CHILDREN OF BODOM’s Alexi Laiho Talks Worship Chaos Tour, Unlikely Guitar Teacher - “Anything You Can Learn Acoustically From FLEETWOOD MAC The Girls Love”
April 25, 2016, 4 years ago
Following in the Scandinavian steps as Sweden’s Yngwie Malmsteen, it’s rare to have a guitar hero hail from Finland, and Children Of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho has fit the role quite admirably, given his extreme picking style which has found him on the covers of such prestigious finger institutions as Guitar World, Young Guitar and Total Guitar among others. And by the way, he sings too, which sees him in the shadows of the mighty Dave Mustaine, ironically the band Children Of Bodom recently opened for across the US. Gearing up for more dates on the I Worship Chaos World Tour, Laiho sat down to discuss the band’s maniacal upswing, dealing with aging and an unlikely guitar teacher!
BraveWords: Your career has gone through the roof... it's been quite a ride.
Alexi: "It has. It's been... long. Very eventful. I feel like we have a lot to do, and so much more to accomplish.”
BraveWords: Tell me about it.
Alexi: "Well, I try not to look into the future too much. Making the tenth studio album would be fucking amazing. It's crazy to think we have been touring for almost 20 years now. I don't really have time to reflect on the things we have accomplished, but when I do, it's like, dude, I'm almost forty years old, playing death metal, and there are still young kids in the crowd. There are people in the audience that weren't even born when the first album came out. That, to me, is insane to think about. It's amazing. It's shit like that you have to stop and think about once in awhile and not take for granted.”
BraveWords: It's pretty incredible you've maintained such a solid lineup through the years. So, what's the key to getting along as a band?
Alexi: "First, you really have to respect one another. The key word is communication. Even if the tiniest thing bothers you, you have to get out there. That tiny thing blows up like a fucking balloon, and nothing good comes out of it. It sometimes sucks to have those conversations, but it's crucial that you do. Some bands say it's almost like a marriage, and I can agree with that. A band like ours, we live together a lot of the time. When you live with someone, there is always going to be stuff that bothers each other. So, communication is key.”
BraveWords: You are so revered as a guitar player these days, talk to me about where that has taken you. What is your routine of practicing and creating riffs. You are an extreme visionary.
Alexi: "I mean, I still practice... I'm still that kid with a guitar who has that fire for learning new shit. I think I still have so much to learn. Lately, I have been playing stuff that has nothing to do with metal.”
BraveWords: Who is your teacher then?
Alexi: "Lately, it has been Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac. It's a funny thing, but for such a long time I have been wanting to master finger picking like he does. Everything he does sounds so orchestrated - like it's done by two guitars. When I started learning I felt like a kid again. It was a great feeling that there was still something out there to learn.”
BraveWords: So, what was it in particular that Lindsey had to teach you? Any particular songs?
Alexi: "Pretty much anything he has done, though I started with ‘Landslide”… the slower, simple ones. Basically anything off of the Best Of album. Anything you can learn acoustically from Fleetwood Mac the girls love... so there is a plus side to that too (laughs).”
BraveWords: Following your summer dates, will you back in the studio in the fall?
Alexi: "Not this year, probably not. We have shit lined up til the end of the year. If we get an awesome offer to open for someone in 2017 then we will do that. If not, I will likely start writing early next year and then hit the studio in April. This is all just speculation, so nothing set in stone.”
BraveWords: Do you write much on the road?
Alexi: "No, not really. Over the last couple of years I have been writing lyrics on the road, which was a huge step for me. Nowadays, I don't really drink on the road, as I can't take the hangovers anymore. I'm so over that. When I was twenty I could take anything. These days, everything hurts. I just want to lie on the couch and eat chips while watching Seinfeld.”
BraveWords: That should be the headline quote: 'Everyday Everything Hurts!' (laugh)
Alexi: "It's important to realize that when you are getting older you can't act like you were when you were young. I make limitations for myself. As an example, this cruise, it's gonna be totally painful to be drinking every night, so I will only get drunk on the last night. I will feel good about myself and I will feel good onstage. I've been rolling this way for about three years now. I don't feel weird out there now. I was always the biggest party guy, but now I'm not craving it any longer.”
BraveWords: Good for you.
Alexi: "Yeah, as long as you tell yourself it's ok to have a couple of beers, and at the same time show that I don't have a weakness for it.”
BraveWords: Speaking of the hard-driving lifestyle, what do you think of all these deaths lately?
Alexi: "Lemmy shouldn't have been a shocker, but it was.”
BraveWords: Yeah, most of us were surprised it didn't happen years ago!
Alexi: "Yeah, that's the thing. Given his lifestyle it's not a surprise, but it's still Lemmy. As mentioned earlier, you can't be in such denial that you can continue to roll like you did in your early years. Especially nowadays, it's important to stay healthy with all these tours. You never know, anyone can die at any moment. Lemmy died. None of us our invincible.”
Catch Children Of Bodom on the road here.
(Top Alexi photo by Joe Kleon; live photo by Mark Gromen)