With a new album ready to go and due for release this October, as well as a tour of Australia (supporting Megadeth) just announced, Children of Bodom bassist Henkka Seppälä took some time out to tell us what has been happening with the band in preparation for a return to our shores.
Hi Henkka, what have you been up to today?
I’m just sitting here with my daughter and niece. I’ve just been getting ready for the tour and album release.
What do you do in your time off to chill out?
Nothing special, just hang out with my family and friends, as well as my sports. Depending on what time of the year it is, because the winters here in Finland can be quite rough, it’s nice to go somewhere warm and enjoy some sun and some sea.
Does the band socialise much in your off time?
We hang out so much on tour that we don’t really see each other much when we are at home. We want to keep our work and our private life separate, I guess.
With your upcoming tours, there are some massive bills with bands like Lamb of God and Megadeth. How tight are you guys with all those bands on the ‘New wave of Metal’ scene?
It’s all about personalities really – the kind of music doesn’t really come into it. With Lamb of God, we did two back to back tours with them over like 12 weeks. So we got to know them pretty well, and Randy especially is really good friends with Alexi. With some people you click and others you don’t really. Then some bands are private and just like to hang out by themselves and don’t really go out with other musicians. But it’s all good, and Lamb of God happen to be one of those bands that we hang out with, so it will be good to be back on the road with them again.
What kind of personality do people see when they hang out with Children Of Bodom?
I think people still think we are the biggest party band in the metal scene. That’s not true anymore. But that’s the thing that comes to mind when you talk about Children Of Bodom. But we are really different kind of guys within the band – everybody is different to each other, [we’re] very, very different.
With that said, what’s your personality in the band then?
Well, on tours I really like to explore. I get up in the morning and go and just stroll in the city. I go and sit in the cafes and read the papers and just read books, and all of that. If there is anything to sightsee I’ll go and do that as well. I just enjoy travelling in so many ways. I’m always somewhere outside and I just come back for the show. Some other guys like to sleep long and hang out at the venue and play the show, then get drunk and sleep long and play the show etc. There are different ways to do it. But we have been doing this for 20 years now, so everybody has their own ways to enjoy themselves. Everybody has found their ways to be more comfortable with themselves on tour [too].
When you say you like to explore, is that something you always did or did that develop over time?
I’ve always enjoyed seeing other countries and cities, and meeting people. In the beginning when we started touring we didn’t have any crew so we had to set up all our own gear, so there wasn’t really time to go anywhere. And even if there was time, if you were the opening band you had to wait at the venue and be alert. Whenever you had your 10 minute setup you had to be there on time. But now things have changed because we have crew that work for us, and they always setup the gear better than we do, so now we have the time to do whatever you want. Of course there are a lot of days where you have to do press, so that is another story altogether.
When you experience all these different cultures, do certain audiences respond live differently?
Yeah, a Finnish crowd is very different to say a crowd in the middle of Russia, for example. Or Japanese or Brazilian [audiences]. I think it is just a matter of cultures. South American and Japanese crowds are the ones that sing the most, so sometimes we go, “Well should we think about playing this song instead?” But we generally like to stick to the set list that we have chosen for the tour.
Well, on that, how do you avoid getting bored of the tunes?
I don’t think there is any way to get bored. But even when there is a song you have played 2000 times, but there is someone in the front row who is really excited about the song, that really does it for me.
With touring the new record, how are you going to balance out the new and the old stuff?
We will do a couple of new songs, and then a lot of back catalogue. We try to play our new songs, but that doesn’t always work, because now we have like nine albums.
You guys have just announced an Aussie tour with Megadeth. How are you going to adapt the live show for the big venues?
We do the same show, really. We can only do one style of a show, and that’s our thing. We try not to change it too much. Usually it is harder on the bigger stages, but we just stick to our guns.
Do you prefer bigger stages?
I love the small sweaty, intense clubs.
You guys have been doing this for 20 years. How has Bodom shaped you as a person?
It’s really impossible to say. I joined the band when I was 14 so it has become my life and my work and my identity. It’s the whole me, what I’ve been doing with the band. It’s hard to think of anything else.
Is it scary to think about life after Bodom?
It’s a little scary, but I’m also up for new things and new changes and challenges. I’m not worried, but at the same time I’m trying to enjoy every moment I have with this band, because who knows when it’s going to end? Then I will miss it.
How has the band adjusted since the departure of Roope?
It’s been hard, but we have already played 10 or 15 shows with him, so we are now getting used to him not being there anymore. It’s never easy after 13 years playing with some guy, and suddenly he isn’t there anymore. But we are over it, so it’s going to be good again.
In past interviews, Alexi has stated that if a member was to leave, he couldn’t imagine Bodom could continue. What changed?
Because those things come slow. Roope’s departure, we could see it coming for a few years. It didn’t strike us like lightening from a blue sky. It was something that we have seen develop. I think that way, you see both parties are suffering, and you try to figure out how to solve a problem that is better for both. So then he left, and we have kept on going, and we are now looking for someone to fill in. I think because it’s been a long process, we knew there was going to be some changes.
How did it affect recording the new record?
Alexi had to do all the guitars, so it was a lot harder for him, but otherwise, nothing was changed.
Did it alter the way you wrote the album?
No, we always do the same [thing]. Alexi writes the riffs at home, and then we go into the rehearsal place and turn them into songs. That’s how we have been doing it since 1994.
The album was recorded at your own ‘Danger Johnny Studios.’ How long have you had that for?
We have had it for a few years. It started as a rehearsal studio where we could go and demo new tracks and all that. But we have been upgrading it a bit ever since, and now it’s equipped to do all the instruments including drums. This was the first time we did drums in that studio. We were a bit afraid because the place is so huge, we didn’t know how the drums would sound. But it came out good.
How is ‘I Worship Chaos’ different to other Bodom releases?
It’s lame to say, but I don’t know. We always try to move forward and do something super exciting. I think that is one of the best albums we have ever done. We have not stagnated or gone backwards, and everyone agrees that it’s the best album we have done in 10 years.
Catch Children Of Bodom supporting Megadeth this October. Details and ticket information via Dainty.
‘I Worship Chaos’ is due out October 2 via Nuclear Blast.