Two years ago we got to know Ville Valo as the pig with a pigstie as a home.
Today, the heartbreaker has moved in with his loved one and gotten engaged. "Unfortunatly you cant be creatively filthy when you live together with a lady. Hopefully she'll lose her mind and we can live together as filthpigs," - he says.
Close-Up made a new visit to the singer's crib in Helsinki.
"Miehille for men" is written above the men's restroom in Bar Kisälli; Ville Valos new waterhole, just a block from his new apartment.
The totally sloppy bar has three years on its neck.
Before that, the little concrete building used ot be a public restroom, drawn by Finlands most famous architect Alvar Aalto and it was erected ast the time of the Olympic Games in Helsinki 1952.
"When I moved here, it became "my" place, since its so cool to get drunk in a toilet," - the Finn grins.
The time is half past two in the afternoon when HIM's face out welcomes me and the photographer Olle Carlsson to the beerplace. We follow his and his pressagent Silke Yli-Sirniös example and start to drink beer with icecubes - Villes way of drinking maltdrinks. During a few hours in the hot sauna, a couple of phone interviews - and uncountable cigarettes - have been made. When we arrive questions from a magazine are being answered via email. The magazine is called Painkiller and its China's biggest musicpublication with an edition of incredible 20 million copies. If the editorial staff only knew who was answering their questions... When the sweaty Ville Valo withdraw himself to change clothes and get some makeup before the photoshoot for Close-Up, Silke jumps in. She knows HIM inside out and she has answered for him before. Now she's joined by HIM's latest secret member, a journalist from Sweden. How I screw up in acting as Ville Valo!! On the question about which recording he'd most wanted to be a part of, I answer "From Memphis with love". Elvis Presley's grandious comeback-LP in the hometown is called "From Elvis in Memphis" (1969). And the album from the 90's that "the vocalist" recommends his chinese fans to get is Chris Isaak's bittersweet "Forever blue" (1995). Later I learn that he, eventhough HIM's excellent coverversion of "Wicked game", doesnt have Isaak as a favourite artist. Maybe I should stay away from answering and just ask the questions.
In February 2003 I made my first visit to Ville Valo's home.
The report in Close-Up #57 viewed an apartment falling apart.
With a devilish filthpig as tenant.
The article, which was published again in last issue's pocketbook, made many who had previously dismissed him as a silly person to change their minds.
Say what you want about HIM as a musicphenomenon, the attractive force of a decadent rockstar with funny irony and disarming selfdistance cant be emphasized enough.
"Oh, how lovely", - Ville says about the readers reactions. "They should see this place, I'd look more gay than ever!
Evening is coming and we have moved ourselves to his and his fiancee Jonna Nygren's new attic apartment, which is placed in the center of Helsinki. Since the couple just moved in and very few things are in place, he declines to be photographed here. Turbonegro's pink "Apocalypse dudes" poster is the only thing I recognise from the old crib. the contrast between the digusting crib I saw back then and this instyle apartment is enourmous.
"Back then there was no woman in my life. I was touring alot and on a constant move, and furthermore I dislike cleaners. Besides, at that time I was in a state of depression and filth. Nowadays Im only filthy inside".
Did I see the apartment when it was at its worst?
"It fell apart even more during the following year. It was horrible. All these little maggots... When I lifted my clothes from the floor, a bunch of animals that had eaten my clothes revealed themselves".
How many holes does your clothes have today?
"Thankfully enough, all my favourite clothes was in my touring bags, all the other I had to throw out. A cleaningcompany came and worked nonstop for four days; three cleaners with industrial vaccumcleaners. Unfortunatly you cant be creatively filthy when you live together with a lady. Hopefully she'll lose her mind and we can live together as filthpigs".
That the beautiful model Jonna Nygren, who also works in a restaurant, should sink to that miserable level is highly unlikely.
The second weekend in July the couple got engaged at the finnish festival Ruisrock.
"On my ringfinger it says "J" and on hers "V", - Ville says. Together with Bam (Margera), Gas (drums) and a mate from the states we also tattoed "DILLIGAF" on our wrists. Its an old sailors tattoo which means "Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck?"
