Alexi Laiho is the singer and guitarist of Finnish heavy metal band Children of Bodom. Children of Bodom has nine albums to their name. Alexi gave me an introduction on himself, as well as discussed his memories of going through the music education program in Finland. He talked about what made his band choose Hexed (Nuclear Blast) to be the title of their latest release.
Alexi spoke in depth about the goddess of the underworld, Hecate, and the song “Hecate’s Nightmare.” We also spoke a little about films inspired by the Lake Bodom murders. They will be on tour with Swallow the Sun and Wolfheart and will be at Irving Plaza on April 19.
Can you please give me an introduction to yourself?
I’m Alexi Laiho. I sing and play guitar in a band Children of Bodom. We’ve been around since 1993. The first album Something Wild came out in 1997. I write the music. We have been touring and making records ever since. We have been involved in the metal scene for over 20 years non-stop.
Tell me about your memories going through the music education program in Finland?
I went to two different music schools. First, I did the classical thing. I started piano when I was 5-years-old. I started violin when I was 7-years-old. With the violin I got pretty far. I went to a classical music school and did musical theory and stuff like that. I started playing guitar when I was 11. One year later, I applied to a jazz music school and went to it until the first record came out. I did a little test for musical theory and transcription…. It’s pretty intense, as far as studying music thoroughly…. I didn’t graduate from anything. I didn’t graduate from the jazz thing because Children of Bodom got so active that I had to stop going. As far as I know I got kicked out (laughs), at least I think that is what happened. I got pretty far, though.
Why name the album Hexed? Did anything really wild happen in the past year or so?
A lot of things have happened in the past year. There was a lot of bad shit, as well good stuff. In a nutshell, Hexed was just a song title at first. Then when me and my bass player Henkka (Blacksmith), were discussing album titles, I gave him a couple of ideas I was playing around with. He was like, ‘That’s pretty cool, what about just hexed….’ It looks good on the album cover, and also, it’s kind of funny how it happened. The whole record had been mixed and mastered since early June of 2018, which was the original deadline. The release date got pushed back a few times. It started to feel like the whole record had been hexed. It’s like there was a hex on the record, and it’s never going to come out. It’s a coincidence and kind of funny, now looking back. It was extremely frustrating because I just wanted to get the thing out. Now that it’s come out, I feel relieved.
I hear you wrote a lot on this album about personal experiences. Where did the inspiration for “Say Never Look Back” come from?
That’s a playful tongue-in-cheek song about the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. It’s like you are dreaming but everything is happening for real. That’s some dark humor or black humor, whatever you want to call it. Sometimes we have songs like “Bodom Beach Terror” from 2003’s Hate Crew Deathroll. It’s just funny horror movie stuff.
What were some of the stories or books you were reading through to become educated on the story of Hecate, and can you speak a bit about that?
I have read a lot about her, but mostly I got a lot of information from people who practice witchcraft for real, like my wife, and a lot of other people, too. That’s where I got the real stuff, unlike searching on Google. I’ve always been intrigued with the goddesses of the Underworld. I have written songs about Morrigan and Kali. Hecate just came out of nowhere. I started writing about her and before I knew it, there was the song.
“Hecate’s Nightmare” is about the Greek goddess who had associations with witchcraft. Tell me what goes wrong with the two people sung about in the song, and how they incur Hecate’s wrath?
It’s like Hecate giving them a bunch of chances to fix things up, but they just keep messing things up. It could be basically anybody. It sounds weird explaining it, since it is a song after all, but when Hecate is done, she has just destroyed you. It’s like an apology letter to Hecate. We are sorry we kept on fucking up even though you gave us a lot of chances. It’s a very strange song as far as the lyrics go. Most of my songs are, anyways. It’s just weird and dark stuff going on in my head.
I just listened to “Under Grass and Clover.” It harkens back to your Hatebreeder days—was that where you were creatively?
I actually do agree. There is a lot of Hatebreeder-ish stuff going on with the general vibe of that song. Nothing was planned. It just came out naturally. That applies to every single song—not just on this record—when it comes to the music of Children of Bodom. I don’t plan anything, like, ‘this song should sound heavier,’ or ‘we should go back and sound like Hatebreeder or Follow the Reaper.’ I have to blow out everything from my mind and take what comes out naturally. That’s the only way to write music to me, and maybe anybody. If you start thinking about stuff like, ‘how do I place this group of people, and what if that group of people don’t like this song?’—it is not going to work out that way. You can’t please everyone. You can’t be everybody’s friend. It doesn’t work that way. You just have to hope for the best that somebody will like it.
With this tour, what albums are going to be featured, and are there any special surprises for the final date of the American tour?
We definitely are going to play one song from each album. It gets harder and harder to come up with the set list with every new album. We have 10 albums now. It hasn’t been easy for the last 10 years, but everybody gets something out of it. We realize you have to play the old stuff. That’s just the way it is. People want to hear the old shit. You can’t deny that. We are not going to try to force feed the whole new record to the crowd. We are just going to play a couple of songs from Hexed and the rest will be from all the old records.
Can you speak a few words on the opening acts Swallow the Sun, and Wolfheart?
Swallow the Sun is like the exact opposite of what we are (laughs). They are slow and mellow. I am not saying that in a bad way. There is a cool dark vibe in them. Children of Bodom is a bit faster and more eventful musically. It’s a good contrast. I feel horrible but I don’t know that much about the other one. I should listen to a few songs… but a lot a lot of people like it, so it should be a good combo.
You got anything exciting to talk about when it comes to The Local Band which has Ollie (Herman Kosunen), the old singer from Crashdiet?
We just do a couple of shows a year. It’s all about just having fun and it always is. This year we are not going to record an EP or a whole album. As much as we’d like to, it just doesn’t make any sense since it costs a lot of money to make an album and this is a cover band after all. We are going to record a single, at least. I am not sure which one yet. This will be something less obvious than Poison or Motley Crue. It’s going to be something really cool and maybe we will record another song as well. We will do some live shows in Finland. It’s just a therapy band and it’s a blast for sure.
Lastly, is there anything unique or special about the waters of Lake Bodom to make your beer different than other Finnish beers on the market?
(Laughs) Of, course man, it’s made from the magical waters of Lake Bodom, and it tastes better than anything else. Fact!
Children of Bodom’s latest release, Hexed, is available now from Nuclear Blast Records. Be sure to catch them at Irving Plaza on April 19!!