HIM uncover Darkness in the City of Angles
"I just woke up to the smell of coffee and Jerry Springer", singer Ville Valo of Finland's HIM (His Infernal Majesty) says with a smile. For his sake, we hope his ambiguous comment refers to the television program and not the talk show host's vile stench. Suffering a hangover after a night of massive margarita overindulgence, the Goth icon seems unusually wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at this ungodly (by rock-star standards) hour. But he has good reason to be cheerful as today his band is completing its fith studio album, which is also their first release on the Warner Bros label.
Working in the idyllic setting of the Paramour Estate, a sprawling album with producer Tim Palmer (U2, Ozzy). "We wanted to work in a residential space where we could also live for a while," says Valo. "Tim found us this beautiful mansion with a huge grand ballroom that is acoustically perfect because it was originally built for performances by opera singers. The house is used for a lot of film shoots, too. You can see it in Scream 3. Playboy was filming here while we were recording. It was distracting for me to sing while watching all those silicone boobies."
Despite recording in the sunny environs of L.A., Valo insists that the experience didn't affect HIM's signature melancholy, moody sond. "I find the whole L.A. experience very David Lynchian," he says, "there are a lot of hidden horrors underneath the surface. People here are not as happy as they let on. There are so many fake smiles. It's interesting for a guy like me who comes from a total different culture. I'm finding it very complementary to the music because we can't take the Scandinavian melancholy away and we don't want to take it away. But recording in a different enviornment gives us a new angle."
Even so, Valo admits that his lyrics are more about hope than doom and gloom. "The lrics are still poetic and there is a lot of gothic imagery, but there's also a bit of social commentary," he says. "It's not meant to be a political album, but I'm singing about problems that I've seen happening all over the world. There's lots ofbad shit happening in the name of God. It seems that every country and nation has its own perfect ideal of God. There's an assumption that the true Christian God is theirs and just theirs, not anybody else's. Starting war in the name of God makes me cringe. It all comes down to God and sexuality. Those are universal subjects. I'm likea Scandinavian outsider anthropologist looking at the world and seeing it through the eyes of my heart."
And while he has misgivings about American culture's current rightward trajectory, Valo holds the firm belief that the time is right for HIM to break through in the U.S.: "The studio was the right place, Tim was the right guy, and we feel that we have the right bunch of songs. Now we're ready to work our asses off here in the States to prove that there's a possibilit of a lot of not-so-good-looking wankers coming out of Scandinavia and wiping the floor with all the crappy rock bands that are out here."