I was extremely shocked and saddened by Alexi Laiho’s passing. He was such a talented musician whose raw energy bled into everything he did. His dedication, passion, and hard work made him one of the best heavy metal guitar players. Even with his ongoing health issues, he kept doing what he loved: making music. Though he’s no longer with us, we at least have the music to keep his memory alive.
In 2014, I got the chance to interview Children of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho before their Chicago show. At the time, I had no idea I was going to sit down with him. The interview was set, but it wasn’t clear who I would be talking to. After several setbacks and delays, I got a call at the last minute to head down to the House of Blues for the interview.
As I pulled up to the venue hours before their show, I saw Alexi taking a smoke break outside with the crew. “Wow, there’s Alexi Laiho!” I thought. “Well, at least I caught of glimpse of him if I’m not interviewing him.” It wasn’t until I saw Alexi and his manager walk towards me that I realized I was indeed supposed to interview him.
I started to panic. Here’s the dude whose ferocious guitar licks left me in awe. I’d only seen him in videos like “In Your Face” and “Are You Dead Yet?” and here he was standing in front of me. On top of that, it was only my second in-person interview. I was nervous as hell. He’s going to hate my questions. He doesn’t want to talk to me. It’s not like I’m from Metal Hammer, I thought. Walking backstage I swear my heart was beating so loud it reverberated throughout the empty venue.
Luckily, Alexi was nothing but friendly. He remained nice and humble throughout and did his best to put me at ease. He graciously answered all my questions and we even had a nice chat about Guns N Roses. After the interview, he was kind enough to snap a quick photo with me before he left for soundcheck.
In honor of Alexi, I wanted to share that interview I did with him years ago. Though I hoped I would get the chance to speak with him again, I’m thankful I was able to meet him and actual talk to him because I never thought it would happen.
Originally posted on Examiner
March 27, 2014
Children of Bodom as bloodthirsty as they were 20 years ago; they proved that Tuesday night (March 25) when they stopped by the House of Blues on their Halo of Blood tour and nearly destroyed the venue. Metal fans young and old braved the cold weather to rock out with other metalheads. But before the show, frontman and guitarist Alexi Laiho talked about the tour and what’s next for Bodom.
Are there any pre-show rituals you do to get pumped up before a show?
Alexi Laiho: I just warm up with some guitar and listen to music – to stuff that gets me, like you said, pumped up.
Are there any specific band or songs you listen to before shows?
AL: It could be anything. Right now we’re listening to Guns N Roses -’80s stuff is usually the best.
The band has been together for over 20 years. Did you guys ever think you would last this long and have such a dedicated following?
AL: Oh, not at all. Well, I knew that I wanted to do this for as long as I’m alive. Me and the drummer [Jaska Raatikainen] started the band when we were like 13 and 14 years old. So, obviously, it took a while for us to get a record contract and stuff, but it’s gotten so much bigger than I ever thought it would be. It’s pretty awesome.
Halo of Blood is your latest album and fans are hungry for new music. When can we expect that from the band?
AL: We’re still in the middle of touring, so we got a couple of more tours lined up. I think we got shit lined up until this fall. After that, I’m gonna start writing new stuff and see what happens, so basically next year we’re gonna hit the studio in April maybe.
With so many albums and songs under your belt, where do you get inspiration for new songs?
AL: You know it’s funny, the thing is I don’t really know. When I start writing music I just kind of try to block everything out of my mind and try not to really think about anything. Usually, I can just get an idea, a melody, or a riff or anything out of the blue, just out of nowhere when doing [anything], like driving a car or something. Or sometimes when I’m sitting down with a guitar kind of noodling around and it kind of starts from there. It differs, but obviously, I listen to music all the time. Things that you hear – I just kind of absorb stuff without really thinking about it. I don’t really know where it comes from, but I’m glad it still does.
Where are you guys headed once the North American tour is finished?
AL: We’ve got tons of European festivals before that. After this, we’re going to Finland for three weeks and then we do – it’s kind of like an around the world tour. We start off in Russia, we’re supposed to do Ukraine too, and Turkey, Israel, Australia, a bunch of countries and Asia and stuff. And then we go to South America. So, it’s basically it’s two months of going all over the place. After that the European festivals and after that we have one more tour and we should be done.
Do you guys ever take a break? It sounds really hectic.
AL: It is really hectic (laughs), but that’s the way we like it. That’s really what the band is all about anyway, playing live and touring. We’ve been doing this since forever, since the first album, like 1998. Since then we’ve been on the road. Everybody still enjoys it; we love being on the road and just love playing live.
So, no partying for you guys?
AL: Well, we do. Personally, I used to party like crazy every night, but the thing is I’m not 25 anymore. I’m taking it pretty easy when I’m on the road. Trying to make sure that I’m not all fucked up and hungover when I hit the stage. I used to be able to do it, but I’m getting old so I gotta take it easy. I’ll do my partying when I go back home.
Later that night, the venue buzzed with excitement as fans waited for Bodom to come on stage. When they finally did, the cheers were loud enough to bring down the walls. The band opened with their slaying hit “Sixpounder,” which got everyone in the crowd shouting “666!” The excitement in the room kept building as the band knocked out classics “Living Dead Beat,” “Halo of Blood,” “Bodom Beach Terror,” and “Hate Crew Deathroll.” They made sure to please everyone by doing fan favorites along with tracks from their latest album. Occasionally, they would stop to thank Chicago for coming out or reminiscence about when they started playing in the city back in 2003. They even treated fans to a quick cover of the “Beverly Hills Cop” theme, which got everyone clapping.
Laiho pulled off intricate solos with ease, making it look simple. And keyboardist Janne Warman’s playing is so unreal he looked like he was making the keys play by sheer willpower. One of the songs that got the biggest cheers were “Are You Dead Yet?” which opened a massive circle pit in the crowd. When they signed off before their encore, a chant of “Bodom! Bodom! Bodom!” erupted. The final song of the night was the explosive “In Your Face.” Fans went nuts as moshing, jumping, and crowd surfing broke out. Onstage the guys seemed to revel in the adrenaline as Laiho leaped across the stage and even spinning his guitar around his body. Bodom left the crowd in bruises and aches, but most fans will agree it was well worth it.