Interview With HIM - 21st October 2013
Photo Of HIM © Copyright HIMRob and Jude caught up with Ville Valo from HIM back stage in Wolverhampton before the band's headline show at the Wulfrun Hall to talk about their current album 'Tears On Tape', playing Dingwells in London, Halloween and much more.

You released your eighth studio album ‘Tears On Tape’ back in April, Now that the album has been out for a while, how has the reaction been to the album?
Ville Valo: I think it has been changing, we have a situation where we have three different record labels releasing the album, one sorting out North America, one for the UK, and one for the rest of the world, and it seems in some countries the labels haven't been doing their work (laughs). Some places, some people dig the old stuff and sing along to the new stuff, there's a notable difference between different cities and countries, it not negative, we’re not touring just for ‘Tears On Tape’ we’re playing all sorts of stuff, so it doesn't really matter, you can’t expect people to like everything, it is what it is.

How did you find the whole writing and recording process for ‘Tears On Tape’ compared to your previous studio albums?
We had bit longer than we normally would, our drummer Gas had some trouble with his hands, nerve damage, it took about 8 months for him to recover from that, during that time it gave the rest of the band more time to figure out how the album would sound and it gave me some extra time to work on the lyrics, that was a big difference, so we spent more time than normal. Studio wise we wanted to work with Hiili Hiilesmaa, with whom we have worked with in the past on several albums, we took a lot of vintage gear with us as it was in Helsinki, we didn’t have to ship shit, we used a lot of mine and Burtons old synths, it was like being in a candy store, it should be fun and intriguing, it’s cool when there’s inspirational stuff lying about. It was a bit different, normally you use their stuff and get in and get the fuck out, but this time we played with stuff, being the mad scientists of sorts.

What themes and stories are covering within the songs on ‘Tears On Tape’?
It normally takes me a few years to realise what I've done, I read a lot and write a lot, I write down phrases in a note book, by myself I write lines down, it’s normally about getting the mood down, a mood you can’t quite describe and I find the best way to do it is through music, when you got the music together it sets the mood for the lyrical direction. Some of it was relating to the seasonal changes, as boring as it sounds, but I wrote a lot when the leaves were turning crimson and sun was going down, ‘Into The Night’ is the best example of this. It’s about boys and girls and how hard a life we have on occasion, but at the same celebrating the fact that it shouldn't be too easy.

What would you say your favourite songs from ‘Tears On Tape’ are and why?
I rarely listen to our own albums, the process of getting it done is so, not so elaborate, but pain staking that you concentrate on the details more so than what's going, you can’t enjoy the music because you hear all those tiny things. I tend to listen to the album before I start a new one, it’s used as a stepping stone. I like ‘Lips Go Blue’, it’s one of the first songs we did together, it’s a HIM song and It leads the way for the rest of the album, it’s something recognisable that we haven't lost our identity but at the same time has that cathedral riff (plays riff), less melodic, more in your face meat head riff.

When you first started out as a band did you ever think you would be as popular as you are and still releasing music 22 years later?
No definitely not, when you start out it’s all about baby steps, there's no big eureka moments, where everything changes over night, it’s because you try to figure out the idea for a band, who’s in the band, where you're going to rehearse, what you're gonna play, where to record a demo if at all, then send it to record companies, it’s tiny steps all the time, the big ones are getting a record deal, even then it doesn't mean shit, you might be signed to record label who aren't too interested in what you do, they put it out but they don't anything with it, so there's no phew moments, you have to keep working on It, there's room for improvement. To this day it’s more about the moment in time you’re in, let’s get this gig out of the way, as opposed to thinking too far into the future. The thing that matters most when on tour is playing the music ok, everything else just kind of goes away.

You played a small intimate show at London Dingwalls back in April and also headlined the third stage at the Download Festival back in June how were these experiences for you?
Fun, we hadn't played in a long time, so we didn't know if people were going to be interested in what we did, because now these days with social media, everything is ADD, where everyone wants everything now, but we were positively surprised about peoples patience that they were waiting for it, it was the same for Download and other festivals, this is the real test starting tonight.

You are back in the UK to play the opening show of your UK tour at Wolverhampton Civic Hall how does it feel to be back and what can we expect from the show?
Wolverhampton is a fairly quiet city, we came from France and got here yesterday (Sunday) and hung out in a pub called the Hogs Head on Broad Street, and met a few people who have travelled from different parts of the UK to see us play, it was nice to see some familiar faces that we haven't seen in a while, it’s good to be back. The UK is important because the isle is the reason why we played music a lot of the bands we listen to came from these isle. I also love the architecture, the nature, the accents and the language, it’s one of my favourite places to tour but it can be tough too, there's a lot of good bands touring, but it’s a bit of a challenge, songs translate differently from city to city in the UK, that's part of the excitement of touring here, it’s a bit of a gamble, as it should be.

