H.I.M. frontman Ville Valo vamps up and spreads the love metal
Finnish goth queens H.I.M. invented their own genre —love metal—back in 1999 and have since become superstars in almost every non-African country except the US. That is, until Jackass millionaire Bam Margera went on MTV and announced they were his favorite band. With a new album, Dark Light, currently inspiring thousands of impressionable teenage girls to rock black lipstick and get heartagram tattoos, H.I.M. are about to spread the love—and a thick coat of eyeliner—all over America’s beleaguered pop-culture psyche. Decibel recently got shit-faced watching old Type O Negative videos at Pete Steele’s house and drunk-dialed H.I.M. frontman Ville Valo while he was filing his teeth down and “doing press and TV and drinking beer and smoking cigarettes” in Cologne, Germany, to promote Dark Light. “We’re also doing a tiny club tour—about twelve dates around Europe, just to try to impress all the journalists with our mediocre rock show.”
- Is love metal unconditional, or does it need people to love it back?
Valo: You fucking Yank journalists—you’re so good. [Laughs] I’m here in Germany, and I’ve been listening to German accents for fucking ages, but now I’m starting to get good [questions]. [Laughs] I guess love metal is about more about understanding the sentimentality within each other—not necessarily a physical relationship or a platonic love toward some entity. It’s about the possibility of combining the carnal side of existence with the more spiritual side. So, basically, it means we wanna be like the bastard son of Neil Young and Black Sabbath.
- Why should people buy your new album?
Valo: Well, if you’ve got twelve bucks to spare on an album and you don’t know what to get in the record store—should you buy a Korn album or a Neil Young album or a Led Zeppelin album?—we are a great introduction to all the great artists in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.
- How sick are you of that Bam Margera guy? I feel like he’s always up on your dick.
Valo: Let’s just say he’s a beautiful leech. The way we met back in 2000 was just that he fell in love with our band—he bought one of our albums by accident in Helsinki, and then he flew to Europe to see us play live. When we met backstage, I didn’t care who the fuck he was; I didn’t know he had a thing called Jackass happening in the States that was huge at that time over there. But we became friends, and I’m really glad about all the help he’s given us.
- I heard a podcast on your website where he was making fun of your vest in the new video for “Wings of a Butterfly.”
Valo: He’s just fucking jealous. You know, he gets tattoos, but he doesn’t have the courage to get his whole arm done. He’s just a fucking skater. [Laughs]
- Speaking of tattoos, how many heartagram tattoos have you seen?
Valo: An amazing amount. We actually asked people to send in photographs of their heartagram tattoos to our website for an Internet edition of the album released in the States. The booklet is totally different, with all photos of people’s heartagram tattoos. And there’s at least a couple hundred in there. At our first-ever signing session in the States—somewhere in Philadelphia on our first tour—I signed my autograph on some girls’ arms, and they got it tattooed immediately. That’s dedication.
- Not to mention kind of creepy.
Valo: I actually find it kind of sweet and nice because I’m a fan, too. I love Sabbath and I love Type O Negative and I love loads of bands, and if we can be like a road sign toward all the great bands that made us who we are, then I’m really happy.
- Is Finland more fun during 24 hours of sunlight or 24 hours of darkness? Doesn’t the suicide rate skyrocket when the sun never goes down?
Valo: It is like that, yeah. During the darkness, that’s when you write the songs you enjoy in the full-blown sun while you eat ice cream and drink Jack Daniel’s and Coke.
- I heard you’re playing the lead evil vampire in the next Blade movie.
Valo: Did you? That’d be so cool. I love Wesley Snipes.
- I actually just made that up.
Valo: Yeah, but it sounds really good. You know, one of my friends back in Hollywood has been trying to get a budget set up for a movie—he doesn’t have a name for it, but he’s calling it a “kung-fu vampire lesbian rock ‘n’ roll movie”—and I’m supposed to be the baddie vampire in that one. So I’m still waiting for my debut on the widescreen, but it’ll probably be straight to video.
- Who’d make a better movie vampire—you or Gerard from My Chemical Romance?
Valo: I’d be a bit more aristocratic, especially with my accent. Gerard would be… I’d say a bit too short and a bit too well-fed. Maybe he could play my little brother.