torstai 14. huhtikuuta 2011

The Ugly World Tour is go!

Photo credit: K-Man

Jäähalli, Helsinki, 22nd March
It's 9 am on a sunny but bitterly cold Tuesday morning in snow-covered Helsinki. Outside the appropriately named Icehall, people are already queueing for Children Of Bodom's third show of the Ugly World Tour, which kicked off three nights previously in the northern Finnish city of Oulu. Some of the waiting fans have slept here overnight to secure a front-row position when the doors finally open, still many hours from now, and others have travelled long distances, including one diehard, who has come all the way from earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan to attend all three Finnish shows - respect!

Unlike when previous album Blooddrunk was released and the band headed straight to America, this time the touring for the new album begins in Europe. "I'm really pleased 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", Janne commented in a recent interview.

The first two shows, in Oulu and Tampere, are predictably well-attended. At the Tampere show, Alexi reveals that Roope broke his ankle a couple of months previously, but he's now able to stand and play live. Alexi asks the audience to give Roope a round of applause, and Roope responds by telling how he has "a shitload of iron" in his leg now!

But it's the 'hometown' Helsinki show that is the real focus of attention, and the guestlist is as packed as the Jäähalli. As the intro starts, eerie green lights reveal the atmospheric new stage design: a huge backdrop of the RRF album cover artwork, with fluttering, tattered rags suspended from the rig and scattered vari-lites raking the crowd with a blinding white light.

The set opens with a ferocious rendering of Not My Funeral, the title track from the new album, and one of five new songs showcased tonight, and it's clear from the get-go that Children Of Bodom are on blistering form, as the five Finns, who are not only technically accomplished but also a hugely entertaining live band, deliver a masterclass in melodic death metal. And the heat is literally turned up by the addition of flames and pyro on several songs.

The old favourites such as Children Of Bodom and Follow The Reaper are, of course, received rapturously, but the crowd are clearly already familiar with the new material, and songs such as Ugly, Roundtrip to Hell and Back and Shovel Knockout are greeted with equal enthusiasm.

Another innovation to the stage set is a second keyboard for Janne, allowing him some movement around the stage, although at times when Alexi goes to join him for one of their famous duels, it seems as though the frontman may have temporarily lost track of which keyboard to go to, tossing a quick backward look over his shoulder to discover Janne's whereabouts!

Relentless Reckless Forever was certified gold in Finland for first-day sales of over 10,000 copies, and just before the obligatory encore, a representative from Spinefarm comes onstage to announce this achievement, and presents each member of the band with a framed gold disc.

Golden oldies: previous gold discs for Children Of Bodom

Then, it's straight into the anthemic Was It Worth It?, and the crowd is more than ready to join in with the 'Hell yeahs', before Hate Crew Deathroll brings the night to an explosive climax.

Backstage after the show there are plenty of people enjoying the aftermath of a killer show, including the band members' parents. We catch a few quick words with Roope before the band heads off to Helsinki's Bar Bäkkäri for the afterparty and ESP guitar giveaway competition.

Photo credit: Amelie Lund

He's in relaxed mood and tells us he was really happy with the show, and to be back on the road. If the rest of the shows are even half as good as tonight's, it's gonna be one helluva tour!

Pakkahuone, Tampere

Photo credit: Karen Fader McBride

Check out more shots by Karen here

Big up to K-Man for organising our backstage passes

HMV Forum, London, 9th April
Children Of Bodom's popularity in the UK has grown exponentially, and the 5 dates they played here recently were pretty much sold out - the Manchester Academy, for instance, with a capacity of 2,300, had fewer than 100 tickets left unsold. The final show was at London's HMV Forum, and the long queues snaking back round the venue way before the doors were due to open were testament to just how in demand COB have become.

The day after this final show would be an off day for the band as they travelled back to Europe for their next gig, and at least one member of their crew, monitor engineer K-Man, was already dressed down (or should that be up!) for the occasion in the traditional 'hawaiian' shirt (he told us later that all the crew were supposed to have done the same, but somehow it ended up as just him).

Towards the end of main support Amon Amarth's set, Roope makes a surprise appearance onstage, to play the solo on Twilight of the Thunder Gods, much to the delight of the audience.

