One of the most popular Finnish metal bands announced in November 2019 to call it quits as three original members would leave the band. On this blog post I will take you through a few interesting details about the birth of an amazing debut album. I will tell you 5 things you didn’t know about Children Of Bodom‘s Something Wild album.
You should continue reading if you want to learn previously unreleased Children Of Bodom details straight from the source.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Children Of Bodom’s Something Wild album
It was in 1997 when I received a phone call from Alexi Laiho as he wanted to reserve studio time for recording and mixing an album. I remembered the boy as we’d done two demo sessions with his band. And if you think he was calling to book a session for a band that refers to murders by the lake in Espoo in June of 1960, you are wrong. Alexi was making a reservation for his band Inearthed which only later would be known by the name Children Of Bodom.
I had already recorded and mixed two out of three Inearthed demos. So now it was time to take a bigger step and start working on their first full-length album. During the process we named it “peiskalätty” which loosely translates as “the lousy album”.
We set the date to the end of the summer vacation and they’d arrive to Astia-studio, Lappeenranta, on July 23rd. At the time, the studio location was in the center of the city at Koulukatu 1.
You might be familiar with several details from the birth of the Something Wild album if you read my blog on a regular basis. This time you’ll get to learn details which I haven’t previously shared here.
1. Which guitar amp we used and where is it now?
The guitar sound on the album is pretty heavy and it’s been noted in several reviews. While touring as the FOH sound engineer for COB in 1998–2002, I was lucky to hear Alexi Laiho play the guitar using a vast amount of amplifiers. No matter which amp he used, he always sounded like himself. So the unique sound comes mainly from his fingers.
Back then I had the guitar amp of my co-worker Mr Jussi Jauhiainen at the studio; a 110 volt version of the Peavey 5150 mk1 tube head. That specific individual amp sounded amazing! Guitar players who got to play it loved the sound and you can hear it on many of the sessions we did at Astia during that era.
So we used Jussi’s guitar amp on Something Wild. The cabinet was most likely the Marshall 4×12″ that’s on the photo above. I had a Shure SM57 or SM58 microphone in front of the cabinet.
But where did the amp end up during the years? The current owner is Mr Antti “Hyrde” Hyyrynen, the guitar playing vocalist of Stam1na band. You have heard this amp on all of the Stam1na albums as he recalls using it on the rhythm guitar recording.
2. The unreleased track from the Something Wild session
Did you know that we recorded and mixed an extra song for Something Wild that was never released? A very different version of the same song is on an old Inearthed demo.
Back then I played guitar whenever possible and was highly honored when Alexi asked me to play a solo on that song. Who knows if there will come a day when the song that’s been hiding for over two decades will see the light of day and you’d finally get a chance to enjoy it too.
3. Overdubbing drums for a part on tape machine
I recorded Something Wild on a digital tape machine called Adat that uses S-VHS tape. With that technology there weren’t too many options for editing. But what we could do was to transfer the mix from DAT tape to computer.
When recording drums, two songs started great but there was a mistake at the end. So we decided to record the end part separately and combine the parts after mixing. Nowadays that’s nothing special but back then it definitely was.
When you record on tape there is no undo. Once you press record, the previous take from the selected tracks is gone and the new take gets recorded. You have no option to do any edge-editing or restore the previous take.
On one song the drummer Jaska Raatikainen was super satisfied, but wanted to re-record the fast double bass drum part. So we ended up doing something wild that isn’t usually possible when recording on tape.
Even though we didn’t use a metronome Jaska was sure that he could play the fast double bass drum part more accurate if we’d overdub it. We did a couple of rehearsal passes and then recorded the small part again with drums.
The song was Deadnight Warrior and the part we re-recorded was the double bass drum part in 2:16–2:20. When working with DAW this is nothing special. But with tape the recording engineer needs to press record on and off exactly right as there is no room for error. I’m still very happy that both Jaska and I succeeded!
4. When mixing in the middle of the night we had a surprise visitor
Once we completed the recording the band went back home. Well, everyone else except Jaska as he wanted to stay for the mixing. The people present at the mixing stage were me, studio trainee Pasi Kärppä and Jaska.
As the equipment used had no automation we had to do everything manually. Each of us had a piece of paper full of instructions to nail the mix. We checked our cues from the timer of the Adat tape machine and on certain parts we did what the paper told us to do.
I prepared each mix; tweaked the sound, did the plan for the automation and wrote the instructions. Together we tweaked them and rehearsed all the details. Each mix needed a lot of rehearsing as on some songs we had our hands full.
