For the first time, original Children of Bodom members have publicly addressed what really happened with late bandleader Alexi Laiho and how it affected the Finnish melodic death metal band toward the end.
Children of Bodom stopped playing in December 2019 after keyboardist Janne Wirman, drummer Jaska Raatikainen and bassist Henkka "Blacksmith" Seppala officially left the group. Around that time, Laiho told Finland's Helsingin Sanomat that his three bandmates wanted to stop touring with Bodom for family reasons. A year later, Laiho died from alcohol abuse.
This week, the three Bodom members opened up to the same newspaper, saying that Laiho's behavior late in his career is what actually led to their split.
"Alexi was the only one to do interviews about the band breaking up, and his versions diverged from the truth," they jointly told Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday (May 10). "We felt bad about that, also for our spouses. They'd always supported our international careers."
Now, Children of Bodom fans "have a right to know what happened," they said.
Laiho died at his home in Finland on Dec. 29, 2020. (It wasn't reported until early 2021, giving initial confusion to the date.) An autopsy confirmed the bandleader died of "alcohol-induced degeneration of the liver and pancreas connective tissue" and had "painkiller, opioids and insomnia medication" in his system.
"Addiction is an illness, and he destroyed our trust in him with his actions in our business venture," Wirman, Raatikainen and Seppala said this week. "But he apologized for a lot of things, and we did work together even after the band broke up."
The interview illustrates the band's business squabbles seemingly bolstered by Laiho's addiction struggles. By the time of a Bodom tour in Russia in October 2019, weeks before the three members left the act, the singer-guitarist's inebriated behavior came to a head.
"I told Alexi that you don't usually drink starting at breakfast before a gig," Raatikainen recalled, "and now you don't even warm up with the guitar before going onstage like you always do."
Children of Bodom's manager intervened — according to the musicians, not an uncommon occurrence — and Laiho threatened to fire the manager as well as band members. The frontman later apologized and stopped drinking for the last concerts of the tour.
"His hands were shaking for two days, but … Moscow and St. Petersburg went pretty well," Wirman recalled, saying Laiho's threats were "the sickness talking."
The interview seems to confirm that Children of Bodom split from issues affecting Laiho, not other members' wishes. Laiho was laid to rest in a private funeral in Finland in January 2021; he was 41 years old.
In the year between Children of Bodom's breakup and his death, Laiho formed Bodom After Midnight with Bodom guitarist Daniel Freyberg. Their Paint the Sky With Blood EP emerged last year.
Wirman currently performs in his solo project, Warmen. Raatikainen plays in the band Mercury Circle, Seppala in the group Moon Shot.
Read the interview with Wirman, Raatikainen and Seppala here.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug and/or alcohol dependence, help is available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Dial 1-800-622-HELP (1-800-622-4357) or send a text message to 1-800-487-4889.