"HIM Ville Valo Is He Really Killing Loneliness?"
The Finnish quintet HIM recently shot their second video, ďKilling LonelinessĒ with director Noble Jones. Even though this was a closed set, Metal Edge was able to secure these never-before seen shots of vocalist and songwriter Ville Valo and guitarist Linde, bassist Mige, drummer Gas and keyboardist Burtonówho were more than happy to smile for our camera!
It was an unseasonably cold fall evening when a Metal Edge sat down with vocalist and songwriter Ville Valo. From the first word uttered from this charismatic frontman, he unknowingly changed the temperatureís atmosphere with his talk about his bandís latest musical endeavor, Dark Light, his songwriting, and of course, the story behind one of my favorite songs of the year, ďRip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly.Ē
METAL EDGE: How have you grown as an artist, since your last release?
VILLE VALO: You know as you grow up you tend to concentrate on detail. When we started the band, you know, we were concentrating on the fact that we wanted to be part of a band and be able to write some songs, but now that weíve been together for more than 10 years already, we know the basic things, so we know how the muscles move, which have been pointed in the right direction, and still trying to be a bit more detailed. You know, an album is like a puzzle, the more albums you do the smaller a piece of the puzzle and more are available at that particular time.
ME: Which tracks off of Dark Light mean the most to you, and why?
VV: Actually this time around, my favorite is ďKilling Loneliness.Ē Because, I think itís one of those tracks that I think has everything weíve done in the past, which has been put together, and it sounds new to me. Its kind of melancholy and itís very uplifting, and thatís what I like about it. Itís not necessarily a very positive song, but not the most depressing song weíve done. I think Ďtheyí incorporates both those emotional states very well, so thatís probably the reason why I like it!
ME: So, whatís the secret on surviving ďthe road?Ē
VV: Thereís no secretóyou just fucking wing it! Thatís the only possibility because being on tour is always different. You tour different places. Schedules are different. Support acts are different. The mental state of each individual and the whole band keeps on changing. You know, if someone is having a rough time back at home, you always reflect on the tour life as well. Thank God now weíve been blessed with too many marriages this year, so, I guess everybody is having a good time back at home! They sort of bring the good vibe with them on tour, as well. My only saving grace is sleep as much as possible and avoid all air conditioning.
ME: Oh, for your throat?
VV: Yeah. You know, in Scandinavia, we donít have any air conditioningóanywhere! It something that dries the vocal chords out really, really quickly, and on top of that, I especially have asthma and I am wise enough to smoke on top of that! So, thatís the stupidest combination to start with, and then, air conditioning drying out the voiceóthatís pretty bad. Thatís the only way I can loose my voice. By know, hanging out in letís say, Las Vegas for like two or three daysóbecause itís full blown air conditioning. You canít get the windows open in any of the rooms. Thatís what happened last year. It was the first time in my career that I lost my voice, it was in perfect shape otherwise, but I just couldnít get anything out of my vocal chords.
ME: Off of your latest release, my favorite song is ďRip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly,Ē how did you come up with the lyrics to this song?
VV: When youíre a young kid and they blow-up frogs and fucking shoot pigeons, you know, stuff like that, which has always been crazy! I always wondered how someone could rip out the wings of a butterflyóbecause it seems way to cruel! Yeah, I read a book, which I canít remember what Asian-myth this wasóbut it was about some of the Asian religions or whatever, believe that an immortal soul has the wings of a butterfly. My idea behind the song was just about understanding that you have to burn some bridges down, you have to destroy some things to be able to step forward spiritually and morallyóyou can rip off the wings of a butterfly meaning that particular butterfly are the law of siding with the laws of religion, politics, and everything shown that love can top all that!
ME: WOW! Youíre so, deep for a rock star!
VV: No. Not really! That was my idea, kind of. I have always loved literature; you know, I picked that up in lyricism in rock Ďní roll music. Our problem is usually a lot of people donít take advantage of language. I think itís cool to play with those kinds of things, you know. Iím not saying that I am reinventing the wheel, but, Iím still trying to continue in the vein of Nick Cave or whomeverójust to make my mark on hopefully creating a unique and individual way using your sweet language.
ME: How hard was it to craft a story into lyrical form? Like ďVampire HeartĒ or ďUnder The RoseĒ was it hard to create a story into lyrical form?
VV: No not really, because, I lived through all of them.
ME: So, basically all your lyrics are what youíve lived through?
VV: Yeah. Yeah, or my friends what theyíve been living through or what Iíve seen my friends do,, or whatever, you know. Itís my way of reflecting on the world, you know, through my lyrics and through music, and getting the emotions out, which otherwise would need a very expensive psychotherapist.
ME: When crafting a song, do you write with a specific format in mind?
VV: You know, when I write music or song, I usually write the music first, and then, Iíve got the melodies, so I know the rhythm of the lyrics. So it kind of like finds itself. I usually start up with some kind of line usually from the chorus or whatever and it just keeps feeding itself and becoming bigger and bigger.
VV: I think itís very interesting in a way, because itís always different. Thereís no certain hour or way or certain brand of candles, Iíve got to light in my room to be able to be in the same mood. I like the fact that you can do it wherever in the city where you are at, or the country where you are at, or people you just me it all effects on the mood of that particular song. I think it makes it very magical for me, and very interesting and itís not been very boringóyet.
ME: Do you have a songwriting process, and, if so, what does it entail?
VV: No. No. I have my cell phone, which is a recorder. I tend to record stuff in there. I have a couple of dictating machines. I have got my computer studio set up usually Iím carrying that around with me on the tours. I write down on napkins, thatís one of my ideas! Itís like the living for the momentóand, I think that, if thereís a moment that Iím creating something thatís really cool, and, if, I donít remember it tomorrow, then itís not cool! I think my brain is like a hard drive, anyways, so it can take so much information in, and it tends to do the good thingsóIím not worried about that, I have a really good memory!
ME: As you know, songwriting can be a real roller coaster ride; do you have any tips on surviving the ride?
VV: Well, I think when it becomes hard then quit it for a second. I havenít had a guitar in my hands for the past two to three weeks, and, Iím fucking itching to go over to L.A. (day after tomorrow) to buy myself some old, used guitars from the Ď60s and just let it rip, you know! Itís like reading and movies or whateveróyou have to take breaks! Then it feels better. Itís like riding a bicycle to a certain extentóthe basics you get are easy, but you still feel rejuvenated by the fact that it feels kind of refreshed.
ME: So, when you write your music, do you write on that type of guitar you mentioned, or on a piano and/or both?
VV: Whatever. I did most of the first record on bass guitar and Iím a really shitty keyboard player, but, I usually Ďhumí the keyboard ideas down and then I strum a guitar. Iím a big fan of Neil Young. I like the fact idea of a song works, you know, like a campfire song then it should work with the band, too. If should be working with just a couple of simple chords and you be able to hum on top of it, you know, I think that makes it!
ME: Ville, do you listen for lyrics? Some songwriters listen for words or events, which inspires them?
VV: Both, but, I read. I donít listen to different lyricist. I think their 99.99% of all of the lyricist are round-out bullshit.
VV: Most of them really donít use the wonderful advantage of the English language. Most of them are bland, if you know what I mean. Just be boring and deafónaif, as they say in England. I try to read as much as possible, you know, different types of literature like giant squid and may be Iíll find a phrase out of there, and watch moviesóthatís really good, too.
ME: Do you have a favorite movie that you like?
VV: My favorite at this moment is a favorite Korean movie called, Old Boy. Thatís really, really good, you should definitely check it out! You cry and laugh at the same time at the end.
by Renee Daigle