Children of Bodom
Children of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho talks shop ahead of the release of their latest album
It’s been three years since 2008’s Blooddrunk, Children of Bodom’s last studio album and in that time the Finnish band completed a gruelling tour schedule and even put together an album of covers that included everything from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ”˜Looking Out My Back Door’ to Britney Spears’ ”˜Oops!”¦ I Did it Again.’ But the band’s penchant for unpredictability only extends to their selection of covers and occasionally frontman Alexi Laiho’s behaviour, as he’ll tell you. Their own music, while incorporating different styles, has consistently built on and evolved from the distinct CoB sound that Laiho established with their first album, Something Wild (1997). Now, as the band readies for the release of their seventh album, the rather aptly named Relentless Reckless Forever, Laiho talks about his songwriting process, his love-affair with covers and his sex-symbol status.
You’re getting ready to release your seventh album Relentless Reckless Forever. What musical direction have you taken on this album?
Well, it’s kinda hard to describe it in words but it’s definitely going to be metal, that much I can tell you [laughs]. We haven’t gone in any softer direction or anything. When it comes to writing music, we never even think about what it’s going to be like. I think the most important thing is that everything has to be kinda spontaneous because if you try to plan what your album is going to sound like, and if you think about it too much, it ends up being overproduced. So that’s why it’s just much better that, you know, just grab your fucking guitar and start doing your thing. But this time around we’re working with a producer for the first time ever, it’s a guy from Los Angeles, his name is Matt Hyde. He’s done Slayer albums and stuff like that so we’ll see how that turns out.
How does the songwriting process work with you guys? How do you compose?
It’s usually the same procedure. I have this old four-tracker at my home and I write songs, I write riffs and we just go to the rehearsal pad and start jamming on the riff and see how it turns out. It’s kinda hard you know, well, actually the most difficult part of writing a song is the beginning because the point is that you’re supposed to create something that does not exist. And it’s not always easy. Sometimes I’ve been just like sitting down and staring at my guitar and just trying to think what the fuck am I supposed to do right now [laughs]. But then all of a sudden I’ll come up with one thing and that’ll lead to another thing, you know, on and on. That’s how it works.
I never give up. I’m really stubborn as a person anyway, but there are times when you just know that today’s not the day when you’re supposed to write music and then you just let it go. Then the next day before you now it you have the whole song like, in your head. It’s funny like that but like I said it’s much easier to destroy things as opposed to creating things, and that’s why it’s difficult sometimes.
You do most of the lyric writing as well for your albums. What sources do you draw from? What are your inspirations?
From my own life pretty much, my feelings. I can’t really sing about anything else. And usually it’s just like kind of venting out negative feelings like anger and depression and anxiety and shit like that and it’s a really good way to do that too. It’s much better than seeing a psychiatrist [laughs] or something like that. Every time I come up with a line and I just always write it somewhere, eventually I just write it down together but the lyrical part is not really the main thing with Children of Bodom, it’s more about the music.
How would you describe the evolution of your sound from the first album to now?
Well, obviously we have improved as musicians and songwriters. I mean if you think about it we were so young when we started, we were like 17 and 18 years old when the first album came out and we started touring right away. I’m 31 right now and I’ve been on the road since I was 18 [laughs], so you learn things and that’s pretty much the most important thing you know is to try to absorb anything that you see and anything that you hear. Like other bands when you see them playing live, yeah like that.
You released a covers album in 2009, Skeletons in the Closet and doing covers has always been a CoB trademark. Tell me about your love for covers.
It’s just a lot of fun you know, because we get to pick and cover the songs that we love and it’s just so easy. You already have a fucking awesome song and you can do anything with it and it’s just a lot of fun making it. Somehow, doing covers became a challenge for us, doing really crazy shit like the Britney Spears cover or whatever. And I think it’s more fun to do stuff like that than covering Slayer or Judas Priest and stuff like that. Trying to make a pop song into metal, that’s the coolest part of the whole covers thing and that’s what I like about it.
You last studio album was Blooddrunk in 2008. Was Skeletons a stop-gap between albums?
It was just something that actually a lot of people have asked that where can I find this and that cover because most of the covers were always like bonus tracks like in Japan or US or whatever the fuck. And they’re kinda hard to come by so we decided to put them all together and put them on CD and record two new ones as well. And the point pretty much was that I thought it would be cool to put something out between two albums just so that people aren’t going to forget about us [laughs].