Children of Bodom – A Bottle Deep and the Sun Is UpSunday, 21st July 2013
The suddenly bronze members of Children of Bodom are in no way used to trekking across North American on a summer outdoor tour. This time of year is usually reserved for the vaunted European festival circuit, but with the band’s new Halo of Blood receiving a June release date and the big-time backing of Nuclear Blast at their disposal, such opportunities can’t be passed up. Plus, the band has been doing some serious dirty work in these parts ever since their 2003 Hatecrew Deathroll breakout. Was that really released ten years ago?
In the press area of the First Niagara Pavilion, DR was assigned to speak with second guitarist Roope Latvala, a man whose drunken antics occasionally precede the fact that he’s the ultimate guitar sideman to Alexi Laiho’s regular flash and panache. Latvala, though, has been around the block for quite some time, having guided Stone, one of the first Finnish metal bands of significance in the late 80’s, then working his way up with stints in unheralded acts such as Walteri and Synergy, where upon his bond with Laiho was forged. When then-Bodom guitarist Alexander Kuoppala suddenly bolted in early 2003, only one call was made – to Latvala. The rest is well-documented history.
With a picnic table snagged in which to converse and a cup of coffee in Latvala’s hand, we got down to business. Here’s how it shook down…
Dead Rhetoric: You’re accustomed to the European summer festival circuit around this time of year. How different and/or weird is it for you guys to be playing outdoors in North American in the summertime?
Roope Latvala: It’s pretty good. It’s a little different how it’s a one-day shot – they start from scratch, then build it up. You pull up to the site and there’s this huge parking with nothing going on, then all the buses start showing up and things start happening. It’s crazy. The European festivals are a couple days of long and it’s an experience, that’s for sure. Over here, you come by car and it’s quite different.
Dead Rhetoric: Looks like you’re getting a nice little tan. A bit odd for you to be playing during the day?
Latvala: Yeah, it’s more like pretty raw because it’s broad daylight. There’s no lights on the stage. I burned myself a few times being outdoors. I brought a portable bike with me, actually.
Dead Rhetoric: You don’t strike me as a fitness guy.
Latvala: It’s always cool to hit the town, Google the place first, then hit the road. It’s crazy biking here because of the hills.
Dead Rhetoric: You’re back on Nuclear Blast and while you weren’t in the band during the first stint, what’s the feeling amongst the guys?
Latvala: It feels pretty good. Universal started collapsing, different territories were pretty terrible, but now it’s down to one whole thing, which is pretty cool. In European territories, in the U.S. and even South America…there’s a lot of flavor to it. They have a lot going on. It’s been going pretty well.
Dead Rhetoric: The thing with the new album is you went back to some extreme elements, but for you being more of a classic metal guy, was it easy to adapt? You’ve been around the block for a while…
Latvala: Yeah, since the late 80’s [laughs]. I don’t know if we’re going backward…we didn’t actually think about it. We had some good rehearsal time and demoed every session, and we were always coming up with something new so we didn’t forget things. We’d practice them at home, then feel better. We had a really good time.
Dead Rhetoric: At this point in your career with Bodom, you’re able to do some slower numbers, and on the new album you have one, although I can’t remember the name. [It’s “Dead Man’s Hand On You” – ed.]
Latvala: Yeah, and I can’t remember it either [laughs]. In Finnish we call it “Pettymys” which means “disappointment.” It’s so brooding and moody, just the chorus. It’s depressing when it’s going nowhere…it’s like “fuck!”
Dead Rhetoric: Typical Finnish solemn nature.
Latvala: That’s the impression most people have of us over here, but I don’t think so. There’s a lot of dark bands in Sweden, too. Like Dark Funeral or something.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s been over ten years since you joined. What were you doing when you got the call to join?
Latvala: I was playing Walteri, and Walhalla, and of course, we had the Synergy thing going on. We did three albums together and toured the world together, so we knew exactly what the other guy was playing. I was the first option – I learned the songs pretty quickly. I started off as just a session player, but the tours started gathering and it was time to do a new album and they were like, “Ah, fuck it – you’re in the band!”
Dead Rhetoric: No formal introduction process?
Latvala: I think it was in the back lounge of the bus, you know, okay fuck it, let’s drink to this!
Dead Rhetoric: Some of those Synergy albums were pretty good, you know.
Latvala: There were a lot of guitar works going on, and we had the bass player that’s in Nightwish now.
Dead Rhetoric: Marco [Hielta].
Latvala: Yeah, Marco! Once he went to Nightwish, we had Lauri Porra, who now plays in…
Dead Rhetoric: Stratovarius.
Latvala: Yeah! We actually counted how many guys had been in Synergy and we came up with 14.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you think that hurt some of those albums?
Latvala: No, we had a really good lineup for Suicide by My Side. That was good. Then we almost finished the one album, the fourth album. Everything was there, but it vanished. I still have the drum tracks and some guitars, but it’s in the graveyard.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s amazing to think how things worked out for you. One day you’re just doing Synergy with Alexi, then you’re in Bodom.
Latvala: Yeah, and I was working as a janitor at the time.
Dead Rhetoric: And you were one of the main guys in Stone.
Latvala: We never broke into other territories, though. Finland is a really small country. I think you have to get to 25,000 to go Gold; now it’s 15 or something. I’m very glad about joining this band. We’ve toured all around and seen places; it’s been great.
Dead Rhetoric: I’ve read the stories, but I have to ask: are you getting better at “managing” your alcohol intake?
Latvala: Yeah, it’s been trained [laughs]. It’s the game you have to be ready for the gig. When we headline, it gets so late and after we play, it’s game over and we start moving to the next city. We’ll be done today by 7, then take a shower, get some dinner, then after, what the fuck.
Dead Rhetoric: You’re one of the first guys through in the Finnish metal scene. The scene has grown quite a bit, so how does that make you feel?
Latvala: When we started, there weren’t even cell phones or the Internet. There was Tarot, who came up about the same time as. There were some other thrash bands during our time. I remember when Stratovarius got really big and Walteri was one of the ones that started making it really big.
Dead Rhetoric: Wrapping up, what’s the rest of the year look like?
Latvala: This will end in August 14. We’ll do a few shows off this tour and then we have two weeks off, then a week trip in Japan. Then starts a nine-week European tour, which is a headline tour.