Interview with Ville Valo at Lowlands festival
Ville: Live long in property, people. My name is Ville from a band called HIM from Helsinki, Finland. And youíre enjoying Toazted at the moment. So, stay toasted, brothers and sisters. Uh!
Toazted.com: So, youíre here. Youíre back in the Lowlands festival again. How many times have you been here right now?
V: Well, you know, that was back in the days when I was drinking heavily, soÖ itís all a blur, past ten years more or less. I guess itís been 3, 4, 5 years, something like that, since we were here last time around. It was a long longÖ
T: AaaÖI saw you likeÖ 2 years ago you were here actually.
V: Youíre sure?
T: Iím really sure, I saw you, guys.
V: Are you sure you saw us?
T: I saw you perform, soÖ
V: Perform, like, on stage?
T: Yeah, on stage, yeah.
V: How well were we performing?
T: It was ok.
V: So, I performed ok?
V: Oh, thatís good. Thatís good to know. OK is better than, you know, really bad. So, yeah, wellÖ that wasÖ I canít really remember that. Thatí funny. When you, you know, when you play a lot of festivals, we had the honor and the possibility of playing a lot of festivals, itís justÖ Thereís so many of them. If you play like 30 festivals and then you go on a proper tour for a couple of months. And then you start recording the next one. Itís just, you canít remember all of it.
V: Well, thatís like shitty excuse, but I was trying my best.
T: Ah, ehÖ You donít need to excuse yourself, itís just what it is.
V: Itís justÖ Iím just trying to be a gent, more or less.
T: Do you still enjoy it?
V: Which part of it? Nah, you know, the forgetting part. Yeah yeah.. I enjoy forgetting everything, dimensions coming bit by bit. AhÖ Yeeah, I do. ItísÖ itís been eh personally itís been tough couple of past years, like, maybe 2 years, something like that., sinceÖ you knowÖ my heavy drinking escalated to super-heavy-drinking and at one point the doctor said that ďyou canít do or you gonna dieĒ. And it was tough being sober and doing all the tour sober and kinda missing all the parties, and getting fucked up every night, all that. But, you know, I read a lot. Iím the boring twat. But then again, I do write a lot more songs., so ahÖso ahÖ it is fun, but itís different. Itís very different. And then again, I probably said the same thing a couple of years back that it seems that we have our audienceÖ All the audience seems so different form country to country. It could be that one album is really respected in letís say England and not in Germany. And then a next one is appreciated in Germany and nobody gives a fuck in England. So, itís kinda weird, weíre kinda likeÖ Well like nearly a demo band in some country, and then we like nearly superstars in another country. And that kinda keeps us dancing on the razorís edge, so to speak. And it makes it worth and makes it very challenging as well rather than having everybody kissing our asses, you know.
T: And then you must feel you must have a big show then.
V: Are you talking about this one?
T: Yeah, this or any big show.
V: Well, itís not the quantity, itís the quality. ItísÖ you know, playing gigs is kinda tough since occasionally you get into situations when the technical aspects are not working, you know. Or you get into situation where you just feel like shit. Your audience is fantastic, everythingís fantastic, but you got the flu or whatever. And ehÖ you know, itís a tough thing to get all the five members in a band, and ehÖ all our members, ehÖin a tip-top shape to be able to perform in a way it would be entertaining for everybody involved, soÖ It is playing like Russian roulette with maybe 5 bullets instead of one. So, thereís a lot of possibilities of failure, but ahÖ but we keep on failing so extremely well that weÖ weíve learnt how to cope with eh tremendous continuous pain.
T: Whatís the worst experience youíve had when you had to perform?
V: Eh, well, ahm.. Probably the one.. Iíve had.. Iíve been on tour while having diarrhea. And thatís not nice when you have to deal with a lot of Imodium, stuff like that, youíre kind of afraid that you gonna shit your pants andÖ
T: On stage?
