13 Calling Cards for Valentines Day
Translation by silverblue6 @ Valo Daily
After their expansive album “Venus Doom” released 2 years ago HIM now turn to a completely different path with “Screamworks ….” The new 13 songs are short and precise but packed with ideas. The songs are very catchy over long passages but have enough twists and turns to make sure not to show the whole picture at once when you listen to them for the first time.
[The first 5 paragraphs refer to Ville’s being sober now and to how he wanted it to sound like. Then about the producer Matt Squire and why the record was recorded in LA. I didn’t translate that cos we’ve read that before in slightly different words.]
The result is an album which is an obvious reaction to the previous one. Not only did they change the metal-parts against more “rock feeling”, you won’t find overflowingly long tracks like on VD on “Screamworks”. “That was a very willful decision” Ville explains. Nowadays the classic single format of the 50ies and 60ies – short, sharp and to the point – has a comeback. I wanted to take part in that because on the one hand it’s a real challenge and on the other hand provides a great scope. I appreciate clear differentiations and in this case it meant that I only had a very short period of time to say what I wanted to say. We haven’t been working like this before – at least not on purpose. Most of the tracks on “Razorblade Romance” were quite short, too, but that didn’t happen intentionally. This time I wanted a Bridge in every song, additionally. Every song is downright packed with musical information. For me that was a challenge comparable to writing a 10 minute song like “Sleepwalking past hope”. The self-imposed scope didn’t only help HIM to define “Screamworks” right from the beginning from “Venus Doom” but it also helped Ville not to lose his way during the songwriting process. “If you approach things to freely you might end up with nothing in your hands”, he ponders.
In a certain way one could describe “Screamworks” as a compilation with brand new songs. To the contrary of the last album which had a beginning, an end and even an interlude in the middle, nearly all songs of the new album are single tracks. You will look in vein for classical album tracks which only serve to draw a bow from A to B. At first, Ville’s seems to be a bit unsure about this point of view, broods some time about it but then agrees hesitantly. “This time it was important for me that each song represents what this band is all about. Each song should be able to serve as a calling card for HIM. If you listen to modern tracks – and I don’t do that very often – you will notice that all of them are extremely packed. We wanted to take the same line without overdoing the songs. That too was something we’d never done before. Maybe that’s why it was so important for us to include all the breaks.
Instead of making songs in the well-tried scheme of verse-chorus-verse this time the first chorus is often a little bit different than the second and the lyrics are also less mimimalistic than in the past. The emerging bridges practically serve as an additional chorus. On Screamworks HIM downright lavish their musical ideas! The Fins now use material for one track that probably would have served as the basis for 3 songs in the past. But it wasn’t only Ville who often thought “that’s not enough, yet, we still need some more!”. Also Matt Squire, the producer, incited the band all the time to keep on refining the songs. The more the musicians worked on the details the easier they managed to enhance the songs with additional ideas. “The question we wanted to answer was: How do we manage to fill each song with as much information as possible without causing a big mess”, Ville recalls.
An interesting question, but what’s the answer? Has the band sometimes gone too far and than had to be satisfied with less, in order not to endanger the coherence of the songs? Ville shakes his head but than admits: “Sometimes we had to cut down the length, that’s why some songs have been shortened. Moreover, some tracks were much more complex before we started working with Matt. Some had a double chorus which we turned down in the end, and even some drum parts were simplified. As I’m a big fan of Dave Grohl we had a lot of crazy beats in the beginning but during preproduction we became aware that the songs would become too chaotic. We still haven’t changed a lot but in the end it was the pretty little changes that made the difference.
But “Screamworks” is not only packed with information, the album is also extremely pacy and energetic and also in this respect the opposite of the previous album. “Our last record had a lot of long instrumental parts which enabled the listener to take a breath and process what they just heard. This time I didn’t want to interrupt the intensity of the album. That’s why even the breaks between the songs are shorter! Nowadays there’s so many people suffering from ADHS that only few give an album a fair chance. That’s why I wanted to grab the listeners and don’t let go, anymore”.
