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17.01.2006. CHILDREN OF BODOM, Janne Wirman

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This interview with keyboardist Janne Wirman of Children Of Bodom was done face to face by Audrey Dujardin on January 17th, 2006, at Le Transbordeur in Lyon, France, prior to their live performance.

Almost comparable to the world-wide success of Finnish phenomena Nightwish, the more extreme and less polished entity known as Children Of Bodom is a band who no longer is in need of an introduction. Frontman Alexi Laiho is widely regarded as one of the top metal guitarists in the world and keyboard player Janne Wirman's finger skills have also received critical acclaim from industry knowitalls. Janne talks more about life on the road in this interview. [Vincent Eldefors, The Editor]

Hello Janne, while I get this started, you want to tell me how you like France so far?
Uh, really good actually. It’s already been 3 years since we last toured Europe and I didn’t remember that this part was so good. Last night in Strasbourg we had a great show.

La Laiterie?
Yeah. That was a really nice place

What venue did you play at in Paris?
Elysée Montmartre.

About the tour... Can you tell us a little bit about this tour, have you had any major problems so far?
Yeah. This tour started 26th of December last year, and so far we’ve been doing really good. Some small problems… Some fans stole the license plates from our truck that carries our stuff and of course this as caused some problems at borders… And our bass player has been sick for a few days but he’s going to see a doctor today.

I saw you guys when you were touring with Dark Tranquility…
Wow, that’s a long time ago!

Yeah! I think you guys have been touring since 1998?

So if you had to select one of our best memories of all the touring that you’ve ever done, what would you choose?
Ah I don’t know, that’s so difficult… I dunno… I mean for me the first time we went to Japan, that was something totally special, in that country everything I so different and they treat you so good and everything, and everything is so well organized and nice, so going for the first time to Japan is something will always remember for a long time.

You’ve been touring now for a while, so what are some of the bands that you enjoy touring with most?
I mean, with most bands we tour with we get along so well and have so much fun and stuff like that… Somehow, the last time we headlined in Europe, with Shadows Fall, those are really nice guys and we had really a lot of fun… We’ve been trying to get a tour somehow with them again but it hasn’t happened yet… But Shadows Fall is one of the bands that I remember having the most fun with.

Are there some bands that you refuse to tour with?

Well of course there’s always financial reasons, but we also refused to tour with a band… Just because we didn’t want to tour with them.

But not out of personal issues, no one who dated your sister or something?
No, nothing like that.

Can I have a little touring anecdote about Hypocrisy?
Hum…. We just toured the USA with them as well… There’s one night that everyone will remember in a way… Somehow all the Swedish guys were awake and were having a party and running around the bus and blasting stupid Swedish music and drinking songs very loud and the next day the whole crew woke up and they were so pissed off because they couldn’t sleep all night.

I wasn’t on that tour, I’m sorry.

In Flames?
In Flames.. Uh… That was a long time ago, I can’t remember anything…. I’m sure that kind of stuff happened, but it’s already so long ago…

Dark Tranquillity?
Dark Tranquillity, I don’t know… One of their band members got left behind in one city. I mean the bus left and somebody wasn’t on it. And so the next day he had to take the train or something to come to the city. Yeah, everybody went to sleep and thought that he’s in his bunk and left.

Can you tell us about what is different in the crowds in Japan and Europe?
Well we’ve been in Japan like 4 or 5 times already. We were thinking that somehow, the very first time we went there, the crowds were totally crazy and nowadays they’re a little bit more calm. They’re not going so crazy anymore. But we remember the very first time we went there and they were all like totally crazy, started screaming and would never stop… But it doesn’t happen nowadays anymore…

How did you adapt to everyday life in Japan?
It’s different, but in everyday life it’s pretty much the same. Everything is so different anyway, but you know, no problem! You can always find something to eat, even in Japan!

About the European audiences, who are the wildest fans?
I dunno… I think Italy. They are… You know how Italian people are… But we haven’t been to Spain so far on this tour, but they pretty much tend to go crazy as well…

How do you prepare for a tour?
Well usually I have to buy some new underwear cos my socks and underwear on the previous tour … (laughs) Well generally stock up on everything, try to pay your bills before had and stuff like that, there’s a lot of stuff to take care of before we leave on tour… Like go to the supermarket and buy all kinds of stuff I think I’m going to need or I’m going to loose on tour anyway! Haha!

I see! Is this your computer?

And you’re a Finn, so you can’t be seen without your phone. What besides your telephone and your computer do you travel with?
Well a digital camera, I just recently got into photographing a little bit… My Ipod is very important, and that’s it.

What did you learn not to bring when you are on tour?
Uh… Well there have been some things… Well I used to bring this small studio system for my laptop that I could use sometimes to play music, but I never used it so it was useless to carry it around…

What advice can you give to bands that have never gone on tour?
Bring a lot of plastic bags!


Plastic bags? Why!
I dunno! I just put all my stuff in plastic bags and then my bunk is full of plastic bags, there’s all kinds of shit in there!

