Chord Magazine Interview


HIM frontman Ville Valo is bigger than God in his native Finland. Stateside, the HIM wave is just starting to break, thanks to the band's major label debut, Dark Light. HIM plays black-hued, moody, melancholic, utterly gothic rock 'n' roll with a knack for pop hooks. Valo recently got engaged, but he insists that getting married won't taint his view of love - that it kills by the thousands.

You're a God in Europe. Or so it seems. Is that an overblown media creation?
The press creates that. To be a rock star, you gotta be bad. I don't want to be that. I want to be a good songwriter and as literate as I can be. I would rather have travels with my band, and think about that when I'm 72 and in my rocking chair, telling stories to my grandkids. I don't want to squeeze in all the drugs I can possibly do, or squeeze the silicone boobies. I don't believe in rock stardom.

Do you ever get accused of making too depressing music?
Of course I can be depressed, but you have to go down to get back up.

So it's not heavy sighing and shoegazing all the time?
No! When I do sound like that [makes a sighing noise], it's my asthma. I've always enjoyed melancholy music; it's cathartic and it's why I keep doing it. We didn't set up the band in order to be sonic therapists. But it has happened, and if we make depressed people happy, or happy people depressed, it happens. We're not trying to be evil in any way.

HIM has always been a cult band in the U.S. What about Dark Light can cause HIM be break through?
It's impossible to predict what will be successful. Look at Slipknot, for example. They're not selling zillions of records, but who'd have thought that nine masked guys from Iowa could do what they do? We made out parents really poud. It's little things, not necessarily goals, but unexpected surpises that make the day. We were the highest-charting Finnish band ever on the U.S. sales charts with Dark Light. We put all our hearts and blood into it, so we are happy, and we hope people get the same excitement we get out of it. If not, we'll still make the albums the way we want to make them.

The album has a poppy cast to it, but lyrically, it's very dark.
It's accessible. We wanted this album to have hooks, and still have the ear candy to make it interesting. The essence [of HIM] will always be melancholy, left of center, and we wanted the sonic texture of a band like U2 on Dark Light. It's straightforward but layerd.

Tell me a secret about Ville Valo.
I walways talk too much so I don't have secrets anymore. I worked in a sex shop in Europe as a teen. My dad owns an erotic shop in Helsinki, and I had to help out in order to earn a little bit of pocket money. So the only job I had before this job was selling dildos!

You've always had a melancholic attitude toward romance and love. Will that ever stop influencing your music?
Everyone goes through it. You put your fingers into an electric socket. You learn, "Don't do it again!" You have to learn from your mistakes. It's hard to find someone to live with, and to live with someone that appreciates the jon you are doing, when you do this job. It takes a lot of time away from jome, being in this jon. I'm engaged, though...

Congratulations! Depending on how the marriage goes, it might change your outlook on love, for better or for worse!
That is true. What I've written about on Dark Light has been more complicated, and it's not just boy and girl relationships, but love in general or the lock of love in this society.

Any specific things you talk about on this record that depart from your normal topics?
The Bible says "God is love." I'm not religious, but the Bible also say "Love conquers all." Love is stronger than death, religion and politics. And it can change the world around you, in a positive or a negative way. It's a journy that never ends. "In the Nightside of Eden," the closing track, is about the pressure society puts on young people. If you're not going to college and becoming a doctor, you're not going to amount to anything. To be whole, you have to have the lastest model Lexus, or you are nothing. We are crucified to dreams. We lose faith in life or the will to live because of the pressure from all sides. Everyone has pssion towards something, and you have to give them some fress space to think and breathe, rather than make them do something they were not to born to do. 

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