From the festival area we came to the Night Club Bors and now I have to admit that I’m excited as hell; I have been anxiously waiting for this day. Next to me maybe the most sexy man Marlboro-man in Finland, Ville Valo. Or do you even smoke Marlboro?
V: Yes, white Marlboro, and the only difference between me and the Marlboro-man is that I am hetero.
Okay, but how do you know Marlboro-man is gay?
V: Didn’t you know that?
V: It is a fact. It is kind of a funny thing, because he was like an icon of the whole masculine America, for years. And I don’t remember did he even died of AIDS. But it’s a classic story and a very funny one. Because at that time when there existed this puritan way of thinking and people thought that homosexual people are in some way bad, that shocked. I don’t know how many quit smoking Marlboro after that. It’s relatively safe to change to Camel, because of them it can’t be known what they do in bed…
My not being civilized is due to me living under the rock for half of my life.
V: Yeah, I have too, but then my friends have sometimes shouted facts like this every now and then.
But hey.. How is it going on otherwise?
V: Well, just alright. Festivals and things like that. During the summer we have been traveling quite a lot, and there are a couple of these still left, today Ruisrock, then a couple of things in Switzerland, Ankkarock in Vantaa. Then there one thing in Holland and then the summer is done. But no… traveling, free time…next week end I’m going to see Fields of the Nephilim in London; I am a real Fields of the Nephilim- fan, and they will have a couple of gigs. I had the pleasure to meet them on New Year, when they played in Helsinki at out Helldone festival, and I was scared as hell when I met them, and it’s nice to go to see them. This is kind of a nice summer, a bit of activity, festivals and this and that. So, doing well.
I have understood that your first experience of festivals was Roskilde and afterwards you decided that this is the last time you will go to a festival as part of the audience, in the future only to play there. Why did you make this decision?
V: I don’t know, I’m just lazy, or something… I think I went to Jarvvenpaa Puisto Blues before Roskilde, but the first real, big festival was Roskilde, yes. There was this group of us, and I was not supposed to go there, but then I woke up in Roskilde. While being really drunk I had signed a note of debt on toilet paper that “I hereby promise to pay back the ticket”- someone had had an extra ticket. And I had nothing. I did not have a tent, no sleeping bag, I had only one set of clothes, I was one week without washing in the same clothes and slept on the ground and got a terrible flu. And got beer and white wine from the gang and… The going on was cool. I also had the great honour to pass out during the set of Slayer. That was really…How can you pass out during the set of Slayer? Well obviously…I was only just 10 meters away from the stage. So I passed out there, in the mosh pit!
V: That was really… yes. I woke up when there came “Angel of Death”.
Did you ever get a woman on the trip?
Yes, did you get a woman…?
V: Well, I had a little flirt, but no, I didn’t get any nookie.
V: It is a terrible destiny! But you don’t always get lucky. And it was a great experience, and Roskilde…I think it was ’96, it was also a good year, there were like Sepultura, Slayer, Sex Pistols, Neil Young, Ministry, the Cardigans, Type O’Negative, Life of Agony, Cypress Hill. There were really… Rage Against the Machine, D.A.D. There were so many so good bands. We were just running from one stage to another, and there the distances between stages are kilometers, so we got exercise. But there was not much time to check out women, had to go to check out the rock. Rock first, women then secondly.
Why do chick dig rockers like hell? What is the thing there?
V: I don’t believe they dig rockers that much, I have not noticed a difference there. I know guys who work in completely other areas and they have ladies following them all the time, so it is not dependent on the choice of profession. Maybe the fooling around is interesting to some people and that the work is not 9 to 5, but it is a bit like Gipsy life. The caravan is moving from place A to place B. And A is the beginning of the career and B is the end of the career.
You have had time to tour many kinds of parties, so what is the most embarrassing festival experience you remember?
V: The most embarrassing festival or the most embarrassing festival experience?
The most embarrassing festival experience.
V: Well, there are loads of those, I won’t…
Tell the best one!
V: Well, the most fun I had…we had really much fun when we played at Ilosaarirock for the first time, and there was Impaled Nazarene playing in some club and I passed out into a berry bush and threw up in our bus…we didn’t have a bus, but a van and I had to jump out of the van’s door in the middle of the driving. And another person was sick, too. Well, that was just basic Finnish drunk stuff. The funniest festival was this: some German person booked us to a festival. Then it turned out that the festival was set up by some 15-year old teenager who had obviously taken a loan under the name of his/her parents. And we played some time around 4 in the night and there were like 150 people, in the middle of nowhere. That was the most interesting and the most embarrassing festival situation. We had flown from Finland for this. That did not happen again. Hopefully he can pay his debt. But such basic drunken messing around, peeing on tents and…that has not happened that one would peed with the condom still on; which is the most classic mishap I have heard has happened to people. Happened to each of us… To me that has not happened yet, but…waiting for that time to arrive! Just basic messing, really… Of course there is less messing around when you are playing yourself at the festival. And we also have the opportunity, that the bands don’t go to festivals with a tent, but we have hotel rooms, and usually there are a couple of festivals each weekend, so you do not have time to get to full going, though we had really tried.
So, it is like, one is supposed to get totally wasted after a gig, so how do you succeed to party sober nowadays?
V: I don’t party. Isn’t partying in Finnish drinking booze? So that means I don’t party.
Okay, so what do you do then?
V: Nothing…Let’s say it depends a lot on the gig. Like here today are a lot of familiar people, and I am pretty sure that after the gig we go to hang out somewhere, probably here. There are many people I know. It’s like usually when you are elsewhere on festivals, you do not… there is the traveling back home on the next day. Before we went to a pub to drink fast, but I am not into that anymore. I read a book. That sucks, but let’s say that the hangover is a bit smaller. I mean by reading a book.
