In a top secret location in Helsinki, Finland, Children of Bodom recorded their Halo of Blood at the Danger Johnny Studio with Mikko Karmila and Peter Tagtgren. Their album Halo of Blood lit up the DTE Energy Music Theatre on the Mayhem Festival in 2013 when they headlined the Musicians Institute stage alongside Rob Zombie, Mastodon, Machine Head, Five Finger Death Punch and more. Since, they have continued to crank hard-hitting music that inspires people to mosh and vent their frustrations, and you can pre-order their new album I Worship Chaos through their website, or plan a trip to Florida for February 4th when they will be performing at the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise in Miami alongside My Dying Bride, Lacuna Coil and a slew of other mteal bands that will leave you thrashing so hard you make waves in the ocean.
Author Marisa Williams: What is your home town, and is that where you live now?
Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom: We come from Helsinki. I live half time there and half time in Los Angeles. Basically, most of the time, I'm on the road anyhow. I move around a lot, but I like it better like that, because I get restless.
Marisa: How did you get started in music? Did you come from a musical family? What were your biggest musical influences?
Alexi: My family was very musical. Everyone played an instrument. My dad played the keyboard, and my mom played the keyboard, as well as the flute. My sister played piano, and I started piano at five, but it didn't pan out, so I picked the up violin at seven. I got that down pretty fast, and I played that for four or five years. I got my first guitar at 11. When I got the guitar, I didn't give a shit about violin anymore. I started going to music schools when I picked up violin, so I took musical theatre as a kid. At 13, I got into this music school and went there for five years. When I was super young, my dad was playing either classical or classic rock. That's pretty much what was played in our house, everything from Credence and the Beatles to Mozart and Bach. My sister got into hair metal. She'd play me the tapes, and I got into that at a young age. At seven, I was into WASP, Guns n' Roses, Skid Row, Poison, and I still like those bands; they're awesome.
Marisa: That's so funny you should mention WASP. One of the coolest things I saw was the one drummer from WASP, Stet Howland, playing this small little bar in Fort Myers, Florida. He was playing in a cover band, but he did this 20 minute drum solo using beer bottles. It was amazing and just completely unexpected. When I talked to him, he said he was actually making more money playing covers than he was touring with WASP on the last run he did with them.
Alexi: That's pretty cool. At least he's still playing something. That's what's important.
Marisa: Yea, just had to throw that in there, but I'll get back to business. How do you go about writing music? What comes first for you: drums, guitars, vocals or something else? Has the process of writing changed for you over the years at all?
Alexi: It changes a lot. How the song comes about, it's usually with a guitar riff or keyboard. Sometimes, I'll get a melody playing in my head, and I'll take a guitar and start playing. I'll figure out the chords, so it changes a lot, but as far as the song writing process, it hasn't changed that much from the first album. I'll read the music, like riffs and stuff, take to the other guys, and we jam on the riffs for a little bit, putting the song together as a group. So, they help with the arrangements and stuff, but I write everything, and it has always been like that.
Marisa: What's the coolest thing about your latest project?
Alexi: That it rocks. This time around, the whole session was pretty smooth. There were no obstacles of any kind. I mean, there's always something going on, but this time around, it was pleasant. It's always stressful, but it was fun anyway. I had fun with the vocals and stuff. Peter was there to produce and record. We'd have a schedule to start around 6 p.m., and we'd wrap up around 8 in the morning. It's a cool thing to do your vocals at night. It feels more natural that way.
Marisa: You sound like a guy after my own heart. I always write at night, so I can feel ya on that. Anyhow, what is the biggest difference between playing in the United States, versus playing Europe?
Alexi: It's really... it's really not that different. The States, in general, it's more about circle pits. In Europe, we have that, too, but they're into singing along, more like waving their fists in the air, being super fucking loud, it's insane. Japan is different. They go crazy during the song, but after the song, it's like dead silence; nobody says a peep. The first couple times we played, it felt kinda awkward. You know, people always yell random stupid things in the middle of the song, so it's never quiet, but it is in Japan. They're so polite, they don't want to say anything in between songs.
