CHILDREN OF BODOM Members Open Up About ALEXI LAIHO's Final Days: He 'Became Someone' We 'Didn't Recognize Anymore'

December 14, 2023

Earlier tonight (Thursday, December 14),CHILDREN OF BODOM members Henkka Seppälä (bass) and Janne Wirman (keyboards) hosted a listening party for the band's new live album, "A Chapter Called... Children Of Bodom (Final Show In Helsinki Ice Hall 2019)", at the Bodom Bar & Sauna in Espoo, Finland. The LP, which was recorded at CHILDREN OF BODOM's final concert on December 15, 2019 at the Black Box in Helsinki Ice Hall in Helsinki, Finland, will be made available tomorrow via Spinefarm.

During the question-and-answer portion of today's event, Wirman and Seppälä discussed their mindset going into CHILDREN OF BODOM's final concert, which took place a year before the band's frontman Alexi Laiho passed away due to alcohol-induced degeneration of the liver and pancreas connective tissue. Furthermore, Laiho had a cocktail of painkillers, opioids and insomnia medication in his system. He had suffered from long-term health issues leading up to his death.

Janne said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I felt a sense of relief onstage [at the final concert] 'cause I was very tired of Alexi's problems and constant problems with one guy. And then this guy who was our best friend and who wrote all the music, all of a sudden from 2016 on, just became someone I didn't recognize anymore. He was a different person, and he was so overcome with his disease and problems and it got to the point in 2019 we decided that this can't go on anymore. And then this was the last show. It was short notice, and we [originally] had so much better plans for how to say goodbye to all the international fans, how to do a proper farewell around-the-world tour [during 2020-2022] and whatever. But now, something we did not know, was [that] the pandemic [would happen], obviously, and that would have canceled all of those plans anyway."

Added Henkka: "So it was kind of, like, in a way we are lucky that we had this confrontation within the band that made us decide to drop [the group] earlier than we were supposed to and have this final show that was recorded. Because if you would have kept on the original plan with Alexi that let's do a farewell tour until 2022, I think it was, so then the pandemic would have ruined everything. And we probably would have never had this kind of last proper souvenir."

Asked if it ever entered their minds that they could take a long break away from each other and then maybe regroup at a later date, Henkka quipped: "That would have been like a mature way of dealing with it." Janne said: "Our manager at the time, Steve, did ask me that, at the eve of the last show, Steve asked me that, 'Are you ever gonna play with Alexi again?' And I said, 'I would only [play with him] if he would seek help and become fully sober.' And I knew that wasn't an option, that he had decided at that point, unfortunately, that he's just gonna die by his addictions, which is horrible. And it's very sad, but I knew him well enough that there was no way that he's gonna get better. And then that's why somehow it was also a relief for me at the last show. I realized that I need to let go."

Added Henkka: "The problems were pretty bad — I mean, within the band, all the relations. And I don't think anybody could see a future anymore. So [putting the band to rest] was the only option at the time. I'm sure that Steve, our manager, had some hopes of a reunion show within some years, of course, because he's a businessman [laughs], but it didn't even cross my mind at that time."

Continued Janne: "That's why I said that at the time I said that I will never play again with Alexi, 'cause I knew that he will not get sober, he will not get help for his problems. And then it would've been a totally different opinion. If somehow any of us would've felt that, 'Okay, Alexi is gonna get help. He's gonna get better,' all of us would've been, like, 'Okay, fine. Let's give him a couple of years and then let's get back together.' But that was not foreseeable at the time."

Added Henkka: "At the time it was, it was an impossible point."

Released with the blessing of Laiho's estate, the concert album completes the legendary band's career which began in Espoo, Finland in 1993 as INEARTHED. Over their career, CHILDREN OF BODOM released ten studio albums, two live albums, two EPs, two compilation albums and one DVD. The final lineup of the group upon their split in 2019 consisted of Laiho (lead guitar, lead vocals),Jaska Raatikainen (drums),Seppälä (bass),Wirman (keyboards) and Daniel Freyberg (rhythm guitar).

In a July 2023 interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NET, Wirman opened up about the string of events that led to the band's 2019 demise and the deterioration of Laiho's health.

