Alan Sculley of the Edmonton Journal recently conducted an interview with vocalist Ville Valo of Finnish "love" metallers HIM. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
On the initial reaction to HIM's new CD, "Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice", and the debate among fans about whether the CD — more upbeat and poppy than the darkly hued, gothic-tinged earlier HIM releases — represented a betrayal of the group's musical identity:
"Well, it's the age-old question of have they sold out, or are they poppy? When that question arises, I always say IRON MAIDEN are poppy. They've sold about 170 million records. That makes them a popular band, a popular rock band or heavy metal band, whatever they prefer."
"The best way for a band is just to follow their gut instincts, make the album they believe in, be inspired whomever they're inspired by at the moment and go with the flow.
"I was trying to find the missing link between DEPECHE MODE and GUNS N' ROSES, or A-HA and THE CULT, bring the sort of European melancholy, a bit new-agey early '80s synth-pop edge to full-blown rock 'n' roll. I think that we succeeded really well in that."
On the fact that he understands that some fans will always identify HIM with one of its earlier albums:
"['Animalize'] was my introduction to KISS, so in a way that's my favorite album. Usually the one you heard the first, that's your favorite album. So in our band's case, some people have heard an album called 'Razorblade Romance' (released in 1999 in Europe and 2002 in North America) first, and that makes it the special album for them. We're not trying to compete with that album. We're trying to compete with ourselves and trying to make our current emotions translate as well as possible through sonic means."
On whether being clean and sober was responsible for the more upbeat sound of "Screamworks":
"It doesn't go like that. It's just when you sit down with the guitar, it's not like the first thing that you write will be exactly the same as what you just did. And then your personal life and everything affects it. And usually you purge your ideas into music and it reflects where your head was at that moment. This time, there was kind of a sense of hope and good things happening. So I think that translated into the energy of the album.
"One thing's for sure is I didn't spend so much time in bars and pubs getting messed up," he said. "I did have the opportunity of working double or triple on this album. I really worked hard on the music. I think it paid off. It made me feel really good because I thought that since I'm getting sober, I like to go from one extreme to the other, I'll put all of my energy, everything I have, into the album and see if it pays off."
On the decision to drop a few older songs from HIM set in favor of "Screamworks" songs:
"It's way harder than I thought, to drop your old babies, and especially with the new album be a bit more in-your-face and uptempo. All of a sudden it makes the whole set more rock 'n' roll.
"We've had tons of albums that are pretty moody and pretty like mid-based, so with this new stuff it's going to be way more energetic. I'm kind of praying. It's a scary thought to make your most energetic record when you're over 30."
Read the entire interview from the Edmonton Journal.