Children of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho Talks Touring, Keeping Busy + Practicing Guitar
Children of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. The singer-guitarist discussed Megadeth's influence on his playing, the band's new guitarist, how often he practices and he offers advice to young bands who are just starting out professionally. Check out the chat below:
How ya doing?
I'm pretty good, how are you?
Doing great. Happy to have you back. Gotta talk about the Megadeth show. Such a tremendous performance. Growing up, how much of an influence was Dave Mustaine on your playing?
Well he and Megadeth was definitely a huge influence. I think the first Megadeth album I ever heard was Rust in Peace and it's still one of my favorite metal albums like ever. It's just so rad. I think the fact that the music's so technical, like the guitar riffs are just so insane, but the music's so goddamn angry at the same time and that's just something that I found very appealing. And you know he's still got it so he's definitely awesome.
Alexi, what does your new guitarist Daniel Freyberg do that fits perfectly with the band and the way that you play?
I've actually known him for over 10 years and when we were looking for a new guitar player, we went through a lot of options, and we went kind of like - I don't know, I guess we started looking for people to join the band from all over the world without knowing that the answer was right there because he's from Finland and he's a hard worker and he's definitely a good guitar player and he's a quick learner and a really cool dude. So far, so good.
Getting to your world class level of playing takes work and discipline. How often do you play guitar when you're not on stage or in the studio?
I definitely play every day no matter what, and when I'm on the road I usually play about two hours a day. I would definitely warm up at least for an hour before the show, but I usually would probably play two hours or so. When I'm off the road, if I'm not in the studio — because in the studio office I would play 10 hours a day - but if I'm not in the studio or doing anything, I still play just for fun. I still enjoy it. I'd say at least an hour a day.
What would you say to musicians who are thinking about getting into a band or doing this professionally as well?
Takes a lot of practice, takes a lot of sacrifice. And especially nowadays I'd say the most important thing is to learn how to play live and be really good at it. Your band has to be the best live band ever and you have to be ready to keep your ass on the road 24/7 all year. The music business being what it is, it's more important today that you stay on the road and play a lot of live shows, which is good for us because we've always done that anyway. That's okay for us. We enjoy touring. We still love touring after what, 20 years being on the road? So yeah. There's that.
You are pretty notorious for keeping busy. What else are you working on right now while you are continuing to support I Worship Chaos?
At the moment I'm just concentrating on this, but last year was pretty crazy. I did this thing called '100 Guitars From Hell' which was pretty much what it sounds like. I played with 100 guitar players on stage in Helsinki, Finland and I wrote the music for it and I basically had to take all the players and stuff. It was a huge, huge project that took a lot of time and lot of work.
So there was that and then I actually ended up recording an EP with my 80's cover band just called the Local Band. It's actually pretty awesome. We basically just recorded a bunch of 80's covers — kind of weird ones — anything from Pat Benatar to the Bangles. It was definitely a busy year and I like to keep it that way, probably because I enjoy working hard and it keeps me out of trouble too.
You're a troublemaker?
A little bit, [laughs].
Last year after the terrorist attacks in Paris many bands were cautious and cancelled their European shows. Children of Bodom kept going. Why was it important for you to carry on?
It was definitely important for us to carry on. It was not easy, I'll tell you that. We had just started the co-headlining tour with Lamb of God and after a couple of shows they decided to go home. We were kind of like, "Hmm, well the situation looks very bleak on every level." Lamb of God went home and all of these terrorist attacks and threats are going on all over the place. It was definitely serious but we figured that as long as the government doesn't shut down all the venues, which actually did happen in France and Belgium, as long as that doesn't happen then we'll just keep going and hope for the best and see what happens.
Somehow we managed to actually book a whole new tour within a couple of days. We had a couple of days off just sitting around waiting in the bus, which as you can imagine, just the anxiety of waiting and not knowing was pretty overwhelming. We ended up doing it and got most of the shows done anyway. I think the fans appreciated it a lot and that makes me really happy. It definitely made me really happy just to see their reaction and the appreciation that we still stayed on the road.
Tell us what we can expect for the rest of 2016, aside from the enormous amount of touring that you guys have planned.
That's pretty much it. We have so much touring lined up that we don't really have time for anything else. After this we do South America and Mexico then there's the Europe festivals and then we do some Asian shows, probably Australia. The list goes on and on until I think January 2017. We'll keep busy for sure.
Thanks to Alexi Laiho for the interview. The latest Children of Bodom album, 'I Worship Chaos,' is available at iTunes and Amazon. Keep up with Bodom on tour at their website. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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Children of Bodom Talk I Worship Chaos Album