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“We are happy that we can still make the music as we want to and nobody is giving us orders. We just make the music as we’ve always done, 15 years ago.”
Roughly a month before the release of “Halo Of Blood”, Metalpaths had the chance to chat with bassist Henkka Blacksmith from Children Of Bodom. New album, new label, touring, Metallica, covers, photo books and applications, everything is in here just a few days before the release of their brand new and very promising record…by Stella Papaspyropoulou
You can also listen to the audio format of the interview here.
Hello Henkka! How have you been?
I’ve been good. I came today at the Nuclear Blast office to do some interviews and a few weeks ago we did a music video and a couple of months ago we finished our album…
Nice! So, you are about to release your 8th album now. Can you tell me a few words about it? How would you say it compares to your previous albums?
Well, everything was done in the same way as always, so in a way it doesn’t differ at all. But it really does, because being part of the songs for half a year and growing with the songs, really get to know them so well that you don’t really know how they actually sound like outside. But I remember there were a couple of times when I was really surprised; there’s one very sad song and then a very slow song, like slower than anything we’ve ever done before. Those are the surprising ones, they are my favorite ones.
It will be interesting to hear a slow song from you!
Yeah! We’ve always had one slow song, but this is even slower. I really like it!
If I’m not mistaken, Jaska has described the new material as dark and a little blackish. Would you agree with that?
Yeah, many of the songs have a really dark and black metal vibe going on. I agree, but it’s not all the songs like that, just some of them.
I found very funny what he said, because it was something like you were waiting Alexi to turn up in corpsepaint.
Yeah (laughs). Some of the songs, like the title-track “Halo Of Blood”, are quite fast. It sounds like old Norwegian black metal a little bit. And then we were just laughing at the idea that Alexi would come with corpsepaint. But he didn’t.
I had the chance to listen only a few riffs in the trailer you released on YouTube, but from the little I heard I think it goes back a bit to “Hatebreeder”.
I’ve heard from a couple of people the same. I don’t know…
We’ll have to wait and listen to the whole thing.
Yeah, yeah. I heard that many people like the “Hatebreeder” album, so that’s a good thing!
I read that in “Halo Of Blood” will be featuring a guest appearance of Jeff Waters. Can you tell me a bit about this?
Yeah. He did one solo for the album. I think Alexi played in one of his records earlier so then they were just joking that he has to play at one point for ours as well. And this time he did it! He played a solo for one track. I haven’t heard it though.
Another thing now. For many years you were with Spinefarm Records and last June you sighed with Nuclear Blast, which is one of the biggest metal labels. How is that going for you?
It’s going really well so far! Our early, first three albums were licensed through Nuclear Blast, so we’ve been working with these guys before and this is actually how everything started. That’s how we got into Europe and so on. We know these guys and now that our record deal with Universal is over, we just checked our options and we found out that Nuclear Blast is the best for us. The new album isn’t even out, but we’re very happy with the guys, so we’re looking forward to get this thing going.
Cool! I would like you to tell me a few things about the artwork, really. The truth is that I was waiting a long time for a white cover.
I’ve been waiting for the white one too and finally we managed to have one. We went back to Sami Saramäki who has done our “Follow The Reaper”, “Hate Crew Deathroll” and “Are you Dead Yet?” covers. He made the cover just like we wanted and we are really happy and we’re happy that people like it, too.
Yeah, it’s really nice! I like that it looks like it’s snowy, like a lake actually…
Yeah! Lake Bodom in the wintertime.
Last year you had your 15th anniversary and you did a tour. I would like to ask you, looking back at your career, what do you think stands out more?
I don’t know…I mean there’s the tour with Slayer; that’s one of the biggest dreams of every heavy metal musician I guess. We did a couple of times a headline in Open Air, which was amazing. These are the things that stand out from the rest of the stuff. But to be able to do it for so long, it’s quite amazing, and with almost the same line-up.
That was my next question actually, cause you’ve been in Children Of Bodom from the start. How do you feel the band and you life have changed in all this time?