V: Yeah.. and you do this ďaahhhh!Ē you really go for the screams or whatever, youíre like ďcan I? can I? aaahhh!Ē and itís kinda youíre (??) , cause thereís just so much pressure in your body that you, well.. Thatís the reason why IímÖ Thatís what weíve been saying why all these goth-bands wear black just in case they shit themselves nobodyís gonna notice. SoÖ That might be the thing, butÖ As you can see Iím justÖ
T: Youíre not wearing black.
V: Yeah, IímÖ IímÖ Iím comfortable with my (???) at the moment.
T: For now.
V: Yeah, for now. Obviously. It might be totally different next time around *laughter*.
T: Ok, but is everybody healthy now?
V: AhÖ Well, Mige, our bass-player had diarrhea yesterday. He was eating some moldy raisins, so he had a little bit of problems. I think thereís mental problems, but everybodyís got a bit, ehmÖ yeah, weíre good, weíre good. Weíre actually just kind ofÖ itís an ahÖ what would be the right word? Elevating moment in the way that weíve just finished our DoÖ our Venus Doom tour, our previous album Venus Doom. This was the last gig for the album, soÖ We toured since last July, soÖ
T: So it feels good to be done.
V: Yeah, wellÖ yeahÖ it feels good to kindaÖ You knowÖ To start writing new material and trying to go into the studio and create a record that would convince a bit more people to like us.
T: Are there any plans or things written for the new record?
V: Ahm, Iím writing, you know, bits andÖ I have got couple of songs Iíve been working with. You know, you never know whatís gonna end on the album and what not. Itís all good. Iím just happy that Iím writing, because I usually have niamniamniam a writerís block, andÖ you always feel like ďoh, now I canít do anything anymoreĒ and you become this whiny self-centered bastard living in your house , you knowÖ this, you knowÖ itís all all-over type eh despair hitting you. Ehm, you know, but songs are coming out of me when Iím in a rush with the next album. Iím gonna fly over to the States to meet some people in a record company, and weíre gonna just figure out what we can do better with the next album. Not musically, but, you know, with the whole machinery. You know, records sales are going down, you know. Record companies are kinda scared, I think. You know, itís not a good situation. They expect us to live like rockstars, but where do we get the money, you know. Thatís tough. We gonna live like rockstars being very cheap, so, cheap drugs, and cheap girls, and cheap booze and all that.
T: So, thatís why you have to tour so much, to make some money?
V: Well, touring is something you get used to, you getÖ Itís extremely hard and psychedelic for me to go back home and to relearn how to do the dishes, ahm, buy a toilet paper. Stuff like that. Itís so easy when you are in the hotels. You just get used to that kind of living, but... but ah touring is the way of life which sounds a bit corny, which it probably is. But it is a way of avoiding of growing up, and it is a way of seeing a lot of places you would never go to. You know, weird places. Minneapolis. IÖ You get your drinks spiked in Minneapolis, and waking up from aÖyou knowÖin a hotel with an hourly rate next morning with everything stolen off of you. Itís veryÖ Itís like aÖ like Indiana Johns without the hat and the money. KindaÖ
T: Well, you guys make good money on tour.
V: No, Iíve got the hatÖ noÖ no we donít actually, because itís like a lot of people donít realize the fact that the bigger the venue, the bigger the tour, the bigger expenses are as well, soÖ You gotta put on a great light show and more PA and stuff like that. So, basically I guess the most money comes from merchandise.
V: Yeah. So, t-shirt sales, stuff like that. I donít know the exact figures, you know. I donít wanna know. Butta, I think that the way that you keep on funding yourself. Weíre not broke, you know. But weíre not (???) either. Weíre not rappers, you know.
T: You want all the girls to keep buying your shirts.
