Children of Bodom are back and armed with a new album, Halo of Blood (Nuclear Blast) that seems to find them displaying the passion of the early days of the band. They are hitting the road on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival starting this weekend in California. We chatted with front man Alexi ‘Wildchild’ Laiho about the upcoming tour, his new album, new record deal, and his perspective about his career status among other topics.
Let’s talk about The Mayhem Festival! What are you looking forward to about the tour and how does the band prepare for it?
Well as far as preparing, it’s pretty much the same as any tour. It’s just practice. We get together a few weeks before and practice, get the band tight and ready to kill! As far as the experience, I don’t know. I am really curious to see how things work on this side of the pond, as far as festivals go. We have been doing so many European festivals for sixteen years, so we’re used to them. But this is actually a festival tour, so it will be interesting. This is a festival tour, so there are a lot of bands we have toured with before like Amon Amarth and Job For a Cowboy and bands like that. You you are getting together with old friends. And there are bands like Rob Zombie, we have never toured with them, so that will be really cool.
Do you feel like you have to pull out all of the stops competitively when you playing on the Musician’s Institute stage with some pretty technical bands?
I’m sure there will be a friendly competition between the bands, but not for real. Not for my part really. We just go out and do our thing and hope everyone else goes out and does their best.
You are taking part of a Mayhem Q & A on Twitter soon. Do you think it is interesting how much social media plays a big part as compared when you first started the band?
It is pretty interesting, since it has blown up in such a short span of time. When we put out our first couple of albums, that stuff didn’t exist. Lately it seems like it has been all about that. I mean, I don’t have a Facebook page or anything of that stuff at all. like that. I don’t know. I guess I will have to learn eventually, because that is the way the world works nowadays. I don’t know man, I guess I gotta learn.
Halo of Blood comes out right before the tour, so how much of it will we get to hear live?
I think we only get to play for about 35 minutes. Obviously we are going to play the old hits. I think we will play at least two new songs. We still have to figure it out. Like I said, it’s a short set, but definitely we will play some stuff from the new album for sure.
From a first listen to the album, Halo of Blood feels like a real throw back album. Was that on purpose?
You know, I am hearing that lot, but it was not intentional at all. All those things accidentally came together. All the people that we worked with, it was things like the producers (Peter Tägtgren, engineer Mikko Karmila), we worked with- it was really time to get back together and work with those guys. The same with the album cover artwork artist (Sam Saramäki), the same thing happened. We started working on that stuff, before any of the songs were written. It was all just a big coincidence. Then those other decisions were made. But I guess it’s a cool thing though.
The band just celebrated fifteen years in 2012. As the band gets more successful, do you worry about getting further away from the things that got noticed to begin with?
It’s really a matter of not thinking about it. And I really don’t. We just keep our minds focused on the music. All of that. We all still have the love for the music. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. Selling albums and doing big tours is great, and it’s all we ever wanted. But you just have to move on and not think about stuff too much. That’s just what I think.
The band is back with Nuclear Blast, where you started out early in your career. Why is now a good time to return to that label?
First of all, our record contract with Universal/Spinefarm expired. We had a chance to talk about it and we decided it was time for us to change our label. We shopped around a little bit and we looked at a lot of options, but Nuclear Blast was the way to go. For us, it was a pretty obvious actually to go back with Nuclear Blast. I’m pretty happy with the choice! I think it was something that we needed to do at this moment.
Have you added any new gear to your arsenal for this album and now the tour?
I play with the same shit basically all the time. The only thing I changed was I played the entire album through a Marshall amp. I used all the same guitars. I changed amps and that is pretty much it. Slash, Zakk Wylde… all the old school guys I like played through a Marshall. Kerry King as well. Marshall is really cool, but it was actually my first amp I ever got. It was a Marshall combo. And now it took me a lot of time to actually go back to Marshall. It is what it is, but it’s awesome!
Following Mayhem Festival, what do you guys have on tap for touring to promote the new album?
Right after Mayhem we have Japan. And right after Japan we are doing a full European tour which will be nine and a half weeks, so that will take the rest of the year. I know for a year and half, we will have non-stop touring. I don’t know everything we have planned, but that is what we are going to do. I’m looking forward to it!