HIM Singer Ville Valo Talks Rock Allegiance Tour, ‘Tears on Tape,’ Bandmates + More
With their eighth studio album, ‘Tears on Tape,’ HIM have had a busy year. The band recently wrapped up their North American Rock Allegiance trek with Volbeat and All That Remains and now they are on the road in Europe.
During their last date of their U.S. tour in Brooklyn, we had the chance to chat with singer Ville Valo about the tour and the connection he has with his friends and bandmates. Valo also spoke about recording ‘Tears on Tape’ and why he thinks classical music should be banned. Check out our interview with Ville Valo:
How has Rock Allegiance treated you?
It’s been well, how does a tour go? Let’s see nobody’s been ill, the bus only broke down twice, everything got fixed quick the rest of the bands have been nice.
How have you been? You had some health complications earlier in the year.
That was when we were supposed to be touring in May. It was supposed to be a record release tour, it was eight dates in 12 days. Right before the first date I got the starting of pneumonia and bronchitis and since I have asthma I wasn’t in tip top shape. The doc said I had to lie down for about six to seven days and then see if you need to take more antibiotics and stuff like that.
It wouldn’t make any sense for us to wait for a week to play the last two gigs and then not even be sure if we could pull those off. When it’s a longer tour maybe you can postpone a couple of gigs or you skip one or something like that but with the schedule being so tight, we couldn’t do it. Now we’re trying to figure out if there’s a way for us to come back next year to kind of make up for the lost ones. S--- happens, thankfully stuff like that doesn’t happen too often. This tour has been tremendously successful health-wise to everybody.
It’s odd, normally for a European in an AC bus with carpet, everybody’s ill at some point so many germs flying about and long drives. It’s been very mellow. It’s odd playing outdoors, in Brooklyn, someone just told me it’s a Brooklyn waterfront – I thought it was a gig, in an indoor venue. I was just like “What the f---?”
This tour has been real interesting because there’s been a mixture of radio station sponsored festivals, then a couple of monster festivals. There’s been these outdoor amphitheaters in Arizona and then the next day it’s like an old theater in Kansas and then all of a sudden it’s a smallish sports arena and then it’s something like this. Every day it’s not the same old, same old which is exciting and also audience wise because at some places people go bananas for Volbeat and hate everybody else. Then at times people appreciate all the bands, it can go both ways which is cool because it keeps us on our toes.
Being with the same bandmates for so long, with recording the new album ‘Tears on Tape’ did you notice anything that surprised you about the other members in HIM or even yourself during the recording process?
I think there’s always something that happens, but the base of personalities are set in stone. They haven’t changed that much. Playing music is like playing pool, in a way that if you’re not a professional pool player – if you play pool for a while, you kind of get stuck on a level and then you take a couple weeks off and all of a sudden you start playing again and you’ve gained a level or two.
It’s better and nobody knows why, I guess you subconsciously do the work and with music it’s the same. For example Linde [Lindstrom] our guitar player, he hadn’t done anything [for a while] and then all of a sudden he’s up a level and that’s really cool to notice. It’s the same with vocals, sometimes you surprise yourself on how it works and there’s no rhyme or reason or any logical explanation behind it.
What we try to do now is try to create as fertile ground as possible for such paranormal events that take place. That’s the fun thing, those unexpected mistakes because that makes it lively and organic and it makes it sound like music. For a band member it feels magical because it’s not just painting by numbers.
With a few years being in between ‘Screamworks’ and ‘Tears on Tape,’ what was the most important thing you needed to consider when recording this new disc?
Well the reason it took such a long time was our drummer had several hand injuries, there was some nerve damage. It was pain injury or stress injury and all types of things so he wasn’t able to play properly for about eight months which meant I sat down more with the acoustic guitar and was working the songs a bit more and getting f---ed up and hanging about.
It was really stressful for the band because we didn’t know if he was going to get better which ended up in these philosophical sessions with the guys. What are we going to do, are we going to have somebody else join us or do we call it a day as a band? It was stressful, that probably the biggest difference with this album. When he got his hands in shape, we did rehearsals, we started playing and everything was nice. I think the main thing was that since we didn’t know what to expect, if he was going to recover or not, as he recovered fully then everyone was like super pumped up.
It felt good to be back like “F---in’ hell we can still pull off an album.” It was a relief for everyone in the band and around the band too because we probably weren’t the best husbands and boyfriends at the time, everybody was super pissed off. There’s always got to be, not tragedy but some sort of s--- has to always hit the fan. This time it was [drummer] Gas [Lipstick's] stuff, other times maybe the material isn’t strong or someone just isn’t feeling it. It’s tough to get five people in the same state of mind and wanting the same thing.
A lot of HIM fans have been devotees for a long time. Some, like myself, since a much younger age when we didn’t even know what the heck love and connections between people really meant.
Wow, yeah, I’m still trying to figure that out myself. I think good music evokes something and lets your imagination lead and do half the work. Then it makes it worth it, it’s the same with cinema and books, sometimes it’s nice when the stuff is not overly explained. I grew up listening to Sabbath and stuff I didn’t have the slightest idea – I was there with a dictionary trying to translate some of the stuff that was out there.
You figure out your own stories and that’s half the beauty of music. That’s one of the reasons I don’t find religious music and political music too interesting. Obviously when there’s bands like Rage Against the Machine, back in the day, the energy was astounding but I still couldn’t relate. I could relate to the aggression but the lyrics, for that band, didn’t matter to me – it was just the full on force they had.
What would you say is the biggest misconception people may have about you or HIM as a whole?
I don’t know any, the more stories about a band, the better. A lot of things should be left unexplained, whether it be musically speaking or any other way. It changes from country to country and from state to state. I think maybe somewhere people think since we play melancholy and gloomy, doomy music that we are gloomy doomy individuals which is never the case especially if you know people from Paradise Lost, they’re funny as f---.
It’s the same with people from Carcass or any of them, we grew up with horror movies and with Sabbath and we like music to be forceful and a bit frightening and that’s important. All kinds of people go and see horror movies. At the end of the day all the serial killers listen to classical music, so that should be banned. [Laughs]
This bus looks pretty clean but what would you say is the weirdest thing on this tour bus?
We actually emptied the bus, there were a bunch of very odd looking…socks. I’m not sure for what they were used or when but they’ve been here for a month and a half.
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