Heartagram Club interview with Ville Valo
Have you written any new songs, because I heard that the new album will be released…next autumn?
- Next year…ja ja…yes, there’s bits and pieces. But we still don’t know about the production. We are not sure about the producer..we still haven’t…let’s say we don’t have a single song finished, with the band. So, it’s gonna take time and when we know where it’s heading towards, than we can start producing or performing.
You have “Heartagram Records” for releases in Finland now, is it really only for the Finnish releases or do you have any further plans with it in future?
- We have the possibility of signing bands but we have been on tour constantly so we didn’t’t have the time to do it …
But have you been thinking about doing it in the future?
- Well…lets say we haven’t found a band yet…lets see what happens.
Do you get along well with Warner and Sire?
- Ja. Well, it’s a new relationship so..there are lots of new people we still haven’t met, and lots of people we have met so…it’s a different way of working. Of course ,for our band it’s exciting if originally we had..you know at BMG Finland we had our offices in Helsinki. And now our new office is in New York, on Rockefeller Plaza.
How big is your influence in business decisions?
- Well…basically our manager does most of it…
I mean generally the band towards the record company…
- Well…yeah a lot…it’s very important.
So, if the record company wants you do to something you can still say no?
- Jaja…we always do.
You always do?
- A lot of times, yeah. It is very important It’s like…lets say video costs for example…you’re fucking using 300 000$ for a video. And you gotta be sure it’s good. Otherwise it would just be money thrown away.
How important is commercial success to you? If fame leaves you one day, would you still carry on/start from scratch?
- Hahaha, what a question! Eeeh…Let’s say, we are not earning that much money with our music. It’s enough to pay our phone bills and rents, and buy better instruments…and buy more CDs. But that’s about it.
So you would never stop just because you’ve stop selling well?
- Nonono, lets say we did it for..hold on…we did it for 15 years without getting any money out of it, so…it’s nice to be in a situation where we don’t have to get another job for example, so we can concentrate all on music. And yeah, the more successful the better it works [? Sorry…ville mumbled the end of this sentence and there where background noices...]. Successful doesn’t necessarily mean commercial, it doesn’t necessary mean that you’re a whore.
Do you sometimes question what you are doing? And if yes, in which situations?
- Well every day. When writing a song, figuring out how to do what we do better. Because it is important to try to be objective and see yourself from the outside and try to figure out what can be done even better.
There was this Kerrang interview where fans were sending you questions and one of them was if you would quit the band to work in your father’s shop again…and it became sort of a little scandal..even on MTV Germany there was like: “Ville Valo wants to quit HIM” and shit like that and everybody was getting crazy…
So…what would be a real reason for you to quit?
- Ahm…ahm…not having fun. I think that’s the best thing.
And..you are still having fun?
- Well, that’s the only reason why we are here. That it feels good, and we still enjoy the music we play.So you know, if it feels bad one day, there is no reason to continue because we are not making super lot of money, we don’t do it just because of travel, we do it because of music and if the music doesn’t feel good we have to think of something else.
HIM is constantly present in both, mainstream/teen and scene/underground media, do you think it’s good or bad?
- I think it’s interesting. It’s like Dark Light. Just to have different entities coming together. Teenagers are fucking people as well, and I think it’s really healthy if a teenie magazine has a band like us in there.
Well that’s how lots of the fans got to know you…
- Well…not necessarily that our band exists, but the whole genre…rock’n’roll in general, and that’s why I consider it to be a good thing. But it’s a bit different in different countries. And especially here we still get this Bravo stuff…and then we just did an interview for Gothic and Orkus. I find it really cool. I find it really nice that so many differ so many different people are into what we do.
Do you catch up much gossip about you from the internet, tabloids or whatever?
- Ahm, from the tabloids a bit.
Do you care? Does it make you angry or worried do you just…well...don’t care?
- Depending. When they’re like stupid lies that make my mom and father like well…you know…worried. I don’t like that. When they are like complete lies I usually laugh about them.
There was this story recently in Iltalehti about you arguing with your neighbour and throwing a flowerpot at his door…
- Well…that’s what I did.
How do you generally feel about people who are discussing your private life in “public”?
Ahm, lets say that especially being in Finland, that’s that’s my home country, and that’s where my fiancé lives…and that’s the only place where I have like my…private time. So it would be nice, if it would be less discussions about private things…because you know, being in a band is a different thing than trying to be a good …future husband.
Some critisism I have heard from many fans: the setlist is rather stuck on playing “hits” only.. People are missing “specials” and “surprises”… [he didn't let me finish and therefore got it totally wrong...
We’re doing It’s All Tears,we’re doing Razorblade Kiss, we’re doing Poison Heart by the Ramones, we’re doing Soul On Fire which was never a single, what else do we do? We’re doing Play Dead from the new album I think almost half of the setlist weren’t hits or singles.
