Intervju med Janne Wirman i Children of Bodom!
Nyligen ringde jag upp Janne Wirman för att snacka om bl a nya plattan "Relentless reckless forever", hans jazzstudier, Eddie Murphy, resandet, deluxeutgåvor och senaste videon.
Janne: How are you doing?
I´m good! How are you?
Janne: Pretty good!
Are you in Finland? Is it cold?
Janne: Yeah, but it´s not that cold. It´s just a fuck load of snow.
Same as here then. If we dive right into it and I guess you´ve answered this question a million times but I´m wondering about the name Children of Bodom and if you´ve ever gotten any reactions from the relatives of the victims in that incident?
Janne: No, fortunately I don´t think we´ve ever gotten any shit from anyone related to that. I don´t think so.
Is that a big case in Finland?
Janne: Yeah, sure. I mean, it is the biggest unsolved murder mystery in Finland and it is a pretty big thing.
Right! Where is that lake? Is it in the southern parts?
Janne: Yeah, it´s in the southern parts, in Esbo about half an hour from downtown Helsinki, so it´s not far at all.
The new album then, when did you start working on it?
Janne: We started about a year ago and the actual studio sessions started in June or July last year.
Who are the main songwriters in the band?
Janne: Alexi writes all the music.
Oh, he does!
Janne: Yeah, yeah! He brings his riffs and stuff to the rehearsal room and the we kind of arrange the songs with the whole band.
When you work in the studio, do you first demo a lot of the stuff?
Janne: We did. Actually this time we recorded demos of all the songs, which is pretty cool. We have a new rehearsal room and we´ve got a little set up there. As we went along, I had mices set up and everything so every time we finished the arrangements of a song, we just recorded a rough demo version of it. Then we actually spent a couple of weekends of recording a little bit better pre production demos for the producer. I think this time it really helped the main studio sessions when we recorded a couple of demo versions. It gives you a better perspective on a lot of other things.
How long does it usually to get a song all together?
Janne: Sometimes it´s days and sometimes it´s weeks. It really depends. Some songs we end up arranging and arranging and making changes and then sometimes you can put a song together in two or three days. It really varies.
I´ve talked to a lot of bands considering the technology of today, with the risk of overdoing songs or keeping on rearranging a song, does that ever happen to you? Do you ever have to go, "That´s it it´s done!"?
Janne: Well, I mean what you´re talking about, but we don´t tend to overdo stuff. We just record it and that´s it. We don´t spend hours on making little edits or whatever. I guess for us, the overdoing thing isn´t that common for us.
With Alexi bringing in all the stuff, the rest of you guys, do you come up with stuff as well and it all gets turned down or…?
Janne: No, we´ve just realized that it´s the best for everybody if he writes all the stuff. I mean, he´s got such a strong vision of how it´s supposed to be. I don´t think all of our stuff would get turned down and of course when we are rearranging and putting songs together, everybody´s got ideas about the songs. I think it makes a lot of sense that Alexi writes all the stuff.
I saw that one of the bunus tracks is a an Eddie Murphy cover. How the hell did you come up with that?
Janne: (laughs) Well, we´ve covered pretty much everything already, so there was nothing left to do that would really shock people.
Do you like the original version?
Janne: Yeah! It´s so fucking weird. Eddie Murphy is not much known as a musician and the whole song is so weird and the whole Rick James production. It´s just a crazy assed 80´s song and we decided to do it because it´s fun.
From what album is it?
Janne: I have no idea! Nowdays we have YouTube and when we get drunk we go through funny old videos and songs and it´s been one of those songs that´s always been fun making fun of.
I remember him doing one album where he got all the heavyweights in like Stevie Wonder and it didn´t sell anything. He´s greater as a comedian than as a singer. I saw the trailer for the video and how do you come up with the idea for that? Do you just sit around and say “Well, let´s get some pro skateboarders in here and we´ll throw something together!”?
Janne: (laughs) Yeah, no! It was an idea from the video crew. I was a little bit skeptical at first, then at the shoot when I realized how well it kind of works together, it was fine. But it was not the band´s idea.
long does it take to shoot a video like that? You always hear about it being really boring because you just sit around waiting.
Janne: Yeah it´s super boring, but that one was actually one of the smoothest ever. It took maybe six hours or something. Usually it´s like 16 hours and it´s so fucking boring and unbelievably frustrating, but this one came together pretty easily.
Where was it shot?
Janne: We shot it somewhere in the middle of nowhere at a skate park in the US.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania… I can´t really remember.
And getting those guys in there, like Chris Cole, that wasn´t a problem?
Janne: Chris is actually a long time friend. He´s a fan of the band and we´ve done some product placements together and we´ve had some combined merchandise with his merch company. We´ve known him for a long time and he´s a friend of the band.
It seems to be more and more common when you release an album that there are three or four different versions and you have a deluxe version as well with 64 page booklet. Is that in any way worth it these days or is that just money you lose to get your name out, considering that people don´t really buy records anymore?
Janne: Releasing all these different versions I guess I s all record label stuff. I guess they´re worried about album sales and that the whole music business is fucked, so I guess they do what they can and one thing is to release these special editions and try to boost the sales or something. We´ve never had like “Hey, let´s do this and this edition!”. It has nothing to do with us.
Putting a 64 page booklet together, are you not involved in that either?
Janne: Actually yes! That was pretty cool. The photographer who took all the photos and all that stuff and they are previously unpublished, I was there to supervise the final version and it´s actually a lot cooler than… I mean, to me it sounded really lame. “A photobook? C´mon!”, but it´s really well put together and it´s actually pretty cool.
Who took the photos then?
Janne: A Finnish guy. His name is Jussi Hyttinen and he already took the photos for the previous album, but this time we did a lot more work with him and he made the cover art and all that stuff.
