Never wear latex in an interview in the sweltering heat of Miami, or you might just end up flashing the interviewee after it decides to stick to you like a second-skin. Seriously, it looked like someone ordered ‘room service’, if you catch my drift. The little English broad couldn’t take the heat! What a way to kick-off my interview with Children of Bodom’s Henkka. There’s nothing quite like flashing your bra to a member of a band you’ve been listening to since your inception to metal!
Minus latex being a bad choice and the sun being a peeping-Tom, I had the awesome opportunity to ask Henkka about how it feels to be approaching the 20 year milestone of Children of Bodom.
It’s coming up to 20 years of Children of Bodom, isn’t it?
Yeah, it will be next year.
Are you planning on doing something for your 20 year anniversary?
We haven’t thought about it. I don’t know – I guess we should but it sounds so old, 20 years! But we haven’t discussed anything yet.
What would you say, looking back on the last 20 years, Bodom is? Like, if you had to sum up Bodom in 20 years. Well, we started as teenagers and then we toured a lot and made a lot of albums and we’re here! I mean a lot of things change, but y’know, 20 years is a long time for everybody and for us especially…because of when we started so you know, we changed as persons I think more, because we started so young. But yeah, I don’t know.
It must be interesting, seeing how the scene in metal has evolved in 20 years, what’s that like? How do you find you fit into it?
I think it’s hard maybe to tell from the inside, but of course there’s been the big change in how the records are selling with digital stuff beginning in the middle of our career. I’m glad we play heavy metal because everything changes with less speed and people are also loyal, in a good way.
Loyalty is good, almost like dogs, but fans aren’t pets. Actually, some do wear collars. Sorry, that’s totally off topic! Calling fans dogs…ah man!
That was you, that wasn’t me!
I’ll take full responsibility for that one. I digress anyway… So, how would say your sound has evolved? 20 years is a long time!
Well, I guess with the first 3 albums, we had a lot of neo-classical elements that we haven’t had in a long time – I don’t know if that was a conscious move, to get rid of them. But I think ever since Hate Crew Deathroll we’ve been doing more our own stuff, not to use old composer stuff. So that’s one big thing that happened, but that is already 15 years ago. Then, I don’t know. It’s gotten heavier, a little bit softer, heavier, it’s gone faster, it’s gone more melodic, it’s gone more thrash and now we are here with I Worship Chaos, which is a mixture of everything.
Would you say there is something that is typically or classically Children of Bodom? Like someone will listen to something and go “a-ha! That’s Bodom”
It must be anything that is complicated, like a unison melody with keyboard and guitars – I think that’s our kind of sound.
Would you say I Worship Chaos is classically Bodom?
I think I’m the wrong person to answer that. A lot of the fans I’ve known for a long time who don’t really kiss my arse, I’ve heard from many many many people that this is better Bodom than in years, and it has the classic Bodom elements in it. What they are I’m not sure, but this is what I’ve been hearing, so this is quite close. Of course y’know, old albums are always old albums: they’ll always be the foundation and for many people they’ll always be the best albums, so I think those are the classic albums.
Is there a pressure there? People wanting you to stay the same but at the same time to evolve? They want something new but at the same time don’t want you to be a punk rock band
It’s not pressure. Maybe it was when we were younger but then at some point, you realise that you just have to keep on doing your thing like you did in the first album – that’s when we did our thing, like in a very very stubborn way, to make music. Outsiders were saying ‘you shouldn’t do that, you shouldn’t combine that with that because that doesn’t make sense in metal’ but we were like ‘fuck you’ and just did it, and we were afraid that no one would like it when we put the first album out and then after 20 years, people say ‘yeah, that’s the best album you’ve ever did’. That’s where I always go back to, if people are expecting stuff from us, which is to just do it the way we started to make music: just do the thing you really want to do and just try not to think about anybody else – that’s exactly the way we did the first album.
So stubbornness is key?
I think so, yeah. I think you should always stick to your thing and I don’t think there is any pressure anymore. Of course, there is some sort of pressure but I think it’s involving more of the business side, more ‘what if the album doesn’t sell and we get kicked out of the record label’ – more this kind of stuff – but they don’t affect the music, at least consciously they don’t.
They’re not going to kick you out!
(Laughs) So yeah, there is pressure, but with the music, no. Of course you’re always afraid of what people are going to say, but y’know, the more albums you do, the more diverse opinions you’re going to get and you just have to deal with them.
The biggest secret to life: just deal with it!
Just like we’re dealing laying on a bed floating across the Atlantic (I did find the gentle swaying of the ship rocked me to sleep at night.)
So we just lay there chilling in bed, discussing how Australia’s deadly creatures terrify me, and rambled on to the subject of marsupials. Anywhoo, koalas aside, you heard the man – just do what you do and don’t give a flying fuck about anyone else!
Photos by Nat X