V: Ahm.. Well, girls and boys and everything in between, you know. Weíre trying to figure out new line of clothing for animals, well, so we expand our territory. To kids obviously. So, weíre omnivorous when it comes to that. Ahm. Oh, well, you know, itís just a complex. Weíre musicians, I write songs, we perform, and weíre happy doing that. Weíre lucky enough to be in a situation with these people who design fairly good t-shirts, so that we donít have to do that. We just can concentrate on the essential.
T: This making music, creating partÖ
V: Well, thatís the thing Iíve doing since I was a kid, you know. Obviously, Iíve been buying a lot of Iron Maiden, Cathedral and Type o Negative t-shirts as well, so I know what I like. Butta, but Iím not a businessman, Iím a musician, soÖ and ahÖ Iím not Gene Simons. Well, you know.
T: You take pride in that?
V: Iím thinking about Gene Simonsí sex tape or (???) sex tape. Yeah, I do take pride in that.
T: Ok. SoÖBut, you have a good managers and stuff to work it a lot for you?
V: Ah, yeahÖ weíre glad actually to have Seppo, thatís the name of a guy. Heís been with us since the beginning of the band, soÖ Heís not stealing too much from us. He does have really fat illegal accounts probably in ??? islands. Or something like French ??? Heís got like mansions and shit, we donít have like anything. Butta, itís better than nothing. We still have the bread on our table, and weíre able to pay our phone bills. So, weíre good.
T: Do you like your job?
V: I donít consider it a job. I consider it overwhelming, very much extended hobby. You know, passion, in a way. It has taken us so far. Itís very rare it feels like a job, and when it does feel like a job, that the time to actually go back home and relax. Thatís the sign that youÖ I get a bit burned out. Something like that. Of course, it happens to people, to everybody, but not playing gigs, you know, you might be hangover; you might be feeling under the weather or stuff like that. But thatís not a part that you think could changeÖ now we just mayÖ you knowÖ I gotta go on stage because Iím gonna make like a thousand euros for singing crapy songs for hour and a half. Itís not like that, yet.
T: Maybe it all reunion tour in twenty years?
V: Well, we keep on splitting up, so thisís probably like zillions reunions, or, in a way, but. We could do a proper one, sure sure. Just play Ö ehm, weíre gonna do extensive tour in Germany just playing Join Me in Death ten times in a row. Thatís our way of celebrating our reunion, whenever that happens. But weíre trying to figure out also way to use cyborgs to make it bit craftworkier, the whole thing. So, we donít have to be actually on a stage. Or like Boney M, have one original member in all the different HIM bands, you know. Have Gas having one HIM. And I do one HIM, and thatíd be good, you know. Weíd make 5 times more money and we still wouldnít be rich, because of the percentage our manager takes off from us.
T: You should manage yourself then. Thatís a job, and thatís not fun.
V: Well, you know, I do manage myself manually sexually in a hotel room, but not money-wise with the rock band.
T: You gotta do it manually with all the girls screaming at the concerts?
V: Well, they scream at the concert, but they donít scream in the hotel room.
T: Why not?
V: Maybe I smell, I donít know. Maybe I smell bad, Iíve got bad (???)... I donít know. Iím a very romantic person and Iím still waiting for aÖ
T: True love.
V: Well, not true love. Iíve been in love couple of times. And Iím very glad and very happy for that. Butta, Iíd rather save myself. Thereís not a lot to save, so Iíve gotta save the last little tiny pieces I can. My goods a very damaged.
T: Yeah? From what?
V: Excessive partying.
T: But itís all in the past now?
V: Excessive partying?
V: Eh, I never say never. I donít have any plans. Iíve been sober for about a year and 4 months, something like that, (but) and itís been easy and itís been fun, (but) and quite boring occasionally, as well. But I never say never. I getÖ thatís the way Iíve been able to sustain the sobriety for such along time. I donít make any plans, you know. If you make plans you gonna be pressured toÖyou know.
T: And now you just smoke a lot...
