HIM Ready to Finnish Off Showbox SoDo
Ville Valo doesn't deny that his life tends to have a degree of chaos coming in and out of it.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since as lyricist and singer for the band HIM, turmoil can be a useful source of inspiration for lyrics. But even though Valo is known for writing decidedly dark lyrics and music, he disputes any notion that he willingly invites chaos into his life to benefit his music.
"I kind of naturally find myself in situations like that," Valo said in an early October phone interview from his home in Finland. "I've never been into the idea that artists must suffer or must find a way to suffer. I actually find it really cleansing and really cathartic to write a song. To get rid of the demons or whatever you want to call it, you don't necessarily get rid of them, but you kind of can see them outside of yourself. So you get something ugly outside from yourself in front of you, on a piece of paper or in a song or whatever. At least that makes it easier for me to come to grips with it."
Valo has certainly had a good deal of upheaval in his life in recent times. A chief contributor to his situation was an ongoing drinking habit that had seen Valo drinking upwards of two cases of beer on a daily basis.
But this past summer, after completing the new HIM album, Valo took control of his problem and checked himself into rehab in Malibu, California.
"I've been off booze for about four and a half months now, and it's just, I don't believe that alcohol in itself would be a reason for anything evil to happen," Valo said. "The bottle doesn't turn you into a monster. You were a monster before, but the bottle unleashes the monster. So it's just like I had my problems before, which I hadn't dealt with, but you know, people should be having problems. You can't be sunshine every day. Life has to be a roller coaster ride for you to be able to (screw) up and learn from your mistakes."
By all accounts, Valo was in rough shape before he finally chose rehab. Today, he appears to be a picture of health, and Valo himself says he is having no problems living a healthier life.
"It's real easy for me to stay off of the bottle," he said. "We're playing clubs where everybody's drinking and stuff, and the rest of the guys are drinking, in the band. So I don't have any problems hanging out with people who drink or do drugs or whatever. That's fine."
Valo's return to health comes at a good time for HIM's career. Formed in Finland in 1991, the group Ч which also includes guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindstrom, bassist Mikko "Mige" Paananen, drummer Mika "Gas" Karppinen and keyboardist Janne "Burton" Puurtinen Ч already had gained major stardom in Europe before many people in the United States had heard of them.
In fact, the group released four CDs overseas before finally signing with Sire Records and having the 2005 CD, "Dark Light," become its American debut.
By that time, word about the group's darkly hued "love metal" music had spread to these shores Ч thanks in part to high-profile support from skateboard icon and MTV show host Bam Margera Ч and "Dark Light" sold more than 500,000 copies in the United States.
"Venus Doom" is strong enough musically to sustain that momentum, but it offers some notable contrasts from the previous CD.
"'Dark Light,' you know, we achieved what we wanted to do with that particular album," Valo said. "It's kind of over-produced in a way. We wanted it to be real layered and have a lot of ear candy in it, or whatever you want to call it. But then with the 'Venus Doom' stuff, I wanted the whole band to play more, be more organic."
"It's a lot more vibey," he said. "It's a lot more Jane's Addictiony and a lot more Black Sabbathy and all that, vibe wise."
It's also a denser, slightly heavier CD than "Dark Light." Fortunately, the band has retained is strong sense of melody that has always made HIM's music quite approachable.
Valo said the band isn't going overboard in showcasing the "Venus Doom" CD on its current headlining tour, opting instead for a career-spanning set.
"We're in a good situation that a lot of people heard our band through the Internet and through European press, so a lot of people know the material before 'Dark Light," Valo said. "So we're playing a mixed bag. It's going to be everything, and we're not going to be concentrating on 'Venus Doom' either because we're doing 'Sleepwalking Past Hope,' which is more than 10 minutes long. That's a big part of the set. We're playing around, let's say, four tracks off of each album. So it's like 16, 17, 18 tracks all together, and it's like an hour and a half, a bit less maybe."
by Alan Sculley