Children of Bodom 2004

Another find from the archives is Dan's interview with Alexi Laiho.

10/9/200412 min read

Conducted 10/8/2004 by Dan Barkasi

On October 8th, I had the opportunity to chat with Alexi Laiho, lead singer/guitarist for the Finnish kings Children of Bodom. We talked about the band’s new EP, Trashed, Lost and Strungout, as well as touring, career highlights, and about the infamous Lake Bodom murders finally being solved. Read on!

Dan: You guys seem to be gaining a lot of momentum here in the U.S. Have the crowd reactions been improving with each tour?

Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom): I think they’re always different, but they always actually end up being really good. Which was definitely a surprise. For example, on this tour: you can tell that there are a lot of people that don’t know who the fuck we are. Which is a really good thing, because that’s kind of the whole point of doing this tour; to reach new crowds and stuff like that. The thing is, if you can see at the beginning of the show that people are like, “who the fuck are these guys?” But then at the end of the show, they’re being like, “fuck yeah!” Then you know you’re doing your job right.

Dan: Your new EP, Trashed, Lost and Strungout, comes out October 18th. Is there a possibility of the new songs being put on a new album?

Alexi: Yeah, the title track. That’s going to be on the new album. But I think that’s it.

Dan: What motivated you guys to cover songs like Alice Cooper's “Bed of Nails” and Andrew WK's “She is Beautiful”?

Alexi: First of all, the Andrew WK thing. Usually whenever we do covers, we want to do something unpredictable. Something that people would get the reaction like, “what the fuck, are you serious?” We did a Ramones cover, we did Billy Idol, and these are the type of bands or artists that music-wise have nothing to do with Children of Bodom, for example. I mean, if we would do a Slayer cover or something like that. It would be cool, but the thing is it’s kind of obvious, or boring, or whatever. Even if you don’t like Andrew WK, you’re like, “Children of Bodom covering them?” It’s kind of interesting, and then you just got to hear it.

Dan: The video you guys did for “Trashed, Lost and Strungout” was really cool. Did you guys enjoy the process of making that?

Alexi: Yeah, it was actually really good. It was the same director who did Dimmu Borgir. He did the In Flames one as well; “The Quiet Place,” I think it was called. We just went to Gothenburg, and he’s the kind of guy who normally does really commercial stuff and everything. He’s like fucking filthy rich. He’s really into metal, so he decided to take a few years off from what he usually does and just make metal. He doesn’t even make a lot of profit from it or anything. He just does it for the love for the kind of music. I thought he did a real good job anyway, so it was fun. Definitely.

Dan: This tour package with Lamb of God, Fear Factory, and Throwdown is a pretty unique. What attracted you guys to jump on a tour like this?

Alexi: Yeah, because I mean this is our third U.S. tour within like six months or something like that. For us, we don’t know if it’s really a good idea. We don’t want to overfeed people with our music or anything. Then again, everybody has the same point. The crowds from the other tours we have done, they’re totally different. Dimmu Borgir, Nevermore, Hypocrisy; that’s more like an extreme metal crowd. Iced Earth, totally different thing. Now this is more like towards a hardcore-ish audience or whatever. So it’s kind of a way to reach new fans from different types of crowds. The package, I think is really good. Fear Factory, they’re strong. Them and Lamb of God; I think it’s a strong package, definitely. The funny thing is that Lamb of God here are pretty fucking big. Fear Factory, in Europe, they’re bigger than Lamb of God is, which is really weird. I bought their album though, Lamb of God. I just wanted to check it out. I really like it, so it’s cool that they’re doing really good.

Dan: What's the biggest difference between touring Europe and the United States?

Alexi: In the states, you don’t get showers and you don’t get water. And you have to buy your own booze. That’s about it! laughs But, seriously. For us, the difference is that we can headline in Europe and we sell a lot more albums there anyway. Here, I don’t know. I think the crowd; even if they haven’t heard the band, they can get more into it just from seeing a few songs. They can actually totally go crazy. I think in Europe, if they’ve never heard of a band before, they just kind of stand around and really don’t do shit. Which definitely gives America more points. The crowd, they just get more into it. They can show that they dig it, instead of being like a rock and just standing there.

Dan: What are your plans for after this tour is done?

Alexi: Well, we’ve been touring with the Hate Crew Deathroll album for over 18 months. We started in February of 2003. So this will be the last tour with this album. So now we’re going to go home and have at least one month off and just do nothing. Start working on new stuff, and get to the studio in March, I think.

