ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino recently conducted an interview with vocalist Ville Valo of Finnish "love" metallers HIM. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
ARTISTdirect.com: "Screamworks: Love in Theory and in Practice" is definitely your best record.
Valo: Oh, wow! [Laughs] That's a compliment, thank you very much. I put a lot of energy into this one and really worked hard on it. It's kind of scary. I'm feeling all giddy and nervous about it. I'm getting butterflies, waiting to see how people will respond to the album. We've done the best we can. We're proud of it obviously, but it'll affect the next couple years of how the band's going to live and how we're going to tour. Obviously, it's important for the album to do well, if possible.
The record feels like one complete vision. Did you go into recording knowing what you wanted from start to finish?
To set things down, you've got to go with the flow. I think you've got to follow your gut instinct. To a certain extent, it's good to have certain guidelines and a certain framework when you're working on an album. It usually happens organically when you start working on the first couple tracks and they start getting closer to being ready. All of a sudden, you see the little parts of music forming a bigger piece, and that leads to what will happen next. It's the same thing with production; when you get a few songs done, you know what you need. We had the great opportunity of working with Matt Squire, who was just the guy we needed for this one. I can't complain at all. The process of the album happened under lucky stars, so far. Everything has been going really well. It's been tons of work, but it's been really enjoyable work.
You take such dark subject matter and a dark perspective on love and make it poppy and palatable.
I guess it could be genetics, I don't know [Laughs]. I think that love is catchy, yet it's very dark. At least when it comes to writing music, I've never been huge fan of aggressive music. To me, melody is key. It's a huge factor of each song. I grew up in the '80s, so I grew up listening to Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and a lot of hair metal bands most of them from L.A. It's a combination of that. I naturally write songs that are very melodic, yet very melancholy. I've always hated the idea of happy songs. When you're extremely happy and content with what you have, that's when you don't work on music. Usually, you pick up a guitar when something's bugging you and you don't know what it is. When it's hard to express an emotion in conversation, that's when I always pick up a guitar, and it's easy for me to convey the emotion through a song. That's how it happens for me. I think what we have happening on this album is a nice balance. When we were working with Matt, we more or less made a conscious decision. The names we kept on dropping were Depeche Mode, The Cult and Guns N' Roses. I wanted the album to have European melancholy happening at the same time that there would be this really straightforward, direct and accessible rock sound. "Screamworks" is kind of like a David Lynch movie in a way. If you don't know anything about "Blue Velvet", you go into a cinema and see the beginning and say, "It starts pretty ordinary." All of a sudden, this weird stuff starts to happen, and you're so mesmerized by the film that at the end you're just blown away. That's the kind of music I like it takes you on a trip somewhere a bit left of center, but it uses traditional methods to get you there so it's not just, "Art for art's sake."
"Venus Doom" had an L.A. vibe because you'd written a lot of there. Is "Screamworks" tied more to feelings instead of a particular location?
To be honest with you, I don't know. Since I wrote the songs, I don't necessarily think a certain place affects them. I work on a song for such a long time usually that I work on it in a couple places. It's never like one single city or country in the world would inspire me to write a track. It's always a combination of a lot of stuff going on the music I'm listening to, the influences I have at the moment everything affects. I like the fact that most of the album was worked on in freezing Helsinki in the middle of the winter where it was all dark and cold. During summer, we flew over to L.A. and it was just such a different mindset and different climate. It was cool to find, let's say, the lighter shades of black.
Read the entire interview from ARTISTdirect.com.