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What do you get when you have a band that combines sheer brutality, harmonic melodies, ferocious vocals, and musical talent so intricate it’s ungodly? You get Finland’s almighty Children of Bodom. Their latest album Halo of Blood, released on Nuclear Blast Records, is nothing short of brilliant. With an atmosphere so dark and cold, and a sound so stimulating and adrenaline-fueled you have yourself a flawless album that is sure to appeal to a broad audience.
Any metal junkie, horror fan, punk rocker, occultist, or guitar shredder will be addicted to the record upon first listen. Halo of Blood’s sound is a crossbreed of all things metal, including power metal, melodic death metal, atmospheric black metal and neo-classical metal. Children of Bodom’s front man Alexi “Wild Child” Laiho is an individual who will forever be iconic for his insane talent, satirically honest and thought-provoking lyrics as well as his powerfully charismatic stage presence.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Alexi the day before the band flew out to British Columbia to launch their Canadian tour.
So, how is the tour going?
It’s going great man. We just played Helsinki and we’re flying out to British Columbia tomorrow.
Would Helsinki be your favorite place to play in Finland?
Well, yes and no. The thing is when we play Helsinki we’re always in front of a great crowd, but it’s everyone’s hometown so it’s always super, super hectic. There’s like 300 people on the guest list and we’re supposed to socialize with everybody, so super hectic, you know? In a way I enjoy playing more away from home, only because of that.
True crime has always been a morbid interest of mine. When you came up with the band name, what inspired you to pick the story of the infamous Lake Bodom murders? How did you first hear about it?
We grew up in a town, which is a suburb of Helsinki, and it’s the town where Lake Bodom is, so all the kids knew about that story. It’s a horror story that’s also true, and is still unsolved! I mean, they did arrest the one survivor but he was not convicted. It keeps the mystery going.
If your guitar were a horror movie villain, who would it be?
Wow (laughs), good question. It would be the clown from the Stephen King movie IT, not sure if you remember that movie.
Of course! Pennywise the Clown! (both laugh)
Hell yeah, dude! Because he’s badass, he’s scary, but he’s funny as fuck too!
What are some of your fondest memories with Thy Serpent?
I was asked to join the band at the same time we got our first record contract for Children of Bodom, and everything I did was involved with Children of Bodom, to get that thing rolling, and the guys didn’t feel as though I was putting much effort into Thy Serpent so I was kicked out. That’s my fondest memory with Thy Serpent (laughs). But it all worked out because I got in touch with the guy at Spinefarm Records because of it and he got us the record contract, so I’m still grateful for that.
What is your history with Peter from Hypocrisy?
I’ve known Peter since I was 18 because that’s when we did our first European tour, opening for Hypocrisy. We’ve toured many times with Hypocrisy and we recorded Follow the Reaper with him in Sweden, so we’ve worked many times together and became friends. Then I just asked him to record and produce my vocals for the Blooddrunk album and it worked out great! In my book when it comes to extreme metal vocals and death metal vocals, he is the best vocalist E-VER! Plus, he knows his way around the mixing board and he’s been recording bands since the beginning, so he was the perfect guy to be involved with Blooddrunk and I wanted to bring him back for Halo of Blood; it turned out to be a really good decision. Working with him has always been easy and natural. He’s a good man for sure.
What was the first album you remember hearing that influenced you to pick up a guitar and start a band?
So many bands come to mind, but as far as guitar playing goes I remember the first time I heard Steve Vai’s Passion and Warfare. Well, I mean I was already obsessed with the guitar at that time, but when I heard that damn thing, I was like, “I’m going to have to learn to play the guitar!” I’m still working on it (laughs).
You aren’t just a guitar player; you’re a guitar God!
(Laughs) Thanks man.
Can I just say that I love every cover song you guys have done! They’re always loads of fun. Which would you say was the most fun in the studio?
The Ramones one, “Somebody Put Something in My Drink.” The Brittany Spears one was a lot of fun for sure. We always have so much fun recording covers and doing the arrangements. Basically when we’re recording covers it’s like a whole day party for us, even before I do my vocals and we do the group-shouts we’ve all drank a lot of booze and done many shots and there’s people passed out in the studio. We record all the instrumental parts sober of course, and we have such a great time adding shit and making it more ridiculous. It’s just a blast.
