HIM made a breakthrough in the US this year
The vocalist and songwriter of HIM Ville Valo sits again at the cornertable of the restaurant Sea horse in Helsinki. He sat at the same table last August before HIM went to their 3rd US tour. In few months a lot has happened – HIM’s newest album made finnish music history by reaching the 18th place on the album chart in US.
“This much has never happened to me before, both in the band and in the personal life”, Ville Valo, 29, goes through the happenings of the year and takes a black woolen pipo off his head. He has changed his style often, now his hair is again growing.
Coming out of Valo’s sleeve you can see potrets tattooed on his right arm. Right above the wrist there are skilfully and meticulously tattoeed b&w pictures of the writers Timo K Mukka and Charles Baudelaire.
Ville tells that next one will be Charles Bukowski. The aim is to fill the arm with literature(?) idols. “Jyrki Hämäläinen can wait”, Ville laughs and grins. Valo wants to let the writers that are important to him to his skin [weirdo sentnece]. He is a musician but the writers who made a deal with the dark side of the life seem to be a source of inspiration, for real. Many rockstars have tattooed dragons and thunderbirds to their backs, but on Valo’s back there are the dark eyes of the father of the mystery literature Edgar Allan Poe. Here we have a genuine romantic.
Ville Valo is in a good way a contradictory person. He is civilized and truly well-read person who acts like a gentleman and speaks english with abrupt british accent. At the same time he is a pipoheaded guy from Helsinki who talks about sklodsomething and skeboista [can’t understand/ trasnlate these Helsinki words] and who wants his kossu handwarm because “it tastes better that way”. The records of this mans band has sold worldwide almost 4 million copies and the latest achievement is the conquest of USA, as stupid as it sounds. There has also been back kicks on the way. During the tour Valo was drugged and robbed and after that he spent the rest of the tour sober. The result was that according to his own words he did the best gigs of his life. When it comes to HIM the most memorable thing was making the album in LA last spring. According to Valo the band has never before gotten that much time to be in the studio.
Valo’s, who is happily dating, highlight of the year wasn’t any of the accomplishments in America. “The best thing was that for the first time in 10 years I spent the christmas with my family, in pyjamas and slippers(?). One can easily understand that. Valo has worked like crazy this year and has been nine months away from home. After touring for years sort of middle-ageding probably comes naturally.
The manager Seppo Vesterinen on the other hand spent his christmas in the sunny California, LA. Vesterinen’s answer to the question about the highlight of the year is understandably more business based. “Band’s deal with Sire records”, Vesterinen says with no hesitating. The deal with the US company guarantees a distribution to all over the world where people buy records. It is the base that the record sales stand on [again a weirdo sentence]. Vesterinen doesn’t hide his satisfaction about the good results in US. “Of course I’m happy and even little bit surprised. I’m sure no-one expected the album to go that high on the chart. Realistic expectation was TOP 40". The album didn’t stay on top for long but it still is in TOP 200. Last week Dark light rose again up to place 165. So it is selling little by little all the time. At the moment it has sold 200000 copies in US and 600000 worldwides. According to Vesterinen HIM is in the US about the same size as Franz Ferdinand. “The most important thing is that it stays in TOP200 as long as possible. At the moment all the percents are again ascending.”
For the next year Vesterinen is going through the possibilities to get HIM’s music to films and video games. The tv is pretty much excluded marketing chanel in US when it comes to music. “All channels are barely reality tv”, Vesterinen says. He hopes that HIM’s album would sell the same way until the summer. In the calendar the time from April to May has been reserved for North-America. To the most important market area has to be went time after time. “In the last hand the lifeblood of a rockband is longevity”, Vesterinen tells. But you can’t plan too much. “We live in a improvisation economy”.
But Ville Valo plans and thinks about the future of the band to pretty far ahead. “I’m the kind of person that I always thinks about the schedules, I don’t know why, but Ville counts months, tours all over the world, the time left for songwriting, studio, singles, shooting videos and finally says that the next album will come in the spring 2007 or if it goes slower, in the autumn 2007. Dark light has done the ground work in the US. Unless one of the next singles suddenly make the sales rise wildly, the pressure is directed to the next album. According to Ville it’ll be more colorful than Dark light.
Maybe with that album the band can rise to the TOP10 and make the final breakthrough in the big league of US and also all over the world. It is possible, it all depends about the timing, work and luck. “I have a feeling that the next album will be much more essential”, Ville says and laughs.