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Iltalehti interview (December 31, 2009)


Since Ville Valo quit drinking, the only interest he has left is music.

HIM frontman Ville Valo, 33, is a changed man. The nights and days spent with dozens of pints of beer seem far away. Sobriety has also shrunk his circle of friends. Only true friends have remained.

- Let’s say that I’ve deleted 190 phone numbers out of 200 from my cell phone, Valo admits.

He regards coolly Jackass star Bam Margera’s concern that Valo has become a total hermit.

It is true though that Ville is not seen in bars anymore. He’s not afraid of falling off the wagon; the reason is that you’re not allowed to smoke freely in bars anymore.

- I have to fool around in my own fantasy worlds, and I can do that just fine in Munkkiniemi, Ville grins.

Ville Valo hasn’t always been in such a good shape as now. Playing with alcohol got out of hand a few years ago, and the rock star, who confesses to being a workaholic, didn’t have time to take a vacation in ten years. The decision to go to rehab at Promises in Malibu in the spring of 2007 changed the direction of Ville’s life.

- It was a kind of a breather. No cell phone, the sun was shining a bit, and I was locked up so that I couldn’t do anything naughty. It was a pretty pleasant prison and a very expensive one, he laughs.

The rehab was worth it even though Valo admits that the emphasis put on religion in AA wasn’t really for him.

- AA has the rule that you have to surrender your life to a higher being which I couldn’t do because I don’t believe in that. I had many theological crises in rehab.

- But it still went well. It really was a pretty nice experience. It wasn’t any horror camp. There were nice people, good food, good music, and I got to sleep for the first time in a long while.

HIM’s seventh studio album Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice will be released on February 10. Sobriety affected the making of the album in the sense that Ville Valo could put all of his energy into making and fine-tuning the new songs.

- I spent my days at home doing, analyzing, and speculating about the songs which hopefully made the album better, not overly analyzed and too speculated.

Valo describes the album as easily approachable and fast. There are glimmers of hope of something better and the sensitivity that can always be heard in the band’s music.

- At first it caresses the listener’s ears, but when you get a little deeper into it, it offers the marvelous things that only we, the descendants of Vikings, can do, Valo laughs.

He is satisfied with the result. The work on the album started around last Valentine’s Day. The album was recorded and mixed in Los Angeles with producer Matt Squire.

- The main thing was to do a record that feels successful to me because it’s totally impossible to start speculating on what will be successful on the charts while you are working on an album.

2009 was a hard year for HIM because of all the work that has gone into making the album. The whole band has had to be away from home for several months. Especially hard the traveling has been to those band members with families.

For Ville, the hectic year has meant practically no days off.

- I have had maybe five days off during this whole year. I’m not complaining because it’s a hole that I’ve dug for myself.

The memories of burning themselves out doing an album even before starting a tour are still fresh. The band has learned from their mistakes and has decided to take a vacation before the upcoming tour.

- The mood within the band right now is tired but happy, and we are looking forward to new things. We are now recharging our batteries.

HIM has played with the current line-up since 2001, but especially when alcohol and Ville were best friends, the band’s future was hanging on the balance many times. There were times when Ville wanted to break up the band almost daily.

- It was mostly about finding myself in situations where I wasn’t having fun. And when you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t do that thing.

According to Ville, he still hasn’t become more tolerant when it comes to the other band members.

- Maybe I have a bit more patience nowadays. But you have to remember that we are five individuals with their own good and bad moments. You have to give people time.

The last proper tour HIM did in Finland was in 2002 if you don’t count the mini-tour they did last year. You would think a band like that with international success would interest Finns as well. Ville says it isn’t so.

- We are not like Nightwish here. We are much more popular abroad than here so it’s logical that we go where the bread is, Valo shoots.

- I don’t want our band to go on tour in Finland losing money in -30 degree weather because there aren’t enough people here that are interested in us.

British magazine Kerrang wrote in the fall that the ambassador of love metal had been in a relationship after the last tour. According to Ville this isn’t true.

- I have been in a relationship only with music. I’ve had a glint in my eye, and I’ve had to keep my legs crossed a few times, Ville grins.

- Of course occasions arise for a youngish man like me, but unfortunately I haven’t found a sweetheart.

Ville’s choice of career dictates that there isn’t time for a relationship or maintaining one. If Valo isn’t on tour, he is in some other way occupied with music 24/7. He says that nothing except music interests him.

- It would be nice to hang out with ladies but only when I want to, and I don’t think that’s a very good starting point for a relationship. I feel I’m totally in the wrong psychologically, and before I can fix this twisted way of thinking, I don’t want to promise anyone anything I can’t guarantee.

The thought of a family is a beautiful but distant one for Valo. At the moment, starting a family doesn’t interest him at all.

- In the end, kids are horrible. I do prefer dogs, but I’m allergic to them, Ville laughs.

- Of course things can change if I find an interesting broad and all of a sudden she’s knocked up and there we are.

The HIM boss has a warm attitude towards his little brother Jesse. He is musically talented just like his older brother, and he has helped Ville a lot especially when it comes to the technical aspects of music.

- We get along well. You always think about your little brother, and he’s an important person for me. Nowadays we share this hobby or lifestyle--music--that brings us closer to each other.

