Interview: Ville Valo von HIM
Good morning! How are you doing Ville?
Pretty good, pretty good! I just woke up not too long ago, we arrives really, really late in the morning to where we are now, in Lowell, Massachusetts, near Boston.
Which means your typical working day is about to start now?
Well, you know I have been on the telephone doing a couple of interviews. And yeah, just drinking some coffees, try to get a shower and then we are heading over to the venue. Finally, we are driving over to Brooklyn, NY and that's the last gig fo the American tour before we go then back to Europe before we start over next monday at Große Freiheit in Hamburg.
HIM is about to finish a one month tour string in support of Volbeat, All That Remains and Airbourne. That makes a really powerful Live combination, have you enjoyed sharing the stage with those big band names?
Yeah yeah, everything has been fine! Unfortunately Airbourne had to fly back home earlier, they had some personal trouble, some family thingies going on back home. But otherwise everything has been going really well, it's been exciting 'cause since we really do enjoy ATR and Volbeat, so it has been a fun one! Plus the gigs and venues differed anywhere from festivals, those big outdoor places, clubs and smaller sports arenas - every day is a bit different.
"Once upon a time, the idea of this Tour started that night somewhere in a bar ...". There is often some mystical stories going round of how huge band formations like these came together. Do you rather come up with these ideas within the band or is it more up to the label agency what the tour looks like?
Well, to be honest with you I think it depends, like every tour is a bit different. Usually when we are touring on our own as a headliner we are always very involved which cities and clubs we are playing. Cause you know some places are better acoustically, wheres some places are "nicer" - and we are involved in picking the supports. For this one, we heard about this tour a few months ago and we thought that it was just a good idea and we have not done anything like that before, and it is interesting cause we get to take some new people as well. We heard about Volbeat going on tour and we started discussing because they have the same booking agent as we do in America. With Volbeat the cool thing is that they're a hard rocking band, still very melodic and it's not like aggressive, screamy, shouty music - it is not too far from what we do with HIM. We are not exactly similar or sound the same 'cause if, that would be boring of course. So yeah, we figure out what sounds good wether in our ears or in our minds - and we make the call if we tour or not.
Volbeat started off in Europe and became the worldwide most successful band of Denmark like you did as a finnish band. Plus both bands managed to become a major success in the States after the first albums were out.
Yeah yeah, Metallica became big fans of Volbeat, they were talking about that band everywhere and it just spreat, it was a word to mouth thing.
What has been going on for the Off days on tour, any decent get together among the bands?
I think there were two days off between Edmonton and Phoenix, but as I remember that was a thirty hour drive so some guys went on the bus and I flew. It is better for the voice not to be in these air-conditioned buses such a long time. A day off is usually a traveling day so there hasn't been a lot of free time. Especially in America the distances are way, way longer than the ones in Europe where everything is "kind off" close. You usually drive between lets say 4 - 16 hours a day. It takes a lot of time and energy; but I enjoy it you know.
All the bands seem to have own schedules and travel differently. I am actually waiting to hear if the bands wanna meet up tomorrow after the last show, maby just go out for dinner or some like thatin New York. Between gigs, it is really just facial at the dressing room, sitting there for a while and talking about the weather, more or less.
Your show at the Huxleys in Berlin in october will be holding up to about 1600 fans. Are the American shows in comparable dimensions?
I think it has always been a bit different because you remember when it comes to America the States are really different from each other. It might be that we play lets say by 800 people in San Antonio, Texas but then that we might be playing to is 4000 people in Los Angeles. So obviously some cities are more music orientated; in some cites and states Rock'n'Roll music is more appreciated (...) but that keeps it interesting when there is a little bit of change.
I am glad you picked a bigger venue for than the Postbahnhof last time since it was instantly sold out. Have you heard that fans started camping in front of the venue right by the street when you played that secret concert in Berlin two years ago?
Oh I heard about it, it has been crazy! For some reason, we have a so very low following - there still seems to be people there since ther very beginning that are really die hard HIM-fans. And that is something we when we started the band; you know you can't really start the band by saying we are gonna start a band that has super-low hardcore following. I happens on the way in all, seeing that there is still people that care about the band so much. It is crazy, in a very, very positive way.
But also you still keep attracting younger generations too after being around for twenty years, don't you?
I don't know, it is hard - the last time we toured Europe we had people from let's say 14 to 60 years at the gig. It was sort of wild that you have older people like the ones checking out Led Zeppelin in the 70's, at the same time we had really young people we didn't have an idea where they come from since we have not been on the pop charts so much over the last years...interesting. There is all kinds of people, Metal Heads, R'n'R people and in between as well.
Two decades of HIM - is it still easy for you to have that one eternal topic love, relationship and all the phenomenons around it as THE inspiration source for your lyrics?
Oh, to be honest with you, it's when I pick up a guitar it is the kind of stuff that comes out. *laughs* It is a gift that never stops giving you know. You could ask the same question from Nick Cave in a way I guess. We are trying to find new species, or new animals kind of. But for me it does not feel like work, it more about I just pick up a guitar when I have a certain mood or whatever it might be and I just start strumming and humming a long trip and suddenly, there is a song - I don't think about it too much. And like putting the song together with the actual band and working all the details out is more work like, the more concentrational part. But the birth of a song is fairly organic, it just kind of happens.