Take that thought even further and throw in a sub-genre that gets’ little to no exposure from the mainstream media and then you will realise how impressive Children of Bodom’s career has been to date. With the bands tenth studio album, ‘Hexed‘ about to drop, there are no signs of the Finnish quintet slowing down or growing old gracefully!
We caught up with bassist Henkka Seppälä who was enjoying some peace and quiet (sorry) from a secluded woodland cabin in North Finland to discuss the new album ‘Hexed‘ which is due for release on March 8th via Nuclear Blast.
OD – First off, let’s address the new album. “Hexed” is the bands tenth studio album. We are fast approaching the release date, so at this point, do you find that it’s more of a nervous reaction releasing an album; or is it all just by the numbers for you at this stage?
HENKKA – It is in a way. This is the longest time we’ve had to wait since delivering the master. We delivered the master back in July, so, it’s been nine months already! Waiting, Waiting [Laughs].
We did some shows in Finland and some other stuff here and there but really, we’re just all really excited to get this new album out there. The closer the date of release, we’re all starting to realise; “Oh, yeah, we have the album coming out in a few weeks!!!” [Laughs]
In a way, the most frustrating part of releasing an album is the waiting process, but we’re not really nervous about it, just very excited. It’s more adrenaline for the actual release. We just have to hope that people really like it and at the end of the day we know that this is the best album that we could have made right now and we’re confident that it’s gonna connect with our fans. We don’t have any regrets about anything. We’re not a band that looks back at things, it’s all about moving forward for us.
OD – You went back to Danger Johnny Studios for this with Mikko (Karmila) once again. Was there anything different about the way you recorded this album as opposed to, say, ‘I Worship Chaos’ (2015)?
HENKKA – We demoed all the songs before starting to lay down the real tracks, and that was the first time we did things that way. Everybody had time to get their parts down prior to entering the studio. This was a good thing for all of us, as everybody was very familiar with what they had to do and the studio time was less stressful.
Other than that, we did everything pretty much the same way we always do.
OD – This album explores a variety of styles and is kind of a little more progressive in parts and more catchier. There seems to be a bit more confidence on this album. Would you say that there was a conscious thought process to use this album as an evolution in the bands sound?
HENKKA – No, we never really discuss the sound we are trying to achieve. We just practice the riffs that Alexi comes up with and then we combine all the parts into songs and we just always finish the songs when we are happy with them. I guess you can say that as long as we are all happy with the finished track, it doesn’t really matter about the riffs, arrangements or anything else. The bottom line is, we all have to be happy with what we created for ourselves.
We’ve never had any boundaries with regards to our music, but we don’t go about discussing the creative process with an end result in mind if you know what I mean. To be honest, if anyone is pushing the boundaries, it’s Alexi. I think he pushes himself with the riffs and the melodies because sometimes they are just so difficult and technical. Even though they might sound more simple, but when you have to play it, it’s like; “oh shit!!” [Laughs]
OD – Alexi (Laiho, guitars/vocals) spoke about the lyrical content on this album as being a filter for all his negative shit and pressing issues. Bearing that in mind, was there any other submissions from band members with the lyrics, or was it just all Alexi?
HENKKA – That’s the only thing that has always been just Alexi’s area in Children of Bodom. He’s really spending more time on the lyrical side of things these days. There was a time when the lyrics were almost a necessary evil and he wrote them in the final stages of each album, but lately, he’s been approaching the lyrics before the studio and it’s much more important for him now and I think it really shows. He writes way better lyrics than he used to.
The theme of his writing style has always tapped into the stuff that he’s dealing with on a day to day basis. I really think he’s a better lyricist nowadays because he’s putting more effort into that side of things. Also, English is not his native language and he’s become more confident in that side of things also.
OD – We are approaching almost a year to the day when you began recording (March 8th) and just a few days after that you will be embarking on your North American tour which will see you on the road all the way through to mid-April. When you are about to take in a tour like this, especially with a new album, do you find that the music itself changes for you, developing more of a connection with it, so to speak?
HENKKA – Yes definitely. The music changes and sort of takes on a life of its own. We are actually getting ready to rehearse for the tour and work on the new material because we haven’t played that stuff since we were in the studio recording it.
We need to get the new stuff in shape to play them live and it’s gonna take a lot of work as we then have to figure out the best way to put our setlists together and figure out what tracks work best alongside each other.
This part of being in a band is very exciting. Getting out there and playing new music is what we live for. This process helps us to figure out which songs stick to the setlist and that’s when the tracks begin to really take on a life and personality of their own and in some cases, it’s a completely different song live to the one we recorded with reference to feeling and emotion.
