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Interviews   

Alexi Laiho : a skateboard’s child


On the occasion of the release of the new Children of Bodom’s opus, Relentless Reckless Forever,  we spoke with the symbolic leader Alexi Laiho. Obviously tired, his answers were short and simple. It’s a fact, whatever you could think about the Finn’s music, Children Of Bodom has neither a story nor a speech propitious for debate or for a detailed thinking.

Nevertheless, it did not prevent Alexi from being nice and taking things well. After having talking about the band relationship with the producer  Matt Hyde, that he thanks for having been « kicking his ass  24 hours a day », and, more generally, about the release of the album and the music video, he tells us some anecdotes concerning his relation with alcohol (which is apparently more dangerous than skateboarding!) and  the now traditional choice of an unusual cover for every new album.

(About the « Was It Worth It ? » video) »Every single metal band out there, it’s always the same. Some guy is in some fucking industrial hall and that’s it you know. »

Radio Metal : You declared in a recent interview that the producer Matt Hyde knew when to kick your ass 24/7 in order to make you write the new record. Do you think that, without him, you wouldn’t have been able to write such a great record?

Alexi Laiho (Guitar/Vocals) : Well I mean, as far as songwriter is concerned, he was never that involved. He would throw in a couple of ideas here and there when we made demo tapes and things like that. But the point is that he was the one cracking the whip in the studio when we were recording stuff. He kept the schedules pretty tight and he would make sure that we always had something new each week. However, like I said, all of the song writing came from us.

This is the first time you work with a real producer. Why Now? And why not sooner?

We are just so used to making albums on our own and we know how to make them on our own, but our management and the record label were kind of pushing us to try it out. We had always been pretty reluctant to try it out but this time around we thought “alright, fuck it, we’ll give it a shot! And see how that goes”. It turned out to be a really good idea so I’m happy that we ended up working with him.

At this point of your career and after so many years, wasn’t it upsetting to have someone above you telling you what to do? Isn’t it a bit like going back to school when you’re 30?

(laughs) No, I mean it was made clear from day one that the band calls the shots and we get the last word. He totally agreed that that is the way that we should work so it wasn’t as though he was telling us what to do. He would sometimes suggest to try this out or that out but in the end everything was up to us initially.

« Was It Worth It? » is the single of the album. So I have to ask: do you think that this album was worth it?

Well yeah definitely! It was worth all of the work and I feel pretty good about it.

How did you have the idea to do a video with skaters. What is the link between the video and the song?

The idea to have those guys in the video was pretty much because originally we wanted to do something quite different. It seems that with not only us, but every single metal band out there, it’s always the same. Some guy is in some fucking industrial hall and that’s it you know. We knew a couple of those pro skaters and so our management hooked us up with those guys. The song itself doesn’t have an actual connection to the music video. But I think that all of the crazy stuff that those skaters are doing in the video fit the music really well because it’s super heavy and really extreme. I think that those two things go together pretty well.

Do you know how to skate?

Yeah I do. I used to skate when I was a kid and then I stopped for quite a few years, but then I picked it up again a couple of years ago.

There is a song called « Roundtrip to Hell and back ». So, since you’re back: how was it?

(laughs) it was pretty good. It was hot.

« We always want to do something crazy and try to shock people. We have done everything possible, from Layer to Britney Spears so it’s hard to pick one to surprise people. »

The interaction between guitar and keyboard has always been part of your band’s sound. What is Janne Wirman’s contribution to the writing process? Is his voice more important than that of the other members of the band?

No. Everybody gets heard because everybody comes up with ideas so it’s not as though some people are more important than the other. The things is that when it comes to doing the keyboard sounds, the solos or the unison stuff going on between my guitar and his keyboards, he might have a bigger part musically than the other instruments… But then again, you know what? It’s pretty difficult to compare the instruments you know. I think that everybody plays a really really important role. Obviously, without the keyboards it wouldn’t be Children Of Bodom but then again we need the other guitar and the bass just as much as well.

The production of the album remains faithful to the heavy and almost speed metal sound on the previous albums. Is it important to you to distinguish yourself from the other modern productions?

We just do what we feel. This is kind of production that fits the songs and I think that this album has more of an old school speed/thrash metal sound going on as opposed to Blooddrunk or Are You Dead Yet? which were more modern sounding. I just thought that this kind of mix would stick to the music this time around and it does.

You have made a lot of very good cover songs in your career. On the Japanese version of this album, there is a cover song by Eddy Murphy. Why did you choose this one?

Well we always want to do something crazy and try to shock people. We have done everything possible, from Layer to Britney Spears so it’s hard to pick one to surprise people. I think that “Party All The Time” did the trick.

It goes from Britney Spears and Rihanna to Slayer and Johnny Cash. Are all of those artists an influence of yours or is it just for the challenge?

Well it’s always a challenge to do something which is not metal originally and it’s fun to do something different. If there’s a song that is originally country music or pop, it’s always fun to dress it up in metal so to speak.

So are you saying that Britney Spears is an influence for you?

(laughs) No, she’s not an influence but it was definitely fun to do that cover and it was definitely challenging.

Do you choose these songs because they inspire you?

We usually pick a sound that has stayed around or that has just come out. When we go on tour, we have all of these crazy mix CDs or party CDs that we put on when we are drinking or whatever. They are really versatile because they have anything from 80s disco to black metal or whatever. The Britney song was on one of those CDs and since it was played over and over on the tour bus, we decided that we should do a cover of that one.

« I can’t do the fucking whiskey thing anymore. I drink if I feel like it but I had to cut down because it got to the point where it just wasn’t fun anymore. […] I broke way more bones when I was drunk than when I was skateboarding. »

Apparently, you drink less alcohol since you realised you were addicted and that it wasn’t fun anymore. What is your relationship with alcohol today? Have you tried to stop drinking forever?

No, I just needed to cut back a lot. I still drink but I stick to beer or wine. I don’t drink hard liquor anymore and like I can’t do the fucking whiskey thing anymore. I drink if I feel like it but I had to cut down because it got to the point where it just wasn’t fun anymore.

Do you think that you will ever stop indefinitely?

I don’t know.

Since you mentioned that you can skateboard; do you fall a lot?

I did but I have to tell you that I broke way more bones when I was drunk than when I was skateboarding.

So alcohol is more dangerous than skateboarding?

(laughs) Well yeah. It actually came to that point so yeah.

Interview conducted on march, 2011 by phone.

Transcription : Izzy’ & Isa

CHILDREN OF BODOM’s Website : www.cobhc.com



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