I was kind of wondering about the album title, “Relentless reckless forever”? How do you come up with a title like that?
Janne: You know, I don´t know! (laughs)
I mean, I speak pretty good English, but there´s no way I´d come up with that.
Janne. (laughs) Right! I guess it´s Alexi´s way of saying that we´re gonna keep on doing what we´re doing. I don´t think there´s any huge meaning behind it.
What about your jazz schooling? Did you grow up listening to jazz?
Janne: Well, my parents put me through piano lessons when I was five and I started with classical stuff of course and then I got interested in other stuff and by the age of ten I got into the Pop jazz conservatory in Helsinki. I studied there for six years, but then again after that my interest in jazz music has really… I have a funny relationship to that. Every three years now I pick it up and try to play jazz and then I get really tired of it. (laughs) If I´m honest, I don´t really have a great talent for it. You need to have a spark or whatever and really really understand jazz and I don´t have it. I mean, I like it and I like to listen to it now and then, but it´s not really my thing.
Are there any similarities in any way between jazz and the metal stuff you do in Children of Bodom?
Janne: Well, I play a lot of solos and a lot of the stuff in my solos lately, as I try to play outside the comfort zone, I wouldn´t call it jazzy or anything but of course there are like chromatic passages and playing a bit outside the scales, so it is somehow related to jazz.
Cool! But studying for six years, jazz and classical music, what was it that made you end up in metal?
Janne: It´s actually a funny story. I had quit playing the piano and the keyboards totally for a year. I just decided to quit playing and I don´t know why. I was supposed to concentrate on my studies and I kept playing the drums. I was a drummer in a punk band back in the day so I was just concentrating on playing drums and studying and then Jaska called me up and asked if I´d like to try and play keyboards in a metal band and I said I could try. Then I got stuck with it.
Do you buy jazz records and listen to jazz these days?
Janne: Yeah, I listen to jazz every now and then. Not that actively, but every now and then when I have free time I do check out some stuff.
Do you have a favorite jazz record?
Janne: Well, no… I was pretty much into fusion and the modern stuff and I listened to a lot of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, but I don´t have like a favorite jazz album.
Well, I took a real dive into that whole jazz fusion stuff in the early 90´s with guys like Lee Ritenour and all that kind of stuff.
More old stuff, what memories do you have from your first album? I read that Alexi thinks that the first album is the worst.
Janne: Well, you know… I was 17 when we recorded that and we were kids and didn´t know anything about anything and obviously we´ve come a long way and grown as musicians and as human beings, I hope. I mean, I´m not the biggest fan of the first album, but we were still searching for our style and playing our instruments. Of course I´m proud of it and we did the best we could at the time, but I don´t really listen to it. (laughs)
As a musician, do you go back and listen to your own stuff just for fun?
Janne: Yeah, sometimes but not often though. If I´m in my house drinking with my friends and someone mentions an old CoB song, we might dig out the album and listen to some of the stuff and have a few laughs. Sometimes when I´m waiting at an airport or something, I might listen to some of the old stuff for fun, but not much.
What can you tell me about the "Ugly world tour”?
Janne: I´m really pleased with that we´re gonna start playing in Europe this time, because the last time I think we went to the US first and then it was too late to headline with that album in Europe. I´m really glad that we´re starting in Europe first. I don´t think we have released any of the other dates, but it´s shaping up as a full world tour.
Yeah, you´ve been all over the place. The US, Japan, Taiwan and China. Those places, do they differ a lot from say the US or Europe?
Janne: Yeah, China and Taiwan was pretty different and you can tell how like the people organizing the shows are not that used to doing it. The show in Hong Kong was great though. It was real organized and everything went fine, but the other shows like Taiwan was pretty unorganized and kind of weird experiences.
I interviewed Doro Pesch and when she played China they had to hand them all the lyrics and stuff in advance. Did you have to do that?
Janne: Not that I´m aware of. No one told us to do anything. If something did happen it was all handled by management or the promoters.
Being able to travel the world, how much time do you actually get to see those places? Like when you played Hawaii?
Janne: It really varies. The schedule for the Asian part last tour was really hectic and there was no time to go anywhere. Sometimes there´s just no way to go and see places, which really bums me out. But like in Hawaii we spent like four days there. We played one show and then it was all relaxing on the beach and doing all kinds of cool stuff. If there´s time I really do try and go see places and not just sit in your hotel room or in the tour bus.
You´ve been doing this for a lot of years, is it still fun and does it still get you excited?
Janne: It´s still fun. Our music is such that we think of ourselves as a live band, so that´s such a important part of our whole thing. We release an album just to go on tour for a couple of months. It´s mostly fun, but then again when it gets really hectic and you only see the airports, the hotel rooms and the venues it can be a little hard on you, but most of the time it´s still fun.
A lot of Spinal Tap moments?
Janne: (laughs) Every now and then. I mean, shit happens! (laughs)
How many dates do you play in Finland this time around?
Janne: I think three. The Helsinki show is gonna be pretty big. A lot of friends coming over.
Gearing up for the tour, how much work is put into the stage show and stuff like that?
Janne: Fortunately we have a great crew and they´re already building the stage and getting the gear together and just making sure that everything´s gonna be there when we start the tour. But you need to have something special on the stage nowdays. The band is currently just doing interviews and we´re gonna start practicing for the live shows in a couple of weeks.
Have you ever thought the instant live cd´s?
Janne: To be honest, I don´t know all the details about that. I know about it, but we haven´t had any serious discussions about it. You never know, we might end up doing it someday, but at the moment there are no such plans.
Alright! I thank you Janne and I´m looking forward to catching you live here in Stockholm.
Janne. Thank you!