Do you remember the moment you made the final decision than now the drinking of booze ends?
V: That happened in phases. I said “no” several times, but I did not succeed in it on my own. There was all the time more stress, free booze, more and more work and lots of traveling, and my personal life was fucked up – the lady’s department of my life. There were many things adding up. And in the Finnish way I tried to fix the bad feeling with drinking booze. And everyone knows that that puts it away for a moment, but it doesn’t solve anything, at least for me it did not. So I had to drink more and more, until I was throwing up blood and shitting blood, and the doctor told me that my heart would stop if I did not quit. Then I asked from my dear friend Seppo whether he could find a place where I would be locked in, and could not drink and hang out. So unfortunately that went through such a fucked road. But on the other hand, you live and you learn. Now it feels good to be like this. I do not have any deal that everything is finished. If I drink beer today then I drink beer today, it doesn’t depend on that, but I drank so much back then, so it started to work against itself. You know, when you wake up in the morning and need to drink 8 beers, then you throw up and drink 6 more and then you can leave to work. That is not life anymore. … That was a bit exaggerating, but anyway it was disgusting. I am a warning example.
Your latest album VD came out last year and I have to say that the album in question is full of excellent songs. I understand that you compose all songs with the acoustic guitar; where do you get the inspiration from? Do you have some kind of a ritual you do when you take the guitar and start composing?
V: No. I listen to a lot of music and life is full of stories. Sometimes I’m in the shower, dick in the hand and a melody starts playing in my hand, and I have to go to the recorder fast and hum it there, and if it still sounds good on the next day, we will start working on it. Sometimes songs are born in the rehearsals when playing guitar with the distortion and volumes turned to full blast and just begin to play a riff. And it sounds like BS and we laugh hell of a lot that it’s so gross, and in the end we decide to keep it in that song. That is why making music is so much to us and me, because it is always very different. There is not one way that it would always go like that. Sometimes it crashes face first and sometimes ass first… but it manages to crash in the end.
If something happened and you would need to… well, you do not probably need to worry about money, but if you had to quit composing and take a normal day job, what would that be?
V: Probably working as an assistant in my father’s shop, Aikuisten Lelukauppa, to deliver my father’s adult entertainment product to customers. In Helsinki, Viideslinja 7. Probably there, I don’t know. I have been involved with music since I was little, I never had options, so to say. So, I have never thought of a plan B. Maybe I would go to study something, I don’t know. but I don’t have any job I would be interested in doing. And I am now 32 and I started playing music when I was 7, so I have done this for so long that it would feel strange not to do it. But that could be considered that I would do something within music without writing songs myself. Maybe the next time we are the other way around or something.
Yeah, or maybe not. Probably not.
V: Well, you never know.
You never know what kind of songwriter I might be.
V: Exactly, exactly! Fearing of that…
You are quite a pretty man. Do you often get love letters from male fans? Or so-called love letters…
V: I have met a couple of guys who were interested in that way. But…I mean, I did not set a date with them, but run into them somewhere. But… I do not know if there are letters nowadays, aren’t they Emails which people write and they are so easy to send and they are so anonymous that you do not know anymore…I have not unfortunately myself… At some point we read each letter we got ourselves, but nowadays we do not have time. And sometimes people imagine something else about us than what maybe we ourselves think we are. Therefore, I feel that it is better to let people play with their imagination, and we do not know what their imagination contains. It is like, when you think that the audience is here and we are here, HIM is there (risuet rukami. HIM poseredine). That has become some kind of a combination, something more than the sum of its parts, or something else. Something else and different, and it is out of our control.
You have done cover versions of quite many bands’ songs. Will there at some point come out a cover album from HIM?
V: We have talked about that for a long time, but the other guys do not want to do that. I think that it could be fun sometime in between more important things. So if at some point we would like to take a bit more free time, or I do not know. It is not necessary. In the beginning we tried to avoid that because we played quite a lot of covers, that it would not start feeling like we are only a cover band. Therefore, we skipped that. Wicked Game, the Chris Isaak song, we have been playing since the very beginning, but the other ones have been B-sides or added when we did not have enough material of our own, like in the first album we have “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, that song by Blue Oyster Cult. That was just like a demo, or it was a demo which we decided to add to the end of the album because otherwise the album would have been too short.
Okay, now we will go into deep issues. Are you ready?
The touring keeps you busy and probably there is not much time for relationships, so when you meet a girl, is it ever so like “Is she only running after fame and money?” Is it easy to fall in love?
V: Now that is plenty to ask! Let’s say that I think that growing up does not have to mean that you have to give up blue-eyed optimism. In my opinion, you have to trust in people and what they say. If you get disappointed then you get disappointed. You cannot become paranoid because you have been dumped. That you would start to consider your new relationship through some old relationship, someone in the past. Each relationship is completely different and based on different things. It could be that I fall in love with some porn star and run after her money and fame and it’s fun like hell. Or her silicones. Each case needs to be handled separately.
Exactly, exactly. To the end, the plans of HIM for the rest of the year? And those of Ville Valo.
V: Oh dear…They are quite the same thing, the plans. In the middle of August the summer tour is finished. After that we have a break and think. And when we are done we start to play again this Type O’Negative- style melancholic Scandinavian rock. Exactly the same as always before, nothing changes, at least in our case. We can only repeat ourselves.
- Alright. That’s about it. Thank you so much!
Transcription - La Murka