Well, all my life has been this. I was 14 when I joined the band, so it is quite much. It has affected my life a lot. I can’t even imagine how my life would be without the band, I’ve been growing with the band all this time. But how the band has changed…I don’t know…Maybe everything is just more organized I would say, now that there’s a big label and a lot of business behind. We are happy that we can still make the music as we want to and nobody is giving us orders on how to make the music. We just make the music as we’ve always done, 15 years ago. Maybe the only difference is that we have more schedules.
Last year you also participated for the first time in 70000 Tons Of Metal. Can you tell me your impressions of that cruise?
I think it was fun! It’s 4 days, 20 bands or maybe more, 3 or 4 stages and everybody plays twice on different stages. And there were a lot of bands from Finland, so there were many friends there. I like the fun and the Caribbean weather, so I was just hanging out there, went to see other bands, hang out with friends. I had a lot of fun!
Would you do it again?
I would do it again, yeah.
As far as touring is concerned, these recent years you are going through a very good period in your career. You’ve been to many places and you’ve participated in huge summer festivals, but what do you prefer? The festivals or smaller clubs?
Both of them are good sights, of course, but still I would go for small shows, because I just love the intense feeling, the atmosphere, people are closer to you and you can see their faces; it’s more interactional with the fans I would say. I would choose small ones, but then festivals are cool, there’s lot of people, and you usually meet a lot of other bands, too.
If you had the chance to play with any band, which band would you choose?
Let’s jump to another issue now. Last summer you released a photo book, which was a real candy for your fans. How did you come up with this idea?
We had a photographer with us for some time and then we just talked with him and said that we should make a photo book one day. And then he kept coming on our tours for a couple of years. I think photo books are always cool. Of course it had to be done in a nice way and last year we finally made it in a real book and now it’s still out for sale. Everybody who doesn’t have it can check from hatecrew.com.
And about the “Mobile Backstage”? How did you organize that?
Our management approached us with this application that’s kind like a fan set community and we decided to go for it! It’s quite easy to handle. I think it’s fun. Sometimes, when we are not on tour, it’s tricky to update. But always when on tour, with stuff to talk about, it’s easier to update. And lately, I’ve been putting these interviews in there, which are really popular I guess.
Do you believe that this is the future of interacting with the fans? Instead of the old message boards and the newsletter?
I don’t know if it’s the future, but it’s definitely part of the future. Now Mobile Backstage is quite easy because there are so many people. It’s easier to interact. In a way it is a message board, it’s just in application form. I like these things.
If I remember correctly, you are in charge of updating the Mobile Backstage?
I’m not in charge but I’ve been helping.
So, a little bit about the covers. You do crazy covers! One of my personal favorites is the “Credence Clearwater Revival”.
That’s my favorite!
How do you choose them?
It’s hard to choose them. Everybody just brings some ideas here and there and we try to figure out what’s the least difficult to do or the impossible to do. It is difficult. We never have enough ideas.
Have you ever considered doing a cover that the fans maybe proposed?
We actually did this for the Japanese Burn magazine. The readers of the magazine get to vote which track we should do for the Japanese edition. And then we did it!
Which one was it?
It’s the Loudness song “Crazy Nights”
If I’m not mistaken, you study Political Science at the University of Helsinki?
Yeah, Political History. I graduated last summer!
Thank you! Thank you!
Was it difficult for you to combine the band and the studies?
Not really. Well, of course it took more time for me to graduate, than the other people. But it wasn’t a problem, it was more like a hobby anyway, a change from the touring life.
Well, now that you are about to release “Halo Of Blood”, I guess that a tour is in order? What are your next plans?
Our next plans are to do a lot of interviews this week. Then we go to some festivals in June and in the States to do the Mayhem Fest tour. Then we come back to Europe and we’re gonna do a full headlining European tour in October-November.
Will we have the chance to see you in Greece?
I think there is a show in Athens. Maybe there might be a second show, but I’m not really sure.
I’ve been in the one you did in 2011 and it was crazy!
Yeah I remember! It was really crazy! I hope it’s gonna be the same.
I hope, too! Well, thank you for your time. Do you have anything to say to your fans in Greece and the readers of Metalpaths?
Like you said, the show was crazy last time, so I’m really looking forward to come to your country again. We’ve been there 4 times and it’s always been crazy. No matter the financial crisis, we are coming anyway!