Alexi Laiho’s tragic passing marked an end of an era in metal music. Nonetheless, his game-changing influence will still be felt for decades to come. Revolutionizing guitar playing and songwriting in metal music, Laiho still remains one of the genre’s greats.
Unfortunately, the last years of his life were marked by substance abuse, ultimately leading to Children of Bodom’s split. Fans have been noticing that something’s off for a while. In early 2022, it was officially revealed that Laiho passed away in late December of 2021.
In a new interview conducted by Helsingin Sanomat, the band’s bassist Henkka Seppälä, keyboardist Janne Wirman, and drummer Jaska Raatikainen spoke up on the matter, revealing a few details about the split as well as Laiho’s struggles with alcoholism. As the members jointly explain:
“Alexi was the only one to do interviews about the band breaking up, and his versions diverged from the truth. The fans have a right to know what happened.”
Just to recap, in March of 2021, Laiho’s death was ruled as “alcohol-induced degeneration of the liver and pancreas connective tissue.” In addition, the musician’s wife added that “he had a cocktail of painkillers, opioids, and insomnia medication in his system.”
Getting back to the interview, three musicians explained how the problems began back in 2008 during Children of Bodom’s tour with Slipknot. Laiho was struggling with the issues, eventually sorting things out in 2012.
Unfortunately, as keyboardist Janne Wirman added that the frontman relapsed and problems started again in 2016. This was followed by Laiho’s complaints about not earning enough from the band and the remaining members bought off their shares of the Children of Bodom moniker in 2017.
The members further revealed in the interview that Alexi decided to quit the band in 2018, informing them via e-mail, although they persuaded him to stay. The main reason was that the remaining members would face financial struggles at that point.
In 2019, as they explain, Alexi was “dangerously underweight.” In addition, the band started keeping their live performances shorter than usual. Additionally, the frontman was diagnosed with diabetes and has also refused to enter rehab. Eventually, the band agreed on recording one more album and they planned out their remaining tours.
The Russian tour of 2019 was particularly difficult as Laiho was once again back to the old habits of 2008. Drummer Jaska Raatikainen said:
“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.”
The members also revealed that, during the tour, Laiho began messaging the band and the management with threats of firing Henkka Seppälä and Janne Wirman, along with other drunken statements for which he apologized later. They added how Laiho’s “hands were shaking for two days” but that the shows in St. Petersburg and Moscow “went pretty well.”
When the tour ended, the members bought their stakes in the band, giving them control over the merch and the Children of Bodom name. After that, they went on their final tour in Finland and, as they explained, Laiho’s behavior was in check, keeping things professional. They remained on good terms with him and even allowed him to tour under the Bodom After Midnight name. In 2020, they launched their merch line, explaining:
“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.”
At the end of the interview, the remaining Children of Bodom members add that they kept good relations with Alexi until the very end.
Photo: Kaja Konarska (Masters of Rock 2007 – Children of Bodom – Alexi Laiho – 10)