The Forum has rather unfortunate memories for COB's crew, as this was where, during the Blooddrunk tour a couple of years back, the show was brought to an abrupt end when a member of the audience on the balcony threw beer into the mixing desk below, with predictable results. No such drama this time round, just a killer show from a band that seems to have rediscovered it's appetite and enthusiasm for playing live - maybe they could add another epithet to that new album title: rejuvenated!

We spend some time chatting with K-Man and Neubi once the gig is over and load-out is done. Eventually, the band returns from another afterparty, and they seem pleased when we tell them how much we enjoyed tonight's show. Then it's time for their bus to depart for the ferry-trip to Germany, while we go on the hunt for a cab in Camden at 3am. It's been a great night.

Read Subba-Cultcha's pre-show interview with Jaska here and Blitzkrieg Metal Magazine's video interview with him here

Also check out Kristell Gathoye's photographs here and Mark Holmes' (Metal Discovery) review and photos from the Nottingham show here

Photo credit: Mark Holmes

Küçükçiftlik Park, Istanbul, 18th April
The band's show in Istanbul was played at an outside venue, in wet and chilly conditions - " ... it's fuckin raining and cold as shit out here, but we don't give fuck about that, right?", Alexi commented from the stage, and despite the inhospitable weather, the show went well, and the crowd went crazy. Amongst those enjoying the gig was US pro-skateboarder and co-owner of Zero Skateboards and Fallen Footwear, Jamie Thomas, who, along with Chris Cole and Tom Asta, was featured in the video for the first single from Relentless Reckless Forever, Was It Worth It?

A hatted and hoodied Alexi in chilly Istanbul

Photo credit: Jamie Thomas

On the set of the Was It Worth It? video shoot

North American Throwdown

A Children Of Bodom North American headlining tour with Devin Townsend has just been officially announced, confirming an update on vocalist/guitarist/producer Townsend's twitter page last March. Starting from Los Angeles on June 24th, the month-long tour will continue through to July 24th in Montreal, with COB's previously announced appearance at the Heavy MTL festival.

The DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT will be direct support on the tour, while Obscura and Septic Flesh will alternate the opening slot each night.

“We are psyched to see all of our friends in North America and to play our new songs live for all of the Bodom maniacs,” commented COB guitarist/vocalist Alexi Laiho. “Get ready to throw it down!”

The full itinerary for the "Ugly North American Tour" is as follows:

June 24 - House of Blues, Los Angeles, CA
June 25 - Slim's, San Francisco, CA
June 26 - Roseland, Portland, OR
June 27 - Showbox at the Market, Seattle, WA
June 28 - Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
June 30 - MacEwan Ballroom, Calgary, AB
July 2 - Edmonton Events Center, Edmonton, AB
July 3 - Odeon, Saskatoon, SK
July 4 - Garrick Center, Winnipeg, MB
July 5 - Station Four, St. Paul, MN
July 6 - House of Blues, Chicago, IL
July 8 - Masquerade, Atlanta, GA
July 9 - BeachamTheater, Orlando, FL
July 10 - Revolution, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
July 12 - Mr. Smalls, Pittsburgh, PA
July 13 - The Norva, Norfolk, VA
July 14 - Jaxx, Springfield, VA
July 15 - Jaxx, Springfield, VA
July 16 - Best Buy Theatre, New York, NY
July 17 - Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia, PA
July 19 - Palladium, Worcester, PA
July 21 - Multipurpose Centre, Halifax, NS (* no Devin Townsend)
July 23 - Downsview Park, Toronto, ONT (* as part of Heavy TO)
July 24 - Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, QC (* as part of Heavy MTL)

Children Of Bodom boost Finnish exports

In a newly published study by Music Export Finland, the value of domestic (i.e. Finnish) music exports around the world in 2009 was estimated at 32.1 million, which is 38 percent more than the previous year. The most important target areas for Finnish music are in Europe but the US also accounts for 10%. Children Of Bodom are, of course, a contributor to this success story. Their new album, Relentless Reckless Forever, which was released last month, has climbed into the sales charts in several countries.

"Finland is a world leader in music education and content production – in almost all genres and styles – and because our content is in good shape, there is now demand on international markets. I see that in my work all the time," Samu Haber, singer and songwriter for the group Sunrise Avenue, comments on the research. "In addition to HIM, Apocalyptica, Nightwish, Children of Bodom, The Rasmus, Sunrise Avenue and other trailblazers, dozens of Finnish artists and songwriters now enjoy great appreciation globally," adds Music Export Finland’s Executive Director Paulina Ahokas.

