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HIM Singer Ville Valo Discusses ‘Tears on Tape,’ Musical Indulgences, Touring Life + More

Paul Harries, Razor & Tie Records

Love metal fans have much to rejoice about since 2013 is shaping up to be a massive year for Finnish band HIM with the release of their eighth studio album ‘Tears on Tape’ via their new North American label Razor & Tie. Not to mention HIM was just inducted into Loudwire’s Cage Match Hall of Fame after beating out some notable acts along the way.

Loudwire had the privilege to speak with HIM frontman Ville Valo about everything from the new album to his wide taste in music, as well as his comfort with living the “vagabond” lifestyle on the road.

Can you talk about the title ‘Tears on Tape’ and what it means to you?

It’s one of those things where when it comes into your head you’re not thinking about it too much, I was probably in the bathtub as I usually am bathing away, reading some pseudo-satanic poetry and just came up with the title. What it represents to me is more or less is that it’s kind of like a hats off to our idols, the people who make us do what we do, Black Sabbath, Roy Orbison, Cat Stevens, Neil Young and all those people.

How I see it is that they shed a few tears on tape in their day and the blood, sweat and tears they shed on that tape gave us a reason to carry on and pursue our passion which is music. It’s like an ode to music and an ode to our idols.

The “Tape” part of the title makes me really think about back in the day and having a Walkman – Do you prefer this age of technology in music or are you more old school?

I think it’s the best of both worlds, which is an important thing. It’s a joy recording and listening on digital formats and mediums but also back in the day with walkmans you had to rewind the tapes, so these days its great you can just have your iPod or whatever wherever you go. It makes it possible to listen to music in places you weren’t able to before so I think that’s great.

Musically speaking when it comes to recording an album the problem is that people don’t make decisions until the very last minute because of all the possibilities of a digital anything and using all these effects. Back in the day it was more about commitment and more about going with the flow and just doing it – that’s how we still try to approach making an album as opposed to recording everything and fix it in the mix.

Well the good thing about the iPod is that nobody has to see what you’re listening to, so I can indulge in an embarrassing ‘80s pop song.

[Laughs] Why should you be embarrassed, if you like that ‘80s pop song you should be able to listen to it without any regret.

For you what would be a guilty pleasure musically?

I don’t really think I have any, I’ve never been embarrassed about liking Depeche Mode or Billy Idol – I love that ‘80s stuff –

RIght, but you’re naming talented artists, I’m talking about one hit wonders like ‘Party All the Time’ by Eddie Murphy.

[Laughs] Well Eddie wasn’t a great musician, it’s the same thing with Bruce Willis and the music he made, he was a great actor and ‘Moonlighting’ was such a big TV series so he couldn’t do anything wrong.

I digress, continue on with your musical favorites.

[Laughs] I also love a lot of ‘60s pop too I’m a big fan of Phil Spector, it might be super uncool but I think the old always goes around in circles –  its uncool for a second and then it’ll be cool again. The stuff that people are wondering about when I listen to music is why I like reggae so much or why I’m listening to really old school hip-hop like Kool Moe Dee or whatever.

The track ‘All Lips Go Blue’ was the first taste we got of the new album, talk about this song a little bit musically and lyrically.

‘All Lips Go Blue’ was the first song we got together as a band so it was the key to solve the puzzle because we didn’t really know where we were heading  with the music we had – we had different ideas and riffs and structures of songs but it was the first one that came together and that song kind of showed the way for the rest of the album. It was one of the reasons why we wanted to put it as the first proper song on ‘Tears on Tape.’

On a lot of our previous albums we had more mellow moments and songs and then more up tempo and hard rocking songs and this one felt kind of natural to incorporate both of those emotions – the more aggressive side and the more sentimental side in three and a half minutes. That was a big deal to kind of have that knuckle head into the wall riff which starts the songs then going into this half-folky verse super melancholy and super melodic and then hopefully have a sing along chorus which for me goes back to the Phil Spector thing I was talking about. We’re trying to find how Eddie Murphy we can truly get. [Laughs]

Is there a specific band or musician you would love to tour with that you haven’t gotten a chance to tour with yet?

We’ve had the pleasure of touring with some of our idols in the U.S. and in the UK but when you’re on tour, you usually get so busy, either playing gigs or traveling days where it’s 12 hours in a bus so there’s very little time to actually get to know people. At the end of the day I like to go into the club and see a band and maybe knock on the dressing room door if I’m allowed and say ‘Hi’ because there’s way less pressure.

Maybe it would be great to support Sabbath, since they’re coming out with their new album so that could be one – at the end of the day they’re the band, probably the most important band when it comes to HIM, inspiration wise.

One thing you must bring on tour with you, no electronics. Why?

It has to be electronic. No? Well the only thing I need to tour with is my passport and my asthma medication — those are the only things I need. Everything else is fine. You can always buy a pair of socks or whatever at Walmart or if push comes to shove, just play naked.

You get used to this vagabond lifestyle fairly easy. When we started touring for the first time, everybody was carrying these huge cases with six pairs of shoes and after a couple of tours you realize you don’t really need anything. I do all my laundry by myself, I usually wash everything by hand in the sink in the hotel room.

HIM’s ‘Tears on Tape’ is out now and is available via iTunes.

Check Out the Video for HIM’s Cage Match Hall of Fame Track ‘Tears On Tape’

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