Don’t Think There Were Any Struggles – Interview with Henkka Seppälä of Children Of Bodom

by Ellen Gager / Schwegweb.com

Hailing from Espoo, Finland, the world-famous Children of Bodom are making their way around the U.S. as one of the openers for Slayer’s Unholy Alliance Tour. I recently had an opportunity to chat with bassist Henkka Seppälä about their music, touring experiences and upcoming shows.

WRITER’S NOTE: This interview was conducted live and has been edited for content and length.

Schwegweb: Comparatively speaking, you guys are a pretty young band. You’re already so well-known and you influence so many other bands, what do think makes you that way?
Henkka: “Maybe it’s the style of music that we started playing when we did the first album, and then we’ve been like, developing our own style all the time. Especially here in America, it’s something a little fresh…I guess it’s in Europe, too. It’s just the combination of screaming vocals and guitar leads and synthesizers.”

Have you guys ever had any struggles because of your age, or does your music just prove itself?
“I don’t think there were any struggles. I haven’t heard about them, like maybe some people are prejudiced because we’re so young. I dunno, I haven’t heard of such things.”

Just out of curiosity, how many languages do you speak?

“Depends how fluent I have to be. (Laughs)”

Obviously you speak English very well.

“English, yah, and then Swedish a little, Finnish of course, French a little. Then I can manage doing shopping or whatever in Portuguese and Spanish.”

That’s pretty impressive. Have you picked that up through your tours?
“No, actually, Spanish and Portuguese I did at the University, and French, I was in a French school when I was a kid. And Swedish is another official language in Finland. English is just from TV and school.”

I know that you’re a big soccer fan, now that Finland is out of the World Cup finals, who are you rooting for?
“Well, I was the first day Argentina, but now they’re also out, so there’s only two left, so I would pick Italy.”

Who’s your favorite player?
“(Ronaldinho?) from Brazil.”

You guys have played all around the world. Where was your favorite place to have played, whether it was just the area, the people, or the vibe you got?
“I don’t know. There’s so many good things in different parts, different things, so…I mean Japan is good to play because people are quite loud and the organization’s always perfect. But then again, for example, in southern Europe, people go totally crazy and they go totally nuts, but then again with the organization, they’re not so good, so, it depends.”

How do you feel about the reception you got tonight?
“It was good. I mean, there were not so many people who probably knew us, but it was good. We got people a little into it and we just tried to show what we are about, and I think we did it.”

I have interviewed several bands who list you as a major influence.
“That’s good to hear, of course. That’s one of the biggest compliments you can get as a band, to be somebody’s influence. I’ve heard many times that we are influencing many young bands, so it’s an honor.”

What kind of fans are you getting on this tour—you guys seem to have a lot of young fans, and then you’ve got the Slayer fans on the opposite end of the spectrum—has it been a mixture through the tour?
“The die-hard fans of ours, they’re pretty young, but it’s funny to see how…for example today, there were some 30s, 40s Slayer fans in the front row and they were totally like into it.”

Do you think you’re picking up more fans along this tour who maybe weren’t familiar with you, just seeing your show?
“I don’t know, that’s what we’re trying, we’re trying to show who we are, and hopefully people like it. I don’t know how it works.”

When you do a tour with a legend like Slayer, how does that come about—did they contact you, did you contact them?
“When we heard about the Slayer tour, I think the management did the whole thing, so I don’t know where the initial thing came from. It could be a little from both sides. They were a little interested and then we were interested, and then we tried to find out the way how it should work.”

You guys have been on this tour for a little while now, but is it still cool to go out there every night and know that you’re playing for Slayer?
“It is, it is.”

I had read that you are happy with the other bands that you’re playing with, is everything still going really well? Do you all hang out together in your off-times?
“Yah we do. Everybody’s really cool.”

It’s very impressive that you have made it this far on an independent label, have you ever thought about going with a major label or are you just very happy with what you’re doing right now?
“I mean yah, we have an independent label, but then two years ago, Spine Farm records was bought by Universal, so the last album was actually Universal., and went worldwide.”

Are they still supportive of everything you guys do?
“So far, yah. Just ‘cuz it’s a huge organization in different areas, with different people, so it’s a little difficult. But I think now it’s starting to work better all the time.”

When you’re songwriting, is there a particular person who writes the majority of the songs, or do you all collaborate together on them?
“Alexi has the most riffs that he comes up with, and then together we use them and jam them and put them together. So it’s kind of like one person, but then again the whole band who does the whole thing, so it’s a pretty good way how we do it.”

This year will be your first stint at Wacken and you’re doing the Fan Camp thing.
“Actually that came from the fans, but yah, we’re supporting it.”

Are you guys excited about that?
“I think it’s cool. I don’t know if we’ll make it to the camp, if there’s time, but it think it’s really cool to have this kind of thing. That the fans are kind of like cooperating and doing this. It’s really cool.”

Wacken is such a huge European festival, that we don’t even have the equivalent of it in the states, is that a pretty big honor to be tapped for something like that?
“Yah, of course it is. I think it’s the biggest in Europe, too. It’s amazing. It’s always good to play there and we have a good slot, prime time, big stage, so we’re really excited. A little scared, too, but it should be good.”

When you come to shows, do you like interacting with the fans or do you prefer to be shyer?
“Depends on the mood. Of course some days you need your privacy, but I’m a person that I like to interact with the fans. It’s kind of cool to see what kind of people they are and just to talk with them like normal people, I think it’s really cool.”

Do you get different reactions around the world, or does everybody just rock out?
“It’s a little different, I mean it depends on the culture. For example, the Japanese are very polite, they don’t disturb you, they’re very, very, very polite. And then for example, South American people go totally crazy. They try to rip everything, all the clothes from you, which is cool too, but sometimes a little scary. It depends.”

Are You Dead yet was released not that long ago, are you working on anything new right now?
“No, we’re just touring right now. We never write songs when we’re on tour. So, we’re gonna finish this tour, we should be done by Christmas.”

Is there a new album set in stone, or are you still just throwing around the idea?
“I think we should do the studio thing like in the beginning of summer, so it should be out then by fall next year.”

And it will be everything new?
“Yah.”

Is there anything you’d like to pass along to your American fans?
“Yah, I mean we’ve been here so much lately and it’s amazing to see how people still going crazy, even though I would feel that people would get bored because we’ve been around so many times. But it’s all been pretty good and we’ve been so happy with the reaction that we’ve got from the Slayer tour. We were a little afraid that the Slayer fans were quite narrow-minded. I don’t know, but that’s what I heard, that it’s hard to open up for Slayer. But it’s been going good so I want to thank everybody who’s been here and supporting.”

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