HIM goes on after existential crisis 

click to enlarge The title of HIM’s latest album “Tears on Tape” refers to band leader Ville Valo’s emotional reaction to listening to his favorite artists. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • The title of HIM’s latest album “Tears on Tape” refers to band leader Ville Valo’s emotional reaction to listening to his favorite artists.

Decadent Finnish rocker Ville Valo has never gone in for self-analysis. Always moving so fast with his Goth-metal outfit HIM, he barely has noticed the nearly two decades flying by since its formation.

But for the band’s melodic new CD “Tears on Tape,” he was forced to stop and take serious stock, because a nerve-damaging hand injury sidelined his drummer Gas, and the group, for more than eight months.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to make another album, or if the band itself would even continue to exist,” he says. “So it made everybody sit back and reflect on how much the band means to each individual — it was a real existential crisis.”

Gas (Mika Karppinen) recovered. HIM hits The City tonight, debuting suitably Wagnerian new numbers like “Drawn & Quartered,” “All Lips go Blue” and the title track, a reference to the powerful emotions that Valo’s favorite artists — from Black Sabbath to Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison — historically captured in the studio.

“It’s a hats-off to our idols and the musical milestones that made me want to do what I do, made the band do what they do, and kind of got us all together,” he says. “So this was the first time I was actually able to reflect on what the hell just happened in these past 18, 19 years.”

Valo hadn’t been drinking in ages. He started again while his drummer consulted specialist after specialist; in vino veritas, he believed.

Finally looking back on his catalog — from 1997’s “Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666” to the 2003 breakthrough “Love Metal,” emblazoned with the singer’s signature “heartagram” (a heart-shaped pentagram logo that launched an entire line of popular merchandise) — he was proud of 90 percent of it.

“It’s impossible not to make mistakes,” he says. “But making mistakes is very necessary for one to get to know himself better and grow up as a human being.”

The singer had help sorting through his deep thoughts. “I’ve been sharing my home with a female for the past year or so, and that’s a lovely change — there are other things to do as well as just ruminate and be utterly depressed,” he says.

He adds, laughing, “Well, ‘girlfriend’ just sounds so tacky. But a lot of positive stuff happened in my personal life that helped me get through all the stress with the band.”

Valo has concluded that HIM has been of paramount importance. “It’s what I’ve been doing all my life,” he says. “So I’m really happy that we were actually able to pull ourselves together and create an album like this. Girlfriends or not.”

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Tom Lanham

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