When Jonna is on her way out of the door, I grab her for a short interview, whereas Ville says that its teh first time she talks about their relationship.
When you started dating he still lived in his pigstie. How did you react when you saw it? If I had met someone who lived like that I would've screamed "Im out of here!"
"You know what? I lived in New York for three years and drank almost everyday, so my apartment looked almost like his", - Jonna explains.
"What are you talking about?", - Ville shouts from the hallway.
Go to hell, we're talking here!
"When I came there I made it to my little hell aswell", - she continues.
You mean that you were as wrecked as Ville?
"Yes, more or less".
Have you managed to get him straight (not as in not gay) yet?
"Yes. Yesterday I was cleaning and said: "Where are you gonna put those things? on the floor? NO!" I just continue to shout".
Whats it like to have a boyfriend thats not only a rockstar but also an idol for girls?
"I met him already six years ago, by that time he wasnt the sexgod he is today. I have never really reflected over that. I know that alot of girls think that way. When he's home, sneezing and not even showering..."
"... Exactly! Those times its ot so hard to imagine him as a real human being, if you understand what I mean".
How are you treated by the girls who doesnt want anything else but to be his girlfriend?
"In the beginning when HIM played and girls came up to me I honestly thought that they wanted to kill me. Today I was shopping in the city and I got the sense of being folloed. It was a group of four girls, HIM-fans, and they followed me to the restaurant where I work. I was going for dinner and they stared at me. Then they came up top me, smiling and wanted to take a photo with me. Nowadays when Ville and I have been together for a few years the fans are cool with me. Before they hated me, but now they have gotten used to it: "its nothing to do about it, they are together its better to be nice to her"
When is ville allowed to spread his seed and wait for a bun to grow in the oven?
Last year Ville invested in a airy etageapartment, a dreamplace with a roofheight like an industriallocal. It was suited for experimental art and he made some odd installations.
"One night I was walking home and spotted a toilet in perfect condition that someone had left on the street. I carried it home and cut my hand on it. The toilet was covered in blood and on the seat I placed the dummy you saw last time."She" sat there with a tampon in one of her hands..."
It seems impossible for am artist to get a decent tax (something) in Finland. The politicians have more advantage. All the athletes, the damn Ferrari and Formel-1 people, move abroad and I consider doing it too. For me it would be an advantage. This year I will be away for more than 6 months anyways. I want to reach a good compromise, cause I still want to call myself a Finn, but not call myself a finnish taxpayer".
"Dark Light" is played through the temporary iPod-equipment. The big stereoset hasnt been packed up yet, but its still a good pressure in HIMs fifth studioalbum.
We drink many beers (ville apologises for not having any ice) and discuss the new album.
The tone is not very flattering. Like when he says that one part of the titletrack reminds of Deftones and I counter by saying thats its more like friendly George Micheal pop.
To you readers it might seem like we are two enemies. When my girlfriend afterhand listened to the interview tape she said I sound rude and feels sympathy for poor Ville. Something he, when Ive called for a facts-checkup, admits. And laughed about.
Cause if there is something Ville Valo appriciates its honesty, that you dont wrap your opinions in. Thats why I like him so much, that he's safe enough in himself to be able to take a hint like a man.
"It doesnt sound like me? You c*nt! Come on!", Ville shouts at my comment on his singing in "Killing Loneliness".
Take it as a compliment.
"Of course. Usually I sound like crap, I know what you mean, he smiles. Artistically I was trying to take a step up the stairs and recreate the greatness from David Bowies "Heroes"-era".
In "Vampire Heart" you sing: "Hold me like you held on to life/When all fears came alive and entombed me..."
"Na, its about not being the world nicest rockdude. I think that my lyrics has always been a bit prophetic. Its more about subconscious thoughts. These things tend to happen and not until then I understand them, which means that I am a Finnish Nostradamus, just in a smaller scale".
"Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly" is the title of the first single. Its replacing "Killing Loneliness" which was supposed to be the first single, but it got cut off cause it sounded a bit too much like "The Sacrament" from "Love MEtal" album (2003).
"Also we wanted to hit the swedish market by copying Broder Daniel".
This ironic explanation comes by my description of the opening guitarrif in "Wings Of A Butterfly" that sounds creepingly much like Broder Daniel. A band the Finn never has heard of.
