It seems strange that it has only been in the last year or two that HIM (or His Infernal Majesty) has found such a large fanbase in the U.S. Many new American fans may be surprised to find the release of Venus Doom is actually HIM’s sixth studio album. For Janne “Burton” Puurtinen, HIM’s keyboardist, the process of recording Venus Doom was exhausting yet he still found that even veteran musicians learn a great deal from the experience.
Many listeners and critics have found Venus Doom to be HIM’s most diverse offering to date. While many of the greatest bands throughout history have been placed on such a pedestal because of this type of experimentation, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t fans grumbling at the change. There may be a few HIM fans that aren’t happy with the band’s new approach, but Burton believes Venus Doom to be an album that has staying power. “I hope that people would find the album a pleasant piece of work and after years have passed they would still be able to enjoy the songs again and maybe even find something new,” Burton says. As for the diversity label placed upon the album, he disagrees, “Is it diverse? I find it more like solid!”
Even though HIM has been in and out of the recording studio numerous times, that doesn’t mean the band sees themselves as knowing it all. With a rather philosophical approach that carries through other areas as well, Burton found the process to have its benefits and disadvantages. “There are lots of things you can learn! Whole human life is one big learning process. That’s kind of bad news, because I have learned things without [which] I’d be a much happier carbon-creature,” he says. However, Burton assesses the Venus Doom recording sessions as having been a positive learning experience. “During the VD-session I learned there is a tiny possibility to live without worrying,” Burton said.
One issue in particular that Burton is not worrying about is the fact that a number of the songs on Venus Doom near the 10-minute mark. While there have been plenty of epic songs that seemed like a good idea at the time, Burton sees some of the responsibility resting upon the listener as well as the artist. “I guess the listener makes the track work or not. It doesn’t matter if the song is 213 sec. or three hours long. It’s in the mind of the receiver. The song works if everything is in the right order,” says Burton.
Songs may work if everything is in the right order but the recording process is often more fluid and less structured. Although extensive recording experience may have had something to do with HIM’s relaxed approach as they went in to record Venus Doom, that also doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested in doing things differently at some point. Burton explains, “This time we hadn’t got too exact plans, we just went to our rehearsal place and started to play. Then we made some demos, went to the studio, recorded and it was done. It worked well. It would be nice to try something weird sometimes, like a whole different approach. But let’s see what’s gonna happen in the future."
Before looking too far ahead into the future, it can be helpful to see where one has come from. Even if HIM is now one of Finland’s hottest exports, it didn’t seem like things would work out so successfully ten years ago. “It was totally different ten years ago. If I’d said back then that in the future there is a Finnish band that will sell gold in the U.S., people would first laugh and then kick my ass. Or vice versa,” Burton says. Obviously, no one’s ass was kicked in the process and HIM has done incredibly well for themselves, both at home in Finland and abroad. The strength and focus needed for recording a new album can be a draining process, however, and right now Burton feels they need to regroup before planning the next step. “After finishing a new album you feel like an empty container. So plans will be made when the bucket is slowly filling up again,” he states.
However, if the band needs some time to recharge their batteries, that hasn’t stopped them from participating in the past summer’s Projekt Revolution tour along with bands like Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance. With a grueling touring schedule and the September release of Venus Doom, HIM still has not been sitting back and resting on their laurels nor do they plan to for the next five months. Setting off across the United States and then heading to the U.K., Finland, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and Austria, the band is already off and running as they share Venus Doom with the world. Watch out everyone, the conquerors are coming.