Mayhem Fest Preview: An Interview w/ Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom
On July 10th, Toronto will be home to the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest at Molson Canadian Amphitheatre featuring some of metal’s best acts. One of the bands Beyond The Watch is anticipating to see is Finnish metal band Children of Bodom. Alexi Laiho and the band will be manning the Musicians Institue stage to play a short but sweet set to all of their GTA fans. Don’t sweat it if you’re concerned about their short set times at Mayhem, the band is set to release their eighth and best studio album to date on June 11th entitled Halo of Blood (via. Nuclear Blast), so stay tuned for a full headlining tour soon enough \m/.
After some time zone juggling, BTW’s Steve St. Jean caught up with Alexi Laiho for an interview to discuss the new album, this years Mayhem Fest, breaking the record for crowd surfers at a show and of course… what Alexi thinks life is:
Life ain’t nothin’ but bitches and money [laughs] no, just kidding [laughs]
Read our interview with Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom below:
Let’s get right to it… you’re known as a guitar virtuoso and hero to millions of guitar players worldwide. When did you first pick up a guitar and what made you want to play it?
Well, I started playing guitar when I was eleven years old and umm I think I always wanted to play as long as I can remember umm I started playing violin when I was seven years old and uhh, but I always wanted to play guitar, I remember my dad was playing Dire Straits records or something like that and the guitars sounded so cool and like so friggin’ amazing. So I always had that spark for guitar and you know, finally I got one. And you know, the rest is history.
After all these years you’re still pushing the boundaries with your guitar playing. What inspires you to keep getting better?
It’s really just the love for playing and the love for music, it’s still so strong you know. It’s not a job – it doesn’t feel like a job to me it’s just something I fucking love to do.
Children of Bodom have been steadily making music since 1997, why has there never been a need to take a break or go on a hiatus?
Fuck that if you ask me. You finally get a band going, you get a record contract, you just have to keep things going. And you don’t want to take a break there’s no reason to. Cause we all love doing this, we love touring, we love making music and stuff so I don’t see any reason why we should and what good that would do for the band anyway. We’re not that kind of band. We work hard and we enjoy doing it.
You guys are set to release your eighth studio album Halo of Blood (via. Nuclear Blast on June 11th). Can you tell us a little bit about the record and what went into the making of the album?
I started writing I think last September maybe, when we got off the road. I took a month off or something and I started writing and then we went hit the studio late December and the whole thing was mix and mastered by the end of February.
I’ve been listening to the album for the past week and I have to give you props on Halo of Blood, it’s a wicked record.
Oh thank you, glad to hear that man.
You guys seem to have reverted back to some familiar old sounds that have a very Hate Crew Deathroll vibe. Was it your goal to try and bring your sound back to that era of Children of Bodom? Especially having Mikko Karmila as your recording engineer on Halo of Blood (who worked on Hatebreeder, Follow the Reaper, Hate Crew Deathroll)?
No, actually we never actually plan stuff ahead. We never talk about what we should sound like or what we should do next. When I start writing music, I just clear my head let go of everything and just kind of let it flow. To me it’s the only way to write music, just let everything come out spontaneously, that’s how you keep it fresh and genuine. Cause I think that it needs to sound that it came straight from your heart as opposed to trying to please everyone.
Halo of Blood was recorded at Danger Johnny Studio’s in Finland… what’s so top secret about this place? Can you tell us anything about the studio and it’s location?
[Laughs] The whole top secret thing, I don’t know the label came up with it or something like that, you know really the location is our rehearsal place, so we didn’t want to give exactly the directions to how to get there cause that’s basically where we live. That’s our second home. But it’s in Helsinki Finland.
How does Halo of Blood compare to Children of Bodom’s discography? What’s different about this new album compared to the rest?
I would say it’s more diverse cause it’s got like you were saying before, it’s got the old school Children of Bodom vibe, but also a lot of new shit in it too. Some songs are very different from anything we have done in the past like the title track that’s the fastest song in the history of the band and we got a track like “Dead Man’s Hand on You” which is the slowest song we’ve ever done. It’s different on almost every single level from anything we’ve done before. So there’s stuff like that in there that makes it different. Diversity you know.
You guys are set to hit Toronto on this year’s Mayhem Fest on July 10th @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. What are you looking forward to most about this year’ festival?
I’m looking forward to the whole thing cause we’ve never done anything like that in North America before like any kind of festival. We’ve never done Ozzfest before and we’ve never done Mayhem before so we’re looking forward to that. And it’s cool cause basically you open up for Rob Zombie and there’s a bunch of bands on the bill that we’ve toured with before so it will be cool to hang out with old friends and stuff like that. I’m sure it’s going to be fun.
What can fans expect from you guys at this year’s Mayhem Fest? Anything special lined up for the Toronto audience?
Well, we’re going to play old stuff for sure, but we’re also going to play new stuff. It’s going to be a short set unfortunately, but we’ll just try to kick ass for forty minutes. It’s going to be heavy as shit, that’s for sure. That I can promise.
Speaking of your live show, do you guys plan your dueling guitar/keyboard solos or do you guys let it organically happen and improvise?
It just kind of happens. Because we’ve been playing together for such a long time, it really happens naturally and it’s more fun that way, as opposed to planning on what we’re going to do.
Last summer Children of Bodom had to cancel some shows due to your health. How have you been doing since then? Are you healthy and back to your normal self?
Oh yeah, totally. I was just run down. It was basically just a result of years and years of just living hard and drinking way too much, I wasn’t eating at all and my body decided to say “Fuck you dude, I’m done”. I learned my lesson, started taking better care of myself. I’ve been feeling much better ever since.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at a live show?
Hmm… Well I have seen some crazy shit, but I’m thinking about the craziest. Well for example, we broke the crowd surfing record at one of the Wacken Festivals, and they counted that we had 5,000 crowd surfers during our set. And dude, that was insane. There was 20,000 people and there was a sea of people topped with people just crowd surfing. It was awesome. But fuckin’ crazy.
Wow. That’s incredible.
Yeah, that shit was metal.
What’s next for Alexi Laiho and Children of Bodom?
I’m going to fly back home to Finland and we’re going to start doing some Finnish festivals and some in Germany, and some in Europe and then Mayhem and then after that we’ll do Japan and right after that after that we’re doing a long European tour. It’s nine and a half weeks so that’s gonna last to the end of the year I think. After that just some more touring. It’s probably going to be a year and a half of non-stop touring. That’s where I belong.
Our final question is our signature question that we ask everyone and you can answer it any way you’d like… What do you think life is?
What do I think life is? To me, life is… life ain’t nothin’ but bitches and money [laughs] no, just kidding [laughs]. To me, life is really just music and performing.
Words by: Steve St. Jean