V: I donít even smoke that much. Thatís weird. But thatís probably the rea(son), you know. You canít smoke in bars anymore in EU anywhere. And, you know, since I donít drink, I donít smoke a lot, you know. I donít smoke weed, I got asthma, my bronchitis gets really bad with smoking weed. Smoking cracks are not good for you if you are a singer, itís not good for song writing. If you check Amy Winehouse, you know. Itís bad for your skin, soÖ you know, I canít smoke a lot of things nowadays. I wish I could *laughter*.
T: Youíre becoming a very healthy man.
V: Oh, well, physically yeah.(laughter) Now, look, you know, it's a... itís a fucking phase, you know. Iíll be done in the gutter in no time. Just let me be for two month and Iíll be a fucking wreck. Iíll be all Ozzy Osbourne again. Donít you worry aboutÖ Iíll let you know the next thingís gonna happen from the gutter. Iíll be in the gutter, yeah.
V: Isnít it? Itís really good. That makes me need even less money. You know heed rock (???). Like, what is it? 20 $. Now well heed rock bottom (???), yeah, crack rock bottom. Thatís a plan, you know. That doesnít take a lot of money. It takes a lot of energy, though. But Iíll be hit into crack rock bottom. Crack rock bottom that would be probably Amy W. behind, right. Crack-rock-bottom.
T: Yeah. Thatís a difficult one.
V: Ehm, I have a crush on her, but unfortunately sheís married. But the guyís in jail, soÖ
T: She might forget sheís married.
V: I think she has on few occasions. If you believe what you read, soÖI might stand a chance.
T: Do you believe what you read?,br. V: Yeah, everything. Iím like Dave (???) from (???)that makes me a wise person. You know, Iíve just gotÖ Iím blue-eyed and IímÖ I just believe everything I read. Thatís the way. You know, everything from Wikipedia, everything, everything. I believe it all.
T: Oh, when can we ehmÖWhen does the new record coming out?Ö You think? What do you think?
V: Well, you know, if Iím being released, itíll be out august the 18th next year.
T: Thatís a very precise date.
V: *laughter* Yeeah, Iím not sure whether thatís a weekend or something. So. Butta, eh, but since we know how it works, you know. If we gonna..if Iím gonna write a couple of songs, weíre taking a bit of time of, meeting with the record company, you know, to see if everythingís fine with a next release. We start rehearsing with the band this year, weíre going to the studio early next year, which meansthat thatís gonna be 2 month of recording, ehm, couple of weeks mixing, ehm, mastering, then shooting a video, probably, doing a couple of interviews, doing photo sessions, then playing summer festivals, auaeua, at the same time, hopefully, releasing a single. We can push a bit and say to people ďHei, we still do exist and weíre pretty good occasionallyĒ. And when the summer festivals are done the album is in the stores and we start touring.
T: What in the entire process do you like most?
V: Sleeping. Thatís pretty good.. I like the whole processÖ you know, the cool thing about being in the band is that itís not just music. Thereís so many things involved. You know, even though I say Iím not a businessman and I donít check out all the details, all, like, designed t-shirts, itís still cool to see t-shirts, and designing cover art work and figuring out if we have the possibility meeting some great directors for videos. Weíve been really lucky in the past, you know. Thereís so many visual things in it as well. And the fact that you get to travel a lot, to see a lot of, maybe, museums or bookstores or, you know, gigs or girls, whatever, you know. Thereís a lot of things involved. Itís not just playing a three and a half (???), so I like it all. It, like, balances everything out.
T: Well, thank you very much for an interview. And eh, good luck with the restÖwell...
V: The rest of my life, yeahÖ
T: ..the new record and recording, writing it.
V: Well thank you. Iím, Iím very flattered, yeah yeah thanks thanks. Itís been a great pleasure and Iím.. you know.. ehm, hopefully, hopefully it wonít be like another 3 years, you know. Whatever it was. Itíll be good, itíll be good.
Transcript - La Murka