In the metal world, covers compilations have become more and more frequent in recent years, the most notable being Metallica's 1998 set "Garage Inc.". Groups often covered include the likes of Metallica, Slayer, and Iron Maiden, amongst others. However, not every group strictly abides by such unwritten rules. Although Children Of Bodom have covered songs by Slayer ("Silent Scream") and Iron Maiden ("Aces High"), others have included unexpected covers of numbers originally by Britney Spears ("Oops! I Did It Again") and Kenny Rogers ("Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In")). Such spontaneous choices reiterate the fact that music shouldn't always be taken too seriously, and that the reason behind listening to music is to just have fun.
Through Spinefarm Records, Children Of Bodom
covers compilation "Skeletons In The Closet
" sees issue on September 23rd. Amongst the covers, also included is the previously unreleased interpretation of Suicidal Tendencies
' "War Inside My Head
", recorded at Petrax studios in the summer of 2007 during recording sessions for sixth studio album "Blooddrunk
" (2008). Also, two covers were exclusively cut for the compilation during 2009's summer at Beyond Abilities studios. One was Pat Benatar
's "Hell Is For Children
", while the other was "Antisocial
", a Trust number notably covered by Anthrax
On September 18th at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island, Children Of Bodom began a month-long North American tour. Concluding on October 14th in Honolulu, Hawaii, supporting the group are The Black Dahlia Murder and Skeletonwitch. From September 8th to the 16th, Children Of Bodom had toured South America with support from Amorphis. Also, the group recently issued a seventy-nine song digital box set exclusively through iTunes.
On August 19th at roughly 14:50 GMT, vocalist / lead guitarist Alexi Laiho telephoned Hit The Lights' Robert Gray to discuss "Skeletons In The Closet", amongst other topics.
Alexi Laiho: This is Alexi from Children Of Bodom.
How are you Alexi?
Ok. Would it be alright if I began the interview?
First of all, why has Children Of Bodom opted to release covers compilation 'Skeletons In The Closet'?
We've recorded a shitload of covers within the last ten years, and a lot of people have approached us, asking "Where can I find this?" or "Where I can I find that?". It's hard to find some of our covers. Also, a lot of people just approached us, suggesting "Why don't you put all of your covers on the same CD?". Since we'll finish touring next November, and will be writing music, we wanted to release something. We thought "Why not do that whole covers album thing?".
So 'Skeletons In The Closet' is a nice way for fans of Children Of Bodom to own the group's cover tracks, as opposed to collecting the various special editions and so on?
"There's a lot of great songs out there to cover."
Yeah. We recorded two extra covers, which were recorded exclusively for 'Skeletons In The Closet'. They've never been released before.
One of those two exclusive cover tracks is "Antisocial", which was originally recorded by Trust. Why did Children Of Bodom opt to cover that specific song?
"Antisocial" is one of two covers we just recorded a couple of months ago. We knew that we had to record two songs, and also knew we would cover Pat Benatar's "Hell Is For Children". We were just figuring out what other song we would cover, and someone just said "Why don't we do something by Anthrax?". I know that "Antisocial" isn't an original by Anthrax, but we covered their cover. It's a cool, punk'ish sounding metal song, so we covered that, and it turned out to be pretty cool after all.
And also, Children Of Bodom covered Pat Benatar's "Hell Is For Children", as you said. How did that come about?
I've been a Pat Benatar fan for a long time, anyway. The first time I heard "Hell Is For Children", my initial reaction was "We're going to cover this one day". For me, it just sounded like a song which would sound pretty fucking great as a metal song.
During these summer 2009 recording sessions at Beyond Abilities studios, were any other covers recorded?
No, just those two.
Ok. And also, 'Skeletons In The Closet' features Children Of Bodom's rendition of Suicidal Tendencies "War Inside My Head" from the fall 2007 'Blooddrunk' recording sessions at Petrax studios.
Yeah. We covered Creedence Clearwater Revival ("Lookin' Out My Back Door", Kenny Rogers ("Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)"), and Suicidal Tendencies. Those three we covered during the 'Blooddrunk' sessions, yeah.
Children Of Bodom's rendition of Suicidal Tendencies "War Inside My Head" was previously unreleased, so could you touch upon that specific cover?
Covering "War Inside My Head" was somewhat like the Anthrax thing, in that we just had to record something. We then figured "Let's possibly cover Suicidal Tendencies", and just tried the song out. "War Inside My Head" is a pretty simple song, but is a good song as well. I thought that our version turned out pretty good.
Obviously, Children Of Bodom mostly covers songs to release as Japanese bonus tracks, B-sides and everything. When the group is obligated to record a cover, how does the group approach selecting one?
Well, it depends. There's a lot of great songs out there to cover, and sometimes, we just want to cover something really crazy, or sometimes something a little more serious. At least half the covers on 'Skeletons In The Closet' are original; we can just pick anything from Britney Spears, to Slayer. We really have no limits, and that's a cool thing I think.
When Children Of Bodom covered Britney Spears' "Oops! I Did It Again", what was the response to that?
People got really pissed off, which was very funny. Obviously, a lot of people understood the joke, but some people were so serious about it. They were just so pissed off, and I thought it was really funny.
When Children Of Bodom covers a Britney Spears track for example, is that the group's way of stressing that people should chill and just have a good time?
Yeah, exactly. It's just for laughs, you know? You're not supposed to take this shit too seriously. It isn't as though we've made a mockery of metal, but I'm just still saying that you can be about fun too.
In April 2009, you broke your shoulder. How is your shoulder now?
My shoulder is good - it's healed and everything. I'm back in shape.
