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May 2014
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Interview: Children of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho - Fast and Slow

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Interview: Children of Bodom’s Alexi Laiho – Fast and Slow


"Transference" from Halo of Blood

I understand you picked up the guitar after seeing Steve Vai’s “For the Love of God” on MTV. Have your influences changed over the years?
Steve Vai and Zakk Wylde, among many others, are still definitely the guys that I look up to. There are so many good guitar players out there, man. So many. But those two, and guys like Jake E. Lee, Randy Rhoads, Dimebag, and Paul Gilbert are always going to be the main influences.

But now that you can play just as good and fast, if not better and faster than those guys, and considering that you are also now a bona fide guitar hero, does that change your perspective?
No, not at all. They’re still heroes to me, and those are your words not mine [laughs]. I think it’s healthy to keep it that way. I know what you mean, though. All I can do is just try to improve as a guitar player and a songwriter every single day. I know those guys do the same thing. Zakk and Vai still practice and they’re all about just getting better. In my opinion, you can never be a good enough guitar player.

Tell us about your gear. Is the V-shape of your signature guitar inspired by Randy Rhoads?
Yeah, it’s a Randy Rhoads shape. That’s one of the reasons but back in the day, a lot of bands used guitars like that. I remember the guys from Anthrax had those Jacksons with the pinstripes, and Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P had a badass one, too.

What pickup do you have in your guitar?
It’s an EMG HZ passive pickup and I have a gain boost thing built-in. It’s not my own design but it’s my own signature pickup. I’ve always had this setup. I don't even know why. I don’t remember how that came about. One of my guitars had that setup and I thought it sounded badass.

Does the gain boost require a battery?
Yeah.

So since you have to use a battery anyway, why not just go with active pickups?
I think that passive pickups have a cooler sound than active ones. That’s my opinion.

A lot of shredders like to use .009s because they’re easy to play. You use .010s. Is it harder to shred with that set up?
You get used to it. Its .010–.056. When I first got that setup I was like, “Holy fuck. This is way too thick.” But I got used to them real quick and now I just love them. The low strings are pretty thick but perfect for the dropped tunings.

What about pedals?
I only use an MXR Stereo Chorus. That’s all I need really. I don’t fuck around with effects that much. I like to keep it rock ’n’ roll: one good guitar sound and the rest is up to me.

In the interlude of “Transference,” it sounds like there’s a flanger. What did you use there?
Yeah, it’s a flanger. That was added later on in the mix. I thought it was just a cool thing to do.

Gear

Guitars
ESP signature models with EMG HZ passive pickup and built-in gain boost

Amps
Marshall JVM, Lee Jackson preamp, VHT power amp

Effects
Dunlop MXR Stereo Chorus

Strings, Picks, and Accessories
DR .010–.056 strings, Dunlop Jazz III picks, Shure wireless

What about amps?
I’ve recorded everything through an old school Lee Jackson preamp but with this album, I played everything through a Marshall JVM, one of the newer ones. I wanted to have a bigger guitar sound. The thing with the Lee Jackson is that it’s all about the midrange, and I’m all about midrange too, but it wasn’t possible to get enough low end from that thing. I went through a shitload of amps and I just landed on the Marshall. It sounded the best. What I did was crank the middle all the way up and then just added a lot of bass so I got the mean Lee Jackson tone out of it but with more balls. More low end and with that Marshall punch. It’s kind of hard to explain but you know what I mean. It sounds like me through a Marshall. It turned out to be a really good idea to do that.

Are the Marshalls going to be part of your touring rig now?
Yeah, I’m sure they’ll work fine when we play live, but obviously I have to do a tour or two with them to see how they work. But they’re fuckin’ Marshalls so what could possibly go wrong? I’m used to touring with that Lee Jackson thing, which would break every fuckin’ day, so I’m sure that it’s going to be a lot easier.

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