"Sex Doom & Love metal"
HIM is on a role. Late last year Venus doom came out, the sixth studio record of the Fins. Since 29 of April Digital versatile doom is in the stores. Itís the first concert registration of the band. As far as the chain-smoking front man Ville Valo is concerned, that live album shouldnít have existed. ďMost of the times you only get a lame copy of a good song on live albums.Ē
Venus Doom sounds a bit harder then the pervious albums. Why did you choose this heavier sound?
- Why not? Our last album ďDark LightĒ had a lot of keyboard melodies. The record was very melodious and poppy. That was then. It can never be our intention to shamelessly copy a previous album. Thatís why we gave our keyboard player a little less work this time around. Looking back on it, I think DL was more of a pop record then a rock one. Thatís why VD sounds harder. You know, we always fight out a battle. Every time we try to find a balance between rock and pop. This time the guitar plays a bigger part. Every track on VD is written on an acoustic guitar. There are still poppy edges on every song, but the hard guitar wall camouflages that.
How did the rest of the band react to the thought of making a guitar orientated record?
- The guitarist was happy, hehe. Look, the main reason we got the keyboard is to create an atmosphere and to enhance moods. It never really was our intention of composing full tracks on that thing. Like I said before, with every album we try out our boundaries and new stuff. It isnít our intention to continue on the success of a previous album. Experimenting keeps us sharp. Everyone inside the band does his FF best to play every song as best as possible and eventually we choose the version that we like the best as a band. Every time we try different angles to get the best album possible. You canít change the base of a song. That always stays the same, so a verse, a refrain and so on. But in the filling of a track you can get out your creativity. Thatís why we try all different stuff and are ffing around most of the timeÖ Thatís the core of HIM.
There are a few long tracks on VD, beside the short ďSong or suicideĒ, which barely lasts a minute. How did the track list come to be?
- You know, in the seventies it was common to put short, strange songs onto an album. Most of the time between heavy songs. Itís fun to give some variation. It gives some air if, after all those monstrous, long and breathtaking anthems there suddenly is a compact song. Black Sabbath was a master in that en the ingenious thing was that all their albums had a coherent atmosphere, despite the length of their songs. I always admired that and thatís why I wanted to try it at least once. The acoustic ďsong or suicideĒ is between bombastic songs as Sleepwalking past hope and cyanide sun, there is a lot happening in those songs and we do expect a lot of our listeners. By suddenly changing the atmosphere and dynamics, you create a tension en diversion. Just like Sabbath did, so weíve been very old school. On this album our appreciation for DOOM metal stands out more and thatís how you should see VD as a tribute to that genre.
What is the idea behind VD?
- Venus, the goddess of love and doom as in damnation. Life consists of good and bad, light and dark, opposites. Thatís what I want to carry out with this band. Iím a great fan of poets like Charles Bukowski, who describe the dark, humoristic side of mankind. Iím not into religion or politics, Iím purely interested in the human flaws and the way we deal with that. So thatís what I write about, as well as the less good thoughts that come with the territory. Itís like therapy for me. Venus Doom says who we are as a band. We are attracted by opposites, just like every person really. Everyone has a dark streak. And off course a light side. As a band we make melancholic rock about love with a dark edge.
By singing so melodramatic about love you do stand out in the macho metal scene.
- A lot of bands hate us. Look, in metal itís mainly about an angry image. We donít p lay that game. What we do is more on an erotic level. More bands do that, think Manowar. But what they do is gay. Some people get what HIM is about, while others will never get us. Metal is a funny genre. A lot of bands do everything to look as though as possible. They scowl on pictures, get tattoos and bluntly only love one kind of music. I think I speak for everyone in this band, if I say that we like all kinds of music. Pop, rock, reggae en metal: we suck it all in. We get our inspiration from everywhere and blend that into the bands sound. Further I think you donít have to take yourself that serious. Not as a person, nor as a musician. Iím the singer/songwriter and front man of this band, so the sign of HIM. On one side it helps me, but Iím not a fan of one nightstands. I like to know people before I take it to the next level. The whole sexsymbol is one big joke. We all decided I was gonna be the face of the band. When we just started it seemed easier to put one face on the cover then all five off us. It makes it recognizable. Besides, I mostly do the interviews myself so I am the face of the band. My band mates think thatís ok. They donít need to be in the spotlight.
Digital versatile doom is the first live DVD of HIM. What can we expect?
- The thing has to be finished in April. At the moment we are brainstorming what has to be on it. We only have a limited space, so a lot of songs will have to be cut back. With the DVD is also a live cd. The concert was taped last September in the Orpheum theatre in LA. Our management has been bothering us for a live-release for ages, so finally we gave in. The first tour-DVD of HIM is a fact. But well, I canít complain because the gig went fine, and the venue was great. We played old and new songs. I gave a long interview for the DVD. I talked about lots of stuff: the realization of our old videos, the course of the band and the writing of songs. Itís been a while since that got taped, so I canít go into detail what exactly I talked about. I do think there is look behind the scenes. Something like thatÖ
That doesnít sound very enthusiastic.
- Oh well. Concert registrations donít interest me that much. I rather listen to a studio record, because it just sounds better. A lot of live records arenít even live. You just buy a record where a band is jamming and were they put some audience sounds on top of it. There are some good live albums out there off course. Thin lizzy and Motorhead recorded some good gigs. My absolute favourite is iron maidens live after death. But thatís about it for me. Most of the times, what has been recorded in a studio sounds so much stronger then what a band plays on stage. Mainly you get a faint version of a good song.
In a previous interview you told that you got a panic attack and subsided into depression after recording ended. How did that happen?
- Now, depression is a big wordÖ After recording I went straight into rehab. I had a problem with alcohol. We always were a party band that went drinking after a gig or recording. In the tour bus a lot of alcohol flowed. Eventually it broke me down. I was drinking too often and too much. My body got addicted to the stuff and eventual I couldnít live with out it. At a certain point I visited a doctor and he said that I would get a liver condition if I continued drinking. That woke me up and thatís why I kicked my addiction. Well not quit true, coffee is my new addiction. But I am doing better now, I totally quit. Iím not having any troubles with staying clean. Oddly enough, I donít miss he alcohol one bit. I feel a lot fitter. I really was in bad shape. Right before releasing VD my then girlfriend broke things off, so that wasnít helping. I tried to drink away my pain. But all the misery came in the same time. Every day became hell, a drag. Alcohol was the only light I had. Sounds heavy doesnít it? But well remember this; we are a heavy-metal band. Hehe.
HIM + Paradise Lost (review from the Amsterdam gig)
Ville Valo, lead singer of HIM, is hot. That much is clear in a sold out Paradiso. When the charismatic Fin wanders on stage like heís taking a stroll in the park, the air is filled with screams. The mainly female public doesnít stop cheering the singer on, who barely gets over the noise. He canít be understood between the songs, except for some unclear chatting. Valo doesnít seem to care. Smiling widely he receives the gifts that are thrown to his head. Stuffed animals, panties (absorb the sweat as god as a towel) and love letters. A chain-smoking and careless Valo brings his set list to an end, where mainly tracks as Venus doom and the inevitable Join me make a steaming venue. And although HIM never gives the impression of working hard for their money, the show was worth its money. One hit after another and the band found a good balance between old and new stuff. Nobody seems to care that Valo sings off key regularly and that their isnít much happening on stage. Paradise lost is a beautiful opening act, well opening actÖ PL easily blow away the main act, with a professional show and excellent instrument control. Unfortunately they donít have an icon like Valo among them.