Image Magazine, October 2002Here's the incomplete translation of the article in the magazine
It starts out that the man who interviews Ville is inside the studio in a corner, watching everything the guys do. He is quiet cause that's what he had promised - not to disturb them in any way. It's the first real working day at the Finnvox studio. "First 2 days we just got our things here and decorated this place, - producer Hiili Hiilesmaa says. - There are things that belongs to the band members but also lot of cigarettes, Dr.Pepper bottles, coffee that reminds of an oil catastrophe. Jallu magazines (Finnish pornmags) etc".
Here the guys will spend at least the next 2 months. There's not only cigarette smoke in the air, when a band who has sold over 1 million records are in the studio, there's a lot of pressure in the air also and anyone can feel it.
"Yes it's very stressing, says Ville but actually pretty easy to write the lyrics cause there's no deadline".
At least this time the idea to the record is very clear. HIM last record was a little artistic and also commercial disappointment. Here's the total record sell so far: GLS vol. 666 - 300 000 copies, Razorblade Romance - 930 000, DS&BH - 450 000.
To wake up the fans again the band needs something new and so often in music business that means to go back to the roots. The last record was kinda poppy like Bon Jovi but with this new one it will be different, harder and darker HIM. The title should tell a lot - Love Metal.
"The world is full of dark music but nobody else can get it sound like Slavic melancholic."
This time the band won't either let some foreign people come and ruin that sound. The experiences with the last record co-working with German and UK BMG wasn't the best, at their demand they had to bring the Aerosmith producer Kevin Shirley to "rescue" the process and in the end that meant only to make it become very expensive for the guys. The UK BMG wanted and also got the famous photographer Rankin to take a new picture to the album cover which costed 30 000 Euros. The video to Pretending was also done in UK, expensive and not very well. The foreign record companies has this attitude: We tell the orders, you obey.
Lost & Found, Annankatu. Almost midnight on a Monday evening. We sit in the non smoker area but Ville kindly asks if he can smoke and it's no problem and he has a ashtray in front of him in one second. We drink beer but that's not all. Ville has decided to pay for all of us. "When I happen to have some money in my pocket," - he says. It's a kind of payback thing, some years ago it was me who bought him a few beers in a bar when Ville was giving one of his first interviews. "I remember how impressed I was, that some one really buys me a few beers that costed 27 Finnish Marks at that point".
After that Ville has been given thousands of interviews. It's a lot of talk, many tapes. We can for sure say that before HIM Finland hadn't seen anything like this. Suddenly we had this charismatic, polite and a very pretty boy among us. Ville Valo was born to this, nothing needed to be changed. He was every photographers', every reporters' dream, also in that case that they were men. No wonder that when HIM got big in Germany they had to have a press conference just to re-sure he is not gay!
And he hasn't changed at all. 5 years and the millions haven't made any difference to this man.
"At first all the interviews made me so nervous. When I drank a lot of red wine and smoked a lot I got the time between the questions and answers to think about what I will say.
When you tell your answers you are not in front of the court so there's no need to always tell the whole truth".
He surely had something else to charm the people around him. With his music he had created something new, Love Metal. It was hard rock but with big romantic words - Love, Death. In English of course.
"Would be impossible to write such good songs like Reino Helismaa did in Finnish. How could ever something beat Paivansade ja Menninkainen (One of Reino H. songs. - H. Ekbom.)?"
"Even if I love Bruce Springsteen & Nick Cave, I could never write about things like they do. I could also never use words like Phone, Street, Cigarette... Much rather words like Veins, Soul and Heart".
Ville Valo's first words in the music business was: Can I smoke here? The place is BMG recordcompanies Manager Asko Kallonens office, year was 1996. The 19 years old Valo sits in the chair like he doesn't seem to move anywhere in a long time, takes the cigarettes from the pocket and then first asks for permission to smoke. The manager says yes, you can smoke here.
The story is simple but still like a myth. It just tells, how ready Ville was for this business.
"All rockstar bios tells almost the same, we are the guys from no where, we are doing fine etc. It's funny to see how much is written in the stars, so many idols has gone through the same things like me".
The last years rock'n'roll culture has changed a lot. From Elvis to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones to Nirvana it was myth industry. The stars were available to the fans only to some point, only because of the music.
The Osbournes tells it all now. Where the bad guy now is shown at his home walking around in his robe and to open a can of food to his dog is almost too much of a job nowadays".
All this Ville dislikes.
"Ozzy is an icon for me just like Jesus, Lemmy from Motorhead or Tapio Rautavaara. Sure The Osbournes is fun to watch but it seems very hard for me to take it seriously when he's doing his next solo album. Music is mystical and magic and nowadays they try to kill that in everyway. I wanna fight against that till the end".
Ville also doesn't like his other big idol Gene Simmons biography "Kiss and make up". The book took all the faith of Genes real passion for rock'n'roll away, he doesn't even believe the tongue is real anymore. Even that is probably made by money.
HIM doesn't need to tell about their financial thing, it comes out in public anyway. They don't like it but what can they do, every firms things are open to public here. In rock'n'roll business a lot of things stinks but nothing more than money. They noticed that they need someone to take care of the financial things and soon they got Hanoi Rocks former manager to help them out. He became the one who actually takes care of lots of things. "Sometimes I hope he (Seppo) would do something behind our back but he is just to loyal and honest," - laughs Ville. - "I mean every real rockstar has at some point somebody who are stabbing them at their back".
The 4th beer. God knows how many cigarettes. Ville isn't tired. He has woke up late that day, posed for 4 hours for the magazine and now he talks aboutЕ what else than music?
He doesn't watch tv at home but he says he does pay for the license though. He doesn't buy any newspapers, all he reads in the tourbus especially is pornmags, crimemags & musicmags. Before HIM he hadn't been to any other countries than to Stockholm or Tallinn on a cruise. Nowdays he is spending his freetime in Helsinki, between his home and a few bars, like a Bermuda triangle. At home he plays guitar, watches his little brothers anime-videos and reads books, usually biographys. When he wakes up, he drinks coffee and Red Bull, thinking with whom he will go out that night.
"I don't like watching the news cause they only tells the bad things. I'm waiting for a newspaper who tells also about the good things happening like how many healthy children was born that day. I'm not an expert in history or geography, when I'm on tour I don't know that much about the countries or their situation. But I meet a lot of people and talk to them about lots of things and learn new stuff. We were in Mexico and I talked with this local guy and he told me that before the movie Amores Perro dog fighting wasn't that popular there but it all changed after that movie".
Even if Ville didn't finish high school (or upper secondary school) and he doesn't seem himself anymore clever than any other, you can hear of his talk that this young man truly is intelligent.
He doesn't believe that someone lives their life the way they don't wanna live it. "I believe that secretaries like what they are doing, at least most of their time. I don't like my job everyday either. I think that every job and every destiny are important".
Lost & Found starts to get crowdy. The tape is full, Ville's friends are waiting for him to join them. Today he is going to get real drunk, that's what he says. He still has a few days off before they need his effort at the studio so he takes this time to relax and celebrate while he still can.
Soon it's time to go back to Finnvox and start the real work. The studio looks like anyone could walk in there, no fences around or anything. Just like there would be nothing to hide. Just like anyone could walk in there and made an album of Love Metal. Just like that.
Translated by Heidi Ekbom