You are playing two shows at London Koko and one happens to fall on Halloween, do you have anything special planned for this show?
We did the Hammersmith Apollo a few years ago in makeup and stuff and it was fun as fuck but the problem is you have to be able to perform, you can’t dress up too much, I would have loved to have dressed up as Doug Bradley in Hellraiser, but that would mean I would have to shave and get the pins in my head, it could be a wee bit tough! But there will be something, but the most entertaining part will be what the crowd wears.

Now you have 8 studio albums to your name is it becoming trickier when it comes to picking set lists?
We play about 16 songs which is about an hour and half, 4 new songs and songs off Greatest Love Songs’, ‘Razorblade Romance’, ‘Love Metal’ and ‘Venus Doom’, we skip the pop albums (laughs) it’s a riff show, it’s not a hits set, we have a few staples like ‘Join Me in Death’, ‘Wicked Game’ and ‘Buried Alive By Love’, which if we didn't play in the UK people would be disappointed as it was probably the first song they had heard by us. We try to mix up playing songs people haven't heard in a while, I'm hoping we don't have to make too many changes as we put the time in to trying to make drama in the set so it flows nicely.

When on lengthy tours what do you get up to in-between shows to pass the time?
I used to try to write stuff while out on tour but the problem with that is, you’re in two different head spaces, happening at the same time, you're working in the future kinda, working on stuff that hasn't been released, then playing every night singing old songs, at least for me, it’s a kind of mind fuck to go back and forth. So I wait till I get home and then that's the time to pick up the acoustic guitar and hum stuff. I also try to relax as much as possible maybe take a walk if there's a vibe in the city.

You have toured pretty much all over the world, is there anywhere you haven’t toured yet but would love to tour/play a show?
Were trying to figure out if it’s possible to tour in South America next year, we would like to go back to Australia to get some sun and recharge the batteries. We would like to tour China, we have never really toured Japan, I don't want to seem too greedy as we have toured a lot, it would be good to tour Russia, go to a place there called Vladivostok which is really far out as a posed to just touring in Moscow and St Petersburg, you need a reason to visit the far out places because you wouldn't if you were a tourist.

What would you say your main highs and lows as a band have been so far?
It’s tough to separate life from rock and roll when it comes to our band as we started so early, I met Mige when I was 8-9 years old met Linde when I was 10, so basically we have grown up together, been through life experiences together, the group has always been there, that the personal stuff gets mixed up with the personal stuff, so if you have trouble back home then it’s going to reflect on how the bands doing, if one fifth of the band isn't doing so well it reflects on the band, it’s a chemical reaction always. Broad stroke High is that the band is still together through the positive and the negative, bands don't stay together that long, it’s tough to have 5 people together in a bus and actually enjoy what they do and not doing it for work and still cracking jokes, we’re happy to have the bread on the table so that when we do go home we don't have to go work at a post office or whatever, we can go home and actually relax. If it all comes crumbling down then at least we have had this memory. It’s a mixed bunch of life and everything in the music. The personal lows back in the day, I was in a bad way partying a lot, when they party heavy its usually called self medication, you do it because of some other reason, I wasn't able to take any time off, shit hit the fan relationship wise back home and I was 5000 miles away touring in America, It was tough for me trying to cope with everything, while playing in front of people enjoying what you do then at the same time trying to deal with the personal stuff, that's the problem with this band and the cool thing about this band, that it is a big ball of insanity, but at the end of the day the band did keep me together and they had the patience to wait for me to get better, there's negative in the positive and positive in the negative.

What do you have planned once your current tour comes to an end?
After this tour is done, I think everyone is going to have a rest, then it’s Christmas time, we’re going to work out Hell Done, how we can change it up a bit rather than the same old same old, then working out more touring maybe Australia, North America and then it's festivals.

Thanks for your time, are there any messages for your fans reading this?
Just thank you for the patience and spending the time with us. We’re trying to make this a special tour for you guys.

Interview by Robert Lawrence And Jude Onions
 Band Members

Ville Valo
Mikko Lindström
Mikko Paananen
Mika Karppinen
Janne Puurtinen
 Latest Releases
HIM - Tears On Tape
Release Date - 29th April 2013

1. Unleash the Red
2. All Lips Go Blue
3. Love Without Tears
4. I Will Be the End of You
5. Tears on Tape
6. Into the Night
7. Hearts at War
8. Trapped in Autumn
9. No Love"
10. Drawn & Quartered
11. Lucifer's Chorale
12. W.L.S.T.D.
13. Kiss the Void
 Band Related Links
HIM Facebook