VILLE VALO: 'I'm Really Happy That There Seems To Be People Still Interested In What I Do'

December 7, 2022

HIM mastermind Ville Valo (VV) spoke to Germany's Rock Antenne about his touring plans in support of his debut solo album, "Neon Noir", which will arrive on January 13 via Heartagram Records, distributed by UMG/Spinefarm. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "We're gonna be touring Europe in February and then heading over to North America and, after that, coming back over to Europe, playing a ton of festivals — hopefully. I'm not even sure which ones are confirmed yet. There will be German ones as well, but I'm not sure which ones are 'okayed'; I've only seen tentative schedules. And afterward I'm hoping that the touring will continue until the very end of the year.

"We weren't really a big touring band with HIM," Ville explained. "People had their families and stuff like that, so time-wise, it wasn't a problem but we decided that [we were] not gonna be a really heavy-duty-touring band. And with this new project of mine, I don't have the restrictions, or it's a new thing, so we're trying to play as much as we can with the guys. And we're rehearsing. We just finished rehearsals in Helsinki, and once I'm flying back, we're gonna continue. It's all sounding good. It's exciting — playing the HIM songs and the new songs back to back. It'll be a cool set."

"I'm really happy that there seems to be people still interested in what I do, because that's not a given," Valo added. "And I've been around for quite a bit. HIM weren't doing that much in Europe. We were doing some touring, but the last album we put out was back in 2013, so it's nearly ten years; it's a long, long time. It's quite an amazing thing that people still know my name and are interested in the music and are buying tickets and stuff. I hope they buy the t-shirts too."

Asked if he feels any pressure living up to HIM fans' expectations after being away from the stage for so long, Ville said: "If they're true fans, they know that the most important — well, not the most important thing, but the only thing I can be is the best me. I can sing the songs — the best HIM songs — and do them as well as I can, and I can't do much more. I have a good band playing that, and they sound good, and that's exactly what we'll do. So I'm not worried about expectations. I think the expectations on yourself are always the worst because you wanna be better and you don't wanna mess up. But that's normal. That's about everything that is important in life for you, that gets you the butterflies. And same thing with playing gigs. That's what I've been doing for quite a while, with more or less success. So I've messed up and did a few good shows back in the day too. So I know how a good one feels.

"I have a good feeling about this," he continued. "I'm not worried; I think I'm excited. It's great that there's gonna be hopefully new faces and a lot of familiar faces from the past as well. I think it's beautiful. It's great if music can carry through all those years, and hopefully we can make all the music justice — that's all we can hope.

"I don't like the attitude of, 'Yeah, it's gonna be the best ever,' because a) I'm not American, and b) I'm Finnish," Ville added. "So we don't brag in advance. We brag in the bar completely drunk afterwards. But since I don't drink, that's not gonna happen either. [Laughs]"

Ville has released three singles from "Neon Noir": "The Foreverlost", "Echolocate Your Love", and "Loveletting". The latter marked Ville's 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 "Echolocate Your Love" and "Loveletting", "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".

Regarding the lyrical inspiration for "Neon Noir", Ville told Kerrang! magazine: "I wouldn't call it 'suicidal', but most of the stuff was written during the pandemic, and there weren't many rays of sun hitting me. Everybody was in the mental gutter. Times were tough. This album was the kind of like the lifebuoy for me. It gave me a reason to wake up every morning and work on something else and try to shut the world outside. When I was working on the music, maybe it was selfish to a certain extent, but also it was a matter of survival."

He added: "It seems that mankind needs a bit of a breather from all this shit, myself included. So I tried to put all that frustration onto paper. And if it's love and darkness, and all sorts of things like that, that's probably because it's my vocabulary. Hopefully, the words have been rearranged in a fresh order this time around. But me trying to do something completely different, just because, that doesn't make any sense to me at all."

Back in April, Ville told Metal Hammer that "Loveletting" was one of the more mellow songs on "Neon Noir". Ville said: "I've always been shit with picking singles — I'm always wrong, so I let the label choose that and everybody was smiling when they heard it the first time, so they suggested it. I'm hoping the next one will be a lot more rock 'n' roll, harder hitting."

Regarding the musical direction of "Neon Noir", Ville told Metal Hammer: "The new stuff definitely does sound like HIM. But I did write most of the songs, so… I'm to blame for that. It's a continuous journey from HIM for me. A lot of people when they move on to solo projects want to distance themselves from the past, burn bridges and start their solo career. It's different for me. VV is me building a bridge between HIM and the future. That's what 'Neon Noir' is."

Ville spoke to Spotify about why it has taken him so long to complete "Neon Noir". "Since the pandemic hit, I started working on the album," he explained. "I actually learned how to record — I learned how to record drums and bass and guitar because I wasn't able to get any musicians; I had to do it solo — literally solo. So I'm really sorry but it did take me two and a half years to get the album done. 'Loveletting' is the first single. It's kind of what I normally do — it's a loud love song; it's a very sad and melancholy wistful one, but sort of maybe light at the end of the tunnel which is hopefully not the oncoming train.

"So there's not much new under the sun of VV, but I love it. [Laughs]"

HIM completed a farewell tour in 2017, closing the final chapter on the band's 26-year career.

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).

Three 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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