|CHILDREN OF BODOM: Not all is sex, drugs and rock'n'roll|
|Skriven av Bella Qvist|
|Skapad 2011-03-09 16:33|
It is a particularly cold day in February when Janne Wirman of CHILDREN OF BODOM calls Bella Qvist of CriticalMass.se to talk about the band’s seventh studio album "Relentless Reckless Forever". It soon turns into a conversation about saunas, sexuality and snow.
I’m staring out of a frosty window when the sound of Dr Dre fills the air. Killing the noise by picking up my phone I soon find myself engrossed in conversation with CHILDREN OF BODOM keyboardist Janne. During the half an hour that we speak he tells me about the importance of sauna bathing during the making of the new album as well as his hatred for Facebook, his disappointment in Britney Spears and why his band would beat IN FLAMES in Finnkampen. All of this before responding to gay rumours and sending his fans a special message.
Janne is in work mode when he rings up, cheerful and professional. This is not the first phone interview he is doing this week.
The seventh studio album "Relentless Reckless Forever" released a week ago today marks a first for the band formed eighteen years ago; the group has for the first time ever worked with an outside producer on an album. American producer Matt Hyde helped COB created what Janne describes as their best album to date.
– It differs from a couple of the previous [albums] in the way that we brought back some of the melodic elements we had on our previous ones. There are more melodies yet it’s pretty aggressive and thrashy like the previous couple of albums.
Recording in the deep dark woods of Finland you had a bit of a face off with Mother Nature?
Oh my God! What did you do?
The mood swiftly takes a serious turn when the topic is changed for the importance of sauna bathing during the production.
– Well, especially at this studio, they have a great sauna and there’s another one by the lake and when we were recording in the summer time so it was great. [Our] American producer hadn’t been in a Finnish wood burning sauna before and he absolutely loved it. Every morning he woke up, heated up the sauna and had a sauna and he would work in the studio the full studio day and then in the end of the night he would heat up the sauna again. Actually this time there was a lot of sauna action during sessions.
Maybe sauna bathing was an important ingredient to the album.
The band has always created what can be classed as party music for metalheads and the choice of first single from the album written by frontman Alexi Laiho was no coincidence.
– I have always felt that COB’s music has been good for drinking. […]“Was It Worth It?” was chosen single because it has a very catchy chorus, you know, but it doesn’t represent the whole album much, Janne says before admitting that his two favourite songs are “Not My Funeral” and “Shovel Knockout”, together creating a powerful start to the album.
Holding true to COB tradition, sampled film quotes appear in between songs. This time not only movies are honoured in this way, the voice of sitcom star Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) is also featured.
– Actually we do watch it a lot on the tour bus, I guess we are fans of "The House".
“We played the grand piano in candlelight and sang Britney Spears to ourselves”
CHILDREN OF BODOM have their own way of dealing with Mother Nature
Before joining the band Janne completed classical music theory but he would never call himself the brain of the band.
– Musically Alexi is the brains of the band because he writes all of the music. He also has all of the basic music theory training, which makes it really easy for me to communicate with him. I mean everybody in the band has basic music theory and otherwise I would get really frustrated if we couldn’t talk about the music in the correct terms. But no, Alexi is definitely the musical brains because he writes all the music.
What is your role in the band?
How do you prepare for live shows, before you go on stage?
You are known to be quite the party hard band. Do you think that comes from being in a band or were you guys always heavy drinkers?
How does a Children of Bodom party go down?
Yeah, let’s go for an after show party.
The band are infamous for their Hate Crew rituals where a person is made to stand on their head whilst a band member pours alcohol into their mouth. If the liquid comes out of the nose of the person, they are initiated into the CHILDREN OF BODOM Hate Crew. The most recent member is Randy Blythe of LAMB OF GOD, or at least so Janne thinks.
– I can’t remember if anyone after him has [made it] so he might be the most recent. Then again, I might not always be present at these rituals so I don’t know, he laughs.
The band has been off for some time doing interviews back in Finland and so there have been no parties for a few months, the end of tour party in San Fransisco in November of last year being their most recent get-together. And whilst Janne sadly says he can’t remember any episodes from that or another party I get the feeling he might be sticking to the usual code of what happens on tour stays on tour.
CHILDREN OF BODOM used to have what Janne calls a ridiculous alcohol rider but now he says they only ask for what is needed for the tour bus and dressing rooms.
– You know, maybe just little snacks, some food and drinks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
Surprising maybe for the keyboardist who used to be known for downing a bottle of Bacardi during one concert alone.
– I don’t drink Bacardi anymore, I’ve been trying to stick with vodka nowadays, he says.
Is COB all about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll?
– No, to be honest, no. It might have been something like that ten years ago but, like I said, all of us have grown up a little bit in the last couple of years and trying to keep things in moderation. We still party and we still have fun but we try to do things not too stupid all the time.
