Children Of Bodom broke up in 2019 after the departure of bassist Henkka Seppälä, keyboardist Janne Wirman, and drummer Jaska Raatikainen. Frontman and songwriter Alexi Laiho and guitarist Daniel Freyberg would go on to form Bodom After Midnight, who put out one EP after the death of Laiho in 2020. Prior to that, Children Of Bodom played one final show at the Helsinki Ice Hall in Finland in late 2019. The band cited creative differences as the reason for their breakup and that was that.
Now in a joint interview with Helsingin Sanomat, the band's three former members explain their side of the breakup. The trio cite Laiho's addiction as the reason for the breakup, adding that “Addiction is an illness, and he destroyed our trust in him with his actions in our business venture. But he apologised for a lot of things, and we did work together even after the band broke up.”
The trio explain that their side of the story and what was being made public began to separate in 2015 with the firing of guitarist Roope Latvala. Latvala said his firing was a surprise, while the trio agrees with Laiho that the firing was warranted: "Alexi became frustrated because Roope didn't perform his job duties, meaning rehearsals, so we went by the letter of the law: verbal warnings, formal warnings and finally termination."
Then in 2017, Laiho began to threaten quitting the band due to financial reasons."I've thought about pulling myself out of the company," he said in a correspondence dates December 4, 2017. Wirman added that yes – the company did default on payments, but "all the backlog was paid up when the income from the tour came in."
Laiho ultimately quit Children Of Bodom in 2018, then changed his mind after talking to the band and management. He wrote in July 2018, "I don't wanna leave things unfinished or especially just bail between tours. Im really not expecting to get anywhere near as much money as we did 10 years ago and i know i can be an intolerable, impulsive fuckface sometimes and I easily explode when everything goes to shit especially when im just mentally exhausted (I gotta work at that). That said, there is some truth behind what i said about how i feel, but nothing justifies me blaming anyone for the situation and for THAT I truly am sorry and also hoping we can do these shows without bad vibes."
Laiho's substance abuse was brought up during business meetings after he was diagnosed with diabetes and deemed "dangerously underweight," though he refused to go to rehab. Eventually Laiho agreed to one more album after Hexed in 2019 alongside a series of farewell tours. Laiho never showed up for the meetings to discuss either and sent a series of "'fuck off' messages." Laiho then tried to register Children Of Bodom in his own name, which caused the rest of the band to serve him with "a formal legal notice of loss of confidence" and the demand to sign over the band's name since it belonged to the company holding all the band's rights.
The trio then recalls Laiho "hitting the bottle like back in 2008" during the band's 2019 Russian tour, which he blamed on depression. Laiho eventually got it together, finished the shows, and was paid out of the band for his portion of ownership. The band played their final show in Finland and rest is history. Seppälä does point out that Laiho and Children Of Bodom were working together again in 2020: "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."
The trio are currently working with Laiho's estate, headed up by Laiho's sister Anna Laiho, on a photo exhibition celebrating Children Of Bodom at the Espoo Cultural Centre for this October.
Read the in-depth interview here.