What are the main problems that you run into, and how do you solve them?
Well in Europe in general, the venues are so good that there are no major problems. There’s good catering, you get food, you get showers. But in the USA, the venues in which we tour sometimes suck ass. I mean you know, there’s no showers, no catering… But the venues in the USA are really bad. I mean I remember the first US tour we did and the tour cost us so much money that we couldn’t take day rooms in the hotels to take showers, so sometimes you stay like fucking 6 days without showering and you still had to go on stage every night! But luckily in Europe we don’t have those problems.

Tell us a little about the crew. Do you always tour with the same crew?
Pretty much, yeah… There are some guys in the crew who have been touring with us since 2000 or something… But every now and then people change, but it’s basically the same crew.

Who selects the road crew? You, the label?...
It’s us, and our booking agency/management.

Yeah. They check the availability of the people and try to compose for the upcoming tours to have the people that we want.

So you give your preference?

Have you ever had to fire someone?

They didn’t show up at their job and now actually one person just sued us. Our company. Our band has a company. I mean he sued us because he didn’t show up on one tour and cost us a lot of money. And now he’s suing us because we ‘illegally’ fired him. That’s kinda bullshit. I trust that the Finnish justice system does the right thing.

It must be hard to live on the road for months with people that you barely know… How do you deal with that?
Sometimes a little bit… But now I’m really lazy. I used to always the first days of the tour, go meet everybody, says ‘hey I’m Janne, I do this and this’… But you know, nowadays we’re half way through the tour and I still don’t know the names of the guys in the other bands and stuff like that… That’s not good, but I dunno there’s no tension or anything… You get to know the people pretty soon and stuff like that so…

Everyone knows that bands party on tour. What are some who party the most?
You know, Alexi drank until 8 o’clock this morning, so… And I don’t know about the other guys in the bus, but I’d say that we party way more than they do! COB are pretty known for their alcohol drinking habits and all their partying so… I dunno… The other guys have their own bus so we don’t party with them that much.

What’s different when you are at a festival and when you tour? What happens backstage? Do you fly in from Finland and play the same day?
Well nowadays we have this policy that we don’t fly in and play on the same day. Cos like you said that’s quite annoying sometimes. We hang out a lot on festivals, and yeah you meet a lot of bands that you toured with, it’s cool! And backstage parties are bigger at festivals, there’s more people.

What do you dislike about festivals? Why?
Yeah it’s different. There’s some stuff that I dislike but I can’t really come up with anything right now…

Maybe security is not as good?
Yeah sometimes, small things like that.

Well I’ve been to festivals where fans sneak in backstage you know… Have you ever had issues with fans?
Yeah I’ve seen people try to sneak into the backstage area but I don’t think we ever had too many problems. Anyhow, sometimes if I see weird people in the dressing room I just go up to the tour manager right away and tell him to check out what the hell are they doing there and sort of throwing them away if that’s necessary.

Have you had any other problems?
Yeah people have been messing with our tour bus in Finland, like breaking things… Finnish people are stupid! (laughs) But nothing that major though.

Is there anything that you fear when you go on tour?
Well no necessarily fear, but I feel a little uncomfortable with too much people around. So I avoid walking into the biggest fan crowd. The only thing that I sometimes have problems with is that, you know you wake up, you just want to go to the venue and want to take a shit or shower or whatever, you don’t want to meet no one, and then there’s like 20 people wanting autographs and photos and if you say ‘no I have to go’ then you’re an asshole rockstar and if you stay there, you’re totally fucked up so…

It’s a catch 22!

What is the first thing that you do at the end of a tour?
I dunno… I mean nowadays we are so much on tour I mean this tour started 5 months ago in Australia and since then I’ve been of for like 20 something days, 24 maybe… So nowadays I feel totally weird when I go home. I’m just walking around, you know, looking at all my stuff, like ‘oh I have this kind of stuff here!’ I feel so crazy now when I go home, I walk all over the place going ‘ohhh everything is new’, it’s weird.

Do you stay in contact with the bands that you tour with?
I’m really bad at staying in contact. I mean my mom hasn’t heard from me for 6 months or something! I’m the worst person ever to be in contact with anything so… No, I don’t.

Are there bands out there that you have never toured with but you would love to tour with?
Well we’ve been talking about that with the whole band, we would really want to tour with Slayer, at some point I really hope we can make that happen.

If you left the band, who would replace you?
Ooooooooooh! That’s a difficult one! I actually have no idea! I once left the band for a few days and the guys said that they have already replaced me but that was all bullshit! I got pissed off… We were rehearsing 6 times a week and at some point I was like.. ‘you know I’m gonna go on vacation ’ and they said ‘no, no we gotta rehearse!’ I said ‘fuck it!’ and I left the band for a few days. But I came back pretty soon! But I really actually honestly don’t have any idea who would replace me, I don’t really know!

And if you could choose who would replace you?
I mean it would really be interesting for me to see Jens Johansson (NDLR: Stratovarius, Sonata Artica, Kamelot…) playing in COB, playing my kinda stuff in COB!

And what will you be doing 5 years from now?
I think the band is still around… We just signed a new record deal which takes us 5 years to get it done, well, until the deal is over… So I think the band is still around, I think we’re still touring… And whatever happens I think I’m going to be working somehow in the music business, even if the band is not around anymore. I would be doing studios and recording and stuff. I had my own studio in Finland but now I had to close it because I’m on tour all the time and nobody is working there. But I would pretty much open a studio again.

Well thank you for the interview!
Thank you!

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