The final years of Children of Bodom were tumultuous. In late 2019, three longtime members of the Finnish melodeath icons — bassist Henkka Seppälä, keyboardist Janne Wirman and drummer Jaska Raatikainen — announced their departure from the band under the guise of wanting to step back from touring and focus on family life. Throughout 2020, guitarist-frontman Alexi Laiho continued making music under the name Bodom After Midnight up until his tragic death in late 2020, which was attributed to liver degradation caused from years of alcohol abuse.
In a new interview with Finland's Helsingin Sanomat, Seppälä, Wirman and Raatikainen spoke publicly about their departure for the first time ever, revealing that the actual reason they left the band in 2019 wasn't because they were done with music and wanted to spend time with their families, but because Laiho's substance abuse issues were out of control.
"Addiction is an illness, and he destroyed our trust in him with his actions in our business venture," the band said. "But he apologized for a lot of things, and we did work together even after the band broke up."
Throughout the article, the three members say that Laiho's drinking was in an especially dangerous spot during a 2008 Slipknot tour, which led his bandmates to request that he stop drinking on tour. For years, Laiho complied with the request and was able to control his habit, but around 2016 he began to pick up the bottle again and that's when things started to go permanently south.
The band collectively formed an LLC in 2003 that allowed them to split financial ownership of the group, but in 2017, Laiho was allegedly unsatisfied with the amount of money he was making and often threatened to pull himself out of the LLC. In 2018, Laiho temporarily quit Children of Bodom before ultimately changing his mind and agreeing to return for one more record, 2019's Hexed.
His drinking continued as tensions flared, and in 2019 he infuriated his bandmates when he tried to register Children of Bodom under his own name, an attempt to strip his bandmates of financial ownership. They continued, but Laiho's behavior during one of their final tours in 2019 was concerning.
"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. He stopped drinking for their final shows but was clearly still suffering from debilitating alcoholism.
By the end of 2019, Seppälä, Wirman and Raatikainen decided it was best to leave the group altogether, and let Laiho fulfill his wish from a few years earlier and buy them out of the LLC. They said that they remained in contact with Laiho after their departure and up until his death in December of 2020, bringing him in as a partner when they were planning to launch a Children of Bodom merch store that year.
"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," Seppälä said.
Read the full story here.