Hailing all the way from Helsinki, Finland, the boys of HIM launched this year with their seventh studio album, Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice Chapters 1-13. This quintet, consisting of Ville Valo on vocals, Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom on guitar, Mikko “Mige” Paananen on bass, Mika “Gas” Karppinen on drums, and Janne “Burton” Puurtinen on the keyboard, is the Tim Burton of rock. Playing a particular brand of music, dubbed as “love metal”, the uniquely morbid yet romantic lyrics mixed with head bang-worthy instrumentals have inspired quite the following both at home in Europe and overseas in North America.
During a recent tour date in Vancouver, Canada, HIM frontman Ville Valo stopped by to talk to with Pop CounterCulture about their new album, the longevity of the band, love, truth and more.
On their new born baby album:
“[Screamworks] still feels like a new born baby. With Venus Doom we had a lot of Jane’s Addiction-type influences. After doing an album like that and touring the album for a year and a half, we played a song called “Sleepwalking Past Hope” every gig that lasted for fifteen minutes. After that we said no more long songs. And that was the starting point to working on Screamworks – clocking under four minutes, keeping everything tight, but still having a lot of musical information in every song. We seem to do one heavy, doomy, gloomy album and then something a tad lighter.”
On the bands method to picking the first single: “Heartkiller” sounded the best while we were driving a car. That’s usually the best test. It’s actually a test I normally don’t do since I don’t drive. I don’t have a license…but in picking singles, if it feels good, you know. I’m always riding shotgun.”
On Latin, love and truth:
“I find it ludicrous that if you say something very simple in Latin like ‘let me be your dog’, all of a sudden you’re considered a poet. It was just a line I had because like the line ‘In vino veritas’ – in wine there is truth. I started thinking “In Venus there is truth”. Then, I started figuring out venereal, the word, the disease, is the disease of love. So it comes from that one form of Venus, which is venere. It just got exciting for me.”
On the secret to surviving in the world of rock ‘n’ roll:
“We’ve never become really well known globally overnight with one album. The first album we toured in northern Europe, in Scandinavia. The second one we toured middle Europe, third one south Europe, the fourth one the UK for the first time, the fifth one we toured America for the first time. It’s been kind of expanding and it’s not in our hands, but it has made it very interesting for our band and has given us a lot of new inspiration and the opportunity of playing to new audiences, see the world as opposed to doing the same old, same old, same old. I’m pretty sure the band wouldn’t be here if we had humongous success overnight. It would have crushed me at least. I was a wild boy for a long time and there are no regrets. I like the fact that you have to use what you are given in the world of rock and roll to your advantage. You’d be stupid not to.”
On finding beauty:
“I’m a romantic bastard. I love the whole concept of Romeo and Juliet for what reason I don’t know…I think the real reason is just that I’m an overly sensitive romantic fella. I’m not proud of it, but I don’t want to deny myself the opportunity to be who I am, at least when creating music. It’s just normal for me.”
On The Swastika vs. the Heartagram:
“It’s good to leave that story unwritten, let people see [it] the way they want. It does consist of a heart and a pentagram. I think it’s nice that it evokes a story in the eye of the beholder. By giving people the opportunity to interpret it also gives me the opportunity to rip off a bunch of great stories.”
“Not comparing the [heartagram] to the swastika, but the swastika is interesting [in] how many different meanings that particular symbol has had. It’s been around for thousands and thousands of years, and then one random Austrian fella all of a sudden made it the symbol of all evil. It’s interesting. I don’t want to adorn swastikas, but what I’m saying is that it’s interesting how the meaning of something, a symbol, can just change completely.”
On HIM’s Wicked Game cover having six million plus views on YouTube:
“Thank you Chris Isaak.”
On fans and the multi-tentacle beast:
“We get to meet people when we play live and in different countries people appreciate live music in different ways. In Finland people get wasted. In southern Europe they sing so loud. We played in Edmonton and it was crazy. There were so many mosh pits. I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ I thought that we weren’t that metal. It seems that different countries have different ways to liking what we do. That’s great. As for the Internet, the web is such a multi-tentacle beast. I don’t know how to handle it.”
Leave it to Valo to find the beauty in the word disease because after more than a decade in the music industry, like a disease, HIM is still going strong. It doesn’t seem so bad when it’s a disease of love though, and loving HIM the fans certainly do.