Watch: Former HIM Frontman VILLE VALO Plays First U.S. Concert Under VV Banner
April 6, 2023
Former HIM frontman Ville Valo played his first solo concert in the U.S. under the VV banner on March 31 at TLA (Theatre For The Living Arts) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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.
Fan-filmed video of the March 31 concert can be seen below (courtesy of the Angel GomezYouTube channel).
VV's debut album, "Neon Noir", was made available on January 13 via Heartagram Records, distributed by UMG/Spinefarm.
In April 2022, 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".
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 2022, 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. 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.
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