HIM do not take themselves as seriously as one might imagine. Known for their somber, keyboard-laden songs and melodramatic lyrics about love and death, that last thing I expected from this Finnish rock act was bathroom humor instead of thoughtful, mature responses to my questions. Aside from the off-color jokes, the mood felt a bit tense on HIM’s tour bus at Jones Beach in Wantagh, NY, where I conducted my brief interview. The group was a couple of hours away from their main stage performance on the Projekt Revolution tour, featuring Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday and other artists, and their bus had just pulled into the venue.
I spoke with brooding frontman Ville Valo and bassist Mige Amour about the tour, new album and the displeasures of life on the road as the rest of the band members and other personnel streamed in and out of the bus. Their comrade, MTV reality show star Bam Margera, was also there hanging out. Valo seemed on edge the entire time. The deep crooner exhibited frustration with the past few days’ events, his tobacco pipe and life in general.
HIM formed in the early ’90s, winning over European audiences before making their mark in the States in recent years. Valo’s good looks and rock star image also helped propel the band to cult status, especially among fans of the “goth” genre, making girls swoon with his romantic, poetic, yet cryptic lyrics inspired by dysfunctional relationships and lovelorn agony. HIM’s first album for Sire Records, Dark Light, was released in 2005 and earned them the distinction of becoming the first band from Finland to go gold in the U.S. In addition, their entire back catalog, previously only available on import, was re- issued. Their sixth studio album, Venus Doom, takes them in a heavier direction. Longer, dirge-y, more guitar-driven songs replace the sultry pop and radio-friendliness of past singles like “Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly” and “Killing Loneliness.” Even the keyboards that have become a staple of their sound are diminished on Venus Doom, which like many records by hard rock artists past and present, is reminiscent of ’70s metal pioneers Black Sabbath.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm I sensed on the bus that sunny afternoon, the Projekt Revolution tour has allowed HIM to bring their self-named “love metal” to a bigger and brand new audience, spreading their gloom and doom to rock fans all over the U.S. Perhaps HIM’s headlining tour, which kicks off Oct. 18 at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, will go more smoothly for them.
How’s the tour going so far?
Valo: A bit colorful. Well, just hopped onto the bus yesterday, Linde peed his pants, I switched from cigarettes to pipe tobacco, uh, Burton bought like, a poker game set, so we started playing poker for money, and what else? I haven’t showered in like two and a half days. There’s a lot of like, change in the air.
Amour: The best way to describe it is EEEEPPPPPPP. (Ville and Mige say simultaneously.) That’s capital and then lower case capital.
Do you hang out with any of the other bands and if so, any good stories?
Valo: No we haven’t. It’s like everybody seems to do their own promo and they travel, you know. We haven’t even checked out My Chemical or Linkin Park playing yet, ’cause the drives are pretty long, so like today, it’s nine hours to get to Cleveland, so we’re just leaving straight after the gig. We’re going to be there tomorrow and we have the day off, so it’s easier for all of us. We’d rather have a day off than check out media and stuff backstage. We get enough of that during our own tours, so…
2006 wasn’t a good year for you. How is 2007 treating you so far?
Valo: It’s all bad.
Bam Margera: Everything is, except for asparagus.
Valo: That’s not P.C.
Amour: That makes your pee stink. So I can’t say that it’s really a totally, absolutely good thing.
Valo: Yeah it’s getting worse by the day. As you can see.
Valo: Well, I just told you what happened. What’s been going on these past 48 hours. A bowel movement instead, his prostate movement is too liberal.
Valo: Do we have any poppy on the bus? (He taps tobacco pipe against the table to get ashes out.) Spectacular. (said sarcastically) I just wanna go back home.
If you could just do records and not have to tour, would you choose to do that?
Valo: Well touring is great when you don’t have to… It’s weird because we spend a lot of time doing nothing. So, hopefully it’s gonna be worth it, you know. Hopefully it’s a good reminder for the people that we still do exist, and hopefully we’re entertaining them. I think it’s fuckin’ boring. Not the playing, the playing part is great. That’s fun, but everything else is fuckin’ shit.