HIM Channel Duran Duran, Depeche Mode on New Album
HIM lead singer Ville Valo is admittedly miserable yet hopeful. ‘Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice,’ which will be released by Sire Records on Feb. 9, is nearly wrapped up and he’s gearing up for the buzz kill. “We’re still working on bits and bobs in the cover artwork,” Valo told Noisecreep. “Basically this week all the different editions of the album are going to go in the printing plant, and I can take a deep breath and start suffering from post-partum depression.
“The post-partum depression happens in small bits and bobs. It starts to happen when you write a song, when you let go of that song, when you get the song produced and get it mixed. It’s been a long trip to get everything done. It’s all starting to take shape and I’m really happy for it.”
‘Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice’ is the Finnish rock band’s seventh studio album and the follow-up to 2007’s ‘Venus Doom,’ which debuted at 12 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Boxed/Special Limited Edition Packaging. For the forthcoming album, Valo said he channeled his inner 1980s music fan to gauge its vibe.
“Musically, the whole vibe of the album, I don’t know why, but I was in the mood and the mode of trying to find the fine line between let’s say Duran Duran and the Cult,” Valo said. “I wanted to get in the gayer aspects of the synth-pop era; ‘gay’ in the most positive sense of the word.
“Given that combined with more masculine, balls-to-the-walls more macho rock ‘n’ roll type of stuff. So I tend to call it melancholy levity, kind of what Depeche Mode have in their stuff. Their stuff is really sad, but you can’t stop dancing to them. It’ll make you want to shake your bum even though they are very fragile and melancholy. That’s what we’re going for — and [the first single] ‘Heartkiller’ is a good example of it. Lyrically for me, it’s about me being inside, being a hermit and being a person that has lost most of his hope and any positivity in the future. It’s about me kicking the door open and not to be afraid to take the risks to hopefully find yourself in a better place — whatever what it takes. Occasionally it hurts to get there.”
As with other HIM albums, Valo and his band — Mige (bass), Linde (guitar), Burton (keyboards) and Gas (drums) — experimented in different sounds during the recording process.
“I think that’s what bands should do in the studio,” Valo said. “You have to play around. If you keep on repeating what you’ve done in the past, that doesn’t lead you anywhere. It leads us because we’re still trying to look for the perfect marriage between heaven and hell — the harder rock aspects, the Black Sabbath thing, which we grew up with, and the Roy Orbison thing that I grew up with, too, the whole singer-songwriter kind of vibe.”
Perhaps the biggest experiment on ‘Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice’ was the use of an American producer, Matt Squire (Taking Back Sunday, the Used, Saosin) and mixer Neal Avron (Linkin Park, Weezer, Fall Out Boy).
“We hadn’t done that in the past,” Valo said. “We’ve done stuff in America, but we’ve always been working with English producers or Finnish producers. Working with Matt Squire — I don’t want to call it an experiment — it was a big leap for us in a positive sense. Matt is a great guy. We’re the same age, so we had a lot of the same reference points when it comes to music.
“It was really easy for us to discuss sounds, and we weren’t afraid to admit the fact that we love ‘Top Gun’ and we grew up watching ‘Knight Rider.’ We wanted to use that kind of sound on the album — the ’80s stuff, especially in the sense of Kraftwerk, really even Limahl and a-ha at times.
“It’s a cool contrast within the melancholy vibe of the songs. It hopefully gives it the levity it needs, otherwise, a melancholy song, such as ‘Heartkiller’ could sound morbid or morose. We didn’t want that to happen. It was kind of like a balancing act between the darker aspects or leaning musically toward the more gothic aspects of music, and the more poppier and lighter, direct in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll attitude.”