lauantai 17. lokakuuta 2009

... And the Circus Leaves Town

By now, if they're Not Dead Yet, they must be Living Dead Beat. They've spent the best part of the last two years touring Blooddrunk and there surely have been times when they've been Trashed, Lost and Strungout and Needled 24/7, but soon Children Of Bodom will start the long trek home, Towards some Northern Comfort, before they disappear In The Shadows, to write the new album and return with ... Something Wild?

But right now, the tour goes on ... how has it been so far?

With a gap of five years since Children Of Bodom last appeared in South America, there was plenty of pent-up anticipation amongst the band's loyal followers there, and it was given full expression at the shows in Buenos Aires, Santiago and Sao Paulo - a great start to the tour, even with some technical problems, "old, bad gear and a semi brain dead crew", and occasional random looneys like the one outside the venue in Buenos Aires demanding tobacco from K-Man and Franky: when his request was denied he responded with a not-so-polite, 5-minute "fuck you" rant, repeated over and over again in some weird-sounding voice, much to the guys' amusement!

Next stop Mexico City, and after a 16-hour commute the band performed shows over 2 nights to a total of 4500 people. On both nights (the second of which happened to coincide with Mexico's 200th Independence Day celebrations) the crowd were going ape, "when they jumped, the whole stage bounced", said K-Man. After a problem-free appearance the following day at a festival in Monterrey, the band headed off for the North American leg of the tour ...

The Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, New Jersey is located ... well, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but it's packed with around 2,000 commited and eager fans - well, all except the one who felt the need to spit on Alexi's guitar - not a good move ("my guitar gets more pussy than your fucking 86 Camero", Alexi berated him). It is in just such venues that Children Of Bodom have worked tirelessly around the US over the years, and their efforts have been rewarded, with Blooddrunk storming in at No.22 in the US Top 40 in the first week of its release, a major achievement in such a huge market and for a band that can hardly be described as mainstream.

On to Canada, and at the Montreal show (which seems to have been universally acclaimed by those who attended as "fucking awesome"!) much to the fans' delight, the surprise inclusion of Kissing The Shadows as encore - who could ask for more? The Toronto show was just as well received, Winnipeg another sold-out event. The show in Edmonton, according to K-Man "was off the hook, best this whole tour", (although a fan coming over the barricade and splitting his head open on the sound-man's rack perhaps not a highlight) and Vancouver the day after also sold-out. The Seattle date was a home-town show for K-Man, who got to hang out with his Mom and some friends - good times.

So far this tour has, thankfully, been free of any major injuries. In May on the No Fear tour, the somewhat accident-prone Alexi fell from his top bunk on the tour bus, breaking his shoulder and a rib, and suffering internal bleeding, which eventually forced the band to cancel the remaining five dates (he has been sleeping in the bottom bunk this time around). Roope has been targeted again by the mysterious finger-fairy (but Crazy Glue is his friend!) and Jaska suffered a problem with a trapped nerve that delayed the start of the performance at the San Francisco show, but, according to the band's latest twitter update, all seems to be well now.

And so to Hawaii - sun, sand, snorkelling, surfing ... oh yes, and there's a show to do! COB are Pipeline Cafe virgins but it's not every day that a band of this calibre puts in an appearance and when they hit the stage at 11:30 it's to an appropriately enthusiastic reception from the appreciative audience, who would have been quite happy for the performance to continue well past the 1:30 finish time. There are a few technical issues sound-wise but the show goes well: "in-fucking-sane", "they fucking rule live" and "the mosh pit was crazy" are just some of the comments from the well-satisfied crowd.

Ahead are dates in Japan, China and finally, Russia, before it's all over, the touring for Blooddrunk is done and the band returns to "sweet home Helsinki". In recent interviews, Alexi has said they will start writing songs for the new album early next year and enter the studio in May. As always, he has "a bunch of ideas and riffs, and shit like that in my head" and, according to Jaska, "Alexi has already composed one or two songs which sound really great". So, 2011 - expect the new Children Of Bodom opus. And then, of course, the touring starts all over again ...

perjantai 16. lokakuuta 2009

He just can't get enough ...