Dan: With so many metal bands out there these days, what do you think makes you guys stand out?

Alexi: Maybe the fact that the kind of stuff that we do, it’s kind of impossible to categorize under any label. And this was never even any conscious thing to do. It kind of would be up to the music that we do is a mixture between a lot of stuff metal. For instance, there are not many bands that have extreme metal vocals but still have the guitar, keyboard, you know, solo things going on. So that’s one of the things I would say.

Dan: What has been your favorite place to play?

Alexi: I’d have to say Tokyo, or Japan in general. It’s just fucking awesome in there. In the states, there’s a lot of places. L.A. is really cool, but I guess there’s reasons for it. It’s fucking L.A. A lot of bands that we grew up with came from there anyway. Chicago’s really good. In Canada, I think a lot more people know who we are. We’ve sold more albums in Canada than in here. Like Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto; they’re really good.

Dan: Do you guys have a particular process that you go by when writing new material?

Alexi: It’s usually I come up with a riff, or part of a song, or anything. It can be something I just get out of the blue in my head. I just pick up a guitar and try it out and I show it to the other guys. Then we just jam on it. Before you know it we’ve got a next part, then we’ve got a next part, and that’s how it usually happens. Or it could be like I’m just playing the guitar and just accidentally come up with something and then start working on it. That’s how it usually goes.

Dan: Do you have a favorite song to play live?

Alexi: Well it changes all the time but I guess my all-time favorite is “Hate Me!” I don’t know why, but it’s just a straightforward rock n’ roll song and that’s what it is.

Dan: What do you think has been the highlight of your career?

Alexi: It’s hard to pick one, but there’s a lot of cool stuff that we’re never gonna forget. Like opening up for Halford in Japan. And I actually ended up playing, in the last show, “Living After Midnight” with them, which was fucking awesome. I’m like, “what the fuck, I’m actually on stage with Rob Halford doing this song?” Opening up for Slayer, for example. Stuff that we accomplished in Finland. This is really weird, but it’s true though. We’re pretty much considered to be mainstream in Finland. I mean we hit fucking number one on the charts above Britney Spears and shit like that. Having the first gold single in Finland, having the first platinum single in Finland. Stuff like that.

Dan: Is there any possibility of you guys releasing a live DVD in the near future?

Alexi: We’re going to release a DVD for sure, but it’s not going to be just one show. It’s going to be a bunch of live footage from all over the place. I think so far, we have so much good footage. Actually like professionally filmed footage, you know? And we could do a full-length show, but from different places and that’s it.

Dan: What do you guys like to do on your off time during touring?

Alexi: I don’t know. Drink. Play whatever. I love music and I love playing so I just end up doing that anyway. Even when I have time off I just come up with something, some project. I have this punk band in Finland. It’s just totally just for fun. I’m working on a Suicidal Tendencies cover band right now. So if I have time off I just end up playing anyway. So what I really like to do is playing, just party with my friends, chill out and play playstation or something.

Dan: What kind of music have you been listening to lately?

Alexi: Well the latest two CDs that I bought, it was actually Lamb of God’s new one, whatever that was called; and then the new Killswitch. And then just, you know, I still listen to all of the stuff that I grew up with. Still Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and shit like that. Pretty much whatever sounds good. I’m still into old school death metal like Obituary and stuff like that and old school black metal and all that; Darkthrone and Norwegian bands or whatever. But still at the same time I can listen to Poison or whatever. I don’t care. It’s good party music, and that’s it!

Dan: What are some of your biggest musical influences?

Alexi: Well there’s a lot of guitar players for me of course. Pretty much all of the Ozzy guys like Randy Rhodes, Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde. Well there’s Steve Vai. He was like the final reason why I just had to start playing the guitar when I heard the “Passion and Warfare” album. There’s a lot of bands. Like I told you, the stuff I kind of grew up with. Stuff like Guns N’ Roses or something like that. Or W.A.S.P. I remember the first metal album I bought was the first W.A.S.P. album.

Dan: What’s your opinion on the current metal scene as it is today?

Alexi: Fortunately I really do think it’s getting so much better than lets say five or six years ago. Especially ten years ago. I think that since the 90’s, the whole thing was kind of dead and the whole metal thing was considered just stupid or whatever. We started the whole thing in 94’. We were just 13 or 14 years old. We still wanted to do it even though it wasn’t that popular. I think that the whole thing is getting a lot bigger. You can see right now. Bands like fucking Lamb of God. They do a total thrash kind of thing and they sell over 100,000 albums here. That kind of proves the point that the real metal shit is getting bigger. And I think the reason is that people just miss it. At one point the only thing that would be close to metal would be some shit like Limp Bizkit or whatever. People just get fed up with the fact that it’s not real metal. And with metal, it’s fun music. It’s really fun to watch live and just be in the audience and just go crazy. I think that people just need it. It’s just the way it is.