It says something about the close bond between the Valo brothers that they were both seen on stage at Tavastia last night when Jesse’s band Vanity Beach opened for HIM. Tonight the Helldone festival closes with HIM’s now traditional New Year’s Eve gig.

For critics or for fans?

HIM’s seventh studio album Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice includes thirteen songs of which we have had a taste with the single Heartkiller.

- The premise for this album was that it would have a sound that you can drink beer – any kind, anywhere – and shake your ass to the music but the album still has the hopefully at least a bit soulful, poetic side as well, Ville Valo analyzes.

According to Valo, the general mood of the album is easy to get into, but after that everything gets weirder.

The previous album Venus Doom did not do well for example in the American market. Critics, however, loved it.

- Every artist has to have one record that critics love because all the records that sell well are dissed. I’m satisfied that we made a record for the critics, Valo smiles.

We’ll see whether the upcoming HIM album will end up in the critics’ or the fans’ record collections. The album will be released on February 10.

“I’m satisfied with the album”

HIM’s new record was recorded and mixed in Los Angeles with producer Matt Squire. In the beginning, the whole band was there, then the band members worked on their parts separately, and in the end only Ville Valo remained.

The days at the studio started around two o’clock and ended by eleven p.m.

- At first, for about a week, we played all together in a room and went over the details with Matt there and thought about how to make the songs better.

After that, Ville, guitarist Linde, bass player Migé, drummer Gas, and keyboard player Burton started working on their own parts separately.

- When the recording had finished, the guys went home and I stayed there to hang out and make sure the mixing goes well. It did, Ville grins.

Are you happy with the finished record?

- Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, instead we would still be working on the album or redoing the whole thing.

Captions to the photos:

HIM frontman Ville Valo, 33, has a busy year behind him because the work on Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, out in February, started last Valentine’s Day. The album is now finished, and the artist’s life seems brighter than in ages.

Ville Valo hopes he will have at least a few days to relax before the band goes on tour to play their new album. This year he has had less than a week off.

Ville Valo, who has quit drinking, says that his circle of friends has shrunk radically. Hanging out in bars has been replaced by an even more music-focused lifestyle.

Ville Valo doesn’t see his future in the tin but feels it reminds him of the past. Valo thinks the tin looks like a cow’s jaws which in turn remind him of a cow’s skull a good friend once gave him.

Rather than copy-pasting, could you just post a link to this entry? Thanks.

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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
Jan. 3rd, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
"The thought of a family is a beautiful but distant one for Valo. At the moment, starting a family doesn’t interest him at all.

- In the end, kids are horrible. I do prefer dogs, but I’m allergic to them"

I,m 100% agree, except i do have dogs and cats'cos I'm not allergic to them.

I love his mind...really do.
THANK YOU for the translation.:D
Jan. 3rd, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
This is really great. Thanks a lot. :))
Jan. 3rd, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
haha i will laugh my ass off if one day a groupie comes up with a 3 year old and goes, here's your kid! lol! call maury...you ARE the father!! thank you for translating! :)
Jan. 3rd, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
Poor guy, I truly hope he can find a nice girl someday and keep her.

Thanks so much!
Jan. 3rd, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
Why is everyone soo worry about him finding a girlfriend?, he looks more than happy now...sometimes you come to an age in which having a relationship isn't a priority, even more when you aren't an average Joe, who Ville isn't
(no subject) - myrskya - Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oprahlight - Jan. 4th, 2010 08:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 3rd, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the translation. :)
Jan. 3rd, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
Didn't he say he's got a girlfriend now in some interview posted in the last days of 2009?

This boy needs to get out and be someone's.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the translation.
I couldn't agree more about kids. lol
Jan. 3rd, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
Jan. 3rd, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you once again for your great trnaslations! Could I ask you to do one more thing for us? If you have the time could you just give us an overview of what he is saying in the two Finnish interviews posted recently where he has the tin.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
Okay, I'll do that at some point. :)
(no subject) - helville - Jan. 3rd, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 3rd, 2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this translation.
I am surprised that Him are not so popular in their own country.
Ville is still the tortured kind of guy when it comes to relationships. I am sure he will work things out in a more or less close future.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
Well, I wouldn't say they aren't popular in Finland... But they haven't been the BIG thing lately - you know, something that is on everyone's lips and is constantly being played on mainstream radio stations. So the fans are there but the masses who follow the trends are missing.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

For some reason I think these interviews are better than the ones in some music mags, like Kerrang! for example. Not always, but often.
Jan. 3rd, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for translating this..I always love reading all this....
Jan. 3rd, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the translation :)
Jan. 3rd, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
thank you so much for all your hard work
Jan. 3rd, 2010 11:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! :)
Jan. 4th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
Right. No one wants to see them here. That's why their gigs sell out within minutes, and people line up in front of Tiketti already the night before the ticket sale starts.

I don't think anyone here wouldn't appreciate a decent tour, but fact of the matter is that people aren't holding their breath anymore for that to happen, because Helldone and one or two half-hour summer festival appearances is all we've been getting for the past 8 years.
Mar. 20th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
HIM in Helsinki
I think it have to be entirely different to see HIM in Finland. I would love to see them in Helldone, but have no idea how to get a single ticket living in Prague...:(. I´ve heard there is a chance to buy tickets via Tiketti.fi, but on the day they release tickets web is usually completelly useless:-D
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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )