H.I.M. Frontman Talks About Songwriting Process For 'Dark Light', Breaking U.S. Market

Sauli Vuoti of Imhotep recently conducted an interview with H.I.M. frontman Ville Valo. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

On the songwriting process for "Dark Light":

Ville Valo: "We really had fun doing the album — for the first time in ten years. We have always had all these contrasts in our music, and this time we tried to put the extremities even further away from each other. The middle part of 'Vampire Heart' is almost like thrash metal, and then there's a lot of BLACK SABBATH- and BILLY IDOL-influenced stuff on the album as well. We wanted this 'movie soundtrack atmosphere' to collide with BLACK SABBATH and TAPIO RAUTAVAARA (legendary Finnish country singer). We've tried to do that in the past as well, but 'Love Metal' (the fourth album) was our rock album. It had this '70s feeling to it, it was more emotional, the songs were longer and even had some mild progressive elements. 'Razorblade Romance' (the second album) was our '80s influenced album, and the first album was completely inspired by TYPE O NEGATIVE. 'Deep Shadows' (the third album) was our pop album, which we wouldn't do again, by the way. Gas Lipstick (drums) is such a metalhead and Burton (the keyboardist) loves PINK FLOYD and DEEP PURPLE, but for the first time all members liked each and every song on the album. It took us ten years to get that, but still...

"On this new album we tried to combine elements from all of our previous albums. The songs are fast and straightforward, there aren't any really slow ones included. With slow songs, I mean that kind of super-slow and super-pathetic stuff. We wanted this album to proceed fluently right from the start. I don't feel we had any major pressure about this album. All the pressure is on the record company, because we've done our part and now it is their turn. Besides the U.S., also Japan, Australia, Canada, Netherlands/Belgium/France and even the rest of Scandinavia (besides Finland) are regions where BMG (the old record company) did basically nothing for us. For these countries, we are still a 'new' band. Of course, I had some pressure about composing good songs again, but I had already written new material for a year and a half, already at the time of the release of 'Love Metal'. But like a month and a half before entering the studio, I threw away around 60 percent of the material simply because it was too slow. We wanted to make a rock album, because that was the feeling inside the band. I gave myself a month to write the rest of the material for the new album. And so I did. When you have a good feeling and are performing with good musicians, your creativity is on a whole new level, so it was no problem for me. All the songs have been composed by me, but of course the arrangements came from the band. We really played the songs, changed a lot of stuff and pondered what would get people's asses shaking."

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On the fact that H.I.M. have been able to sell a lot of albums in the U.S. even without promotion:

Ville Valo: "Maybe common people travel more and at the moment, at least inside the European Union, young people travel a lot in different countries. And of course the Internet and trading around with your friends affect the fact that people find new bands. Sites like MySpace are great in that sense. Internet has its good and bad sides, but for us it has mainly done good I guess. And if you think about the American metal scene, they haven't really had any special new stuff for a long time. PANTERA is gone forever and METALLICA has somewhat slumped, maybe DISTURBED represents one of the better bands but that's about it. EVANESCENCE and LINKIN PARK have become big, but they don't have the acceptance among really hard metalheads, since their music is more like syrupy pop music with distorted guitars. One Canadian reporter told me that for him our new album sounded so good, because he had never heard anything like that before. In America they have their own things and sounds, but people living beside the sunny beaches and palms of California cannot possibly transform the Scandiavian melancholy into music like us Scandinavians can. For most of the year it is cold in Finland and nearly always quite dark. Except for midsummer of course, when the sun shines 24/7. I still like the USA as a country. It is such a big country though, that it is hard to organize tours and such. Bands like SKUNK ANANSIE and OASIS never went through the trouble of organizing big tours in the States, because they were already so popular in other countries. Or the same goes for MARILYN MANSON in the States. I remember when some guy from CREED once said, that why should one go to be a fool in another country, when you can be king in your own country? Conversely, us Scandinavians always want to get into new playgrounds, since we are hard working people with a long history of having to find our way through all kinds of trouble. And at least for me it is fun to make interviews and concerts, no matter if those go well or not."

Read the entire interview at this location.

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