Over the past several years, you've suffered a few injuries. You've been a bit unfortunate in that respect.
Yeah. Sometimes accidents occur, and sometimes it's my own fault, and sometimes it's not. When I broke my shoulder and I broke my rib, I just fell out of my bunk on a tour bus. Shit happens. What can you do, right?
Yeah, that's true. So your shoulder isn't prone to future injury, or anything of that nature?
"We recorded two extra covers, which were recorded exclusively for 'Skeletons In The Closet'."
No. There's no permanent damage, or anything. We've already performed at a bunch of festivals during the summer, and I can totally move around onstage. It's all healed up.
That's good to hear. Children Of Bodom will tour North America in September.
Yeah. We'll tour South America first, and then we'll tour the US and Canada.
What can Children Of Bodom fans in those respective countries expect?
Just a fucking kick-ass, aggressive heavy metal show. It'll be rock 'n' roll. The main point is that everyone will have fun, and that's it. We've toured the United States quite a lot, so we'll try to change the set list a little bit. We haven't played in South America since 2004 though, so we'll see.
In light of the fact that 'Skeletons In The Closet' will be issued in September, will Children Of Bodom's set list include cover versions to promote that release?
I don't know. Maybe. We haven't really decided yet, but probably at one point, yeah.
Are there any specific cover tracks you'd like to perform live?
I don't know. I've never really thought about it. I think it'd be really cool to perform the Pat Benatar song, but then again, I don't think many people know that song. I just want to see the reaction from people, and which song they'd prefer. I don't know.. just got to wait and see.
As you said, Children Of Bodom hasn't toured South America since 2004. When touring there, will the group's set list be more of a hits type affair?
Yeah. Obviously, we'll play new songs too from the last two albums (2005's 'Are You Dead Yet?' and 2008's 'Blooddrunk'). We haven't played those songs in South America, so it'll be something new for them.
'Blooddrunk' has been available to purchase since April 2008, so what are your feelings towards that album now that it's been awhile since its tracks were written and recorded?
I'm still happy with 'Blooddrunk'. There's always little things here and there I could change, maybe just the way something was played, or certain sounds. In general though, I'm still happy with the album. I'm not complaining.
Are there any plans to record new, original material?
We'll start writing songs in January possibly, or something, and we'll hit the studio next May, I think.
So nothing has been written, such as pieces of lyrics, or some riffs?
I have a bunch of ideas and riffs, and shit like that in my head. I don't want to even try to start writing material yet though. I just want to complete touring first, and then I can just really concentrate on writing.
Children Of Bodom's back catalogue was released digitally as a box set through iTunes. What are your feelings towards the digital market?
It's inevitable. I would prefer it if people bought CDs, but that whole mp3 thing is just becoming bigger and bigger. You can't fight that shit, so you have to learn to live with it. I still buy every goddamn album that I listen to from the store. I don't download anything, but that's just me.
As you tour a lot, do you carry around an iPod for convenience?
Yeah. That's a good thing, definitely. I buy the CD, and then I put it on the computer, and then I put that on the iPod. An iPod is something you just have to have when you're on tour.
With Children Of Bodom's next studio album, where do you feel the group might go? Will it be heavier? More melodic? Or.. ?
It's a little early to say, I think. I just have to put the ideas and riffs on the table, pick up a guitar, and see how things turn out. I don't really like to plan things that much. I don't know yet. We'll just have to wait, and see.
Ok. So you prefer entering a rehearsal space, and just seeing what happens so to speak?
Yeah. I just write a bunch of parts at home, and then we enter a rehearsal space, and just jam on the riffs. That's the way we do it.
In general, a given Children Of Bodom album spans eight to nine tracks. For the group's next album however, do you hope to record more tracks?
I don't know. Maybe. Our next album will probably have around nine to ten tracks, or whatever.
Do you prefer albums spanning eight to nine tracks then? Some groups write fourteen to fifteen tracks for an album, but unfortunately, some of those tracks are usually a bit rubbish.
"We really have no limits, and that's a cool thing I think."
That's what we're trying to avoid. We could cough up fifteen songs like that, but I don't see why we would want to put shit on an album which obviously isn't as strong as the other material. As opposed to that, we just try to write nine to ten really good tracks, and just concentrate on them, and try to make them better and better. That's just the way we roll.
So the process is more about quality control?
Yeah, exactly. I don't want anybody to think "Jesus Christ, this is a long album. When is it going to end?". I want people to think "Ok, I want to hear that again".
Like 'Reign In Blood', which just hits the listener, and ends.
That's a good example, yeah.
Of Children Of Bodom's albums, do you have a favourite?
It's between 'Blooddrunk', and 'Hate Crew Deathroll' (2003). I don't know which one, but either one of those.
Apart from touring, and possibly recording a new studio album in May 2010, is anything else in the pipeline for Children Of Bodom?
No. We're pretty much at the end of the touring cycle, as we've been on the road for over two years now. We'll be out rolling until November, and then the touring's done. That then just gives us time to concentrate on writing.
For the fans of Children Of Bodom, do you have a message?
Yeah. Thank you to everyone for your support. Without the fans, this band would never exist. Thank you for that, and hopefully, I'll see you guys on the road.
If fans of Children Of Bodom are wondering what to expect from the group's next studio album, what would you say to them?
I don't even know what to expect from our next album, so it's kind of hard to say (laughs). We'll have to wait and see, but I know it'll be heavy shit, that's for sure.
Alright. Thanks for the interview Alexi.
Ok. No problem, man.
All the best.
Ok. You too. Bye.
Interview by Robert Gray
Ultimate-Guitar.Com © 2009