Interview with Ville Valo, frontman of HIM


Interview by Rachel Sloper

How was your first UK date of this tour in Wolverhampton?

It was fantastic. All of the gigs we’ve been doing have gone really well. We’ve just come from doing twelve gigs in Europe, the last one was in Paris. On the day we played in Wolverhampton we met a couple of mates, it was fun.

We’ve just been playing gigs, can’t complain whatsoever, everybody’s been kind of healthy. I’m a bit under the weather at the moment but nothing too serious, it’s just a cold. We started the tour in America and it was still summer in a lot of places like Phoenix, Arizona was plus forty degrees, it was so ridiculously hot, it was crazy. Then we flew back and started touring here, and winter is coming, but I can’t complain, thank god for Lemsip!

How are you enjoying the UK this time around?

Well, it hasn’t changed that much, I think we’ve probably changed more. We’ve always had a blast here and when it comes to our band, a lot of people we adore, our icons and our idols come from the Isles of the Brits. We grew up with Sabbath and stuff and Iron Maiden and bands like that in the 80s so it’s a big part of who we are, so ever since we’ve had the chance to tour the UK for the first time, it’s always been a special place.

Rock City is a classic joint, it is legendary and I think this is probably our fifth, sixth or even seventh gig here now. When we’ve played Download we’ve usually stayed here in Nottingham so we’ve been to the Saturday discos at Rock City and got smashed here and all that, it’s a good place.

What was the inspiration for Tears on Tape?

After touring for a while you feel kind of zombie-fied for a bit and don’t really feel like working on music and that’s something I’ve learned. Don’t force yourself when it comes to music, it’s way better to just relax and enjoy a little time off. Then one morning you take a shower and all of a sudden you start humming something and you realise that it’s a song that doesn’t exist yet. That’s the reason to pick up the guitar and start writing new stuff. It’s little baby steps towards getting the first song done and the second song done and then when I have enough ideas I present the ideas to the rest of the guys and we just go to our rehearsal place and just go with the flow.

How was your experience with record company, Razor and Tie?

It was Razor and Tie in America, it’s an odd situation. We gathered all of our weekly allowances, as I like to call them, and paid for the recording session and all of that stuff ourselves. What we wanted to do was finish an album and then see who would be willing and able to release it. We ended up actually having three labels at the same time.

So there’s a label called Cooking Vinyl here in the UK, Razor and Tie in North America, and then Universal Music are taking care of the rest of the world. So it’s a bit complex, at times it’s fun, at times it’s not so fun, but we thought that since we have three labels we have the opportunity of f***ing up royally at least once and still not messing it all up so that was the idea.

If you had to sell Tears on Tape on one song, what would it be?

I think ‘All Lips Go Blue’, the first proper track which is after the intro. That’s a good example of how the album is in its entirety. It has that bit more melancholy and melodic wistfulness in the melodies and the vocals, yet it has those grungy, heavy guitar riffs so I think that’s a good combo.

I enjoy the title track myself for example, but it’s more of a melodic, one of the more sentimental tracks. If you played that to a person who hasn’t heard the album they might get the wrong impression of it and might think of it as more poppy and kind of slower and stuff so I’d play something a bit more rough and rockin’.

What are the best and worst aspects of life on tour?

The worst thing about being on tour is that it’s tough to maintain relationships because a lot of people don’t realise that it’s pretty intense. You travel a lot and you don’t have a lot of time to live two lives, meaning, for me at least, it’s tough to try to be a regular fellow sorting out my bills on a laptop while thinking about the set. I turn into a racehorse with the blinders on, just concentrating on trying to stay healthy in a bus and trying to sleep as much as possible and stuff like that, that’s probably the worst thing.

There’s no negative thing, it just is. You just have to get used to it I guess. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that it’s something that a lot of people don’t necessarily get and a lot of people. They also seem to think that there’s tons of time to hang out when you’re on tour, which there’s not. There’s not a lot of time to see the cities and you don’t want to do that either, because that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to play music and try to do that as well as we can as opposed to doing this touristy thing and be all tired before a gig.

The good thing about it is the bad thing about it, the good thing about it is you get to live in this odd bubble in this tour bus, and especially in our case, we’re all good friends. We just crack open a few beers, crack a few jokes, hang out, maybe watch a movie, maybe listen to music, maybe just sleep. It’s like escapism from being an adult, so that’s the kind of cool thing about it.

Do you get any time to hang out with your fans after gigs?

It depends, at times people are fairly aggressive with that stuff. Also with the weather, if you’re all soaking wet you don’t want to be standing outside too long, just to make sure that you’re not getting any more ill. A lot of the time you don’t actually get the chance to meet anybody, it’s more about just ‘sign this, sign that’ and off we go, which is okay I guess at times, but it can get a bit overwhelming.

I heard a rumour that you’re going to release Tears on Tape on a cassette tape, is there any truth in that?

I was trying to get it to happen but I think that there’s not a lot of tape manufacturing plants anymore, there was a few in eastern Europe, but I kind of find that to be the tongue-in-cheekness of it, that it has the word tape but it’s not released on tape. I love the fact that it’s called Tears on Tape but it’s released on mp3s on iTunes and I think that’s the trick. Also, it wasn’t recorded on tape so it doesn’t really matter in that sense, so it’s not about audio quality of hi-finess.

I was also thinking about eight-track as well, the format that happened before c cassette, which looks pretty much the same but works a bit different but there’s not a lot of players for that format, which is the whole point so it would be great to release it on obsolete format that nobody can play, that’d be the funniest, so we’ll see what happens.




  1. I may be being a bit harsh here but these types of Q and A interviews are very dull to read. The questions posed remind me of something Smash Hits would have come up with in the 80’s….Do you get any time to hang out with your fans after gigs…really?

    • Thanks for your comment, Grumpy.
      It suggests that you know what you would like from a music site such as this in terms of interviews and reviews.
      Would you like to write for us?
      If so, click ‘this link‘ and send us examples of your work.

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