I nearly worked out... the talk between Chris Glaub, Nikolas Krofta and HIM-frontman VV which had been planned for years. And requirements shortly after new years actually were ideal. Ville was in the capital of Bavaria [Munich by the way lol] and in a good mood and with him the strong new album. Unfortunately Chris couldn’t come and so only Valo and Krofta met. But some time in the course of the year there will be a “Meeting of the Giants”
“Then we can do 2 on 2” Ville laughs. “Chris together with you and I bring Mige.”
The HIM-frontman pulled some strings a couple of months ago and had the whole band put on the guest list for Faith no More’s concert in Helsinki. A good deed which nonetheless Ville remembers with mixed feelings.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t go in the last minute. We were at the rehearsal place working on the new material. We had to put it in shape since we flew to LA a couple of days later to start recording. I remember that I was in a really bad mood that day. I would have loved to see Faith no More. But we didn’t have the time. But I really hope that this wasn’t a one-time comeback. I hope I’ll be able to see them live one day. Maybe I can talk to Mike Patton about Bohren & Der Club of Gore, too. This is a great band which I still enjoy listening to.”
And which Glaub recommended to Ville. But this is also an album which did not influence the new HIM album...
“At the very most in fine nuances and unconsciously. On Screamworks I hear a lot of influences from the 80s. This is nothing new. It’s well known that I like this era. But for the first time with Matt Squire we had a producer in the studio who is approximately our age and who grew up listening to the same music. We had a blast in the studio. I always said which song this song reminds me of. At two or three places I heard influences of the Top Gun Soundtrack. Old school Giorgio Moroder. But then again it sounds like Def Leppard or Van Halen during Sammy Hagar. And H?sker D? or a-ha. And Matt could understand those comparisons perfectly.”
Interesting comparisons which cannot be dismissed. But apart from that the album sounds more like the typical HIM than the last two albums VD and DL.
“This is like an old wisdom. You have to do a certain album to be able to do something completely different next time. VD was a very special album. Very long songs, slow passages, strange moodes. But this is what we wanted to do with that album.” With the result that many couldn’t understand the album. “This albums was our Ritual de Habitual,” Ville hints at Jane’s Addiction’s experiment. “I handled influences by Anathema, Cathedral and My dying Bride and Black Sabbath of course. I still like VD. I’ve just been listening to that album together with Screamworks and I was very satisfied. But it’s the same story every time. An album is never done. You just have to let it go some day. From today’s perspective I would have done some zestful passage even more zestful. This would have been a better contrast.”
Screamworks come out pretty much exactly 10 years after RR which was HIM’s big breakthrough album.
“Admittedly the melodies are more catchy and the keyboards more dominant than lately. But I still don’t think that we’ve gone back in time. Matt is a very different producer than John Fryer was back then. And most of all: HIM has been a consistent, working band for years now. This has been different 10 years ago. Back then we’ve still been searching for the perfect line-up. I remember that we already played pretty big clubs during RR in Germany. And here in Munich, I suppose it was in the ‘Backstage’ Club I asked Gas if he wanted to become HIM’s new drummer.”
Ville looks out of the window where you can almost see ‘Kunstpark Ost’ including ‘Backstage’ and goes on. “Gas was just our temporary drummer. Our guest-drummer so to speak.”
Since the name Sammy Hagar has been mentioned before. Ville actually prefers Van Halen with David Lee Roth on the microphone. A marginal case. Roth is the better frontman, Hagar the better singer and songwriter.
“I actually barely remember Van Halen’s time with Hagar. But so much the better I remember Roth’s time. They did some good things, many hits and strong albums. And I love Roth’s soloalbum ‘Eat ‘em and smile’. He had a very strong line-up back then. Steve Vai on guitars, Billy Sheehan on bass and Greg Bissonette on drums. In my eyes this was an incredible, ultimate line-up.”
There are of course different types of frontmen.
‘Exhibitionists’ and loudmouths like Roth and Rammstein’s Till Lindemann who recently said in an interview that it doesn’t make any sense to communicate with the audience in between the songs.
“This may be true for Rammstein. Their music is very theatrical. They have a perfectly designed show which runs through from beginning to end and which works without announcements. But they are one of the very few exceptions. I value frontmen who do have the ability to entertain the audience and get them into the mood of a song. People like Tom Waits, Nick Cave or Mark Lanegan are my idols when it comes to that. Am I able to do so? Hard to say. I rather whisper something to myself or crack insider jokes which only the band gets (see DVD) or pick a fan in the front row and talk to her. But honestly: nowadays I’m much more comfortable standing on the stage representing the band. In the past I found that rather complicated and straining.”
In the meanwhile HIM has been on tour worldwide so there’s little time for Ville to get nervous.
