Before their concert at The House of Blues in Chicago on March 12th 2014, I had the pleasure of sitting down with frontman Ville Valo of the Finnish rock band HIM.

Adorned with gothic accents and aptly named red furniture, The Crimson Lounge located directly across the way from The House Of Blues Chicago started out fairly quiet until Valo arrived. Next thing we know, groups of people started entering the bar. What was once going to be a very cool place to hold an interview soon turned into a terrible idea. Valo thoroughly underestimates his inherent rock star attraction or in my personal opinion, he simply doesn’t care.

Unfortunately, my directional microphone suffered on the flight from Los Angeles to Chicago and I had to rely on the camera audio to do what it could.  I apologize for the sound on this interview and believe me, many awesome people attempted to improve the sound quality and what you will hear is the final product. Below the video is a transcript for further clarification.  The show must go on!

Ville Valo Interview Transcript

SAVAGE: I’m Alex Savage with National Rock Review and we’re getting ready for the HIM show in Chicago tonight and I’m sitting here with main man Ville Valo himself, say hello to everyone and talk to them for a few minutes.

VALO: Hellooo (laughs), what’s going on?

SAVAGE: How do you feel?

VALO: Oh, getting there bit by bit. Chicago took us in with open arms and we’re still suffering the consequences… nah it’s all good.

SAVAGE: And you’re going on pretty soon tonight?

VALO:  Yeah, yeah, yeah… actually we just heard that the curfew is earlier at 9:30, I’m not sure if they booked a double show like a lot of venues do these days.  We gotta figure out if we go on a bit earlier as well. Just wanna make sure we can play all the songs, that they don’t like flick the switches at the last minute… (imitates a light switch going off) wouldn’t be the first time.

SAVAGE: You came to the US from Austrailia?

VALO: Yes we did, about a week ago or something, less than a week ago, no exactly a week ago… we did Soundwave Festival in Australia which means it’s a touring festival, so there’s five festival shows and two side shows what they call it that go under the name Sidewave.

SAVAGE: Right.

VALO: We played Melbourne and Sydney and did our shows with band called Defiled and another one from L.A. called Nostalghia… .yeah, it’s been a lot of traveling.

SAVAGE: And you’re going to be going to South America for the first time touring?

VALO: Yes.

SAVAGE: You’ve been to Mexico, but not South America?

VALO: Yeah..I think we started… I… I can’t even remember… I just got the tour book today and a lot of the schedule’s been changing, not date wise but time wise and schedule wise.  For the first time we’re doing Buenos Aires, Brazil… just heard that Wayne Hussey from The Mission is still based near Sao Paulo, so I’m hoping to see him again… y’now, then a few more weeks and off we go back to our Finland to freeze our butts off.

SAVAGE: Or you could stay here and get some of that.

VALO: Oh true that, this feels like home.

SAVAGE: You’re touring with Anathema in the US only?

VALO: Yes.

SAVAGE: … and you’ve played with them before and collaborated with them before?

VALO:  Yeah yeah, sure sure… they did a couple of our Helldone Festivals before in Helsinki and we toured with them in Europe a few years back.  We have been trying to get them to tour with us in the States before um… but the schedules never worked… they’ve been in the studio whatever… like this time around for example I think they just finished working on a new album and someone’s mixing it back in Europe so they do the back and forth Skyping sorta thingy… talked to the brothers (Danny and Vinnie of Anathema) and they said they didn’t want to skip this one.  I think it’s their second tour here in the States.

SAVAGE: They were here last year on tour…

VALO:  with Alcest… I think…

SAVAGE: … yeah with Alcest, I was actually at that show, it was really good…

VALO: Yeah, sure sure yeah yeah… still haven’t seen Alcest but yeah, we were talking about them being part of our tour but maybe next time around.

SAVAGE: I fully support that idea.


SAVAGE: Your fans have been receiving Anathema very well because they know a lot of your history with them… you can tell that both sounds are working really well together on stage.

VALO:  Y’now, they’re a bit lighter in sound… not necessarily as rock and roll as we are… but it sets up the mood really nicely…

SAVAGE: … little bit more zen.

VALO: It’s fairly  melancholy and it’s got that Pink Floyd-ish thing to it… maybe not the set they’re playing here but on an album they’re very cinematic and widescreen.

SAVAGE: It is… very conceptual.

VALO: In their old songs and stuff… but yeah yeah… it seems to be working fine… as a fanboy, I’m anxiously waiting for the new album… I don’t know when it’s gonna come out.

SAVAGE: I am too.

VALO: Ah huh.

SAVAGE:  Mmmmhmmm.

VALO:  Mmmhmmmm.

SAVAGE:  If you were to do a collaborative project, not with HIM. I mean, people have asked you all the time if you’re gonna do something solo but if there was somebody you could feel comfortable with to do an actual album with, who would it be?

VALO: Well, y’know sometimes I think… hmmm… how do I put it… I love my Iggy Pop and Mark Lanegan and stuff like that, but I never would be in them because you have to keep a distance of your idols, you have to have them on a pedestal and it’s important not to be too close.  Most of the things like with Cradle of Filth, Anathema and those people it’s always been just a matter of chance and a matter of sitting down in a pub and having a crazy idea, so I think that’s the best way for it to happen.  There’s no… it just comes out of the blue, that’s the important thing as opposed to speculating and working on it…

SAVAGE: … killing each other while you’re trying to get something done… heh heh…

VALO:  yeah… and our managers do the secret hand shakes and whatever… when it happens naturally and… yeah…

SAVAGE: Best to stay friends with those people you admire.