Dan: If you weren’t in music, what do you think you’d be doing right now?

Alexi: I don’t think I would be doing anything legitimate. Let me just put it that way! laughs

Dan: Do you prefer working in the studio or going on tour?

Alexi: Touring, definitely. I think that the whole point of music is just doing it live. First of all, you can see shift from the crowd’s point of view. And from the musician’s point of view, it kind of comes down to the point of why you started to do the whole thing anyway; it’s just fun to do. This is what we did for a long time without getting anything out of it: just rehearsing every day and cranking out metal. Not getting any record contracts or anything. Trying to sell our shitty demo tapes to our friends for $5 or whatever. When you get that you can actually go up onto the stage and do your own thing, and people actually go crazy for it. That’s the best feeling in the world. Of course I do enjoy the studio thing, which is making an album. I know this is totally fucking clichéd to say, but still it’s so true. It’s kind of like watching a child grow. You start from nothing. You get the drum tracks. Then you add up the rhythm guitars. You can see when you add up the stuff, and then you come up with new stuff. Eventually if you’re satisfied with it, that’s a fucking great feeling too.

Dan: What’s your view on sharing music online?

Alexi: I’m not really happy about it. I think it’s a really good thing for bands who are not signed, which was not a possibility for when we started. But the thing is that I think it’s wrong that you can just download a whole fucking album. You don’t pay shit. You just fucking do it and that’s it. I don’t think people realize that if they really dig the band, they should not be doing that. They’re kind of killing the music industry. It’s not only a problem within the metal scene. You can say like Michael Jackson or Britney Spears or something like that; their sales have gone down like hell as well. I know that it’s legal, which it shouldn’t be because I think it can be considered stealing, so I think that people who do it, they should really think about it. “If I really dig this band, do I want to hurt them by doing this?” No one is going to say we do this for the money. Of course we do it for the music, but this is our fucking job so we have to get paid for it.

Dan: For me, buying an album is a nice experience because you get the artwork and the package and all that.

Alexi: You don’t get that feeling. Exactly. That’s what I’m saying.

Dan: Do you guys pull any practical jokes on each other?

Alexi: Oh yeah! I think we’ve always been that way, but especially with touring you get a lot of spare time. Before the shows we don’t drink. We might have a couple of beers but we don’t get drunk because we have to know how to play. So eventually you end up being bored, so that’s when that whole thing starts. The whole thing just got totally out of hand on the last tour that we did. Same shit. We did like 45 minutes every night. A lot of hours just waiting around. Plus just watching shit: a lot of Jackass, Wild Boys, CKY, shit like that, you know? So we ended up doing stupid shit like that, which was fun though. Just killing time.

Dan: It’s an interesting fact that the Lake Bodom murders were recently solved.

Alexi: Yeah! The last headline I saw…I think it was actually the day that we took off for this tour, or the day before. It was that they were 100 percent confirmed that they have solved the murders. The problem was that I was trying to read it, but they didn’t really say shit, or nothing new. Just that it was the fourth guy who was there. But, I don’t know. I remember that we were laughing about the whole thing about five years ago and we were like, “wouldn’t it be funny if they solved the murders right now?” Of course no one would see that fucking thing coming! laughs After 40 years! When the newspapers came out saying they solved the fucking murders from Lake Bodom. That was a shitload of free promotion for us. The word Bodom was on the newspapers every single fucking day. There was a thing about how the whole thing affected art. There were books written about it, paintings and stuff like that. And then the music, which is us. We ended up doing this interview for the biggest fucking newspaper there is in Finland. They were just asking about how this whole thing affected doing music and stuff like that. For us, it was just good fucking promotion and that’s it. But it’s so crazy!

Dan: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Alexi: A big fucking thank you for everybody who has been buying our albums. Accent the word buying. No downloading! laughs Just for checking out our shows and we definitely do appreciate it. We definitely don’t take it for granted that people dig us. A big thank you!

Dan: Thanks a lot man!

Alexi: You’re welcome!

Note: On October 7, 2005, Nils Gustafsson was acquitted of all charges regarding the Lake Bodom murders and the case remains unsolved.