“One thing has always stayed the same,” Ville ponders lighting another cigarette – one of his last remaining vices. “Being on the way to the stage I’m still very nervous. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a concert at home in Helsinki or a festival in North America or Australia. But I think this is a good sign. It shows that I haven’t had enough and am bored yet.”
[... about new markets opening up for HIM ...]
“RR was a big hit in Finland and Germany back then. But markets like GB and North America were basically non existent for us. Today they are and the result is that DL worldwide sold almost as well as RR did. This is even more astonishing when you think about that album sells have gone down in general. I’ve just been talking to someone about that. He said that selling 100.000 albums in North America is as good as a million a couple of years back. This is a natural development. We spend months in the rehearsal place and in the studio with the result that somebody illegally downloads Screamworks from the internet and listens to it in shitty quality on his cell. But this is how the world has become. You can either accept that or it’s just bad luck! But there will always be different opportunities. You can do so many things related to music with the new iPhone. So even a completely unmusical person can invent a totally new genre. One thing is for sure though. If somebody today should have the idea of making a lot of money and fame being a young musician I would definitively advise against that. We just were lucky... We got started in a time when the music industry was still very powerful. Ironically our first album ‘GL Vol. 666’ was in a way revolutionary. Half of the songs came into being with the help of analog recording techniques. The other half already with the help of ProTools.” Everybody who knows him a bit knows that VV is a completely different guy than the one which is shown in the media. And that Ville does have a different taste in music and films than one could think is also a fact. Being asked about his current favorite album he doesn’t name The Mission or Black Sabbath but Electric Wizard...
“I’ve recently been listening a lot to ‘Witchcult Today’ by Electric Wizard again and it’s simply amazing. It revived my faith in rock. In the last couple of years good rockalbums were rare. Even if I liked Monster Magnet’s ‘4-Way-Diablo’ pretty much. I knew Electric Wizard from way back since my good friend Lee Dorian played them to me a couple of times. He released their albums on his label Rise Above. But somehow I didn’t like their previous albums that much. But then we were on tour in North America, I was bored in my hotel room and just downloaded ‘Witchcult Today’ on iTunes. It was fast, it was cheap and I absolutely loved it. It has all the good elements from Black Sabbath to Kyuss and the lyrics are really good. As if they had been written by satanists on drugs. There’s a song called ‘The Satanic Rites of Drugula’ which is great. It’s about a vampire which feeds on a girl who is on acid. The vampire gets hooked on acid and so does everybody he bites. It includes sentences like ‘the head of the devil is forming out of dope smoke’. I haven’t heard a better rock album in the past 10 years. In addition to that there’s a song on it called ‘Dunwitch’ which has been inspired by HP Lovecraft. And this is exactly my thing. Whoever gets inspired by HP Lovecraft is canonized by me. Whereas I didn’t like the film versions of his works, except ‘Dagon’. But I’ve heard that a intricate film version of ‘At the Mouth of Madness’ is being planned. That must be possible since I can picture it being similar to ‘The Thing’ by John Carpenter. You can just go to the north or south pole and start shooting. It all goes to such lenghts that I’m seriously thinking about getting the Electric Wizard Coverartwork tattooed. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time yet. In the meantime I bought the CD and hope that Lee’s gonna send me the LP version, too. I even bought t-shirts with the cover. It’s from a movie poster from the 60s or 70s. On it the devil carrys a naked woman on his arms. It’s pretty dark which might cause headaches for the tattoo artist. But it will be the first band tattoo ever for me. The album just has everything. Horrormovies, drugs, naked women, death, blood and drinking. Wonderful! I grew up with Kiss, Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Death Angel, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, some reggae and some jazz. All of this did have a huge influence on me. But it’s great to see that a pretty new rockalbum can still touch me. This shows me that I’m not that old. Electric Wizard release a new album every 6 years and they used to be a pure doom band. But the new album is different. They recorded it in London’s Thorax-Studios where the White Stripes recorded their ‘White Elephant’ album. This is an absolutely oldfashioned studio with no computer. You don’t have ProTools in there. And you can hear that on the album. The bass is too loud as are the guitars and on some parts you can’t really hear the drums. Insofar you can clearly hear the 60s/70s vibe. The album is like ‘Pulp Fiction’. A composed B-movie which doesn’t make fun but which doesn’t take itself too seriously neither. That’s like Type O Negative and ‘Bloody Kisses’ respectively the song ‘My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend’ which is just about a menage-a-trois. With that you didn’t know for sure whether to take the album seriously or just laugh about it. And you should take the Cradle of Filth’s characters too seriously neither. I just like this operatic crazyness, pompousness about bands.”
Translation from German to English by shining_rose from valo_daily