"Alexi's downfall started in 2016," Janne said. "I don't know what caused him to do that. He told me but didn't tell anyone else in the band — he made sure no one else was in the room — and told me, 'Dude, from now on, I'm going to drink until I die.' I said, 'Fuck, man. You can't say that to me.' He said it another time in 2018. I knew that was what he was doing — he said he wouldn't take any help for his medical issues. He was going to keep drinking. That's what he did, which is fucking crazy."

Janne continued: "A lot of people who haven't had a family friend or work buddy or someone who is sick with alcoholism, a lot of people don't understand you cannot help the person who doesn't want help. He had decided he didn't want help and would keep drinking until he died. That's what he did."

Wirmen then detailed BODOM's final years, beset by infighting largely stemming from Laiho's substance abuse issues. "The last years were pretty bad," he said. "There was a lot of bullshit. It's so crazy because he was in such a good place a couple of years before. He was happy about being sober and on tour, and the shows were good. I don't know what happened to him. Something pushed him over the edge where he decided, 'Fuck it. I'm going to keep drinking.'"

Alexi's ashes were buried in December 2021 — nearly a year after his tragic passing. He was laid to rest at the Malmi Cemetery, a large cemetery located in the Malmi district in Helsinki, Finland.

Alexi and Jaska founded CHILDREN OF BODOM in 1993, and the band was one of the most internationally acclaimed metal acts in Finland up until their very last farewell concert. In 2020, Alexi put together BODOM AFTER MIDNIGHT, which recorded three songs and shot one music video, all of which were released posthumously.

Besides CHILDREN OF BODOM, Laiho had played in such acts as WARMEN, SINERGY, KYLÄHULLUT and THE LOCAL BAND. Awarded with a Metal Hammer Golden God and several other international prizes, the guitarist was also the main star, leading a group of one hundred guitar players at the Helsinki Festival in 2015 in "100 Guitars From Hel" — a massive concert piece he composed.

Last year, Wirman, Raatikainen and Seppälä discussed publicly for the first time the circumstances that led to the band's split and ultimately Laiho's death. In an interview with Finland's Helsingin Sanomat, the three surviving members of CHILDREN OF BODOM said the real reason for the band's breakup was not that they wanted to stop touring in order to spend more time with their families, which is how Laiho explained it to Helsingin Sanomat in November 2019. Instead, what caused the group to split was Laiho's substance abuse, and that is also what eventually killed him a year after they went their separate ways.

Laiho's addiction began to take a serious toll on CHILDREN OF BODOM in 2008, when the band was the support act on a SLIPKNOT tour. In the ensuing years, Laiho promised his bandmates that he would not drink on the road anymore. Although he kept his word for a few years, Alexi "went into a tailspin again in 2016," according to Wirman. Laiho, who had a substantial income as COB's main songwriter (all other income, from gigs to merchandise, was split equally),repeatedly complained that his income was declining and threatened to pull himself out of the limited liability company, AA & Sewira Consulting Oy, he and the other members formed in 2003.

After CHILDREN OF BODOM's manager brought up Laiho's substance abuse at a business meeting in New York in early 2019, Alexi refused to go into rehabilitation but did agree to see a doctor. He was diagnosed with diabetes, and he began taking medication to treat the condition.

In the summer of 2019, Laiho filed an application with the Finnish Patent And Registration Office to register the CHILDREN OF BODOM name to Laiho. This infuriated his bandmates who saw this as an attempt to hijack the name and brand that was controlled by the group's LLC.

During CHILDREN OF BODOM's tour of Russia in October 2019, Laiho "was hitting the bottle like back in 2008," his bandmates told Helsingin Sanomat.

"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 recalled.

Laiho later apologized 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," Raatikainen said.

Raatikainen, Seppälä and Wirman decided to go with Alexi's wish from a few years back and buy him out of the LLC. Laiho retained the rights to his music and was paid royalties on performances and record sales as before, but sold his part of the LLC that owns the name of the band and the merchandising rights.

According to the trio, Alexi was sober for CHILDREN OF BODOM's entire final tour of Finland in December 2019 and he "exchanged cordial messages" with them even after the start of the pandemic.

Alexi's sister Anna Laiho told Helsingin Sanomat that the three surviving members of CHILDREN OF BODOM "have the full support of our family."

Anna, Alexi's Australian wife Kelli Wright-Laiho and a few close friends attempted to get him professional help in the fall of 2020, 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", Alexi's sister said. "He wanted to make his own choices. For better or worse."

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Posted by Children Of Bodom on Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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