Child of Bodom

Henkka Seppälä joins forces with local bands at Oddbody’s

By Mike Ritchie

Photo: Henkka Seppala plays for the 1st time apart from Children of Bodom in 20 years Oct. 22

Raise your educated horns.

The Metal in Strange Places Conference returns Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 20–22 at the University of Dayton. Each day, speakers will present their contributions to metal studies. Metal as a study is expanding into multiple fields such as social science, media, gender, and anthropology. And once again, Oddbody’s Music Room will host a fundraising after party featuring local talent. Last year’s event featured guest speaker Alex Skolnick of Testament. This year’s causes include the Alzheimer’s Association and the Miami Valley and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

One of this year’s keynote speakers, Children of Bodom bassist Henri “Henkka” Seppälä, will discuss his Finnish upbringing, influences, touring experiences, and the future of the scene before taking the stage with some local bands.

Seppälä was born in Espoo, Finland, in 1980 and played the majority of his musical life in Children Of Bodom. A teenage Seppälä studied piano, progressing to electric guitar. He changed to bass after joining Bodom.

Seppälä finished high school while playing, with a passion for history and social matters. He studied at the University of Helsinki when time allowed. He earned his master’s in social sciences and political history in 2012.

He got involved in the conference through a mutual friend of organizer Bryan Bardine. “I was like yeah, of course if someone wants me to speak somewhere. Bryan emailed me and everything turned out well.”

Children Of Bodom have played Ohio 10 or 15 times. The conference will be Seppala’s first time in Dayton, and he’s honored to share his knowledge of the Finnish scene and worldview of metal.

Following his presentation, he’ll attend the after party at Oddbody’s joining a band on stage. Which band and songs is not known, but his participation shadows Skolnick’s. “I’m gonna do one or two songs at the show,” he says. “They’re gonna be local bands songs, and [I’ll] be a guest player.”

It’ll be Seppälä’s first time playing with another band since his youth. “I’m gonna go through their albums and see if there’s any songs I’m able to play.”

When many musicians might have put education aside given a chance to tour the world, Seppälä took his education seriously: “I was able to do both—I was thankful for the system Finland has with their university. It’s a bit different from other Western scholarly systems.”

He’s never had a desire to do side projects, explaining, “So far, I’ve been very, very satisfied musically with this band. I’ve never even considered doing anything else. I haven’t played with any other bands in almost 20 years.”

He also has interest in the big screen, co-owning a film company where he plans to develop scripts for political history films: “A good friend of mine, we have a production company together. When I have time, not on tour, I practice script writing. That’s fun to do when I have a lot of free time.”

There are many stories to tell, but there’s one he chooses to share: “The one I’m writing at the moment is about Finnish political history during the ’60s and the Cold War. It was this small political crisis in 1961, a three week period in the midst of the Cold War, and the president was involved in some shady action.”

There’s a lot of great talent coming from Finland. Seppälä sees a balance between emerging bands and bands from the underground touring internationally: “I think it’s exciting. That’s every teenage musicians dream.”

Seppälä was talking from Tokyo. Though they haven’t played the Budokan yet, they’ve stayed in a hotel just next to it. “We could see the Budokan, that’s as close as we got. It’s a legendary venue and it’d be an honor to play it,” he says.

The name originated from the lake in their hometown, but they didn’t know there was an unsolved true crime story behind it, which is now being adapted as a film: “We played with the wording and came up with Children of Bodom—it’s a very famous case.”

He also addresses cultural differences between countries: “I’m from Finland, that’s where I grew up, I’m an outsider. I remember the first time we came to the states, in 2003 or 2004. We’d been touring for eight years; it was very different.”

Seppälä’s says Finland crowds are more serious in the all-black style: “When we go to the states it’s more diverse, people with baseball caps, soldiers, and teenage girls wearing pink…”

Henkka Seppälä performs Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Metal in Strange Places After Conference Benefit Show at Oddbody’s Music Room, 5418 Burkhardt Rd. in Dayton. ZUEL, Engraved Darkness, EpiKisT I, and Apollo Forces of Nature are also on the bill. Tickets are $10. Show starts at 9 p.m., doors at 8. For more information, please visit Oddbodys.com.

 

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Ritchie at MikeRitchie@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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