HIM FORBES Exclusive Interview: Ville Valo

FORBES Exclusive Interview: Ville Valo

: Steve Baltin , CONTRIBUTOR The spark wasnt there. We started working on new material. To my ears it didnt sound excellent, it sounded too same old, same old, H.I.M. frontman Ville Valo says simply as to why the Finnish rock group is calling it quits after a quarter century together. We are at the iconic Sunset Marquis the morning after the band played the first of two sold-out nights at the Wiltern. The tour, dubbed in typical H.I.M. whimsy, Bang & Whimper, is way more bang than whimper. From the moment the lights went down and the opening Buried Alive In Love kicked in the crowd was in a frenzy. When I tell Valo about the woman at the bar who over enjoyed herself and threw up all over the floor he smiles. I didnt know people like that still exist, he says laughing. But then as he rightly puts it, Its like some sort of time travel machine thing. For 25 years the Love Metal legends, as they have been called for their very unique melding of the Cure-like romantic lyrics and superb pop/metal hooks and riffs, have built a huge cult following, many of whom have sworn by H.I.M. since the beginning. So as fans say goodbye, the emotion and energy at these final U.S. shows is taking even the band by surprise. The U.S. leg of the tour ends tomorrow night, November 17, in New York. One can only imagine the fury of the crowd when the final notes of When Love And Embrace, which has been the closer throughout this tour, fill Hammerstein Ballroom. In this exclusive, the only North American interview Valo conducted for the farewell tour, he talks about the future, why it was time to say goodbye and how he is looking forward to skating on thin ice as an artist. Steve Baltin: The show last night at the Wiltern was insane. As soon as the lights went down people just lost it. Ville Valo: Yeah, I dont know what happened, its like some sort of time machine thing. Its gonna happen again tonight. And its quite rare for a rock band to get that, I call it the building of worlds. Bands like Zeppelin, Type O Negative, Sisters Of Mercy, AC/DC, youre sucked into their world, it has its own rules, its own geography and thats quite exciting. So even on the tiniest microscopic level, if were somewhere around there its great. A lot of new bands dont have that sort of thing. Baltin: So youve spent almost 25 years building this village. Does it become daunting or sad to think of leaving that world behind? Or do you just feel ready? Valo: I think all of the above to be honest with you. At the end of the day you have to trust your gut. Thats a tough thing to do when its five people whove known each other since they were kids and whove built the world or whatever you want to call it for the past quarter of a century. Even though your gut says now its time to jump off the train its not the easiest thing to actually accomplish. So it took about two years to really figure it out and make sure were actually on the same page and this needs to be done. Touring is still nice, touring is fun, we get along really well, but that was one of the other things I thought: its nice to do the series of last hurrahs on tour. Baltin: Does the audience response inspire you to maybe reconsider? Valo: That motivates me to write even better songs with my next project, whatever it might be. Thats how I think. Some of the songs traveled really well, were playing songs from late 90s and all the people, including new people, singing along to those lyrics I wrote when I was like 20 or 19, which is exciting. So I cant see why not it cant continue, differently probably, but thats the exciting part. I do enjoy skating on thin ice. I think there has to be that element of not necessarily danger, but surprise and being on your toes. If things become too easy or comfortable you have to do something about it. And I think we are. Baltin: I agree with you, but there is very much a mentality in rock and roll now to play it safe in the world theyve built. Valo: I know, but then at the end of the day that particular world isnt going anywhere. We appreciate what weve done, were really happy that its traveled so well and its still resonating, which is quite weird. Obviously its weird for us on all possible levels. Itd be easier if there would be animosity. And originally we werent supposed to be doing the tour, but I thought we need to leave the whole thing on what I call the lowest note. We have to leave the rumble behind us. Baltin: So jump ahead to January 1, 2018. That will be the night after the last H.I.M. show. Now that youve started the tour can you anticipate what that day will feel like? Valo: No idea, weve still got 43 gigs to go before the tour ends. So well see how worn out well be before that. The last few gigs thatll happen in Finland theres gonna be a lot of family around and old friends from way back when and our parents and stuff. So its gonna be special because of that too and its gonna be, in that sense, more ritualistic as opposed to a gig. So Im sure itll be weird, Im sure itll be fantastic and so forth. But yes, itll be weird and odd and my technique of coping with the emptiness and the sense of abandonment will be to pick up a guitar cause thats what I always do when I feel uncomfortable. So Im just gonna be writing more songs. I have already written songs that some of them were supposed to be for the guys, but since next chapter for H.I.M. didnt take off Im gonna do something with them. Baltin: Do you envision a solo album or you dont know what itll be? Valo: To be honest with you, I dont know. The funny thing is that I worked on some songs and at the end of the day, even new songs, they sound quite a bit like H.I.M. So its not on a purpose that I become this solo entrepreneur playing folkie whatever stuff and make it really sparse and get rid of everything or make it super poppy or whatever. Im not interested in that. Im interested in rock and roll, but the emperor needs new clothes. Baltin: So you wont be putting out a dance album? Valo: F**k no. I dont know how to do it anyway. I enjoy electronic music, I always have, but I like noisy guitars and I like the melancholy and when I start listing the things I like about music it sounds a lot like H.I.M. Baltin: It will be interesting to see how this evolves because you have your style and voice. Valo: It will be interesting, then its obviously tough. Im not 20 anymore so all of a sudden to do something completely new is a challenge in itself and to see if people are interested at all for the whole thing. But Id rather still take the risk and see the rest of the guys in the band do their own thing and takes risks as opposed to just becoming this semi-broken jukebox, like a tribute band of themselves, which I feel if we couldve sold, if you could add a few zeroes at the end then it would make sense, like in the Rolling Stones way. But I thought we never made the perfect H.I.M. album, we never got that far. Baltin: Since you still have that challenge and no animosity Valo: We still have those 43 gigs, so there will be animosity at the end (laughs). Once again, never say never. I honestly do like the guys so I wouldnt mind doing something together. But now is not the time, so I dont know what the future holds, no idea. I think some of the guys are going to be working on music-related stuff. but the individuals in the band are pretty different from each other. So its really tough to say if were physically in the same city within the next few years. But well see. Theres a reason for this to end now and we dont know how were reacting to it. This is like the petri dish in action, this is the chemical process or the test or whatever you want to call it happening right here and well know by the end of the year how its gonna swing, more or less. And then probably itll take some time to recuperate as well. Baltin: Are there songs that are taking on particular meaning as you sing them for what might be the last time with the guys? Valo: This is the first tour, since I know we dont have a recording future with H.I.M. I can see all the material were playing each and every night as the main body of work because there wont be anymore. For the first time songs like Join Me In Death, I do hear the lyrics in a different way, I do sing the songs maybe a bit differently. I appreciate it not necessarily as an outsider, but I can see the forest through the trees a bit better. Its different. At the end of the day thats the function of this tour as well, is that were able to be the fans as well. Fans not necessarily of ourselves, but of the whole movement of whats happened during those last 26 or so years. Its the opportunity of a bunch of random blokes coming from a random country in the middle of nowhere more or less, being able to travel around the world and still be somehow relevant to quite a few people. So thats quite amazing. Its a celebration of that, of what weve done and what people have done for this to happen, and the music is the soundtrack to that. https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebaltin/2017/11/16/exclusive-interview-h-i-m-frontman-ville-valo-on-saying-goodbye-after-25-years-together/#70edc1312fbb

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