Finnish charts heroes in moods of change?
Surely we don´ t have to lose too many words concerning HIM. Meanwhile this show – piece of Finnish music scene is widely known enough. No matter if in the underground or in the mainstream. But it´ s exactly that point, which makes the whole thing so interesting to us. That´ s why we took our chance at the 3rd of April, 2004 in Cologne´ s concert hall Palladium to have a talk to Migé, HIM´ s bass player, mainly about the band´ s musical development. One thing´ s for sure: Nothing remains the same, when a band develops from underground to mainstream. This got obvious, as we tried to get an interview. But the friendly promotional team really did everything to lend some time to each curious reporter team. So here are the results of 20 compact minutes of our interview…
Okay, I think you have had so many interviews today…
“Not so many, no, no, no.”
They told me of about ten interviews today.
Okay, nevertheless I will try to concentrate on questions you haven´ t been asked a hundred times before.
“That´ s a good idea by the way. That´ s the only way for journalists to run their pages.”
Okay, at least we will try.
“I have a conscious that you will succeed.”
First of all: How was the tour so far? How has the feedback of the fans been like, do they like the new stuff?
“Actually we didn´ t get any feedback. We´ re pretty isolated on tour. We don´ t check internet, we don´ t get any e – mails. Some of the gigs have been really good and some of them haven´ t been so good.”
So have there been problems or has everything been fine?
“In this band there is always trouble. There is always some ridiculous fucking trouble all the time. But I do believe that this happens to every band who does this for a living. Basically if you put all your afford in a band, there will always be problems.”
Do you think the fans like the new stuff you play or do you think they prefer the older songs?
“Well, we are in a lucky situation because the “razorblade romance” album had a really big impact on people, when it came out. So I think it was a good time for this band. We were young and we were enthusiastic. People remember those days. In a way this new stuff is as good as that. But they long for the past. That´ s the way human mind works. We long for the past as well, from time to time. But it doesn´ t mean everything changes. The new stuff is more mature, sophisticated, more real in a way.”
How did you get the idea to tour together with Zeraphine and why? I think they are playing a different style of music than you do. And usually they make bands tour together, that are similar and that might attract the same kind of people. And there was this story that some of you have been friends with the guys of Zeraphine for some time and that you lost a bet, because of which you had to give some time of your studio work to them, so that they could finish their latest album “traumaworld”.
“O, yeah. Can be. I don´ t know about those things. That´ s probably true, yeah. Personally I don´ t know them. I only met them on this tour. They have been familiar with us. We have some friends in common. We trust in those people, we know them well. And they are really nice guys. I don´ t really care what kind of music the support band plays. For me it´ s the same. But it´ s nicer if they are nice guys.”
I know that some of your band members are great fans of Black Sabbath. You were supposed to tour with Ozzy Osbourne last fall, but this tour was postponed three times and finally cancelled. Were you very disappointed? How did you feel about that?
“Yeah, I have to say I´ m one of those Black Sabbath fans. I have to say it was really sad, because it would have been great. It would have been kind of the end of a chapter. But maybe it´ s better not to end this chapter.”
Do you see a chance to make up for it? To still tour with Ozzy one day? Or do you say this chapter is finished forever?
“I hope that we will! I think he´ s gonna perform as long as he lives. I think he´ s gonna live for a few years longer. Definitely I would be proud to tour with him. But you never know. He´ s a great guy. A big idol of mine.”
Concerning your musical development: I always found it quite astonishing, that there is such a mixed crowd at your concerts, because there are some kind of alternative rockers, metal people and lots of gothics. At least that´ s what I thought up to now. Because while waiting outside, I only saw black…I don´ t know, if these people maybe understood something wrong, or…No, that´ s not the right expression…
“Yeah, yeah. I know, what you mean. Difficult to understand. When we started six or seven years ago, we used to be a lot more influenced by the gothic scene. And the gothic scene is really like…enthusiastic, you know – like underground scences usually are. And people who are part of that scene usually are quite faithful. Even though our music is not gothic music. It´ s not gothic at all anymore. They tend to be faithful to the bands that they follow. It´ s really flattering, that´ s what makes me happy. These people keep following us and that´ s good.”
Okay, that was one point I didn´ t understand. I can understand, if they followed you in your beginnings, but it seemed to me quite unusual right now.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. It is quite unusual.”
So you can be proud of that.
“Yeah, I´ m happy with that. Because we didn´ t change. We changed style, and we even changed music a little bit.”
And what kind of people would you like to attract with your shows?
“Just pure human beings.”
So no special scene?
“No, that´ s like marketing, that´ s terrible. Nowadays it´ s horrible when people start to think about their target, their marketing, their music.”
So, talking about marketing: Is there any marketing gimmick behind your music? Up to which point do you represent yourselves and from which point on is there the marketing and the management who say: Keep this and that so that you will attract that kind of people?
“We are in a lucky situation. We were like quite successful and we still are. So we can basically just give them something to sell. But it´ s more difficult for a band who just starts. When we started, there were like speakers and people who told us everything. That´ s like terrible. You never should give advice to a band. Not like: You shouldn´ t wear that and maybe you shouldn ´t look like that. Make your albums like this. But you can´ t go on listening to orders, impossible.”
Looking at all of your albums, you started quite hard from gothic roots or whatever to a more rock ´n roll – like style. The new album – to my impression – is just that you´ re trying to go “back to the roots”. Is that true? Did you want to move away from this “gothic label”? It´ s in a way as hard as the older stuff, but the atmosphere has changed. It´ s not that dark and melancholic anymore. Well, it still is, but in a different way, somehow. It´ s still you and you can see the development. But it´ s still different. So do you think that this was a conscious development or was it just naturally going that way?
