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The truth about COB break-up

Discussion in 'Children Of Bodom' started by mrs.bodOm, May 9, 2022.

  1. mrs.bodOm

    mrs.bodOm ~Kissing The Shadows~

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    https://www.hs.fi/kulttuuri/art-2000008804579.html


    Helsingin Sanomat 10.5.2022


    The secret of the Children of Bodom: Janne, Henkka and Jaska reveal what really happened

    Children of Bodom, a band whose albums sold by the millions, did not break up in the way that Alexi Laiho described or as some fans deduced. Janne Wirman, Henkka Seppälä and Jaska Raatikainen showed Helsingin Sanomat the e-mail conversations at the centre of it all and told us what really happened.


    Interview: Vesa Sirén

    Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
    _________________________


    “I almost fell down on the spot when I heard.”

    “When you said sit down, I knew right away.”

    “I’d been afraid [it would happen], and when the phone call came, I just prayed don’t say it.”


    Janne Wirman, Henkka ‘Blacksmith’ Seppälä and Jaska Raatikainen were the keyboard player, bass player and drummer, respectively, of Children of Bodom, a band whose albums have sold nearly 2,5 million copies. Their quotes above are in reference to the death of their friend, fellow band member and erstwhile antagonist Alexi Laiho (1979–2020) in December 2020.


    THIS is the first time that the three have given a joint interview on this topic, for obvious reasons.

    “Alexi was the only one to do interviews about the band breaking up, and his versions diverged from the truth.”

    Alexi’s death was followed by a long period of mourning, and only now have they stepped up to put the record straight.


    “The fans have a right to know what happened.”


    THE reason for the breakup was not that the three surviving members wanted to stop touring for family reasons, which is how Laiho explained it to Helsingin Sanomat in November 2019.

    “We felt bad about that, also for our spouses. They’d always supported our international careers.”

    The ultimate reason for the end was Laiho’s substance abuse, which is what eventually killed him a year after the band broke up. The death certificate mentions liver fatty degeneration and adipose tissue formation in the pancreas. There were also opioids in his system.


    “Addiction is an illness, and he destroyed our trust in him with his actions in our business venture. But he apologised for a lot of things, and we did work together even after the band broke up.”


    THERE are many details that Laiho and the rest of the band have reported identically: the core quartet came together as teenagers, and after the band’s début album only the backup guitarist changed: first there was Alexander Kuoppala, then Roope Latvala and finally Daniel Freyberg.

    The band’s albums made the Top 10 across a range of countries from Finland to Germany and Japan, and Blooddrunk hit no. 22 in the USA – a major achievement for Extreme Metal, regarded as a non-commercial genre.

    Laiho made a substantial income in royalties as songwriter and lyricist, but with the establishment of a limited liability company for the band in 2003 – AA & Sewira Consulting Oy, referred to below as the LLC – all other income, from gigs to merchandise, was split equally.


    “Alexi was all about the band,” says Raatikainen. Major tours or manager replacements were decided democratically, by majority vote.


    And the money did come rolling in. The LLC paid the band members monthly salaries of up to EUR 8,000, with tens of thousands additionally paid out in dividends.


    LAIHO was initially brash about his substance abuse. It began to take a more serious toll on his music-making in 2008, when Children of Bodom were the supporting act for Slipknot on tour. In the early 2010s, Laiho admitted that he had messed up and promised the band members that he would not drink on tour any more.

    He kept his word for a few years, and the other serious health issues he faced cut down on his other substance abuse as of 2012.


    “He was really positive and happy when he was sober”, Wirman recalls.

    “He was fun and relaxed, he liked to watch comedy. He would cackle at Seinfeld at the back of the bus”, Raatikainen adds.


    THE band members’ versions of history began to diverge for the first time in 2015, when backup guitarist Roope Latvala was fired. Here, the trio agrees with Laiho:

    “Alexi became frustrated because Roope didn’t perform his job duties, meaning rehearsals, so we went by the letter of the law: verbal warnings, formal warnings and finally termination.”

    Latvala himself, in interviews with the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) and Helsingin Sanomat, was adamant that his firing came as a complete surprise.


