AMH caught up with Ville Valo of HIM ahead of Soundwave Festival 2014. Ville talks to us about his excitement to be heading downunder this month and talks about their latest album.
Hey Ville, how are you doing?
Oh, well it’s 5 am in the morning here and it’s freezing. (laughs) it’s about -15 degrees. It’s the middle of summer where you are, so I’m sure it’s a bit different for you.
Actually it’s quite cold right now. It looks it could pour rain at any moment. Granted, it’s nowhere near as cold as you are right now!
Oh, really?! (laughs) Well I hope it’s better by the time we get over. I can’t wait to get the f**k away from here. It’s just so cold and dark. The days last only only like, 5 and a half, six hours. But that’s Scandanavian winters for you. It’ll be really nice to fly away from that and enjoy the festival. Enjoy some loud music by some great bands.
You guys played the festival in 2010, when Faith No More headlined. Do you wanna tell me a bit about what that run was like?
The festival was special. It’s got so many bands that travel together, flying the same planes, and sharing buses. It’s one of the only festivals in the world where the bands get to meet each other. It’s just two weeks of travelling around the one country with lots of great people from all over the world.
When you play festivals in Europe, it’s very much you get in, you play your set, and you get out, and it can be quite stressful. You don’t have the time to do anything else, really. Soundwave’s special because it’s not like that.
You’ve also got a few days off, and you get a chance to play some club dates, which you don’t get to do with a lot of festivals.
Is there anything in particular you’re hoping to get up to in your off dates downs here this time?
Well, I still don’t have the whole schedule, so I’m not sure. Last time in 2010, we had a chance to do a lot of things in Australia that we don’t get to do regularly. I’m just waiting to see what happens this time. On a day off, I really like to have a chance to relax. I’m not particularly ‘touristy.’ I don’t like going around and making sure I see all of those great landmarks. I’d much rather meet some people and go share a lager.
This 2014 run with Soundwave will be your first time in Australian in four years. Why such a long wait between tours?
It took us a long time to be able to get anything sorted for the new album. Our drummer Mika had some problems with his hands and so he couldn’t drum, and it was pretty painful to watch. He basically had to relearn how to drum. So during that time, we were basically just learning new songs. For us, we spent about twice as long as usual for this album because of that.
The good news is, he’s in great shape, and all touring so far has been great, so I think we’ve recovered well, and we’re very excited to come back and be welcomed back.
You guys released a new album last year; do you wanna tell me a bit about Tears On Tape?
Well, what do you want to know? It’s our eighth album, and we’ve been together twenty years, which is a really long time. It was born out of the frustration of our drummer struggling, and then there was a lot of writers block, so we tried to get back to our roots by listening to a lot of like, Type O Negative albums.
In the end we just decided not to over complicate it. We just ended up cracking open a beer, and then heading into the studio and banging our heads and sweating it all out, which helped us a lot.
How would you explain the album to someone who’s never listened to HIM before?
I figure it’s one of those things where it would be a great example of what heavy rock and roll is, because it covers lots of the subgenres in there. It’s heavy, it’s rock and roll, it’s emotional, it’s tender. It’s got a lot of stuff going on in it. It’s great for dancing with tears in your eyes
The album’s been around for almost nine months. How have the new tracks gone down with the fanbase?
I’ve never liked when bands release an album and then only play new material when they tour, so we only really play 3 or 4 songs from the new record live. It gives us a chance to not only play the new stuff, but to look at the old stuff from a new angle, and build the bridge between what’s happening now and what happened twenty years ago. People seem to enjoy the new stuff. It also seems to depend on where we play what stuff we put in the setlist, because different albums of ours are more popular in different countries. It’s always a surprise, and it makes touring really exciting. If we just did the same old, same old, it would be terrible.
You guys decided to go back to work with long time producer Hiili Hiilesman again on this release. Why’d you make the decision to team up with him again?
We knew what we wanted production-wise, and Hiili is a great friend of ours, who we work really well with. We had an album called Venus Doom back in 2007, which was produced by him and Tim Palmer, and those two work really well together. They can find the balance between the softer, melancholic, melodic aspects with the hard hitting stuff.
A lot of people don’t get it. They think we’re either a pop band or a hard rock band, but these guys both understand the thin line between it, and that’s a really great thing. Hiili really goes for it in the studio. He’s not afraid to put everything into it and experiment it as if it’s some kind of laboratory work, which makes it a lot of fun.
What are your favourite tracks on the album, and why?
I really like the opening track, ‘All Lips Go Blue.’ It’s pretty good. Now that we’ve been on tour, it’s the songs that we’ve played on tour that we enjoy the most. There’s also ‘Into The Night,’ and the title track. They’re just really great to play, and they fit in the set really well.
Moving back to Soundwave again, are there any bands that you’re particularly excited to share the stage with on the lineup?
I really like that there’s a variety of bands on the lineup, and I’m more excited to be meeting these guys than to watch them play. More of a shaking hands and actually getting to know them. The music is great, don’t hear me wrong, but I like to be caught by surprise.
I’d like to go see a couple of the bands that I don’t wanna see at the festival as well. There are so many moments where I’ve done that and discovered something incredible, and those sorts of moments are life-changing!
You mentioned club shows earlier in the interview. Do you have any plans to play some at all while you’re down here?
I’m hoping to. We haven’t had confirmation yet, but last time we played 2 or 3 shows between the festival dates. I really think the chance to play a long set at the club shows is a great chance, and it means that we get the best of both worlds.
Do you have any final words that you’d like to finish on?
Actually, no. I don’t like the sense of finality. I’d rather leave it open to continue this conversation when we’re down in Australia.
Saturday 22nd February - Brisbane
Sunday 23rd February - Sydney
Friday 28th February - Melbourne
Saturday 1st March - Adelaide
Monday 3rd March - Perth