What’s the best thing about being a rock star?
– I guess the best thing, seriously, is that you get to do what you love to do. You get to tour around the world with your friends and you know, all that stuff, and then when you go home you don’t have to go to Mc Donalds and flip burgers. The best part is that you get to do what you love to do and you get a living out of it.
What is the most fake thing in the industry?
“I wouldn’t live here if I had a choice”
– Janne would swop Finland for California any given winter
We have endured a hard winter in Sweden and during this time of the year a lot of people feel down. Does the cold and dark affect a rock star?
– Yeah, I’m not much of a winter person myself anymore. I absolutely hate it, I hate the snow and the coldness and if I was rock star enough I wouldn’t live here during the winters, I would simply live here in the summers, it’s too fucking cold. I have a house and I have this driveway and [there was] so much snow this year, you have to like twice a day shovel the snow to be able to drive and get out of your house, he says.
Tell me about it, my shoulders are hurting!
Where would you go?
What’s your best cure against the darkness?
We change the subject for something that also can stir up a lot of emotion in Swedish as well as Finnish hearts – but that is a lot warmer. Each summer the Finnish-Swedish athletics competition Finnkampen (The Finn battle) or Suomi-Ruotsi-maaottelu (Finnish-Swedish international) sees the two neighbouring countries turn into worst enemies. After I’ve tried to pronounce the event name in Finnish, Janne corrects me and in a serious voice declares he knows what I am talking about.
If Finnkampen was a competition for metal music, who would you see as your number one competition in Sweden?
And what would CHILDREN OF BODOM be better at? Drinking jäger shots, shredding the guitars, thrashing hotel rooms or picking up groupies?
– Most of those events. Shredding the guitars and drinking the jägers, well COB might be a bit better at the shredding, but I’m sure there are plenty of events where IN FLAMES would beat our asses. Like Texas Hold ‘Em, I know they play a lot of poker and they would definitely win over us in that.
CHILDREN OF BODOM are not only known for their metal music. In 2009 they famously did a cover of BRITNEY SPEARS’ “Oops, I did it again”, according to Janne “because it was fun.” Her new single, however, will not be a future project of theirs.
– No, I though the new song was kind of boring.
“A lot of people go on Facebook and they think that they are interacting with me and it’s so fucked up”
Facebook search Janne Wirman and you will find page upon page of profile posing as the famous Fin. One very realistic looking one claims to be a fan of Hanna Montana.
– I try to remove them. There are so many fake profiles of mine and my real profile is definitely not a fan of Hanna Montana, that much I can tell you, he says and it is clear he is pissed off at the very thought of these impostors. I mean the whole fucking Facebook, I mean, sometimes I remove sixteen Janne Wirman from it and then next month there’s ten more and they all pretend to be me. They fucking have some old school friends of mine as their friends and it fucking annoys the fuck out of me and you know, what can you do? But whoever is a fan of Hanna Montana, it’s not me.
Good, I’m happy to hear this. So, what do you listen to?
On the same Facebook profile, one that a lot of people believe belongs to the keyboardist of CHILDREN OF BODOM, it also says he is interested in both women and men. The real Janne laughs out loud at this fact.
– Oh Jesus! Yeah I’m interested in all kinds of people but that it’s funny that you say this because this just proves my point. A lot of people go on Facebook and they think that they are interacting with me and it’s so fucked up. I mean think about people having discussions and chatting and sending messages back and forwards and they think they are actually talking to me and it’s fucking so retarded.
He is not the first person to complain about fake profiles and personal information online, people encounter these very frustrating problems all the time, regardless of them being they famous or not. And with such very personal matters as sexuality, things easily get misunderstood. When I go in to ask whether it is hard for people to come out as gay in the metal scene, Janne is not interested in discussing the matter. Instead he makes sure to clear any rumours possibly started by him and Alexi messing around in interviews and videos online.
– To be honest I am fully straight, I am not... it’s a joke. I’ve joked about it a lot with Alexi, it is a joke but I’m fully straight.
With that settled we start discussing the future. Now that the album is out Janne hopes the band can start touring Europe with a full headline tour before going to Japan and probably Canada. In the summer he wants to do some festivals but the key thing is to tour Europe. Sounds pretty good.
Looking further into future, where is CHILDREN OF BODOM in ten years?
And if CHILDREN OF BODOM continue this way, playing brilliant metal party music whilst turning down their own partying a notch, then this is looking more than likely.
Before hanging up to continue with his next interview, Janne has a final message for his fans:
– We are really, really pleased with the album and we hope you check it out and come to the shows. Right after the release we are going to tour Europe so check out the album and come to the shows.
As I put the phone down the winter outside my window somehow doesn’t seem that dark anymore.