What are some of the most influential black metal and death metal bands for Children of Bodom?
A lot of Nordic bands from Finland, Norway and Sweden, and a lot of the stuff from the early days. Like early Sentenced, Impaled Nazarene, Dark Tranquility, Emperor, Enslaved, tons of great black metal bands! It wasn’t intentional, but there was one point where I was listening to Nordic Black Metal almost exclusively. And I liked a lot of American death metal like Obituary, Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse. All great bands.
Which bands do you have the fondest memories touring with?
Lamb of God for sure. I think it was like four full tours we did with those guys and we always got along great with them. It was always a blast. It’s kind of the same thing with In Flames. We’ve toured so many times that we’re good friends and we always have a lot of fun.
What are some of your favorite festivals you’ve played in the last 5 years?
Wacken is always good, you can’t deny that. Most of the European festivals are off the hook so it’s hard to pick just one.
I noticed that there’s a bit of a punk rock attitude combined with your metal sound. Which punk bands have influenced you the most?
As far as punk goes, Sex Pistols, Misfits, The Ramones, The Exploited, stuff like that. I like the old school stuff, late 70s and early 80s. I’m not really into any of the new stuff.
How old were you when you read The Satanic Bible? Were you more into the philosophical, atheistic and Darwinistic approach to Satanism, or were you more drawn in by the sacrilegious and blasphemous aspect of it?
I was 15 when I read The Satanic Bible. I liked both sides, the practical and the sacrilegious. But the thing with me is, it was more about being rebellious than getting into the whole philosophy. I did agree with a lot of what Anton Szandor Lavey said in his book, and I did agree with the whole philosophy in general but it’s like you’re 15, you’re into black metal and you want to be rebellious and that book was kind of part of that whole thing.
Are there any bands that you haven’t toured with yet that you would like to?
We’ve toured with so many great bands, we’ve toured with Slayer, we’ve toured with Slipknot… Metallica would be awesome! Metallica’s one of those bands that if you were able to open for them it would be a dream come true, so hopefully that will happen one day.
You’re one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. What inspires you to be as amazing of a musician as you are, both in the studio and onstage?
(Laughs) It’s hard to explain, dude. It’s in my head really and it’s something I need to get out. Sometimes when I’m supposed to write music and I got nothing I’ll just sit down with a guitar and noodle around for hours and hours and nothing really comes out, nothing good anyway. I come up with riffs all the time but everything sucks to me, you know?
But after like five hours I’ll come up with one short thing that’s really cool, and that’s the best feeling ever. Just to get that one short part that I think is really cool. I mean I can come up with inspiration from driving a fucking car or picking up the guitar, it’s in my head.
But what inspires me really the most would probably have to be negative feelings in general; it’s something that every human being goes through every single day, feelings of anger and depression. And not even necessarily depression, just feeling bummed out about something, anything negative at all I try to turn into music. When I feel pissed off I feel the strongest, and that’s the time I should be writing a riff or writing some lyrics. I mean, happy music is something that needs to be there for sure, but negative music is more honest, it comes from a much deeper and darker place and it’s harder to come by.
How has Children of Bodom evolved as a band from the first album Something Wild to the new album Halo of Blood?
We have definitely progressed and naturally improved as musicians and songwriters. And obviously non-stop touring has taught us a pretty fucking lot. It’s been a lot of hard work but it’s made us improve a lot at what we do now, more than what we were doing back in the “Wild Days.” I feel very proud that we never compromised our sound or wanted to go into a “lighter” direction, we still have the same objective we had when we were kids, we wanted to just be as heavy, dark and extreme as possible and we still have that teenage rage kind of thing going on. And that’s something I’m really proud of.
How does your sound translate from the studio to a live performance?
It’s more raw and aggressive when you experience a live show and that’s really what Children of Bodom is all about: playing live. Because that’s when you get to see the band and hear the band all at the same time. So the albums, from that point of view, are there to make the live show better.
For more tour dates, visit http://www.cobhc.com/