DATE OF INTERVIEW:
CHILDREN OF BODOM
2nd December 2008
HENKKA 'BLACKSMITH' SEPPÄLÄ
Children of Bodom have been around for almost 15 years and are widely recognised for their consistently tight live performances and lead singer Alexi Laiho’s virtuosic shredding talent. Just a couple of hours before the legendary gig uniting Bodom, Machine Head and Slipknot at the Hammersmith Appollo, I got the opportunity to meet with Henkka ‘Blacksmith’ Seppälä , bassist for the band. So if you want to know what the guys have in store for next year and what they have been up to during their bus bashes, read on…
METAL DISCOVERY: How are you feeling tonight?
HENKKA SEPPÄLÄ: Feeling good.
(Henkka Seppälä describing the essence of his home country, Finland)
“We have 4 seasons, a lot of metal music, beautiful nature and people getting drunk.”
Henkka backstage at the Hammersmith Apollo, 2nd December 2008
Photograph copyright © 2008 Kristell Gathoye - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Kristell Gathoye
Official Children of Bodom Website:
Official Children of Bodom MySpace:
CHILDREN OF BODOM DISCOGRAPHY
Hate Crew Deathroll (2003)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Adam Sagir at The Noise Cartel for arranging the interview
Trashed, Lost & Strungout EP (2004)
Are You Dead Yet? (2005)
Something Wild (1997)
Tokyo Warhearts - Live in Japan (1999)
Follow The Reaper (2000)
MD: You look very tired.
HS: It’s just the usual backstage boredom.
MD: How did the signing session go yesterday?
HS: It was good and well organised.
MD: Tell me a bit more about 'Smile Pretty for the Devil'. What do you think of it?
HS: It was the first song we composed for the album. First, to me, it was a very traditional Bodom song but then when we recorded and edited it, it opened up and became one of my favourites. There is nothing too special about it. It’s quite simple and traditional and the ending is really cool.
MD: How has it been received by the fans?
HS: I have no idea!
MD: How is this tour going so far?
HS: There are a lot of people every night, it’s amazing. I didn’t know it was going to be so big. It’s been great to be able to play in front of such a big crowd.
MD: How is the atmosphere on tour when 3 bands of your calibre are travelling together?
HS: When we play those big venues, everybody is separated because the backstages are bigger. We don’t hang out as much with each other. It could be that you don’t even see the other bands one day so that’s a bit stupid. In a club venue, it’s different as you all share small rooms. But it’s been great. We have been hanging out with Machine Head’s guys a lot and they are pretty cool, and so are their crew. We have been hanging out with a couple of the Slipknot guys too. I have only met Corey and he is very nice.
MD: Back in February when I interviewed Alexi, he told me that interviews on tour made him cranky as he had to get up earlier. Is it the case for you too?
HS: Well, he sleeps very late. He could still be asleep now [ed. 5.30 pm]. He usually wakes up a couple of hours before the show, have a shower and starts warming up so that’s why there is not much time for him to give interviews before unless he gets up earlier and that makes him cranky. But it’s not a problem for me as I wake up earlier.
MD: How was your US tour?
HS: It was good. Better than ever I guess as we played bigger venues this time. We sold more tickets than ever over there. It’s a good sign I guess. We had strong support acts with us too. Both support bands were driving themselves so they had to leave straight away after the show and we couldn’t hang out which was a shame.
MD: Which band, dead or alive, would you choose to headline your own festival?
HS: Probably Pantera. I saw them in 94 in Helsinki. It was amazing.
MD: And who would you ask to clean the mucky toilets?
HS: I don’t like these old school power metal stuff. I would probably make those clean the toilets.
MD: What are your best and worse touring memories?
HS: It’s quite a big question. Well the biggest thing for me was when we opened for Slayer on the 2006 Unholy Alliance tour. That was my dream to play with them.
MD: Any bad memories?
HS: Well, of course, you sometimes end up in bad venues or when people get sick on tour. It’s pretty normal in a touring life but it’s always a big pain in the arse when it happens. The last headline tour, Jaska and I both had bronchitis. We were at the hospital in the morning and then played a 90min set in the evening.
MD: Any memorable bus parties or new games?
