Ville Valo of HIM Talks "Tears on Tape"
Fri, 29 Mar 2013 09:45:04
"It's a never-ending journey," smiles H.I.M. frontman Ville Valo.
That's what keeps it interesting for the Finnish quintet though. It never stops. There's always another song to write and, in their case, the music just keeps getting better. Tears on Tape stands out—available April 30 via Razor & Tie. It's not only everything a HIM record should be, but it's everything a timeless rock 'n' roll record should be. Valo and co. have perfected their sound into the most wondrous doom pop you've ever heard. It's brutally beautiful and blindingly brilliant. These Tears will luckily never dry…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Ville Valo of HIM talks Tears on Tape and so much more.
When did the vision for Tears on Tape become clear?
Well, that already had happened at the rehearsal space. We got the meat around the bones of the ideas I had. That was basically the first good start. It's one of those things though. No matter how many albums you do, there's always the possibility of messing it up royally in the studio. A lot of times songs you really believe in turn out not to be so exciting in the studio. Then, songs you necessarily didn't believe in as much turn out to be great. You've got to be focused until the very end of the process to make sure it translates as well as it can. It's not easy. Last December when we started mixing with Tim Palmer is when we realized, "Alright, we can make it easy on ourselves now".
When did the theme of autumn enter into play?
It happened because it was autumn [Laughs]. I think it was just observational. You soak in everything that's around you, and that's all you can do. It wasn't more complicated than that. It happened organically and naturally, and it seemed to fit the mood of the songs.
What's autumn in Finland like?
I guess it's pretty similar to what autumn would be in northern parts of America. It's really green. There are a lot of forests here. Obviously, the seasonal changes happen really fast, and they're very colorful. It's all about those magenta leaves. The smell of the season is different. I think it's part of the foliage dying and dropping down. It's definitely different from California, but I don't know how different it is from other countries. Iggy Pop once said that Finland reminded him of Michigan in terms of the seasons. I believe in Iggy Pop so let's just say it's exactly the same as Michigan [Laughs].
You can see this record almost as much as you can hear it.
That's a great compliment. Obviously, the more cinematic it is, the better. It's about visuals in general. It's about photography. It's about paintings. When you're not too specific with the lyrics, it enables the imagination to do some of the work. I suppose you have to draw the lines between "A" and "B" with everything given to you from the get-go. That's important when it comes to music. It's like you're painting with feedback.
What's the story behind "Drawn & Quartered"?
That was the first song I started writing for it. We nearly didn't include it on the album. It was just an acoustic and really bulky. I couldn't find the right way to present it with the band. I started working on that straight after we toured Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, Chapters 1-13 in 2010. I wanted to see how far I could take a melody. That song keeps going forward. On occasion, it comes back to the refrain. It's as sad and melancholy as everything we do [Laughs]. I think the lyrics are pretty direct and fairly straightforward. There's no hidden meaning. It's one of my favorite songs. It's more prog-y. There are a lot of things going on. It's great to have songs that get you going immediately, but it's also cool to have some growers that may take a while. Usually, those are the tracks that, let's say, the loyal hardcore fans will gather around over the years and appreciate. At the end of the day, it would be super boring to have balls-to-the-wall songs from beginning to end. It's good to have something more surreal and challenging in between. When we say "challenging" though, it's not more challenging than switching over from McDonalds to Wendys [Laughs].
What about "I Will Be the End of You"?
Once again, it was an acoustic ditty I worked on for a long time. It came together at the rehearsal space really quickly. It reminds me of some of the older music we've done like "Soul on Fire". I wanted to go full-blown Kyuss with the riff. I love that stoner stuff. Joshua Homme is one of my idols when it comes to guitars and riffs. We wanted the song to be dirty and grunge-y and a bit of a middle finger. It's a statement of intent. It's still pretty and has a lot of melody, but it's dirtier.
What were you into around making the album?
Creating an album is very similar to the classic notion people use to describe the '60s—"If you remember them, you weren't there". Your heart, mind, and body are so into the process of making an album that it goes in a flash, and it's like a blur. I was reading and watching everything I could get my hands on, but at the same time, I was working on the music and figuring out the technical aspects. I wouldn't say there would be one or two books or pieces of poetry that would've inspired the whole album more than any other. You've got to be a sponge, soak it all in, and let it out.
What are you listening to now?
I set up my vinyl player again, and I was listening to Electric Wizard and stuff like that. I can't wait to get my hands on the new Cathedral album. I haven't fallen in love with a song or a band in quite a while so I can't wait for that to happen again.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Love Metal?
The cover is the first thing that comes to my mind, since we named the album after the "genre". At the same time, we really wanted to embed the Heartagram symbol in people's minds. It was the first time we put it on a cover that big and made a statement. In that sense, it was like we found the identity of the band.
If you were to compare Tears on Tape to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I'd say Dario Argento's Suspiria meeting Bill Murray's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. It'd be somewhere between those two [Laughs]. It's cinematic, odd, left-of-center, and funny. At the same time, it's a bit touching. It's scary and brooding and dark at times too. Those were the DVDs I saw on my floor. I was lucky!
Well, you manage to bring girls back to rock 'n' roll while adding an element of instrumental intricacy. That's pretty magical in this day and age.
That's always a bonus isn't it? Don't let everybody in on in the secret. That would destroy us [Laughs]. You don't think about it too much. You go with the flow. You do what sounds the best. Hopefully, you get there one day.
What's your favorite HIM song?