HIM Frontman Sounds Off On Illegal Music Downloading

February 12, 2010

Bryan Reesman of Attention Deficit Delirium recently conducted an interview with vocalist Ville Valo of Finnish "love" metallers HIM. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Attention Deficit Delirium: HIM has an established style with specific elements that resonate with your fans. How hard is it for you to reinvent yourself on every album?

Valo: To be honest with you, I don't think that it is a conscious decision of trying to change. I think every two years, whenever I start working on a new album, I write from a different perspective. You have a different angle towards the same things because of all of the mistakes you've made and the lessons learned. I think it happens very naturally and very organically. It's not like we did this kind of an album and now we need to make this kind of album. You never really know until you're done how an album's going to sound, so there's no way of trying to think about it too much before it actually has happened because that easily kills the buzz and the magic that happens in the studio. It's easy to lock into your framework. It's good to have an overall idea of what the album might sound like, but then again just let it go.

Attention Deficit Delirium: I found a YouTube video some fans made upon meeting you at their motel. Do you find it disarming that your life can be broadcast all across the globe, and the things you don't even remember end up online? Is it kind of strange?

Valo: Yeah, but I don't think about it. It's also very strange when you play a gig nowadays since you can't smoke any more. People hold up their cell phones as their lighters, and a lot of people don't even party on the way to the gig because they're shooting everything on their iPhone. It's weird that they buy the tickets for the gig of a band that they might like, and then they actually spend the whole evening shooting crappy quality video to put be able to put that on YouTube.

Attention Deficit Delirium: Do you think that rock 'n roll has lost its edge that way?

Valo: I think the fans have lost their edge. [laughs] I think that rock 'n roll is like stars in cinema. They're dead for ten years, and then they come back again. There's this resurrection type of thing going on. There are a few big, good rock acts, but there's nothing super, super new and exciting that I would've heard, so I think it will be time soon. There will be something like a new MARILYN MANSON happening, like a phenomenon. There has to be.

Attention Deficit Delirium: How has HIM been affected by the downloading problem and coping with the fact that albums have not been selling so well?

Valo: Somebody told me that nowadays selling 100,000 records over in the U.S. is the same as selling 1,000,000 records in the Eighties. So I guess we're just poor. But then again, it's a good thing in a way because these days it is not the wisest decision to want to become a musician so you can become rich. Maybe it takes a lot of posers out, and those posers can go somewhere else in search of the monetary goods. Fast cars and all that stuff. I think a lot of people who really want to do music for the sake of music, they are in it. They don't have a choice anyway. But the only problem I see there is the fact that nowadays all bands are touring a lot, and touring is going down. All the bands are touring because the albums are not selling, and so bands are not really making a living out of it, which means that if the trend continues then a lot of bands should go on strike. I say let's have the whole world tour free for a year and see if it changes anything. It's a silly idea because that's how we make our living, so it would be commercial suicide, but just as a hypothetical thought or theoretical idea it's interesting because I don't think that music is so expensive now. Especially the fact you don't have to buy a whole album. Now you can finally buy one or two songs off of an album. I know that the economy is crazy all over the world, but $.99 for a song that can be an essential soundtrack to or an important event in your lifeā€¦it's kind of sad that people use poor-quality MP3s on 128 kilobits per second to have that as the soundtrack. It's like a lesser quality soundtrack to life. But at the end of the day everything is binary when it comes to music. We record everything on super hi-fi whatever on Pro Tools, and then it is compressed to 16 bits per CD and even lower for MP3s. Whether it be BLACK SABBATH or HIM or CHRISTINA AGUILERA, it's just ones and zeros. It's kind of weird. But I do think that it would be nice if people would appreciate music more, that they don't download a ton of stuff and just throw it away. It's like a kid locked in a candy store where he can actually eat everything as opposed to looking at stuff. It easily kills the buzz. A bit older fellows like me can remember the days when we had a date when an album was coming out, and we waited at the door when the shop was opening up to be able to get a copy of that album. That kind of excitement is more or less gone, but then you can spread the word like wildfire through MySpace [and other sites]. I'm a bit too old-school for that, but I do understand its value and its humongous impact. But I wouldn't mind being richer.

Read the entire interview at Attention Deficit Delirium.

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