HS: On the last tour, in Ohio, we met some random girls and ended up at a students’ place. It was a house party and we went back to the bus really late around 4 am. Janne mixed us some huge jugs of White Russian and I blacked out. In the morning, our record label guy was taped to the sofa. He couldn’t move and he was sprayed all over with those green sticky serpentines. The whole carpet was also sprayed and our tour manager was very pissed he couldn’t even walk through the bus. There was so much crap on the floor. Then he came to me and asked me: “What the fuck did you do last night? Why did you destroy the bus?” So I said: “It wasn’t me, I was in bed”. Then, I got to see some footage of the night and I was definitely one of those who trashed the place but I couldn’t remember a thing.
MD: Reading your website and MySpace page, you seem to be very close to your fans. How important for you is it to keep posting what’s going on and what does it bring you?
HS: I think it’s quite important. Of course, if it was more important, I would do it more often but I really try to do it as much as I can remember. I also get a little pushed by the management sometimes but I do really enjoy it. I like being interactive with the fans. A lot of messages come everyday and once in a while I try to reply to a couple if there are some reasonable questions.
MD: So you don’t reply to the “I love you, can I have your number please?” messages?
HS: Yeah, I get quite a lot of people giving me their number and asking me to call.
MD: Would you ever want to start singing in your own language?
HS: No. Of course, we discussed it sometimes but we never really thought of changing it. It just somehow doesn’t feel natural. All the music we grew up with was always in English so it fits better. Finnish would sound a little bit awkward for us. We have covered some songs in Finnish so we know how it feels.
MD: You’ve been around for almost 15 years now. Do you think you are still in for another 20?
HS: [Laughs] Hard to believe! Ever since we started, we have been a bit scared to think too much ahead. Now, we know what we might do in the next year but not any further.
MD: And what would you do if it all stopped? You wanted to be a teacher didn’t you?
HS: I could be a teacher yeah. I would finish my studies first then I would try and get a teacher’s degree and see if I can actually do a 9-5 job.
MD: Do you remember how you felt when someone asked you to sign your first autograph?
HS: That was a very long time ago. I don’t remember but I probably felt very surprised and of course flattered but at the same time I wondered why someone would want an autograph from me. Of course, I have been asking people autographs but when people are asking me, I wonder what’s the value of it. Why is it so important that I put my signature on some piece of paper?
MD: Have you ever thought about starting a side project?
HS: There were some talks at some point with a very good band in Finland (Down My Throat). They were asking me if I could join but I realised that there would be no time because all my energy goes into this band. Everything that I have and everything I come up with, I can use it for this band so I have no need for another one.
MD: You seem to have covered 17 songs so far? What is your appeal in doing covers?
HS: I think that when we started doing them, it was because the record label was asking for them in order to create some bonus material on singles. But then, it became some kind of tradition. We came up with a couple of ideas and recorded them. It also lights up the atmosphere in the studio when you have a couple of different funny tracks to record. It makes a change once in a while.
MD: How do you choose?
HS: Everybody just bring some ideas and then we all have to agree and try them out because some just don’t work. Then, if we feel that we can do a proper cover for it, we record it.
MD: Any idea on the next one yet?
HS: No idea.
MD: Any plan for a compilation of all of them?
HS: Yeah actually the record label came up with the idea recently. Next year would be a good time to do it so I hope we can do it. We would probably record a couple more tracks for it too.
MD: Which Finnish band should we be looking out for in 2009?
HS: We are going out on tour with Diablo. They deserve a lot more attention than they have had so far. And one of my favourite bands is Down my Throat I mentioned earlier.
MD: Could you describe Finland, your home country, in one sentence?
HS: Backward! [Laughs] We have 4 seasons, a lot of metal music, beautiful nature and people getting drunk.
MD: Because it’s too cold!
HS: No, just for fun!
MD: Fair enough!
HS: People actually get more drunk in the summer time because they’re going out more. They celebrate the sun coming out.
MD: Why is the suicide rate so high over there?
HS: We are first with Japan I think. It’s probably partly due to the long dark winters and also some strange mentality of succeeding. If you fail a little bit, you feel isolated and depressed in Finland.
MD: What would be THE word to know in Finnish if I ever go and visit?
HS: Bisse. It means Beer.
MD: Thank you for your time!
HS: Thank you.