PLAY 04/2003
HIM: Love and metal to death

A lot of people do not understand the roots of gloomy Finnish band's music right. And is it gloomy if MTV advertises it? I don't know what is in the West, but I clearly remember when five Finns in black clothes first appeared on MTV-Russia.
I don't wanna lie: in 1998 strong guitar sound united with nostalgic "Wicked game" was very unusual. Everybody thought guys had joked well. They were not the first, Marilyn Manson and Orgy did the same. And two years after we were deeply shocked because "Join me (In Death)" reached the first places in commercial European charts. They obtained what they wanted, Finnish Bon Jovi. And they only pretended black and gothic because for the global debut they had chosen nothing else but famous pop-hit. Romantic like all "Bon Jovies" like - with the video about naked girl and desert beach.
But not long time ago I learned that Ville Valo first heard not pop-hit "Wicked Game" but sad song from "Wild At Heart" by David Lynch. And it cleared up that everything was not that way. These Finns in black clothes are really on the edge of depression. What looks like radio song about love for us for them is sacramental confession listened by chance. And they absorb it like vampires suck blood. And then they take their guitars and sing melancholic songs.
The new, forth album is brought out when HIM has already become mega stars. Yes, when the band stopped to be serious for the first occasional fans of " Greatest Lovesongs vol.666", when it fills fan army with girls who had listened Britney Spears. For these girls "Cool" ("Cool" is Russian magazine for teenagers. - note by SoulInLove.) takes interview before me. What will I have to talk about with Ville?

Ville, you are the first artist for the not long history of our magazine who appeared on over cover twice. The first one was when HIM brought out previous album. Is it important for you to be "number one", to appear in popular magazines?
- Of course it's important. I mean publicity is necessary - It reminds people that we exist and bring out new album. But I do it not for my ego I have not got any mania. It is absolutely not important for me like a person. But my work includes some things I have to do.

What is about new pictures? We have met a little trouble- record label hasn't got a lot of new ones. May be they are not necessary?
- No! We have done some pictures, they will be sent to you (really few days after we got thick parcel of pictures, thank you Ville! - note by author). We were shooting new video and designing new album's cover. We just had no time!

Has HIM image changed?
- There is less make up, we look like we really are now.

To talk about HIM and do not mention "love metal" is nonsense. But suddenly we found out that your new album has got the same name. Is it some kind of remake? Are you going to go round? I remember your earliest album "Greatest Lovesongs Vol.666" - even the title is similar.
- I would call it looking back. This is our fourth album and we decided to look back and gather the best moments of three previous CDs. In fact "Love Metal" is "best of" but it consists of new songs. We have taken heavy guitar sound from the first album, rock-n-roll approach from the second and huge melodies from the third one.

Would you affirm that you've got something to say about the style, which has been created five years ago?
- I think we have a lot of work. We can improve our style, we do it in every album. Remember AC/DC - they brought out 30 albums and all of them are pretty similar. I have nothing against it - we do the same. We try to extract maximum of three chords and our guitars.

Is it gonna be a long time? Encourage your fans or disappoint them?
- I don't know. We are happy with what we have. If it is a day people will not listen to us we gather and think about changes.

By the way the term "love metal" was created by you or by journalists?
- We've done it. Journalists have endless problems with terms. We understood it because of our own music - so we had to turn on our brains.

The names "love metal" and "Love Metal" are the same but have contents changed?
- Well, no. The main point is in union of differences: light and darkness, beautiful melancholic melodies and heavy sound.

Do you agree HIM music has changed, become pop?
- My opinion is - no.

You mean those who think that you played honest even underground music on the first album and now became major "stars" are mistaken?
- But it has not changed music! You can't call Marilyn Manson pop star because he is famous. His sound is not pop!

Your personal opinion: is love metal for a long time?
- Hmm? Let's guess at the future that it's minimum for another ten years.

Will it die with HIM or stay?
- I hope someone from the other bands will use our heritage.

Can you say any exact name?
- We haven't got big choice! (laughing)

Well, give us one name.
- No, we have to wait for these ten years. We haven't got someone better than we around.

This is the rare case: first I remember your remakes of my favorite artists especially Black Oyster Cult "Don't fear the Reaper". How do you choose concrete artists and songs?
- There are no rules. Both "Don't fear the Reaper" by Black Oyster Cult and "Wicked Game" helped us to understand our own style, to detect us as a band.

Are there any remakes on your new album?
- No, there is only our own material. This is the second album without Black Oyster Cult and Chris Isaac. There are no good songs left around, so we have to write ourselves.

May be it evidences about your skill like a poet and composer? May be this is the reason why you needn't other's songs?
- I'd like to think so. I noted my songs become better every year. Also music needs definite amount of human energy and it's better to waste it for your own music.

Do you like Scorpions?
- This is unexpected question. I listened to them in the later 80's. I even was their fan.

I think you are slowly replacing them like "the main metal band for girls in the earth".
- Well, they are old now? It is strange comparison: Scorpions and we.

But what is about girls?
- We are not only for them, we are for everybody. Guys listen to us with the same pleasure. It is the old proverb: search for guys were the girls are. But we like to touch sensitive girl's souls with our music.

And what about planet? Do you think I overdid? Are there any places where you are absolutely not popular?
- We are unknown in America. We have not ever been there with concerts and no albums were brought out there.

How will you estimate your fame in Russia? You've been there twice?
- Oh, it's a big honor for us! Not long ago we were invited again. If people want to hear us we will keep coming to you over and over.

I heard you like Jim Morrison?
- No! I like Iggy Pop more. He is better and he is alive.

At least I heard you are often compared with Morrison.
- There is nothing strange. People need different comparisons all the time.

What would be your reaction for the offer to take Morrison's place in reformed The Doors?
- But they already have Ian Astbury from The Cult. Anyway The Doors is not my favorite band. My idols are Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Kiss.

Well, how would you react for the invitation to the Black Sabbath?
- I'd react with definite answer "no". Black Sabbath is idols for me. And I wanna thank them for the wonderful music they had done with my own music. But I even don't want to try to create it with them.

You are leader by nature. Can you image yourself in the background like someone's shadow?
- Of course I am leader but we have absolutely democracy in the band. A single whole "HIM" depends on everybody's playing on his instrument. What is about second role - there was no attempt to compete with me. I am not worry about it: I write music, I sing.

Do you like cinema?
- What cinema?

Of course good cinema! (both author and Ville are laughing - note by author)
- Oh, of course I do. My favorite director is Tim Burton. His best films are "Beetlejuice", "Batman" and "Nightmare before Christmas".

Well, you choice worth your style? Have you ever been offered cinema roles like David Bowie and Tom Waits?
- There were a couple of offers, but nothing had happened. It is always interesting to try something new. But we simply are busied with HIM and have no time.

Our magazine lately carried out totals and called David Lynch the cinema hero of the year 2002. It seems he is your minion too, isn't he?
- I agree with your choice. His "Mulholland Dr." was magnificent.

What will be your forecast about your new album's place in the musical totals of the year 2003?
- For me it is undoubtedly the album of the year because HIM is not going to bring out new albums till the end of the year. (laughing)

The last joke I have heard about you is that there is another band called HIM in America and they posses copyright for this name. And you are going to change name call your band HER. Is it true?
- This joke contains part of true, but we definitely won't HER! Really, there is people who has registered name HIM and don't wanna leave it. But we'll do something. Just give us time!

C. Savoskin

translated by SoulInLove

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