There are songs that have over two dozen changes for each of us. One small mistake and we’d have to start from the beginning. Jaska was in charge of the drums. He’d take the snare level up and make sure that each tom hit was loud enough. He also operated the reverb department for the drums.
One night around 2 am the studio door opened and in walked a certain Alexi. We said hello and continue mixing. After a few seconds we realized the situation and were amazed. What was Alexi doing at the studio in the middle of the night? He should be in Helsinki instead!
Mr Laiho said he once again had trouble sleeping and his mom wouldn’t need the car until the morning. So he decided to drive some 250 km from Espoo to Lappeenranta to enjoy the mixes for an hour or so. He naturally didn’t bother to inform us before arriving.
Yup. Back then we always did 16 hour studio days so 2 am was a perfect time to mix an awesome album. The mixes pleased Alexi and he returned the car to his mom on time. That was the surprise visitor who dropped in to check the mixes.
5. Shopping-cart deathroll
If my memory serves me right I was recording Alexander Kuoppala‘s guitar once again in the middle of the night when we were disturbed by loud noise from the corridor. As we opened the door the rest of the band members were riding a shopping-cart like there was no tomorrow!
As the bass player Henkka Blacksmith was the youngest, the others put him in while they hung on to the sides of the shopping-cart. They’d been riding down on one of the main streets of Lappeenranta. As they got bored, they decided to drag the cart up the fire escape ladder to the 2nd floor where my studio was. They put Henkka in and pushed him on the sloped ceiling. Luckily they all survived the shopping-cart deathroll…
The next morning I checked the damages and the cart was in pretty bad shape. Therefore I didn’t dare to return it to the market. While moving to our current facility around the end of the Hatebreeder session I had to take the shopping-cart with me. The cart on the photo above is related to this incident.
6. I know I said five but let’s have one strange incident more
During the Something Wild session I was also mixing summer theater shows. On that summer we did Beauty And The Beast for kids. Before drummer Jaska moved to Espoo he lived in Lappeenranta and as he has lots of friends here he also knew some of the actors in the play.
One day Jaska decided to come along to the theater and due to strange coincidences he ended up as a smoke machine operator. Back then, even the smoke machines were a bit different and the operator had to crawl under the stage to operate it.
Jaska was brave enough for the job and took care of this task too with flying colors… I mean smoke. Well anyway, he most likely had no clue when he arrived to the session that he’d be crawling under the outside theater stage to blow a huge cloud of smoke while the beast made his transformation…
Read also these blog posts:
- How Ensiferum ended up recording Two Paths album on tape pt. 1
- How Ensiferum ended up recording Two Paths album on tape pt. 2
- “This was supposed to be the last session for us” – Case study Monotonia
- “In two months we learnt more than during the past 5-10 years” – Case study Serpico
- “From now on this is the only way Erävesi will make recordings” – Case study Erävesi
Children Of Bodom – Something Wild
Thank you for reading about the events that took place during the birth of the Children Of Bodom’s debut album Something Wild. Sometimes recording session has a lot of strange incidents and then on some sessions there are even more of those.
I recall enjoying the making of this album a lot. There’s one more thing that you might find strange, but this is what both the band and I honestly thought about the album at the time.
What I mean is that we were sure no-one would like this album. We laughed that it was too much black metal for the melodic metal people and too melodic for the black metal folk. We made the album wholeheartedly as it was the music we’d want to listen to and what we enjoyed the most. Yet, already back then were punk rockers and couldn’t care less about what others would think.
During the previous Inearthed session, when recording their Shining demo, each night we watched the awesome movie Amadeus on VHS. It had a huge impact on the band members and you can hear it on the debut album of Children Of Bodom. Can you recognize the Mozart melodies on the album?
I am grateful for being involved in the making of Something Wild. And especially now as they have announced that a chapter called Children Of Bodom is over, I want to express my gratitude for Alexi Laiho, Jaska Raatikainen, Alexander Kuoppala, Janne Wirman and Henri Blacksmith Seppälä for all the unforgettable memories and experiences that I got to share with them during the 20+ studio sessions and four years on the road. Thank you for the music that has helped many to survive through rough times.
If you like this blog post please share it on social media. This way you will help other Bodom fans to enjoy these bits and pieces about the making of their debut album. Thank you once again and all the very best!
Astia-studio is a full analog recording studio located in eastern Finland with 25 years of experience. Bands and artists from all over the world including USA and the furthest corner of Russia, Vladivostok have arrived to us for tape recording sessions.