Marisa: What is the scariest thing about being on the road?
Alexi: I feel really safe on the road. I feel safer when I'm on the road, versus just being off. I don't know about scary, but annoying... It annoys the shit out of me when you have to fly to places; airports and flying in general is a pain in the ass, everything around it. I hate it, fucking hate it, but then again, most of the tours, we're in the tour bus, so it's all good.
Marisa: Best or worst tour moment?
Alexi: I'm sure there's a bunch of them, but the best stories are the ones you don't remember, because you're too fucked up. That's that. Worst, like I was saying, worst moments happened at the airports. Like you get stuck somewhere after being up for 30 hours, stuck in Mexico or God knows where, and you're so overwhelmingly exhausted, but you have to go straight to the stage. With the music business, you can't just call your boss and say you're sick; you have to get out there and get it done. After being up for 40 hours, it's not exactly good time, but when you hit the stage, you forget for an hour and half. Being on stage is always fun.
Marisa: What's your favorite place to travel to, and is there anywhere you have not been to that you would like to go to?
Alexi: We have covered pretty much the whole world except for Africa, and I would want to play South Africa for something new. Favorite places, of course, there's Japan and certain cities in the States, of course. I measure it by how awesome the crowd is, so a lot of Canadian cities - that's one country that's always good for us. There's a lot of places, and there's a lot to go.
Marisa: What's your biggest musical fantasy?
Alexi: Well, it would've been awesome to tour with Pantera back in the day; it's not going to happen now, but fantasy...
Marisa: If you were an unicorn, and you could be any color but white, what color would you be and why? Would you have any special powers?
Alexi: Well, I would be black with hot pink stripes, and my special power would be to drink as much as I want and never have hangovers. That'd be one rad unicorn.
Marisa: If you were yogurt, would you be mixed fruit, fruit on the bottom, what flavor and why?
Alexi: I would make a White Russian yogurt, Kahlua on the bottom, fuck yeah.
Marisa: Describe yourself as either a dog, a cat or a cartoon.
Alexi: I guess I'm like partially like a devil duck, because I have a short temper, and I feel it when I'm amped. As far as a cat, they're lazy, and sometimes I love being lazy, so I'd love to just lay on the couch and do nothing; that's an awesome way to spend some free time. The dog, I don't know, I love to run around and other stuff. I like to keep moving.
Marisa: Do you collect anything?
Alexi: No, not really. I'm really into cars. I have five cars all together, but I wouldn't call it collecting, because I do drive them. I've never been into collecting things, but as a teenager, I collected cigarette packs - but I don't do that any more.
Marisa: Do you have any hidden talents or special skills?
Alexi: Hopefully. I don't know what they are yet, but I guess I'll find out if I do or I don't.
Marisa: What's the most important thing to remember?
Alexi: A year ago, I'd say don't go anywhere without any alcohol, but that's not the case anymore. Let's pretend that it is a year ago though, and we'll use that as an answer.
Marisa: What's your most insightful moment?
Alexi: I guess when I discovered guitar and what it sounds like. I don't remember the exact moment, because I was a kid, but that must be it.
Marisa: If you were not doing music, what would you be doing?
Alexi: Probably living in a box somewhere. Most likely.
Marisa: What are three things you must have with you when you are on the road?
Alexi: Music, so iPod, if instruments don't count, because that's way too obvious. A bottle of something, anything, with alcohol in it, and something to wash my hair with. It goes a long way.
Marisa: Any advice for musicians starting out?
Alexi: Keep on practicing and be committed, if you want to make it. You have to be committed. You can't let anyone, or anything, come between you and the music; end of fucking story.
Marisa: Closing thoughts and additional comments?
Alexi: Pretty sure we covered everything and then some, so I think we're good.
For more information on Children of Bodom, visit http://www.cobhc.com/; for information on the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise, visit www.70000tons.com. The author of more than 100 books, Marisa Williams earned her Master's in Writing at the Johns Hopkins University. For more by Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/thorisaz, http://www.examiner.com/tourism-in-detroit/marisa-williams and www.wix.com/thorisaz/photography.