"The rhythmic sounds in the verse are based on the fact that we believe Michael Jackson to be innocent, so we wanted a little of "Billy Jean" in the song. Do you know about the classic Che Guevara shirts? We were prepared to print them with Michaels face on it and the text "free Michael". We wouldve put ourselves on the barricadesfor Michael, he's as innocent as a newborn baby".
Do you really believe that?
"Yes I do. Ofcourse you can see that he's not normal, but that has to do with his upbringing. He's been in the musicbuisness since he was five years old and a supercelebrity in a country like USA - ofcourse you get distrubed!"
However I still believe he's innocent, Im completely on his side. He openly told about how his dad abused him during his childhood.
"Its the classic psychological history about how he never had time to grow up normally. He had to be innocent and professional at seven years of age, which is completely insane. To hang out with small children is totally ok for me, its when the touching and wiggling in a strange way it gets disgusting".
The one who's after "love metal" doesnt have much to get on "Dark Light". The RCA albums "GLV 666" (1997), "RR" (2002), "DSBH" (2001) and "LM" (2003) has tempted with both heavy gothlike metal and tender,melacholic rock.
When Ville, guitarist Linde, basist Migé, keyboardist Burton and drummer Gas now made their fifth stop in the studio its about poppier sounds. The candidates for single-releases are many.
"I like the positive negativety on this album. The thought was to get a stadiumsound, with the singing and the message closely linked together. Neil Young's song "Heart Of Gold" meets U2".
What we strived for was experimenting in the likes of U2, a certian soundstructure. Earcandy, so to say. The songs should be straight and punky, but super melodious. I dont think anyone will call this punk.
"For our kind of band its pretty punky, if you say that Green Day's "holiday" to be punk. Do you?"
Some titles from throughout the years: "When Love And Death Embrace", "The Heartless", "I Love You (prelude to tragedy)", "Death Is In Love With Us", "In Joy And Sorrow", "Buried Alive By Love", "The Funeral Of Hearts". And now can titles such as "Killing Loneliness" and "Vampire Heart" be put to the list aswell. Doesnt it start to get a bit tiring with the same lyrictheme over and over again?
"Look at Ac/DC, Shakespeare, Michelangelo and Baudelaire - they use the same recurring theme. You have to strive for perfection in what you do instead of jumping between different things. Thats how I feel about it. Cause I grew up with Metallica and learned that drastic changes doesnt make anyone happy. Ofcourse U2 did it good with "Achtung baby" (1991)but apart from that...Na. You shouldnt stop until you are close or on your way towards perfection".
Are HIM heading there?
What the hell have you done to your cellphone?! You have to wonder, ten or so deep cuts decorate the phone. It looks like a guyman has carved out how many men he has killed during duels.
"I open beerbottles with my cellphone, whats why it was made. This is a tip for Sony Ericsson and Nokia: please build bottle-openers in your cellphones. Its really smart, since you always carry your phone with you, it should have lots of functions, like a swizz armyknife".
A SMS from Los Angeles has just arrived. The sender's name is Tim Palmer and he has produced "Dark Light" and mixed "Love Metal".
"Tim has been in the game for a long time and he knows alot of people. One time he heard David Coverdale (Whitesnake, ex-Deep Purple) talk about sex. It was sometime during the end of the 80's, or beginning of the 90's, just when the HIV-epedemic had affected the world. Coverdale said: These are dark days indeed for a cocksman". Tim just smsed me and asked:"Can you still be a cocksman if you're getting married?"
By the way, do you think that the engagement will finally stop all the "Ville Valo is gay" rumours?
"Well, Jonna is little of a tomboy, so you never know, he smiles. A mediocre, reasonably young guy who sings about pretty emotional things - its bound to happen. In the rockworld you have to sing about p*ssy and be Lemmy junior to be trustworthy".
well, actually you DO sing about p*ssy, just in a darker and mroe romantic form.
"Thanks for understanding that! Other rockers sing about cars aswell, and we dont have a carsong, thats why we're making a song about a corpsecar on our next album".
Sexually transmitted diseases becomes, by some unknown reason, the next topic. We discuss afflictions and Ville mentions that he never had a sexually transmitted disease.