    In that year, 2015, Laiho was at the height of his creative powers and devised the ambitious composition 100guitarsfromHEL for the Helsinki Festival.


    “So we can only wonder why he went into a tailspin again in 2016”, sighs Wirman.



    IN 2017, Laiho complained that his income was declining.

    “I’ve thought about pulling myself out of the company”, he wrote on 4 December 2017.


    Wirman recalls that the LLC did default on salary payments to all band members a couple of times when a tour was coming up. “But all the backlog was paid up when the income from the tour came in.”

    Laiho suggested that the other band members buy him out of the LLC, that he would be paid his fees directly by gig organisers and that he would still pay his share of the expenses. This caused resentment, because it would have complicated things.


    The trio has shown HS documents and hundreds of e-mails, according to which the LLC was still bringing in an average of about EUR 500,000 per year in 2016 and 2017, notwithstanding the financial crisis and the decline in record sales because of streaming. The members’ monthly salary had been reduced first to EUR 5,000 and then to EUR 4,500 because of the declining trend.


    On the other hand, in 2016 the company paid out a bonus amounting to a couple of months’ salary, because the company’s financial performance had been so good.


    THIS was not enough for Laiho. On 5 June 2018, he resigned by e-mail.

    “i have no choice but quit the fuckin band. U can post this to everyone,” wrote Laiho and added that he was “bankrupt”.

    That was probably an exaggeration, but it freaked out the other band members. They had mortgages, and the company had contractual commitments, such as delivering their nearly completed album to the record label against the advance payments they had received.


    Their manager reminded Laiho of this and was told: “So you’re saying that if I personally can’t do this anymore, everyone is gonna get sued by the record company? No man, Neva seen that before.. i mean sometimes people quit. If that does happen I’ll take the blame and go to jail for these guys, they shouldnt suffer.”


    Uncertainty ensued. When Laiho was at his second home in Australia, he wanted to quit. When he was in Finland, he wanted to go on.


    “It got so bad that my heart raced whenever I saw that there was a message from Alexi,” Seppälä recalls.


    ON 7 July 2018, Laiho sent an e-mail that seemed to resolve the situation: “I don’t wanna leave things unfinished or especially just bail between tours. Im really not expecting to get anywhere near as much money as we did 10 years ago and i know i can be an intolerable, impulsive fuckface sometimes and I easily explode when everything goes to shit especially when im just mentally exhausted (I gotta work at that). That said, there is some truth behind what i said about how i feel, but nothing justifies me blaming anyone for the situation and for THAT I truly am sorry and also hoping we can do these shows without bad vibes.”

    The album Hexed was released in March 2019, and Laiho’s autobiography, edited by journalist Petri Silas, was published for Laiho’s 40th birthday.

    “We didn’t dare read the book, Alexi’s memory being what it was. But from what we heard, it was very well put together”, say the trio.


    Laiho was dangerously underweight on the US tour in March and April 2019, and the gigs ended up being shorter than agreed.


    At a business meeting in New York, their manager brought up Laiho’s substance abuse. Laiho refused to go into rehabilitation but did agree to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with diabetes, and the medication prescribed did help his condition somewhat.


    Laiho indicated that he was ready to make one more album together and responded “OK” to the suggestion that the band would be wound up in a controlled fashion, with a couple of years of farewell tours.


    He never arrived at the meeting where the matter was discussed. The result was a cascade of misunderstandings and “fuck off” messages. But those too would pass.

    Then came August 2019.


    IN the middle of the summer, the Finnish Patent and Registration Office received an application from Laiho’s representative concerning the registration of the name ‘Children of Bodom’ to Laiho.

    The legal counsel of the LLC of the Children of Bodom members noticed this in August. Even though Alexi was the songwriter and leader of the band, this smacked of an attempt to hijack the name and brand that was controlled by the band’s LLC.

    Laiho was sent a formal legal notice of loss of confidence together with a demand that he sign over the application for registering the rights to the name ‘Children of Bodom’ to the LLC owned by the core quartet of the band – including Laiho himself – within one week. Otherwise his employment with the LLC would be terminated, and he would be fired from Children of Bodom.


