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Children Of Bodom Raised Hell In Bengaluru

Finnish black metal band Children of Bodom are working on their eighth album and describe their songwriting process as airport-friendly

Sharin Bhatti Oct 16, 2012
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Photo: Jussi Hyttinen

The last time Finnish black metallers Children of Bodom were in the studio two years ago while working on their then new album Relentless Reckless Forever that released in 2010, there were thunderstorms to deal with. The band had set up a make-shift lake-side studio at the iconic Lake Bodom [the ground that the band is named after, which was known for a spate of serial killings in 1960] and while they were recording drums for their neck-snapping track “Shovel Knockout,” a tornado hit the lake, cutting off power to the studio. Taking it as an existential sign, bassist Henkka Seppälä and lead singer Alexi Laiho started singing actor Eddie Murphy’s 1985 disco hit “Party All Night.” When the band returned to their repaired studio to start recording again, the first thing the band recorded was a high-energy, screechy cover of the song that made it to the album that sounded like that “exact moment when the wind thundered down the bay and carried this eerie promise of taking with it everything in its path,” according to Seppälä.

Seven studio albums including an all-covers album later, the band is back in the studio recording their eight album. The band spent most part of 2011 on the road finishing a grueling North and South America and South East Asia tour. 2012 has been about going back to the drawing board and writing new material when they released a compilation album, Holiday At Lake Bodom featuring their anthemic “Hate Crew Deathroll,” “Warheart,” a music video for their tornado recalling “Shovel Knockout” and two unpredictable covers of “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield and “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by Dropkick Murphys. Recently, they released Roadkill, a coffee table photo book compiled from their tours from 2008 to 2011.

Last month, the band finally got on the stage again when they headlined the Kingfisher Great Indian October Fest in Bengaluru after which they went on to perform in Tokyo, Japan. Now back home in Helsinki, the band is pooling their collective, unpredictable creativity to write material for their 2013 album. A few days ahead of flying to India and Japan for their shows, Seppälä, who was recovering from pneumonia spoke to us in a casual, drug-induced state about the distinctly popular COB sound, the new album and “life lived live.”

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There was a rumor that you would be playing in India two years ago and you are finally performing this year. Any expectations or inhibitions?

Jaska Raatikainen and Henkka Seppälä (right) in front of a Shiva statue in Bengaluru

Strangely, I have always wanted to visit India. The last time we were approached for a gig in India, we got all very excited and looked up these incredible places to visit in Mumbai, Dharamshala and New Delhi besides the obvious places you hear about. But sadly, it didn’t work out that time. This time, I am going to explore the temples and learn more about Shiva. I think he is the God of destruction [in Hindu Mythology, Shiva is the destroyer as part of the Hindu Trinity.] I have also read Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram and really want to visit his Mumbai. We really wish we had time to visit all these places.

Speaking of Asia, you have been visiting Japan for a very long time. You released a live album [Tokyo Warhearts Live] from a gig in the country and now you’ve signed a deal with the Japanese record label Marquee Inc. What’s the big draw in Japan?

We signed on with the label to facilitate distribution in Japan. We recently signed on with Nuclear Blast, after a lifetime with Spinefarm. Nuclear Blast is not available in Japan, which is a country we have to be present in. We first went to Japan to perform in Tokyo in July 1999. At that time we had played a few places in Europe and US, but had never been to Asia. We performed in this really huge arena over two days and there must be some 1,00,000 people in the crowd. The Japanese fans really let loose. We played a two-hour set on each day and the energy in the crowd didn’t drop for a second. I remember this one face in the front row, right behind the first barricades covered in corpse paint and he was constantly jumping. That is the kind of mad frenzy we love feeding on. Japan is a great nation for COB. They really know their metal.

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Holiday At Lake Bodom was a brave album to release after Relentless Reckless Forever, considering the tracklist is a throwback to early COB. Besides “Shovel Knockout,” the compilation has tracks from your early albums. Why did you choose to push back your newer material?

Because it ain’t fucking good enough [laughs]. People talk about evolution of sound when they change bandmembers or experiment with different sounds. COB has been a black metal band from the get go. We really are into dark stories and burn-the-church sort of symbolism. And we are not apologetic about it. We have had members join and quit, but it’s never dented our ideology simply because we are the band we were when Something Wild released. There is the same energy, same music patterns that we haven’t gotten tired of making and we never will. That is not to say that our sound hasn’t evolved either. With Follow The Reaper we went into darker territory exploring death metal. There was more dynamic riffing and insanely beat heavy and it worked really well for us. Like that every album has been a progression. Holiday At Lake Bodom is a nostalgia packet. It’s for the fans and we just picked out the best known songs we would perform live and we put it on an album. 

To read the full interview, wait for the November issue of Rolling Stone India

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