That’s also the reason why the band has changed the order of the songs in the last second. “Ode to Solitude” should have been at the beginning but now “In Venere Veritas” is the opening song of the album and gives an even more direct entry to HIM’s “Screamworks”. We found out that “Ode to Solitude” is a bit to complicated for the beginning of the album. Now the album starts with (sings) “Let’s fall apart together now” – boom! – straightforward rock! That too is something I like a lot because we’ve never done that before. It feels new and exciting to put a song at the beginning of an album which hits you directly in the face instead of putting a strange intro in front of that. I do like that too, but this time we just had a different approach. That’s last but not least thanks to collaoration with Matt.He likes popmusic as much as I do and that’s what made it clear from the start that we wouldn’t try to sound freaky on purpose, just because we like Cathedral. We’ve done that several times in the past. This time we’ve been looking for a sing-along-vibe like “This Corrosion” by the Sisters of Mercy.”
To avoid quenching the rock fireworks HIM are displaying on their album the electronic and thus most unusual track “The Foreboding sense of impeding happiness” had to be the last song on the album, quasi as an Epilog. But this track means more to Ville than a nice, unexpected obscurity. “When I recorded the demo at home, the song only had an acoustic guitar and a harmonium”, he reveals. “I thought it would only be a short interlude of about one minute like “Song or Suicide” on “Venus Doom” , to give the listeners the possibility to breathe. But then a situation occurred that Linde suffered from an infection on his arm. Maybe a spider had bitten him or somehing of that kind, anyway his whole arm was swollen. He had to take antibiotics and wasn’t allowed to play guitar for 4 days. Exactly at that time he should have started to record his guitar parts. To bridge the time gap we started to work on “The Foreboding Sense Of Impeding Happiness”. We had so much fun that we started adding new things all the time and in the end we had a track with that wild 80ies /Electronic/Soundtrack-vibe. When the recording of the album was finished we had the feeling that this song in the middle of the album would change the mood too much. Because in the end the interlude had turned into a real song. Moreover, I liked the idea that this hypnotic, eternally repeating chorus would be on the end of the album. The dopehead in me likes the psychedelic finale in the light of the lava lamp”.
[The next paragraph is about the album title, which we’ve also read before.]
The screams on the album which also gave it it’s name – and there’s a few – seem to be screams of pain at first, but Ville has a different point of view: “My intention was to to substantiate my attitude, to be loud and not restrict myself. It doesn’t always have to be pretty ‘n nice! As I already said we have oriented ourselveson rather on bands like The Cult. Moreover, Matt and I are both fans of the Bad Brains, and that’s why we also have a lot of this rough punky scream’n’shout. That’s why the screaming is not about pain but about letting go and being myself because I often have the tendency to restrict myself. I’m not necessarily the best singer in the world, but I’m able to cover a large spectrum and it was a lot of fun to use that a bit more – sounding a bit like King Diamond. I was really surprised how good that goes along with the music.
The directness of the music also reflects in the lyrics. “It wouldn`t have worked to write vague lyrics for these songs”, Ville thinks. “There’s still some vague, pseudo-poetic parts, but in the end the “nothing-to-lose vibe dominates the whole thing. I have felt very free and tried to be who I am. Without encrypting his statements too much Ville sings of the things that move him which is of course last but not least: love. “I’m scared to death to fall in love” is the main testimony of the 2nd song on the album and that’s the central theme of big parts of the album. “The thought of being able to find luck is in a certain way much more frightening thatn thinking that everything will go down the drain, anyway. I had come to a point when I’d gotten used to all the fatal thoughts and depressive moods that it took much more courage to really grab the chance to happiness. Apart from that it’s a long way, a real struggle, to get there. I haven’t reached that target yet, but I’m fighting my way through because the only alternative is to keep on singing the blues and hiding in loneliness in the corner of a room. I’m not talking of clinical depression now but only of the fact that I had lost faith in myself and in many other things. But then I got to a point when I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, the rainbow…”
At this point the texts for the new album came into being and that’s what makes them so interesting. The record developped while I was standing at a crossroad. That has made them so important for me and makes them something special. I had the chance – even if it was a bit of a sick way – to document my way, while I was walking it. Some lyrics were written the day before I sung them. They are about current situations, not of things that had happened two years ago…[the rest of the paragraph deals with the story of the lady he met when he wrote the songs..]
[The last paragraph is about the release date and the tour. ]
A special thankyou to silverblue6 for tranlsting this long article!