Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with vocalist Ville Valo of Finnish "love" metallers HIM. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Icon Vs. Icon: You had your fair share of ups and downs along the way. To what do you attribute the longevity of the band?
Ville: It is probably the fact we grew up together. I met our bass player when I was 8 or 9 years old and we bonded over bass playing. We were fans of Steve Harris from IRON MAIDEN and all of that stuff. I have known most of the guys in the band before we had HIM. Now, being 36, I have spent more than half of my life in this band and it is such an integral part of who I am as a person that it is not just about music, it is a brotherhood. I think that is the main reason we have been able to sustain and keep it together for such a long time.
Icon Vs. Icon: Your drummer, Mika "Gas Lipstick" Karppinen, suffered a repetitive stress injury at the end of 2011. From what I read, you said it caused you guys to reevaluate if you would carry on as a band. How close was the band to calling it a day and what made you push through and carry on?
Ville: It was quite tough. We started working on the latest album, "Tears On Tape", about two and a half years ago. It was around that time his hand started acting up and we didn't know what was going on. We realized we couldn't rehearse and he went to see a gazillion, bazillion different doctors. They weren't able to give us a proper prognosis. We had to wait a month at a time to see if there was any positive development there. After about six months or so, every one began to stress out and start freaking out about what would happen with the whole band and if we would be able to continue. Since we have the brotherhood type of vibe in this band, we just wanted to wait it out and be absolutely sure. If Gas wasn't able to play, we would then have had to figure out what to do next, but we didn't want to give up. I kept on working on songs and demoing them back home while he was healing. I think it was late May of last year that he said he was feeling good enough to come back to the rehearsal space and pound some skins proper. That is basically what we did and everything fell into place and was fine. He hasn't had any trouble since, so triumph through tribulation, I guess.
Icon Vs. Icon: When you headed into the studio for "Tears On Tape", what were your expectations? Was there something you all had in mind you wanted to achieve?
Ville: We more or less wanted to work with the Finnish producer Hiili Hiilesmaa at a studio called Finnvox where we have worked a gazillion times before. We also wanted to use Tim Palmer as the mix engineer. It was exactly the same team we used when we worked on "Love Metal" back in 2003 and on "Venus Doom" a few years later. With that team we pretty much knew what we were going to get but those two gentlemen really made it easy for us to really get deep into the heart of the process as opposed to having to introduce out macabre sense of humor and our musical perversions. It made the whole process fast, easy and painless. That is the reason we wanted to do it that way. We just wanted to have the album more lively, organic and noisy. We wanted it lively and analog in a way, even though it was digitally recorded and we didn't want to over-polish it. That is what those two people do really well. They let the music live as opposed to crushing it to death.
Icon Vs. Icon: Looking back at yourself as an artist, how have you evolved through the years and what have you learned about yourself along the way?
Ville: I have learned I am a fairly impatient bastard and that hasn't changed! [laughs] That being said, I think the biggest change has been that I am a bit more patient than I used to be. People are different and you have to respect everyone's head space. Some people are quick learners and some aren't but that doesn't mean they aren't good at what they do. The whole band, all five guys, are very different characters. I think that is the strength of the band. For example, our keyboard player is a classically trained guy who loves to play chess, so he has a more mathematical mind. Our bass player is more of a psychedelia guy, who goes with the flow and it is all based on feel. There are all sorts of different aspects and angles in the band and it makes the whole creative process much more interesting.
Icon Vs. Icon: You mentioned the brotherhood you and your bandmates formed. Do you feel you would overstep your bounds by venturing outside with a solo project at some point? Is that something you are even interested in at this point?
Ville: Back in the day, I was figuring it would be nice to do something really left of center, psychedelic and folky but, at the end of day, I think most of what I call my musical perversions I can do with the band as it is. I am really happy about that and it is fairly rare. There is really no reason to fuck it all up.
Read the entire interview from Icon Vs. Icon.
"Tears On Tape" (song) audio stream: