Former HIM Frontman VILLE VALO Loves The Escapism Of Books

March 24, 2023

Former HIM frontman Ville Valo recently went on "Side Jams With Bryan Reesman"to talk about his love for literature. He offered many of his book and graphic novel recommendations, including works by Mariana Enriquez, Edith Södergran, Alan Moore, Hugo Pratt and Guy de Maupassant.

Ville talked about how he doesn't necessarily read everything by authors he likes. "I think with poetry and also older stuff like Poe or whatever, it's not as if you would read all of it," he offered. "Or H.P. Lovecraft, whom I probably have read all of it, many times. But I think once we get back to the idea of world building, and the worlds we can create, they’re very strong. I think that Poe, for example, is like absinthe. Taken in moderation, it’s a fantastic, one of a kind thing. But if you do that every day you're gonna end up in the gutter sooner or later."

The singer added that he doesn't feel comfortable reading certain posthumously released books. "It feels a bit weird publishing somebody's letters," he said. "I'm not sure if it's right for us to read that stuff [or] if they were meant for personal consumption. I bought something of Edvard Munch, the guy who painted 'The Scream' — he has interesting letters and stuff. All of a sudden, I felt like this Peeping Tom, like I don't belong there. Or reading Kurt Cobain's diary, that I think Courtney [Love] published back in the day. I was given that book, but I haven't been able to read it. I feel somehow it crosses the line. That it's not meant for me."

Ville prefers reading real books over digital versions. "I love the smell of books," he said. "I don't have that Kindle thing. I think part of the whole ritual is the fact [of] how it smells and that it is a physical thing and how it's been bound and how the glue works. Also, in a lot of books I used to write lyrics while being on tour. On the first pages. When I got ideas there's a lot of weird markings. So the books I read were my notebooks as well at that time. Not anymore."

Ville played his first solo concert under the VV banner on January 13 at Tavastia in Helsinki, Finland. Joining Ville on stage as part of his backing band are Mikko Virta on guitar, Risto Rikala on drums, Sampo Sundström on guitar and Juho Vehmanen on bass.

VV's debut album, "Neon Noir", was made available on January 13 via Heartagram Records, distributed by UMG/Spinefarm.

Last April, Valo released the first single from "Neon Noir", a song called "Loveletting", which marked his first new music in over two years, following the release of the three-track "Gothica Fennica Vol. 1" EP, also released under the VV banner, in March 2020.

Like "Neon Noir", "Gothica Fennica Vol. 1" bore a strong musical resemblance to HIM and featured the tracks "Salute The Sanguine", "Run Away From The Sun" and "Saturnine Saturnalia".

VV's headline tour dates will take place this year across Europe and North America. The 2023 extensive run reached the U.K. earlier this month before heading to America come April.

HIM completed a farewell tour in 2017, closing the final chapter on the band's 26-year career. At the time, Ville explained to Kerrang! magazine why the band decided to call it a day. "We were tired of the same shit," he said. "When you've done it for a long time, at some point it doesn't taste good anymore. We started working on some stuff, it didn't sound good enough, and we didn't get the teenage buzz you're supposed get."

Formed in 1991 by Valo, guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindström and bassist Mikko "Migé" Paananen, HIM offered the world a new take on the metal genre, which became known as "love metal" (also the title of their fourth album).

HIM in 2015 parted ways with its longtime drummer, Mika Kristian Karppinen (a.k.a. Gas Lipstick),and replaced him with Jukka "Kosmo" Kröger (formerly of HERRA YLPPÖ & IHMISET).

Four years ago, Valo teamed up with guitar legend Esa Pulliainen to record an album based on songs by the late, legendary Finnish singer Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki. The self-titled album by VILLE VALO & AGENTS was released in February 2019 and was followed by a short tour.

Photo credit: Juha Mustonen

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