Seems like Alexi still has an appetite for life on the road, even after having spent most of the last two years taking the COBHC show to fans around the world. Just a couple of weeks after the final date of touring for Blooddrunk, the COB frontman gets back on the bus again, but this time as guest second guitarist for Swedish death metallers, Hypocrisy on their upcoming North American outing.

Alexi and Hypocrisy-mainman Peter Tägtgren are old friends and collaborators: on their first tour in 1998, at the Nuclear Blast festival, COB played as support for Hypocrisy. Tägtgren helped out with vocals' production and recording on Blooddrunk, while Alexi has contributed a guitar solo on one of Tägtgren's albums with his other band, Pain. And although Alexi will be without his COB bandmates, there's one thing he won't have to miss: "There will be no shortage of alcohol on this tour, that's for sure", commented Tägtgren.

Some Hypocrisy fans are less than thrilled with the announcement, questioning whether Alexi is an appropriate choice, and apparently fearing he will steal the show. Whatever, it sure won't hurt ticket sales.

The tour, which also includes headliners Ensiferum, kicks off on November 6th in Springfield, Virginia.

One for the road?

Janne Warman's other band, Warmen, recently released their fourth studio album, Japanese Hospitality and the album has entered the Finnish charts at No. 36. Replete with songs this time, rather than the more usual keyboard-led instrumentals, this album finally seems to position the band firmly as a band, rather than just the COB-keyboardist's side project. In a recent interview with BW&BK, Janne commented: "Everybody’s been saying that Warmen finally sounds like a band with this one and I agree. Warmen has found it’s path, I guess you could say.” Not only that, but, with Children Of Bodom due to spend a large part of next year working on the follow-up to the hugely successful Blooddrunk album, he also mooted the tantalising prospect of some live Warmen action: "The line-up is constant and some of the singers are open to doing shows. I could see it happening, but the thing is that Warmen isn’t a known band at all so we’d have to do a mini-tour of some kind. I’d love to do it, and now that Bodom is going to have a break to write new material I’m going to see if there’s any possibilities for us to do a short tour.” Bring it, Janne!

Warmen performing at SpineFeast at Sea, 2008

So you think you could be Alexi ...

US fans have the chance to win an ESP Alexi Laiho Signature Series LTD AL-600 Scythe guitar by impersonating Alexi, in a competition just announced by Metal The winning video (entries must be submitted by 31st October) will be the one that, in the judges' opinion, captures the quintessential moves, gestures, mannerisms and even make-up of the COB frontman in the most amusing/creative/original way. Will it be pain or pleasure watching the entries - and will Alexi be one of the judges? You have nothing to lose but your dignity!

The lighter side of heavy metal

To coincide with the September release of their much-anticipated covers album, Skeletons In The Closet, COB released a promo video for the Creedence Clearwater Revival track, Lookin' Out My Back Door. With tongue firmly in cheek, and a touch of the humour that flavours many of their cover choices, the video itself is a cover of the Creedence original. It has a real 'feel-good' factor - they seem to be having a lot of fun, and it's impossible to watch without a smile on your face - who says metal has to be serious all the time!

In a recent Soundshock interview, Alexi explained the thinking behind the album's release: "There's two reasons why we did the covers album. First of all, loads of people kept asking where they could find the covers, some of them seemed hard to find and weren’t ALL on previous albums. We decided to bring out a covers album so that the fans could have all the covers in one place. Also, the timing is right. We aren't writing anything new just yet and it just seemed a good time to do this; I think its pretty good".

Sadly, there seem to be no plans to do a tour in support of the album - "I can not see that happening somehow", Alexi laughs, although he did float the possibility of some UK dates next year: "Nothing’s been confirmed...nothing is definite. But we love playing in the UK and hope to be back soon, it would be pretty cool."

'Skeletons' managed to crack the top ten in Finland and hit the charts at #9, while in the US it entered the Billboard 200 chart at #81, with sales of 5,600 copies in the first week of its release!