VALO:  Yeah, but at the end of the day you know if you check out the list, everyone in the band we’ve done many, many things outside of the HIM thingy… .also it takes a lot of time and like I’ve heard it said, you’d rather do one thing well…

SAVAGE: … then have your hands in a bunch of things that suck.

VALO: … y’know jack full of trades and master of none.

SAVAGE:  When you started out in your early career, did you think you’d still be paid and working musician or are you still surprised by it sometimes?

VALO: Well, there hasn’t been a lot of time to really sit down and reflect what’s been going on in the past years, you never have that time because you’re always shooting for tomorrow.  So, no when we started out we never thought that we would have been a touring band… or that we would ever have the opportunity of touring outside the borders of Finland.  So, it’s like one song at a time, and one gig at a time and one album at a time.

SAVAGE:  One day at a time.

VALO: One day at a time, yeah… like as AA as we can get.

SAVAGE:  Ha ha, there you go… what is the most boring aspect of being a musician to you?

VALO: Writing the music. (giggles)

SAVAGE: Really, writing the music?

VALO: Nah… um… well yeah… I mean getting it all together, it’s not boring, but it’s a pain in the butt and all musicians say the same.  When you get the idea of the song together and you start rehearsing with the band that’s lovely, but when you’re actually like talking to record labels, sorting out schedules… it takes such a long time to get it actually out there.  It would be great if um… then there wouldn’t have to be like Tim Palmer, our producer back then… there would be like this instant producer button so when you’re ready to do the song, it would be done.  To be creative is nice but… it’s a similar sort of thing if you want to become a painter then at the same time you’ve gotta prepare your canvas and you know, stretch it out and stuff like that… y’know, the stretching out bit might be a bit boring at times… but you want it to be done… or framing it or lighting it in a gallery or whatever…

SAVAGE: All the tediousness, the devil is in the details.

VALO: Yeah… but it’s important at the same time I guess that it is good that it’s not just about creation that there is those moments of tediousness.  I’m not complaining, y’know.

SAVAGE: We have some fan questions and Katarina is actually Finnish and she wanted to know if you were actually gonna do any summer festivals this year.

VALO: In Europe?

SAVAGE: In Finland.

VALO:  I think we’re workin’ on the summer thingys at the moment.  I don’t know what’s public… uh… I don’t know lots of stuff (laughs)… you should probably have Seppo here, our manager to answer that.  There’s a couple of things about festivals and you can’t tell them in advance because they have special dates.

SAVAGE: Do you want to do any of festivals? (unintelligible)

VALO: We’re going to uh… China… for the first time in early May playing Shanghai and Beijing then we’re coming back and starting with the festivals in Europe so I don’t know how many, we’re still sorting stuff out. It seems to be quite a confused year festival booking wise at least for us.  It’s weird and we’re just hoping that we’re gonna be done around mid-August so it’s been a long run for us, in more than a year.

SAVAGE: Long break, long run then another break.

VALO: Well, the long break last time around was part and parcel because of Gas having trouble with his arms.

SAVAGE: He’s doing good though now?

VALO: Yeah, yeah… he hasn’t been complaining about anything at all whatsoever at all and that’s beautiful but his hands were really hurting.  He had tennis elbow, repetitive strain injury, stress injury, whatever you wanna call it… that sort of thing so it took many many, many months for him to get better.  Hopefully mid-August we head back home and I can start strumming and we’ll see.

SAVAGE:  Also from the fans… uh…there doesn’t seem to be any songs from Screamworks on the setlist.

VALO: Nor are we playing any songs from Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights… nor the first EP.

SAVAGE: Or the first EP, right… everyone always wants those.

VALO: We used to do Stigmata Diaboli back in the day.

SAVAGE:  But having that been the album before Tears On Tape I’m just curious as to why?

(We interrupt each other)

SAVAGE:  Well, not saying that you didn’t like that album or anything…

VALO:  No, it was just the fact that we’d been doing it for a wee bit… then a lot of the songs… I think it’s one of those things that’ll take one more album and then we’ll come back to it.  It’s just a bit close… we played it tons.  I love Disarm Me alone as a ballad but then we didn’t want to slow down the whole set. We were thinking of doing it especially not without playing a bit of acoustic or trying to on stage as well… it would be really lovely to be able to play in acoustic, to make it sound even fuller but uh, we’re not skipping songs and we’re not playing anything off of Dark Light either… we’re not doing like Killing Loneliness or Vampire Heart or any of those but it’s like time is limited and then you could bore people to death… it’s important to try to make the set as colorful but still condense keep it kind of short but sweet, not overly short or overly sweet… kind of bittersweet.

SAVAGE:  A lady named Silver would like to know what is the last dream you remember having?

VALO:  Uh… I remember a lot of my dreams but I can’t repeat…

SAVAGE: Can you repeat any of them?

VALO:  A lot of times they’re… you know as  a lot of people do… they’re just distorted versions of reality… they’re usually highly dramatic… highly sexual and highly… you know but I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately and I don’t know why.  It’s probably the jetlag or whatever… y’know because we’ve been traveling and time zones have been changing everyday more or less so I don’t know what time it is y’know? You’ll have to ask Flavor Flav.


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