    Laiho was enraged at the wording but did admit that the name of the band belonged to the LLC.


    “It can be taken back, I didn’t realise it was somehow so serious”, he wrote on 4 September.


    Because of their history of 10 albums and 22 years together, this was indeed a serious matter for the other band members, but they too were conciliatory: the threat had been a legal formality and a panic response.


    The next tour approached.


    ON the Russian tour in October 2019, Laiho “was hitting the bottle like back in 2008”, the trio recalls. His performance suffered, and their manager had to intervene again. Laiho responded: ”Im the devil cos of some codeine and valium? Fuckin intervention dude? U embarrassed me in front of everyone and i was sick.”

    He then proceeded to list every intoxicant and medication that he recalled the other band members using.

    “I told Alexi that you don’t usually drink starting at breakfast before a gig, and now you don’t even warm up with the guitar before going on stage like you always do”, Raatikainen recalls.


    Laiho said that someone in his family was sick and that he was drinking because he was sad.


    “I get that, but it’s not helping that you’re destroying these gigs. Get some sleep, see you in the morning”, said Raatikainen.


    In the course of the night, Laiho fired off vicious drunken e-mails to the band manager and the other band members. In one of them, he declared that Henkka and Janne would be fired immediately after the concert in St Petersburg.


    “That was the sickness talking, not Alexi”, Wirman concludes.


    On the next day, Laiho apologised and stopped drinking for the last concerts of the tour.

    “His hands were shaking for two days, but the gigs in Moscow and St Petersburg went pretty well.”


    They informed the tour organiser that the band had broken up. Laiho was remorseful: this was not how he wanted the tale of Children of Bodom to end.


    WHAT about the gigs in Finland that had been agreed for December, asked the organiser. What would it take to get the rest of the band to perform with Alexi?

    They decided to go with Alexi’s wish from a few years back and buy him out of the LLC. He would be paid the tour fees directly by the tour organiser. “This also gave the three of us the freedom to continue with the business of the LLC as we best saw fit”, says Wirman.


    Laiho naturally retained the rights to his music and was paid royalties on performances and record sales as before. What he sold was his holding in the LLC that owns the name of the band and the merchandising rights.

    A bulletin was put out, declaring that the band would disband after the gigs in Finland. Alexi turned up and remained sober for the entire tour, now as a paid employee. He played and scream-sang through the gigs like only Alexi Laiho could.


    It was a better ending than any in the band had dared hope for.


    LAIHO wanted to continue making music, and according to the trio he could easily have had permission to use the name ‘Children of Bodom’, if only his lawyer and the LLC legal counsel had come to an agreement about it.

    No such request ever came.

    “He was smart enough to ask whether it would be OK to call his band Bodom After Midnight, and we said of course it was,” says Wirman.


    In early 2020, they exchanged cordial messages, and after the pandemic hit, they devised Children of Bodom face masks, with which Alexi posed for photos.


    “When we were about to launch our new shop, we asked Alexi to come on board with a one-fourth share in a number of products like before, and he was closely involved right up to the end of his life”, says Seppälä.


    After all that has happened, the trio underline that it is an honour to have had the opportunity to make music with Laiho for decades. Their relationship was more brotherhood than friendship, which is why the end of the band was so traumatic to deal with. Even therapy was required.


    Today, Seppälä has a degree in political science and has returned from teaching to music in a band called Moon Shot, which includes other successful musicians from Disco Ensemble and Lapko. They are planning a European tour.


    Jaska Raatikainen plays with Mercury Circle, who are working on their second album.


    Janne Wirman is studying architecture at Aalto University.


    “And we still work for our LLC”, says Wirman.

    “There’s all sorts of stuff in storage that would be of interest to fans. We have a dream of setting up a Children of Bodom museum-cum-bar.”


    THE trio are currently compiling a photo exhibition on Children of Bodom to be put on display at the Espoo Cultural Centre in October 2022, jointly with Alexi’s estate.

    “They have the full support of our family”, says Alexi’s sister Anna Laiho, representing the estate.


    “It’s comforting to be able to do something small together in Alexi’s memory.”


    Anna Laiho agreed to talk about the final attempts to rescue her brother in autumn 2020. She, his Australian spouse Kelli Wright-Laiho and a few close friends again attempted to get him professional help, but he refused.


    “At heart, he was a warm and caring person, always ready to help others. But he had his demons, and he wanted to fight those alone”, his sister says.

    “He wanted to make his own choices. For better or worse.”
     
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  2. COB-666

    COB-666 Active Member

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    Thanks!

    So... he was really drunk when recording the BAM-video. (Alix said that, and Henkka told him) Sad...
    I'll be curious about that museum.
     
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  3. Faffy

    Faffy Active Member

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    Glad that they had the presence of mind to legally protect themselves (and Alexi himself) from his increasingly erratic actions over the years to preserve their livelihoods and musical legacy. So sad it had to come to it, but the clarity and substantiated account of how it went down is much appreciated after all the bullshit in recent years.
     
    #3 Faffy, May 10, 2022
    Last edited: May 10, 2022
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  4. Sinthoras_96

    Sinthoras_96 Member

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    Good interview.

    I'm just wondering how the BAM guys didn't notice those problems. The gigs they did at the end seemed fine to me too.
     
  5. rockyoulikeahurricane

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    Without implying or naming any names specifically... this is what a lot of us already thought, right...?
     
  6. drawnacrol

    drawnacrol 7Slinger

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    A lot of this was public knowledge, a lot wasn't. Glad it is finally out in the open, even if it is over a year since they said they would tell their side. There are parts left out but all they would do is tarnish Alexi's name.

    There is finally an answer wether the face mask picture was photoshopped or not.

    The Children of Bodom museum is a great idea but also a bit late. Fans would have donated thousands to buy up Alexi's guitars & gear when it went up for sale after his death. Maybe there is enough leftover.

    Now that the tours and festivals are back I wonder will we get an Alexi Laiho tribute show in Finland like they did for Dimebag Darrell. Or even a whole tour like Death To All for Chuck Schuldiner.
     
  7. Lucas Snajder

    Lucas Snajder New Metal Member

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    "When Laiho was at his second home in Australia, he wanted to quit. When he was in Finland, he wanted to go on"

    Sadly this also explains a lot.
     
  8. Szeptu Cha

    Szeptu Cha New Metal Member

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    Exactly. I had the same thing on my mind
     
  9. Juggler

    Juggler Member

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    This is the long version of what we could read between the lines, last year on Alexis' Birthday when Janne tried to defend himself and the COB guys.
    Last year, Jeff Waters from Annihilator revealed his own story of quitting alcohol and how interested Alexi was in this, and a lot of people shared their own experiences under this post. For me, this was the crucial point to decide to stop drinking for good.
    Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs because it is so much accepted in society, that it seems weirder to be abstinent than to be a hard drinker. Really, something is very wrong with that.
    I have no problem with people drinking normal amounts but I just can't do that anymore.
    Losing Alexi and his wonderful talent was one of the toughest tasks in my life and it is still hard to accept but quitting drinking was the easiest. Just seeing Booze nowadays makes me pissed and sad.
     
  10. InvisibleByNight

    InvisibleByNight Totally Fucking Dead.

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    Sad to read.

    But as been said this only clarify and confirm things that we already knew.
    And yeah Alexi definetely wasn't the luckiest guy in terms of women in his life.
     
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  11. dthmtl3

    dthmtl3 Member

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    Still kinda weird. Alexi fired Roope for being an unreliable drunk then becomes one himself the next year. He claims to be broke but wants to continue on as an employee of the LLC. That couldn't possibly have been more lucrative for him. Then after they disband he wants to continue making music. So why break up to begin with? Not seeing how he figured this would have solved he money issue, which they claim he claimed as the reason for it all, especially if he didn't even bother to ask for the COB name, instead he tried unsuccessfully to take it by force. So yeah, this is their side which lays all the responsibility on Alexi. Clearly, the money issue sounds like an excuse and he really didn't want to keep playing with these 3. But why?
     