Yeah, but…some people are complaining about not changing the setlist for a very long time…
- Hold on…[now he got it] well you know ahm…we tend to change every night like one or two songs. [aha] Because…if you rehearse the set very well, it is better for everybody because we know the draw, we don’t have to think about how the set goes, we can concentrate on performing well [aha]
[thinking about flowerpots and better changing topic…]
What would you like to say to journalists who write negative “reviews” about a record or a gig, numerating every stupid cliché which is connected to HIM, but forgetting to mention anything about the music/the performance itself…
[this was my question, but the waiter arrived with his coffee at the mom and he had to sign something and stuff so the question he actually answered was]:
How do you deal with (bad) critisism?
- Well you know…I like constructive criticism. And it’s the same with like…good reviews. Because if someone who really likes what we do just writes a review just because he or she really likes what we do, I don’t think this is necessarily good. I like writing in a neutral way that there are things that could be better and things that could be worse.
What I meant were actually those people who like, are just telling all the clichés like teenie girls screaming and they’re parents waiting for them and so on…
- Yeah but actually I think it’s a beautiful thing if parents can come with their children to our gigs. It’s a fucking awesome thing…tell me one other band who can do…maybe U2, The Rolling Stones, so not a lot of bands can do it, that’s really cool. it’s really cool that we’ve had so much success or so much interest from young people, like really…like people who are 10. Maybe through what we say, maybe they’ll get into Black Sabbath…
[I actually wasnt asking THIS but well...pretty interesting anyways *lol* ]
Yeah, I’ve actually seen lots of kids, the cutest one in London, maybe ten, sitting on a…thing and shouting all the lyrics.
- Well you know, we met in America… the youngest fan was a girl of three, so that was really really cool, she had like purple hair and like a rock’n’roll gear. That was so cool.
In the Ukraine…somebody opened a beauty parlour and called it Ville Valo….
- *giggles* Ja..
Oh you know it?
- Jajaja…I haven’t been there. I’ve been sent a copy of the logo, and they asked whether they can do it. We were just…we were laughing about it, because it’s such a crazy idea…but if they really want to, of course they can do it.
It’s so funny…because they have like Ville Valo written there, and like a woman’s face profile right in the middle, and I thought it was so funny…
- Yeah well, us too.
I think it’s a positive thing. I think it’s so cool that people like what we do so much that they wanna have they’re business named after it.
Does it disturb you that the Heartagram got a bit “out of control” in the US? That there are lots of people who even don’t know that the symbol is connected to a band?
Well they will. I think that anyway, you know…I think it’s a better start, when there is…let’s say a million people who know the Heartagram, or two million people who know the Heartagram and maybe 200 000 who know what’s all about ..but it’s a bit better like that, than to have just 200 000 who know what’s all about. Because you know, there is time and eventually if we’re going to be a bit more well known over there, I think that people are gonna understand the link…aaah okay, it’s that band, it’s not Bam or it’s not…that thing, you know it’s just …you know, I think it’s a good thing.
Do you plan to play in Finland…I mean a real tour in the next couple of month?
Aaaahm…we don’t have time before eeehm before next autumn. Because we go for the first time to Australia and New Zealand and Japan and …and…we gotta do a lot of work in America because for the first time these you know like K-Rock [??] for example…really big radio stations started playing Wings Of A Butterfly. It’s getting better and better and we’re more well-known there so of course we wanna push that. It’s an important thing for us but, yeah…we should do something…something in Finland…probably in the autumn.
Imagine the following artists playing at the same time in the same town:
Which one would you choose?
- Ahm…*thinking*…Sabbath definitely of course, yeah yeah…there are no options.
Which gig you ever attended impressed you the most?
- Probably the first one that I ever saw that was Iron Maiden in Helsinki at mhhhhm in mhhhm ’87…[actually it was ’88…]. And it was the first big rock concert with like pyrotechnics and everything and that was like…that was blast for a young mind.
Can you imagine that for some people, HIM can be that impressing?
- Erm, no but hopefully. There have been people who came to our shows and …sort of…you know sang along/enjoyed(?) [could have been something else...ville's soundless but actually constantly ringing phone...like we discovered afterwards, you know...mobiles cause these noices on cameras and stuff...was too loud at this word] every song. It’s always a cool thing if they like it, you know.
Is there anything you want to say to your fans in general?
- Be educated. Education is never a bad thing. I thing it’s the best way to rebel against the government, or…religion …you know…politics or whatever. A wise Chinese man once said…or Japanese, I can’t remember. But he said that …you know…keep your friends close but your enemies closer.
Did you tell me any lies…
- *thinking* no…….I never lie *smile*