Children of Bodom are currently on tour, tearing up U.S. soil with their Finnish brand of heavy metal, playing selections that span their entire discography all the way up to their newest album, Relentless Reckless Forever, which was released last year. Punknews interviewer Jason Epstein got a chance to sit down with drummer Jaska Raatikainen to discuss inspiration, the band's history and whether the french horn can be "metal".
There's an ongoing debate on whether Children of Bodom is power metal, speed metal, progressive metal, black metal, melodic death metal…it probably doesn't matter in the scheme of things, what would you classify yourself as when describing your band to someone who has never heard of you?
Uh, we play metal. And that's it.
What's one band you've never played with that you would love to, given the chance?
When I was younger I started playing drums because of Death. That was the main reason that I started practicing a lot.
You mean there was a death in your family?
No, a band called Death.
Oh, a band called Death.
Yes sorry, but of course Guns 'N Roses and Metallica…it would be nice to open up for Metallica, that would be the all time dream come true. But, still Death was one of my favorite bands and still is. Unfortunately the songwriter died, so that will never happen.
Is it true you play the French horn?
Don't look so embarrassed! [Laughter] Is there a way to make the French horn metal?
I don't think so. The good thing is I have a classical education so you could say that you can, of course, use that a lot. I wouldn't say it was a bad thing to play it but still it wasn't the right instrument for me when I realized that the drums are cooler. But I played it for 8 years so at some point I was quite good at it.
You've been in the band since its formation in the early nineties. How do you feel the band has changed you or your life in the past two decades?
Well, this tour is celebrating our 15th anniversary.
That's the 15th anniversary since your first album?
The first album. This line up has been the same the last 15 years except for one change, but I guess when we started this band of course we were ambitious to take this as far as possible. I think that we achieved a lot with this band and I'm very satisfied that all this came true and that I still can do this. It's a very big part of my life and it's always been and hopefully it will continue to be the next 5-10 years.
Well, you know you can always say…next 2 albums you could plan that far…but you never know.
What's your favorite Finnish band or artist that you wish could be heard by more Americans or others around the world?
Well I guess right now there is just one band that has been touring in the U.S. called Swallowed Sun. There's one guy I've know for 15 years, a drummer and he plays in that band and that's one of the coolest bands right now I think coming from Finland and I don't know how many tours they have done here in the U.S. but I guess they have been touring a lot. I hope they become the next big thing.
What's your least favorite interview question?
Well, there are two. Of course, about our name…where does it come from? And then you have to tell the story behind it. And the other one is if we did a cover of the song "The Final Countdown" by the band Europe. But we never did. We have done so many cover songs, but we haven't done that one. And people think we did.
Why would they think that?
It was done by this one other Finnish band who I guess sounds a little bit like us.
So, tell me about the [7,000 tons of metal] cruise. That must have been very different from what you normally different do as far as playing shows go.
It was quite an interesting experience. I wouldn't go for a Caribbean cruise maybe by myself but we got this opportunity to play there and it was quite nice, nice weather. It was quite laid back. There was no way to hide from everything, except you went to your own cabin.
You had a suite?
Yes, we did but you can't spend 4 days in your room. But the fans were respecting [us] quite well so it was quite enjoyable. Nice bands, nice weather. We got to see the Cayman Islands and it was a nice experience.