Also, when I see people in the audience that have embraced the new material, that’s a great feeling. I’ve seen die-hard old-school fans alongside the younger fans all enjoying the music and that feeling is incredible. I know that most people are into the older stuff as it’s more sentimental to the audience, but when we play something new and it goes down well, that feeling is hard to explain. It makes all the negative things about being in a band totally worth it. [Laughs]
OD – You have been announced for this year’s Bloodstock Festival, this is not your first time as you’ve played a few times in the past. When you return to festivals like BOA, do you approach the performance with a different mindset, as your stage time is shorter?
HENKKA – It’s always so nice to get back to Bloodstock. It’s such a welcome festival and we’re so excited to play again this year. With regards to playing festivals, it really depends on what kind of line up is there. We all know that Bloodstock is a metal festival so we’re planning to play a very heavy set of COB classics as well as the new stuff.
There are other festivals that we’ve played that have a more pop orientated feel about them and yes, we will adjust our setlist to make sure that we are happy with it as well as the diehard fans.
OD – With regards to the setlist that you’re planning for the tour, will it be a healthy mix or can we expect some old school tracks that are not usually included in the more recent sets.
HENKKA – We haven’t’ really thought about the setlists as of yet but we usually try to get in as much variety from our discography as possible. We like to play a wide variety of stuff and when we did our 20th-anniversary tour, we played a lot of stuff from way back which was a lot of fun and some of those tracks have become frequent additions to our setlists, so there’s a real mixed bag of tracks from across all the albums.
OD – Having been around for as long as you have, the term ‘veterans‘ is used by a lot of the media when introducing the band. Does this term make you laugh as we’ve always known it to be used with bands that emerged back in the early ’80s? It must be strange to think; “Here we are, still going after 20 plus years?”
HENKKA – [Laughs] Yeah, it sounds so old! I guess we are old! I’m 38 and the other guys are 39 so, we are getting old [Laughs]. It’s 2o years since the first album but you know, it’s gone by so quick. The most important thing is that we feel young.
What’s really weird is that when we are at a festival in the backstage area and there are loads of other bands there, and from time to time, we’ll get approached by some younger bands and they’re like; “Hey man, I used to listen to you when I was a kid” and I’m there thinking; “What? This is insane. How old are you?, Jesus, how old am I?” [Laughs]
OD – Death Metal has undergone a massive transformation since its formation with bands like Death, Possessed and Venom and with the melodic side of the genre with At The Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity to name a few, who have all helped the genre to evolve to where it is today. When you look back on the body of work that COB has generated, do you take pride in knowing that you figuratively chiselled and formed some of the very significant moulds that are very much present today?
HENKKA – Yeah, I guess so. We’re very humble when it comes to things like this. There are now 10 studio albums in our legacy and we have a great loyal fanbase all over the world. Because of those very things, we know that we are doing a good job.
When we are on tour, we can see from the audiences that there is a mix of young and old fans that have been following us for years. There are also some bands that are influenced by us and that’s an honour. We don’t’ really think any much further into things after that. We just do what we do and try to be the best that we can with every album and every live show.
OD – With regards to the influence on this album, for you personally, what music have you been inspired by lately?
HENKKA – I wouldn’t say it’s anything new, but I really love what Gojira (pictured below) are doing. They seem to have a very unique sound that you just know it’s them when you hear it. They are such a fresh-sounding band with interesting ideas and a very different sonic experience.
OD – There are many outlets for bands these days besides recording and releasing music. Have you ever considered doing something else besides the beer with Fat Lizard and more something like an in-depth documentary or perhaps a festival, similar to what In Flames have done with Borgholm Brinner?
HENKKA – Yes, we’ve actually talked about doing our own Festival for many years now and the timing just doesn’t seem right to try it just yet as we’re just too busy with recording, writing and touring.
This is a dream that we’ve really wanted to do and the idea is to host the Festival at Lake Bodom because there’s a really cool beach by the lake as well as a camping site that already exists, but the logistics for putting this on is just insane.
It’s also quite far from the city, so public transport would an issue and we would have to use buses to transport people from one location to another etc. We’ve had a few meetings about this already and realised that the timing for this is just not right now.
We are very busy making music and touring right now, but I can see this happening down the line in the future.
OD – If you could go back and change one thing about Children of Bodom’s legacy what would it be?
HENKKA – I look back on things but I don’t have any regrets. There’s been good stuff and bad stuff that’s happened to us along the way and at the end of the day, that’s what has made this band what it is today. I wouldn’t change a single thing. It’s all meant to be the way it is [Laughs].
Children of Bodom 10th studio album ‘Hexed‘ will be released via Nuclear Blast on March 8th. Pre-order your copy here.
Catch Children of Bodom at this year’s Bloodstock Open Air Festival. Tickets are on sale NOW via this link.