“Sometimes bands have this illusion, that they have something like a conscious development. But this thing – to my mind – doesn´ t exist. It just always goes that way. It´ s impossible to say: Okay, now probably we will go to studio next autumn and we´ re going to record an album like this.”
So it just develops…
“Yeah, it just develops. You listen to your music…”
Concerning this development there is another thing I find quite interesting. There are very many bands coming from Finland who sound quite similar to your “original sound” when you started, like Charon, To/ Die/ For, Entwine and so on. What do you think about that development? I think people in Germany only got to know them after your success. Did they see themselves encouraged by you?
“Well it´ s the old story, you know. If a fisherman goes to the Atlantic ocean and fishes tons of salmons which he sells, he comes back as a rich man. So everybody wants to be a fisherman. You know, what I mean. And there is nothing wrong with that. You know: Led Zeppelin were very successful and we wanted to be like that. Usually they are actually really nice guys. Musically I don´ t care about the other things.”
So let´ s return to your music. You recently covered “solitary man”, originally by Neil Diamond. The original version has been covered by Johnny Cash and Chris Isaac as well.
“Yeah, very strange.”
Are you a fan of both? Or who of them was your motivation to do a cover version? You really can´ t compare HIM to Chris Isaak…
“Yeah, I know. We only heard after we made the version, that Chris Isaak made it. We actually started with Johny Cash. I don´ t like Johnny Cash so much. I like the “American Recordings”. They were the fantastic recordings. But this country stuff is bullshit. You know, it´ s like crap. Like racist crap music. Don´ t dig it. But these “American recordings” they got some edge. And this version of solitary man is really good. Really a fantastic version of the song.”
So this version was the one which brought you the idea to try a cover version?
Returning to Black Sabbath as one of your musical influences: I think this influence is more obvious when you listen to Daniel Lioneye, your sideproject. Because it sounds more like this Rock ´n Roll style, you always point out to be a fan of. What happened to that? Are there any new plans for…
“(laughing) for Daniel Lioneye…It´ s terribly hard for Linde to be a singer and a songwriter. He´ s definitely more like a guitar player. We really enjoyed the play for Daniel Lioneye for us as the musicians. Because nowadays playing retro stuff like that is a very stupid idea. To me as a big lover of retro music like Black Sabbath´ s and also stoner rock lover it´ s a pleasure to play that stuff. But it´ s been done already so many, many times. I don´ t wanna, you know…”
So you don´ t want to repeat.
“Repeat, yeah. You know: I don´ t want to spent my life playing in a Daniel Lioneye band, because it doesn´ t really bring in so much new. You have to keep looking for new things and you have to develop something that is original.”
What are your plans for the future? I mean, you just released a best of album… Yeah, there was this rumour, that you want to retire for some time and that Ville planned a solo album or something like that.
“Well, that´ s Ville´ s plan, yes. But I am gonna turn 30 now, next December. I have to make up my mind. Maybe I should retire. Do something else…”
So you really think about doing so?
“Oh, in recent days I have thought about it, yes.”
Just you or all of you?
“I can´ t speak for other people.”
Just taking a break or breaking up totally?
“Eerm, (pause) Probably just a break and then we will keep up doing it. I had these thoughts also before. But this was the time when we didn´ t have a record deal. And now we made a compilation album. This is the natural point to start thinking: Do you really wanna do it or not?”
Many hardcore fans say that they can´ t stand you playing songs you perform at each concert, like “join me” and so on. Do you think it sucks from time to time to perform the same songs again and again?
“It shouldn´ t be. Music is always different. Every time you perform, there is something new. I have to believe that. Otherwise I would go insane. Because that´ s the purpose of my life. I´ m not a great speaker.”
So is there any point in your contracts, saying that you have to perform these songs every night?
“No, it shouldn´ t affect. It shouldn´ t affect. You know, all the songs are stories about your life. And your life goes on. They never grow old. Some feelings, they always return to you, one way or the other. That´ s the way the song should come.”
One question concerning your shows: As your musical influences are Black Sabbath, Kiss and so on, and those bands have big stage performances, pyrotechnics and stuff, do you intend some certain show for your band?
“I never like gimmicks in music. For me it´ s always like amusement. When I go to have a laugh, I go to see King Diamond. It´ s fine, but it´ s not why I started to make music. But it´ s part of the scene and that´ s wonderful.”
I just heard, that we have to find an end somehow…
“No, I´ m not in a rush, if you have questions to ask.”
There are many fans, who want to know if you ever come to tour in Japan, South America, Australia and so on.
“I don´ t know. We go to U.S. now. So we´ re going to tour in America for a while. Let´ s see what´ s going on there. That´ s enough for now. We don´ t have time really, this band is not really fit for touring. Not as fit as Iron Maiden, at least. They tour for two years.”
So no plans yet?
“No plans. The plan is to go to U.S. If it goes okay over there – and it takes some time, because it´ s a big place – maybe. It´ s better to do one gig properly than to go to a million places and play some random gigs, that are badly promoted. It´ s better to concentrate on one place. And then we´ ll rule the world one day.”
Even as our time was short, we got to know Migé as a very professional working, always friendly and openly talking guy, who didn ´t show the stress, such a marathon of interviews and tour bring in. Even as there may be different opinions on HIM´ s musical development: It´ s not a surprise, when you see this professional attitude. When the band manages, not to break down under the pressure, that´ s laid upon them, Mig´ s aim “to rule the world one day” might even not be that far away…
Daniela Fritsch/ Visions Underground