CHILDREN OF BODOM. IN HOW FAR DO THE OTHER MEMBERS HAVE THEIR SAY IN THE WRITING PROCESS? IS IT USUALLY YOU WHO COMES UP WITH A FINISHED SONG? WHERE DOES THE REST OF THE BAND COME IN? Alexi: Well, usually I just take a riff and I try it out at home by myself. Then I take it to the rehearsal place and show it to the other guys. Usually I have it in my head what the other guys should play. And of course, they throw in their ideas and their own perspectives of the whole riff. And that’s how it kind of works out. Yeah, I tell them how to play and what to play, but they throw in their own ideas as well. And usually I don’t have a finished song when we go into the rehearsal place. That has happened before, but usually it is just a lot easier when you jam it out, the riff you have, or the part or whatever. When you actually hear it live with the whole band, it’s a lot easier to just go forward and to come up with another part. And when you have two parts, it’s even easier to come up with a third one. So, that’s how it usually goes. HAVE YOU ALREADY STARTED WRITING FOR THE NEW ALBUM? Alexi: Yeah, I got a lot of stuff in my head seriously, a bunch of ideas. But we really want to get this touring done first, so we can actually concentrate 100% on the new stuff. You know, we still got the South American things to do. And I think, then we’re pretty much almost done with the touring. So then we will actually hit the rehearsal place and try new things out. I think, we’re gonna hit the studio in January, something like that. So probably the new album will be out in April.

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