A&GS recently had the opportunity to talk to Alexi Laiho, vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter from CHILDREN OF BODOM. We were able to talk music, the process behind the new record Hexed (out now, Nuclear Blast Records), and partying after 35.
AMPS: Alexi from CHILDREN OF BODOM, how are you my friend?
Alexi: (Laughs) I’m alright, doing a bunch of promo and drinking a lot of coffee.
AMPS: I know it is morning there in Australia, and you’ve done a lot of these, so I’ll make this as painless as possible.
Alexi: I appreciate that sir!
AMPS: First thing I want to say is, Dude, this new album. I’m going to get profane here for a minute, holy fuckballs on toast, this new album is fucking incredible.
Alexi: (Laughs) That was good, I’m really glad you like it. “Holy fuckballs on toast” is a great compliment.
AMPS: When you released that single “Under Grass and Clover”, I played it for my son and he went completely batshit crazy. Now every time it shows up on a playlist he is so excited. Tell me about that song and how it came around.
Alexi: First off, I’m really glad he likes it. How I wrote the song? It wasn’t really different from how the other songs were written. I was just fiddling around with the guitar and just, it’s how I write songs anyway, and I noticed that I had played this riff, the intro riff, repetitively. The intro riff, in musical terms, it’s on G Major, which means that it has this happy vibe in it. To me, it’s like an ANDREW W.K. vibe, which is kind of funny. Then I started writing follow up riffs, and so there you go!
AMPS: The fact that you mention an ANDREW W.K. vibe is interesting because I noticed that as well.
Alexi: ANDREW W.K. is the man, we blast his music in the tour bus. So I’m pretty sure that that was a subconscious vibe, and I was in the mood for some ANDREW W.K.
AMPS: The minute I heard “Under Grass and Clover”, I said “Holy shit, they’ve done it again”. I listened to it 5-6 times in a row, never mind that the rest of the album kicks 50 shades of ass. I really enjoy “Kick in a Spleen” and “Knuckle Duster”, and This Road” is awesome. Do you have any favorites off this album?
Alexi: I do have favorite tracks, but I guess it changes every day. Lately “Kick in a Spleen” has been one of my favorites. I guess, let me just put it this way, my staples have been “This Road”, “Hecate’s Nightmare” and “Under Grass and Clover”, so those have always been there but yeah, “Kick in the Spleen” has been the favorite. Tomorrow, I might have a different answer.
AMPS: My favorite album was I Worship Chaos, key word “was”. But I think Hexed is the best record you’ve ever done. You should definitely have “Kick in a Spleen” on the tour setlist.
Alexi: Honestly, I’ve really been dreaming about playing that song live. Only because it’s just really old school, straightforward. To me, I get old school KREATOR that comes to mind when I listen to it now. It’s one of those songs that I would love to play live. So, I’m sure it’s going to be on the set list.
AMPS: Regarding setlists, how hard is it to put one together now? Is it a hair puller or do you already know what you want to do?
Alexi: “Hair” puller? Fuck, try “anything” puller. I want to rip my fucking arms off trying to put together a setlist. I would put every single song we’ve written if I could. And there’s five guys with different opinions. So, you can only imagine. We’re going to mix it up a lot. Maybe play the same set list twice in a row, but we’re going to try to change it all up. The other reason, nowadays with internet and social media, everyone seems to know everything. You do one show and then everyone knows what you’re going to do.
So that’s another reason to do a different set list. Plus, you know, it keeps it interesting for both us and the fans. It feels really boring that everybody can look at their phones and say “Ah! This is gonna be the next song”. It feels so wrong. So, we’re going to prove everyone wrong.
AMPS: How long did you guys spend on Hexed? Are you always writing or are you the guy in the frozen food aisle humming a riff into your phone?
Alexi: (Laughs) I definitely do the frozen food aisle thing, or you know, stuck in a traffic jam. Sometimes riffs, melodies or lyrics. But that’s just one of those things when you luck out. Most of the time it’s you staring at a guitar or keyboard and playing for hours and hours until something happens. I’ll write lyrics on the road, but I don’t like to write riffs on the road, I like to keep it separate. The whole touring vibe, it’s not suitable for me. I need to be alone, I need to be confined in my own world in order to write riffs. When we’re done with touring that’s when I start writing. This time around it was pretty much the same deal as it always is. We did 2.5 years of touring, I did start writing. We did finish the record. It was mixed and mastered in early June 2018 but there was some issues and the release date got pushed back a couple of times. It wasn’t that we took our time, the schedules just were messed up. Shit happens.
AMPS: Away from music, what do you do to relax and unwind?
Alexi: Well first of all, at this point in my life, I’m going to be 40 soon. That means I have to I get my rest, charge my batteries and take it easy. It’s not like when I was 20 and in my off-time it was party time. I need to take my old man break and take it easy. I love cars, so I love cruising around and playing with cars. Stupid shit like that.
I don’t drink when I’m on the road, but I still enjoy getting fucked up every once in a while with my friends. It might sound boring, but normal people stuff. A couple of my friends and I go cruising, doing burnouts and shit. Nothing too weird.
AMPS: When John or Jane Q listener gets it in their grubby little hands, is there something you’d like for them to take away from the record?
Alexi: I don’t know. It’s like, I write the songs and I’m too close to the music. At this point I can’t even tell what the hell is going on. I would just say that…I got fucking nothing. I’ll leave it up to them and hope that they like it.
AMPS: What are you listening to? What’s moving you, album and band wise?
Alexi: Anything from…let’s see. Lately I’ve been listening to basically anything from DISSECTION, to P!NK. Yeah, I really like P!NK. She’s rad. I’m just very opened minded when it comes to music.
AMPS: What do you want to say to all the CHILDREN OF BODOM fans out there in the world?
Alexi: First of all, thank you for being out there and buying records. I can’t wait to see you on the road and party again.
This was my first interview with Alexi Laiho but you can rest assured it won’t be my last. I hope you all enjoyed our conversation, and if you haven’t already go out and buy Hexed, it’s one of the best records of 2019!!