Children of Bodom Frontman Alexi Laiho Talks ‘Halo of Blood,’ Mayhem Fest + Jeff Hanneman
Children of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Laiho spoke all about the band’s new disc, ‘Halo of Blood’ and his songwriting process, as well as how he has grown as a guitarist. He also discussed playing this summer’s Mayhem Festival and remembering Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman at this year’s Golden Gods awards. If you missed Full Metal Jackie’s show, check out her interview with Alexi Laiho below:
‘Halo of Blood’ is coming out June 11, a heavy record I must say. You guys have been working on this one for a while so I’m sure you’re excited that we’re getting close to having it out there.
Absolutely, we’ve been working on it forever – well it feels like forever so I just want to get the damn thing out there as soon as possible.
You’ve ranked on lists of ‘Fastest Guitarists’ or ‘Best Heavy Metal Guitarists’ --what aspects of your ability requires the most practice or the most work?
Well technique-wise, I guess pretty much everything. The thing is that I’ve been practicing all the different techniques for so many years that I pretty much have them down so now it’s just more like maintenance and concentrating on the musical content of my playing. When I play a solo I want it to be something that compliments the music and serve the music as opposed to showing off – showing off is very important too but it can’t be all about that. [Laughs]
Alexi, you guys have been on so many different types of tours. What’s your favorite part about doing a festival package?
A festival package is cool, like Mayhem this time around – there’s so many bands that we did tour with before, years ago so we get to hang out with old friends. There’s a lot of new bands that I’ve always wanted to tour with and see live like Rob Zombie, who I’ve only seen live once so it’s super cool to actually tour with him. Just the fact that festivals tend to bring more people out so I guess that’s the main aspect.
From the festivals I’ve seen you be a part of in the past, Bodom always seems to be the band that gets into a lot of trouble.
[Laughs] Yeah, we used to be like that. I don’t know -- trouble just follows us somehow.
In what ways have you grown as a musician in the two years since the last album and how did that define the direction of ‘Halo of Blood’?
It’s kind of hard to say how I have grown as a musician or songwriter, as a person not so much. [Laughs] Honestly I like the solos better on this record that I did and songwriting-wise, it’s really hard to say but what I’ve heard from a lot of people is that that there’s more old-school Bodom elements in the music that there were on the previous one or on ‘Blooddrunk’ for example. I guess that goes to show that I’m more openminded or something.
Do you go into writing a new album with a new vision or direction of where you’d like to go?
No, not at all. It’s just when I write music I need to clear my mind and just block everything out of my head just to make sure that the music that comes out is genuine and real.
Is it something where you sit and start writing then it goes where your creativity takes you?
Yeah, it’s exactly like that. Sometimes I have to just sit around for hours before something happens but that’s the way it is. If I start thinking about pleasing a certain type of crowd or what would the press like or the fans like then I would just end up writing stuff that’s not genuine and not instantaneous – just too thought out and I’m not that kind of dude. I need it to be very spontaneous.
It seems fitting that some important people in the metal community were together at the Golden Gods the very day Jeff Hanneman died. What was the camaraderie like that night?
It was pretty intense, it was a weird vibe for sure. On the other hand, it was a good thing everybody was together in the same place when that happened but I got to tell you it was strange because I saw certain Slayer members and I know the guys -- it’s like those situations where it’s like what are you going to say? I knew Jeff but obviously not like they did, so many people that knew him were together that day.
It was surreal. I think we were all sort of in disbelief, even the next day, like wow, this is really real.
That’s the thing, it hasn’t really sank in yet.
What can we expect beyond Mayhem from Bodom?
Right after Mayhem we do Japan and right after that we do a full European tour, which is going to be about nine and a half weeks long so that’s going to take us pretty much to the end of the year and then after that I don’t know. I think we have about a year of nonstop touring which is awesome.
This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome Megadeth legend Dave Mustaine to her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.