  12. InvisibleByNight

    InvisibleByNight Totally Fucking Dead.

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    Maybe it wasn't "him" since both sides of K vs K were kinda interested in his money and it's harder to take them from LLC than from private assets.

    As an addict it's quite easy to get angry when someone stops you and in BAM all guys were younger and in some playing-with-idol position so they probably overlooked a bit about his drinking.
     
  13. Faffy

    Faffy Active Member

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    Or since he'd just bought a house and paid for a 'wedding' and showing his new partner with gifts he was indeed struggling for money.


    It's possible he saw himself in how bad Roope had become and it scared him and instead of dealing with it constructively, the firing was an out of sight, out of mind thing for Alexi.

    His erratic moods, reactions and behaviors they described are textbook addict. Especially since they'd criticised his performance and tried to get him to do something he wasn't willing to, it'd have been a personal offence to him.

    Trying to fuck the guys over and take the name by force also, though who might have put that idea in his head to be a possible solution? Since he hated administration and paperwork etc at the best of times. Surely his lawyer could have told him it was impossible?

    Poor guy was surrounded by 'yes men' and enablers when he was at his most vulnerable.
     
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  14. InvisibleByNight

    InvisibleByNight Totally Fucking Dead.

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    Could be also.

    And that's the saddest thing...
     
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  15. Fastbodom

    Fastbodom I Spit on Your Grave

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    well this also keeps my mind blown, Daniel was during this in COB on the front seat, he also then saw it through BAM,... maybe he didnt felt like it was his place to say something, he did join the band with the guys he looked up to i guess... on the other hand...
     
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  16. dthmtl3

    dthmtl3 Member

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    But who says that the BAM guys didn't notice? No doubt they knew, especially Daniel, but what could they have done? This was their ticket to making it big. Not to mention by the time of BAM, Alexi's fate was already sealed.
     
  17. ChaosChristophe91

    ChaosChristophe91 New Metal Member

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    3 points stood out to me:

    1. “So we can only wonder why he went into a tailspin again in 2016”, sighs Wirman.

    2. “i have no choice but quit the fuckin band. U can post this to everyone,” wrote Laiho and added that he was “bankrupt”.

    3. Uncertainty ensued. When Laiho was at his second home in Australia, he wanted to quit. When he was in Finland, he wanted to go on.

    These were mentioned in certain conversations we've all seen referring to an Australian person and now confirmed in this interview. Your environment and the people you surround yourself with really does make a difference. He ultimately did this to himself, but enablers allow you to think you don't have a problem that needs to be dealt with. I feel for these dudes. They seemed to really try and really care. At some point the person themself needs to want help. This is a classic addiction trait. Push away the people who try to help and invite people who enable your toxic behaviour. A very sad and eyeopening read.
     
  18. COB-666

    COB-666 Active Member

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    Eluveitie Bodom-cover!

    " Follow The Reaper (Children Of Bodom Cover) - A Salute To Alexi Laiho

    In the beginning of 2021 we lost a true Metal Titan and undisputed Guitar Hero who took the stages of this world by storm with crushing attitude and musical finesse. Our own Jonas assembled a bunch of friends to pay tribute to the Music of Alexi Laiho and Children Of Bodom. Here’s to the Wildchild - gone but never forgotten! "


     
  19. Sinthoras_96

    Sinthoras_96 Member

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    The thing that I don't get is: The BAM gigs seemed totally fine to me regarding Alexis Performance. It didn't look like he was drunk during these shows at all.
    I even remember a lot of people commenting that he looked healthier again at these shows.

    It seemed like he had it under control.

    But then he showed up completely drunk to that video shoot and then he was dead.

    I wonder if something really bad happened between the video and the shows that made him loose his mind again.
     
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  20. Juggler

    Juggler Member

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    Alexi also looked healthier in November when BAM posted pictures of the recordings and mastering for "Paint the Sky with Blood." And on the little videos from the recordings, he looks pretty happy and relaxed too.
    The thing is, Alexi used alcohol not only to comfort himself, but also to party. Maybe he was just looking forward to the video shoot and the EP and had a little celebration that escalated.
     

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