For nearly twenty years, the Finnish heavy metal band Children of Bodom has done the symphonic, melodic death metal thing with passion and power to spare. Long considered one of Scandinavia's best metal outfits, Children of Bodom have never resisted change. Proof of such is the band's recently issued album Halo of Blood. Easily the band's most direct effort to date, Halo strips away some of the more neoclassical elements that had become somewhat of the band's trademark.
From a tour stop in Canada and in anticipation of the band playing the House of Blues on Tuesday, keyboardist Janne Warmen talked to DC9 about the great, new album and how he yearns for the warm(er) Texas temperatures and chowing down at, of all places, Taco Bell.
How is Canada?
It's too cold.
But aren't you used to that?
Yes, I know, but it's colder here in Canada than it is in Finland right now. I am looking forward to the warmer temperatures in Texas. We've liked coming to Texas.
The Texas metal scene can be hit and miss. What is the Finnish metal scene like?
Finland is supposed to be pretty big. I mean, we have a lot of bands. It is a strong scene. Sweden is big. They have a lot of bands. I don't know why Scandinavians always seem to like metal. There are a lot of bands in Norway, too.
Are you comfortable being described as melodic death metal?
Yes, that's pretty close. It's pretty hard to label, so we just call it heavy metal. If someone asks, we just say heavy metal, but melodic death metal is pretty accurate.
How many languages do you speak?
I speak Finnish and a little bit of Swedish and I am talking English with you. In Finland, it is mandatory that you study English. That is great. All the kids study English in school and that is good.
You are the keyboardist and keyboards play an important part in the sound of the band. Yet, not too many people equate keyboards with metal.
Yes, it can be odd. It is a key element in our band, but the majority of metal bands don't use keyboards. It's cool with us because we are confident in what we are doing.
You joined Children of Bodom in 1997. How did you come to be in the band?
It was funny. I was in the same school with the drummer. They just needed a keyboardist. At first, we just jammed for fun. Then, we recorded an album and I noticed that I was stuck in the band. I think I was just going to do the first album and then they were going to find somebody else. But then I got stuck with them.
It's a good position to be stuck in.
Yes, you're right.
Many critics are saying the most recent release, Halo of Blood, is the most accessible album the band has done. Do you agree?
Yes, I think it is straightforward. The musical style has changed. Some of the weird shit we used to have on there has been cut out. Some classical stuff has been cut back. It is definitely more straightforward and accessible.
One reviewer even dared say that you guys sounded like you were having fun.
I think that is a good thing to notice.
What is your favorite American food?
I love In and Out Burger. It is great. I also happen to love Taco Bell, which is weird. But I think Taco Bell is fucking awesome.
No Taco Bell in Finland?
No, no, there is not a Taco Bell in all of Europe. That is a real bummer.
What kind of fast food do you have in Finland?
We have McDonalds and Burger King, but that's it. There is a Finnish chain called Hesburger. We have all the basic American stuff like Pizza Hut.
Is there a difference between audiences in your home country and here in the U.S.?
I don't see a big difference at all. I see the same metal heads all over the world. I think the Finnish crowds are drunker, but that might be it.
Are your crowds predominately male like they are for a lot of American metal acts?
I wish there were more women. You're right about there being more men. But when I think about it, there are a lot of chicks that come to the shows too. That is a good thing. It keeps it interesting.
Are you still working with your side project Warmen?
Yes, I am. We recorded an album last summer, but we had some trouble releasing it. But now, I am working on getting it finally released. I would love to play some shows and stuff like that, but it is just a project. It is more like a hobby.
Is it hard to believe that, in some form, Children of Bodom have played music for almost two decades? Yes, it is crazy. We definitely didn't think anything like this would happen when we recorded the first album. It is totally crazy that we have been doing this thing for sixteen or seventeen years.
What has been some of the strangest moments on tour?
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We have played some very strange countries, places where we would have never dreamt of going to, places like India, Israel and Indonesia. Those were just the weirdest countries starting with the letter I. We've traveled all over the world and that is awesome. I think it's great that we get to see different places. We've played in over fifty countries and that is something you couldn't have dreamed of when we started the band or when we were growing up.
How was crowd in India?
It was crazy. We played this festival and it was raining. The crowd was great. They were waiting for us all day. It was chaotic and exotic. In Indonesia, it was exotic, too. The show was weird.