HIM is dead: Ville Valo's final interview ever
Here, for the first and only time, Ville Valo reveals why HIM have chosen to go out with a with a bang after 26 years, and why some things are best left to die
It’s mid-afternoon on a Monday in October and all eyes in the country are turned towards the sky. Hurricane Ophelia, one of the most colossal and potentially violent weather systems to emerge in these parts for 30 years, is slowly, inexorably amassing power above the UK with one peculiar side-effect. Vast amounts of desert sand suctioned up from the Sahara has intermingled with the low-flying clouds to turn the sky a deep orange, and – as confirmed by tens of thousands of pictures appearing on social media – the sun is currently blood red. We’ve been assured that Hell hasn’t opened, but it’s as if someone’s added an Apocalypse filter to the UK and it’s hard not to imagine that if the world really was going up in flames it might look just a little bit like this – and with everyone Instagramming it as it happens.
It’s a fitting scene, because at this very moment at Murder Mile Studios, deep in the bowels of Walthamstow in East London, there’s a world that really is coming to an end. Photographer John McMurtrie is currently taking what could be Metal Hammer magazine’s last ever pictures of Ville Hermanni Valo: a man who, as the founding frontman, visionary and creative force behind His Infernal Majesty, has graced these pages more times than this 31-year-old publication could easily count. To say he’s been a giant in our world would be understating the case, because nearly 20 years to the day that HIM’s debut arose out of the Finnish rock scene and went platinum there, Ville Valo has proved himself more than a mere musician. The wry gloom of his outlook and his flair for a dramatic turn of phrase have established him as a formidable songwriter, but it’s his inimitably gothic style, his comfort with the lens, the studied way in which he expresses himself – his personification of the Heartagram – that have long since established him as one of his generation’s last, true icons. If HIM have endured then it’s because the man at the helm hasn’t just captured hearts and imaginations the world over. It’s because he’s interesting. It’s because Ville Valo is an original.
And then there’s the music: heavy as wrought- iron, unabashedly romantic, and resolutely Sabbathian while embracing the poppier sensibilities and emotional earnestness of the 80s goth movement, HIM didn’t just record songs; they built a world around themselves which Ville has presided over for a staggering 26 years. Now, like an indifferent god, he wants nothing more to do with it.