Then he drops his jaw about my story from my latest Los Angeles visit.
I was walking alongside Melrose Avenue when a gayguy of the more feminine kind introduced himself and asked if I wanted to do a free HIVtest. Ten seconds after saying no I changed my mind and folloed him to a van that was parked on a sidestreet.
An HIVclinic for homosexuals had a campaign on the popular shoppingstreet. One pinprick later I got to answer alot of question about my sexlife. "Are you practising safe sex?" "Do you having analsex?" "Have you ever had groupsex?"
I totally played the roll of a proud homosexual man (what dont you do for a free HIVtest?). Twenty minutes later I got the negative testresult in my hand and was allowed to continue shoping clothes.
"Holy crap! You dared to play gay, I would never dare to do that. I wouldnt be able to bluff like that", says Ville.
In* Sweden you have to wait for about 2 weeks to get your answer. Totally insufferable. Rather then do it in the US and pay max $50 and get the answer straight away.
"In Finland it takes 4-5 days. I take some tests sometimes because I get little cuts during concerts. No serious injuries but glass splinters after beerglasses have been thrown after me. Thats why I test for hepatit and HIV. It takes around four days to get the answer and during that time Im a nervwreck".
I understand what you mean.
"Even if you're sure that nothing has happend, even if you're in celibacy, even if you havent touched anything and havent been bleeding, you still think "What if?". You start to think what you would do in case its positive...its good to get tested even if you havent done anything stupid. Your girlfriend or a friend close to you might have done something stupid, like rolling around in the mud at a festival and gotten hepatit or something. You can never know".
Sorry, but you sound a bit paranoid.
"Im thinking of Mige, our basist. He walked barefoot through the worst crackparks in Zurich, where there are used syringes on the ground. "I can buy you a pair of fucking sandals for you. Please dont do it like that!" He was never infected, but it made me very paranoid. its nothing that I think about, but when someone start to talk about it I always reason that its better to get tested, just in case.
How can you state that you dont think about it after what you just told me?
"When you think about the fact that you change saliva with singers from other bands via the microphone, then you think about it. You never know. It might have been some HIVpositive musician who hit himself in the head with the mic and started bleeding. Its always good to go and get a test. Not so much for own good, but for the ones close to me. it wouldnt be so much fun spreading something like that on".
Are you a person who cares alot about the people around you?
"I care. Extremely much. Its the only thing in the world that matters. If you're selfcentered and cut the world out, then you're really in hell. If you are selfcentered you dont even know it, thats the worst thing. And you miss out on so many wonderful things".
You seem alot more happy than when we met two years ago.
"Im always happy, Im in a good place. I am pissed off at many tings and tend to be melancholic. Im rather happy in my gloominess than gloomy in my happiness".
Scars that screams out their anxiety was a normal occuring sight at the camping of Hultsfred festival just before HIM's gig last year. Teenagers who didnt do care to hide the tracks of their desperate actions.
They rather rolled up their sleeves to be a part of a kind of unspoken manifestation for pain.
Alot of the young people today arent feeling too well; a sign of the time is that its no longer tabu to show that you're suffering from depression.
You dont automatically become a paria because you cause yourself pain, in some circles its even considered something "cool".
How does it feel to be the unreachable dreamlove for fourteen yearold girls who cuts themselves?
"They still do that? Oh my God! I have done the same myself a few times, you cant see the scars anymore though, says Ville and looks at his right arm. When you're verbally and emotionally cant handle the first meeting with existential pain its easily done that you numb it with physical pain".
Thats were it comes from. Its not about seeking attention. When your brain, so to say, grows you realise that there are so many more colours, opinions, people and smells than you could ever imagine that it gets unbearable.
"Its easily done that young people who doesnt have the wisdom that comes with age resort to primitive methods. I consider it to be completely normal and have gone through that phase when you think "everyone will cry when I am dead". Nietzsche wrote "The thought of suicide is a huge comfort, with its help you can get through many hard nights".
But how does it feel for you personally to be an icon and rolemodel for these lost souls?
"Its something good, right? If the music can have a cleansing effect its positive. I have a brother who's seven years younger than me, and I have seen him do the things I did. It seems that teenagers still cut themselves.
