Interview With Middy Toivonen
(Bodom After Midnight, ex-Santa Cruz)
Shannon W - What made you fall in love with rock music?
Middy Toivonen - “It wasn’t really my decision at any point, I was kind of thrown into it. My parents and their friends have always been really into rock music and music in general, it doesn’t necessarily have to be rock music but most of the time it was. My first memory as a kid was when I was 3 or 4 and I was sleeping under a palm tree, in a house of course because we don’t have palm trees in Finland, and hearing ‘You Got Me Rocking’ by The Rolling Stones. That’s my first ever memory. So I’ve always been around a lot of music. It came pretty naturally. My dad has been a huge influence on me since I was a little kid. Before finding bands through my friends, my dad introduced me to bands like Black Sabbath, David Bowie, and others. Hats off to dad.”
Shannon - How did you end up joining Bodom After Midnight?
Middy - “I was asked. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was playing with a friend of mine. We had this gig at the smaller club side of Tavastia club. When playing there, Alexi (Laiho) came over to me and asked if we could talk for a minute. I said ‘Sure, why not.’ Then he asked if I wanted to join the band and I said yes. It was a pretty short conversation. The story isn’t that spectacular haha.”
Shannon - What can we expect to see from that band in the future?
Middy - “Well there has been a lot of discussion. I’m not one of the people who reads all the Facebook comments and stuff, I try to pull myself away from that. A lot of people are saying we’re just going to be a Children of Bodom cover band and it’s not going to be that. Of course those tunes are going to be included, but the plan is to release new material as soon as everything is ready. Since the times are what they are, it’s really hard to say when to expect something, but it is coming up. We are hungry. We’re a new band. I’ve been away from stage for pretty much three years so I’m looking forward to getting back. The core is in Alexi’s songwriting and that style. I’m sorry to break it to you but you can’t expect us to make a Depeche Mode album or an electro-pop album, it’s just not gonna happen.”
Shannon - How did your experience playing in Santa Cruz change you?
Middy - “Well let's put it this way, I know what not to do. I could write a book about what not to do. But, of course, I changed a lot. It's hard to define it because it was such a long era in my life. I was 13 or 14 when I joined the band back in 2008. It was 10 years of my life so it’s hard to pinpoint the differences between what was normal growing up and what was because of the band. I got to see a lot of the world and I’m grateful for that. I got to go to many different places and meet so many people I would’ve never gotten the chance to meet. I’ve also made many lifelong friends which is what counts the most, right?”
Shannon - What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on in your music career so far?
Middy - “I have been pretty loyal to what I do so there aren’t that many options to choose from. I’m excited about the new band, of course, because I always like to move forward. It keeps it exciting. Standing still has never been my cup of tea. On the side, I’m starting to gather my own ideas for songs but that has to wait for awhile since we are just getting started with the Bodom thing and that is going to eat up a lot of time right now, but that’s a good thing. I don’t know if that answered the question at all but I’m more into moving forward than looking back.”
Shannon - How do you play bass so low down? *laughs*
Middy - “Haha. I’ve been asked that a lot. It’s because I’ve always done it that way. Of course from the beginning it was all about the look. I didn’t know how to play at all when I started. When Santa Cruz originally needed a bass player, I had never, ever touched a bass. When I heard they were looking for a bass player, I practiced for like a week. I guess back then they were desperate enough to bring me along. I’ve always played bass that way so it comes naturally now. It has its own tricks. It’s physically impossible to hit all the notes when it comes to being higher on the fretboard. Over the years I have figured out some tactics to make it work. But I will tell you when I’m 64, no one will love me anymore because my back will be crushed and my knees won't bend. Then I will have to get some other solutions for my bass playing. I don’t know how I do it, I’ve just been forced to find ways to play songs with the bass that low. I can’t change that anymore. When people ask my to come onstage and jam with them I’m like ‘Fuck, your bass is so high, I can’t play this, I look fucking goofy.’”
Shannon - How do you define success as a musician?
Middy - “Well it’s not a number thing. My musical highlights are creating or playing something I am proud of. Having the gig where everything seems to go perfectly or having a song idea that you are really excited about. Those are the moments when I get the shivers. Of course getting an authentic reaction from a crowd or listener. When people are really influenced by your music. No one gives a shit about the record sale numbers after a few years, the money has been spent and no one gives a shit. It’s about creating something that lasts over time. This is a bit of a gloomy way of seeing things but apart from people who destroy half of the world, not that many people are remembered after a few generations. But then again, art is one of those things that stands the test of time. My ultimate dream is to create something that is going to live on longer than I do. That might be the ultimate success to me.”
Shannon - If you had to get rid of one problem the world faces today, what would it be?
Middy - “Oh my god. I’m not that involved in politics and stuff. I follow it but it’s not something I want to dwell on. Equality would be the one thing I would want to be real. That might create something more than getting rid of one problem - that’s not going to solve anything. Getting rid of Coronavirus is not going to be the answer for our world for a long period of time.”
Shannon - Bands have not been playing shows lately, so what have you been doing to keep busy?
Middy - “I’ve had the busiest summer in a long time actually. Even counting the years where we were touring and playing festivals. I have been working on my summer cottage. I was given this cottage I have to take care of. I’ve been hanging out with friends and bandmates. Of course we have a new band so that has taken a lot of time with practicing. I’ve actually had a lot of time to actually focus on playing. One thing I haven’t been doing is watching TV because I just don’t have the time for it. I’ve had a busy summer. The first few months when the virus kicked in, I was pretty much doing nothing. But since it has gotten warmer in Finland, I have been busy all of the time. My old man bought a house so I’ve been helping him.”