Stockholm Knockout Live part 2, anyone?

Children Of Bodom's keyboard player, Janne Warmen, has revealed in an interview with the online TwistMagazine that a follow-up to the hugely popular Stockholm Knockout Live - Chaos Ridden Years dvd, released in 2006, could be in the offing: "We want to try to record a concert this year, for release 2012", he replied, when asked whether there were any plans for a new dvd.

7 inches of hell

A few hours before their show at Nottingham's Rock City on April 7th, the band took part in a one-off signing session at the local Fopp record store, where fans were given an exclusive opportunity to purchase copies of the new single, Round Trip to Hell and Back, in 7" vinyl form, only on this day and from this shop. The event was well-attended and, though looking a little tired, the five COB members were happy to spend an hour signing the latest single (plus other items such as gig tickets, cd booklets and even guitars) and meeting some of their UK fans.

Hard at it
Photo credit: Fezaan

Children Of Bodom - coming to a festival near you

Summer festival season is fast approaching, and Children Of Bodom's festival diary is filling up. Appearances have been confirmed so far at gatherings in the UK, Canada, Finland and Germany.

Download Festival, Donnington Park, UK

The UK's premier rock music festival, held over 3 days in June. COB will make their appearance on Friday 10th. They will be supporting this one-off UK festival showing with a brand new single, the third to be drawn from their new, highly acclaimed Relentless Reckless Forever album (their seventh to date), which has already sold well in excess of 100,000 copies worldwide and has been certified gold in their home country of Finland.

The single in question is Shovel Knockout, and it will be available – via Spinefarm – both as a limited edition coloured vinyl 7” plus a digital download; the bonus material will be drawn from COB keyboard player Janne Warman’s solo recordings, some of which feature Alexi as special guest.

Heavy MTL

This Canadian festival takes place in Montréal, Québec. The first edition of the intense two-day celebration of heavy music was in June 2008 and included bands such as Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Disturbed, Three Days Grace, Dethklok, Anthrax, Type O Negative, Mastodon, and many others. Heavy MTL 2011 will be held on July 23rd and 24th in the beautiful setting of Parc Jean-Drapeau at Île Saint-Hélène, located just off the island of Montréal.

Heavy TO

The success of HEAVY MTL has prompted the launch of a new event - HEAVY TO. This takes place on the same weekend as Heavy MTL, at Downsview Park, located on the north end of Toronto.

Children Of Bodom always get a very enthusiastic reception from their Canadian fans. In a recent interview with Alexi commented that "It’s always great. And I’m just not saying it. It’s definitely always one of the highlights of playing the whole world, the Canadian dates. The crowds over there are just so fucking incredible, we’re always really looking forward to it." The band will be at Heavy TO on July 23, and Heavy MTL on July 24.

Qstock, Oulu, Finland

Established in 2006, Qstock is a rock music festival held in July in Kuusisaari, in the city of Oulu in Northern Finland. The two-day festival has a capacity of 22 000 visitors and has sold out consistently for the past five years. Its previous incarnation as the Kuusrock Festival in the '70s and '80 played host to bands such as Alice Cooper, Procol Harum, Scorpions, Death Angel and Iron Maiden. The dates for this year's festival are 29th-30th July, and this will be Children Of Bodom's only Finnish summer gig this year.

Wacken Open Air, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

First held in 1990 as a small event for local German bands, Wacken has achieved almost legendary status as a heavy metal music festival, and is a major event on the European metal festival calendar. Taking place this year on 5th-7th August, the festival is already sold out.

COB in Japan

Following on from their extensive European tour, and their appearance at the UK's Download festival, Children Of Bodom will visit Japan in June, along with Amorphis, for a 5-date tour:

June 14 - Shibuya Ax, Tokyo

June 15 - Quattro, Nagoya

June 17 - Namba Hatch, Osaka

June 18 - Bay Hall, Yokohama

June 19 - Legacy, Taipei

After that, the Ugly World tour moves on and, as Janne revealed in an interview with Onslaught Radio prior to the band's sold-out final UK show at London's HMV Forum, they'll be heading off to the US and Canada, followed by an appearance at Wacken, and, after a break, towards the end of the year, possible tours of Australia and South America.