The most terrible thing is that for kids with that kind of problems, the availability to drugs has increased dramatically since you and I was young. All the stories I hear about twelve yearolds who's been offered amphetamine and got stuck..."
Its not good at all when you're growing up, you should wait atleast until your 18 - 20 or until you're grown enough to handle the pain it means to laborate with the serotoninhalt in your brain. Its a very hard and brutal world the kids of today live in, Im worried for them.
"DRUNKEN VALO TRASHES H.I.M SELF" - ouch, what the headline in New York Post must've hurt. On the 15th of November last year the gang made their, sofar, most important performance. After being seen as just a small footnote in the musichistory - something they blame their former label RCA for - the eyes of the complete musicbusiness were set on the european phenomenon HIM. A new contract with Warner label Sire was signed and sealed and "everyone" were there on this sold out evening at the Irving Plaza in New York. HIMs time had come. Two days later Dan Aquilantes major bashing was published in the newspaper New York Post. The reviewer thought that, among other things, Ville Valo should be arrested for being "DWS - Drunk While Singing".
Ville, how and why did everything go so wrong in New York?
"It was my Jim Morrison-moment. We had played in Philadephia the day before and I was totally wasted. Thats what happens when I go to America, I have to be careful".
More ego than talant? (from the NYP review)
"Of course. I drank two bottles of vodka and ten beers the day before and on the morning I went straight to do a radiothing. I was so fucking hungover that I drank ten cans of Red Bull, but it didnt help".
You're in New York, just got a new megacontract and this happends. People close to you must have been caught completely off guard and wonder what was wrong.
"I know, I laughed like hell about it. Of course the recordlabel reacted and wondered what the hell was wrong. We are their investment. I had a conversation with the label and said: "Im sorry, I screwed up, it was my Jim Morrison-moment". Everyone gets in trouble sooner or later. Lets say that we've made around 400 liveperformances and I, because of drinking, have ruined 4 of them, its actually not that many. We've cancelled around ten concerts throughout our career, almost all of them because I had the flue and couldnt sing. Calculated as a percentage thats good. I explained it all to the label and promised I'd be a good boy during the rest of the tour, which I also was. Things get out of hand, they always do. You get too excited when too much is going on at the same time, you dont always realise that you've got to have both of your feet on the ground. You have to be completely out of it to manage to be wasted on stage. Im still looing for the prefect balance".
Alot of people think that HIM are a boring liveact. You just stand there and nothing really happends.
"To be lifeless can also be seen as the outermost form of charisma", Ville laughs. But what the hell, that also goes for example Marianne Faithful Many artists dont do a thing onstage.
Well, they dont belong to the harder artistsegment.
"Hmmm, you've got a point. But Peter Steele, he doesnt do much either...".
He handles an instrument.
"Damn it! Ok, I guess I am boring. But we do our best. I have never wanetd to be in a band that skips around onstage. The thougth has always been to perform music onstage thats shows how we feel there and then. Some time it might happen that you losen uo a little, other times its more static".
Hand on your heart, have you ever been wild on stage?
"Yes. In Prague in 1999 or 2000, we had a classical gig. Already in the second song I was topless and sitting on my basist's shoulders and played airbass. There was a big balcony, so I put the mic in my mouth, jumped over the PA-system and clinged on the balcony. Iggy Pop does that thing better, Im rather myself and if that means that Im a lifeless object, then that might be the case".
Its a big contrast on how you act on and off stage. In the latter case you're a very animated person.
"You know, Im nervous, often Im very nervous. You have to remember that I used to play bass and also drums, and I was used ot have something to occupy my fingers with. Its really hard just to sing".
You dont just sing, you chainsmoke aswell.
"So I am animated after all! I am very animated, its all about the details. I understand the reasoning, alot of people have critisized me. But I remember when I lived out more on stage, like here in Helsinki. Alot of the older fans just shook their heads and said: "What are you doing? Do you think that you're a fucking rockstar?" Sometimes I move, sometimes I dont, but what the hell does that have to do with the music? But sure, I understand that its about entertainment. But I am a suffering poet, and suffering poets dont dance".