Interview with Linde
HIM: Songs That Came Out From Linde's Riffs 'Only Can Be Heavy'
In 2005, Finnish “love metallers” HIM finally broke through into the mainstream in the US with their then fifth studio outing, Dark Light. Hot on the heels of the runaway success of Dark Light, HIM recorded and released its follow-up album Venus Doom late last year. With its more aggressive approach, the album further cemented HIM’s hard earned success in the States and the elsewhere, around the world.
It’s been a long journey and exciting for the Finnish quintet since first forming back in 1991. Led by charismatic lead singer Ville Valo, the band first achieved success in their mainland before breaking through on a large scale in Europe and especially the UK where the band have been the darlings of the UK press and often gracing the covers of many music magazines. Their work ethic of constant touring has paid big dividends for the band. This interview was noteworthy for this writer in particular as his Laney VH100 head was being borrowed by the band’s guitarist Mikko Lindstrom for use at the band’s Melbourne show. So after exchanging small talk about the Laney head, Mikko spoke with Joe Matera via phone while the band were in Sydney – unfortunately the band’s very hectic touring schedule prevented any face-face interviews from happening - to discuss the band’s career thus far.
Ultimate-Guitar: Venus Doom the band’s most recent album has been the most heaviest sounding album to date, was that because it was a reaction against the more radio friendly predecessor Dark Light? Or was it due to a natural musical progression?
Mikko Lindstrom: I think it was a bit of both. Our very first album, Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 was a pretty heavy album and so we felt that we somehow needed to move back in that area again. And Dark Light was more of a poppy album and because of that it just felt the right thing to do, the direction to go in, with Venus Doom. And a lot of the songs came out from a lot of my guitar riffs. And because of that they only can be heavy.
UG: While Dark Light was recorded in L.A with producer Tim Palmer, when it came to record Venus Doom you stayed in Finland and got Tim to come out to Finland. Why did you decide to go with the change?
ML: We always like to do something a bit different each time we make an album. For the last record we spent two months in L.A and so we were missing our families and homes. We felt it would be a better idea this time to go and do it back home.
UG: Tim also produced Love Metal (2003), so what does Tim bring to the recording process that allows you to continue working with him?
ML: Tim always comes up with great ideas but one of the most important factors is he always allows us to be ourselves. And he makes the atmosphere really nice in the studio for us in order to get the best performance out of us each time. So because of that he is great to work with and why we have stayed with him.
UG: What guitars did you use for recording Venus Doom?
ML: My main guitars for the album were my Gibson SGs. I have about five different ones. And for a couple songs I had some of my guitars tuned to down to a C. I also had a ESP Baritone and a Danelectro Baritone guitar. There was also a Chet Atkins semi-acoustic type guitar used on some of the tracks.
UG: Was that a Gretsch Country Gentleman?
UG: Are you much of a guitar collector?br> ML: I’m not much of a guitar collector. I have the five Gibson SGs which I travel with all the time and a Gibson acoustic, a Sheryl Crow model which I really love.
UG: Aside from the SGs, do you have any Les Pauls?
ML: I don’t have any Les Paul’s as I have never have liked the guitars.
UG: Live when it comes to amplifiers you’re strictly a Laney man?
ML: Yes, I have two Laney VH100 heads and Laney cabs and they are split, but they’re both on all the time. One has a fuzz pedal on it which gives it more of a punchy tone and because of the contrast in tones, it sounds like there are two guitar players onstage because each has a different kind of attack. The other head is just a Laney going straight.
UG: What about when it comes to effect pedals and the like?
ML: I have TC Electronics for delays and stuff like that and a Wah pedal and an Octaver. And everything is MIDI driven. I use the Skrydstrup R&D system which makes it easy for me as I don’t have to push two pedals at the same time. Before I started using this system, I used to have a lot of problems at shows where the sound would go off and stuff like. But now I don’t have any problems whatsoever. And we don’t use any samplers. Everything is just us guys playing live.
UG: Why do you use Laney and what does it bring to your guitar sound?
ML: I use Laney - and Gidson SGs - mainly because of Tony Iommi. Both the guitars and amps have grown on me ever since. And I can’t imagine playing anything else. And I’ve been really happy with them. The Laneys in particular give me the type of sound I’ve always been looking for. And now, I have it.
UG: April sees the release of the band’s very first live album and DVD called Digital Versatile Doom?
ML: Yeah, we did two shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles back in November of last year which was part of our US tour and the shows were really great. And so we’ve decided to release a live album from those shows.
UG: HIM now has the honor of being the first ever Finnish rock band to achieve Gold status in the US. How does that feel?
ML: It feels really great. We’ve had some Gold records before [from other countries] but I usually gave them to our parents. But this time, it will be the first one I will actually get to keep for myself.
UG: The band has toured heavily since its inception and built a large fan base around the world because of it. How do you find audiences compare in the US to those in Europe?
ML: It’s a lot harder touring the US. It’s like it always has long drives or lots of flying involved. And because we usually do four or five shows back to back, when we do have one day off, that one day off is usually spent flying somewhere. So it’s not really a day for us for us. In Europe though the drives are a lot shorter and so touring is a little easier.
UG: What is the status of your side-project Daniel Lioneye?
ML: I’m actually about to do a second version of that band. It is going to be a black metal album this time round. I don’t know yet whether I’ll be doing the screaming or the growling but I’m definitely making it. We already have four songs ready to go now and once we get back home in early April, I’ll start work on it. So hopefully it’ll be out sometime later this year.
UG: Will there be any possibility of live shows from Daniel Lioneye?
ML: I don’t know about it, as this time it is going to be a lot more technically demanding. The first album we recorded it in like five days. And Ville won’t be doing the drums this time either. It is going to be one of my friends, a double bass black metal drummer. So it will depend on whether we’re able to reproduce it live as to whether any shows happen.
UG: Recently an American school teacher played some songs about suicide and death including HIM’s “Join Me In Death” to her students in class. This sparked an outcry and attention on the band’s lyrics…
ML: People will always make whatever they want out of something. It’s only art and shouldn’t be taken so seriously. It’s about expressing your feelings through music and lyrics and it is not about actually doing something. It is a very healthy way of getting rid of your negative feelings. People who take things out of context and are like this are usually narrow minded and unrealistic.
UG: Around the time of Razorblade Romance the band had to change its name to HER for the US. It must have been a very confusing time for the band?
ML: Yes it was. Actually there were, and I’m sure, singles or maybe albums that came out with the name HER on it. It is so funny now looking back on it. This all happened because of some band in the US that had registered the name already. They thought we were some sort Satan worshippers so didn’t want us to use the name too. Eventually we had to buy the name off them. I don’t how much it cost but we now own it.
UG: Are you happy with where you are today in your guitar playing career?
ML: I remember when I was 16, I went to Berklee College of Music for a couple of months and now many years later, I’m walking those same streets of Boston when we are tour. And I am remembering how I used to dream of being on tour with a band and stuff like that. And now I’m actually doing it. So it’s an absolute dream come true for me and I’m very happy with where I’m at today.
Interview by Joe Matera
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