Interview: HIM Frontman Ville Valo Talks New Album, Touring the U.S., and Going Solo
By Natalie Perez
Finnish icons HIM has been around for over 20 years and won a devoted following over that time for their signature "love metal." With their eighth album, Tears on Tape, hitting stores, including iTunes, today (you can read our review of it right here), we thought it would be a good time to catch up with frontman, vocalist, and acoustic guitarist Ville Valo.
REVOLVER You're on album No. 8. Did you ever imagine you would see this day arrive?
VILLE VALO No, obviously not. It's always stuff that keeps us on our toes and if we were to speculate at any album, even, like, our 13th, it's not how we do it. For us, it works one day at a time--as AA says.
What were you trying to achieve with Tears on Tape?
Keep ourselves entertained. It's such a big part of our lives when we formed over 20 years ago, so we try to spice things up a bit.
What was on your mind when you were writing the album?
Probably the lack of sleep I didn't get. Everything else was just a blur, but afterwards we just went with the flow. Me, I just get the ideas down, then show it to the guys while at rehearsal. So from there, we just bang our heads, having a good time, so that's the best way we do it. We don't have a strict plan on doing things. I think it's just great to have that magic and excitement, not knowing what you're going to get. It's just like opening a box of chocolates.
Can you tell us how this album differs from the previous ones? What, if anything, is the message behind it?
I think there is no message. It's more of the process that evolves. We're not political or religious so there is no statement behind our music. So with this one, it's more noisy, grungy, and straight to the point, much heavier than our last one and spooky at times. It has everything we are known for. We tried experimenting a bit, but I never write the same song twice so it's left to the ear of the beholder to decide on whether or not if it's something new or not.
What are your expectations for the album?
I think the basics would be to be surprised, touring, meeting some new people, just wanting to be successful in this industry, taking a lot of timing and luck. We don't know what's really going to happen with it, but we are happy with it, the style and sound of it, so by that we have fulfilled our expectations of it already. So now we just have to wait on what the people think of it whenever they get it.
How did the deal with your current U.S. record label, Razor & Tie, come about?
It was an odd situation. We were signed to Warner Bros. and everything changed. So we wanted to see if there would be alternatives out there so we went with Razor & Tie, due to them giving us a decent deal, so it's important to have a situation when calling a record label and having all of this assistance available. So we will see what happens next.
Will we ever see Ville Valo trying out a solo career?
Not me. Our bass player did a solo project and our guitarist worked on a side project. Since I am the main songwriter for HIM, that's enough for me. If I did go and write something, it would probably sound just like HIM, if not sound worse, so I am happy with the band the way it is.
Why did you want to do a mini U.S. tour in support of this album?
Since the album is coming out late in the Spring time, all of the summer festivals coming up, we had wanted to do this tour to let everyone know that there is a record coming out and we are around. After that tour, we will be doing another in the fall, but I'm not sure of where it will start. We just wanted to do more intimate shows for the loyal fanatics out there.
You have done work in the past with the guys of The 69 Eyes. Would you ever consider touring with them in the U.S.?
We've known each other for years, like, 90 something. But they're busy, so whenever we're in the studio, they're touring, or if they're in the studio, we're touring, so our paths never cross. But yeah, it would be nice to do, so I gota ask them next time I see them what they want to do.
What are your favorite things about touring in the U.S.?
The scenery, big skies. Like, touring in the U.K., the cities are, like, 100 miles from one another; where in the U.S., it's constant traveling and makes it great. Seeing these shady motels, gas stations, it's nothing like a tourist, you get to see the different sides of things. All of the states have different things. It's the best of both worlds when it comes to touring.
You guys have toured a lot over the years, but where hasn't HIM set foot in?
We've never played Africa, India, Alaska, Latin America, only played Japan once. There are a lot of places we would love to go to, to see what it's like, but the problem with touring is that if you wanted to see all of those countries and cities, you'd be on tour for years. By doing that, touring can be tiring being away from home, so we're still trying to find a balance between being in the studio and being out touring. It's a fine line, so hopefully we'll get to see some new places soon.
What can the fans expect to see from you for this year?
I'm hoping that there will be fans, because without them, we wouldn't get to do what we love to do. We'll just be touring as much as possible. We just shot three new videos, which should be out soon. We've been working on the live set list, bringing back my acoustic guitar for some songs, and playing songs we haven't played in a long time. So just switching things around just a tiny bit to get people's interest up.