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'It's a Perfect Ending': Ville Valo on Signing Off From His 'Neon Noir' Era At The Royal Albert Hall

Tuesday, 07 May 2024 Written by Emma Wilkes

Ville Valo isn’t quite sure what to do with himself. When he speaks to Stereoboard, he’s had his feet in one place – home, specifically — for longer than normal, such is the fast-moving nature of touring life. The ordinariness is unsettling. Should he sing? Should he hoover? Both at once? (The latter is our suggestion, and as he laughs he promises to take note, thinking it could be a good vocal exercise).

The last year has been one of constant motion for the former figurehead of gothic ‘love metal’ legends HIM, a far cry from the isolation of the pandemic. At the top of 2023, he returned with ‘Neon Noir’, his debut solo album under the name VV and the first new music since his band called it quits six years earlier. 

In the following months, the fans who despaired that they’d never hear Buried Alive By Love again had the chance to be proved wrong when Ville headed out on tour, playing not just his new songs but digging out some of HIM’s classics from the archive. “I’m still in the blizzard — I can’t really fathom everything that’s actually been going on,” he admits when asked how it feels to know that ‘Neon Noir’ has been out in the world for over a year now.

Then again, those songs have been part of his life for longer than anyone else’s, comparing the feeling to dog years – the album might be a year old, but its lifespan is in reality far longer. “Everything I’ve been going through has been very positive,” he continues. “I’ve been surprised how happy the audience has been, how hungry for music they seem to have been. Given that I’m an old dog in the business, you can’t take it for granted that people would still be interested in what you do. 

“When you’re my ripe age, if you work on new material you’re sincerely hoping you don’t end up being like the old vintage jukebox in the corner, playing golden oldies. I didn’t know whether people would be attending shows just to hear some of the HIM tracks or whether they’d be interested in the new material, but I’m happily surprised that they all work together, like part of the same lore.”

To his pleasant surprise, Ville has found himself coming face to face with a multigenerational audience. Of course, there will always be HIM fans hungering to see what he would do next, but some he encountered know him for VV first and HIM second. Then again, there’s a sense of freshness about it all anyway, whether he’s playing material that’s one year or 20 years old, particularly as he’s performing the older songs with musicians he has different chemistry with. 

“[Maybe] I’ve not psychologically developed enough as an individual since the mid-90s, but even singing songs that I wrote in maybe ’96, they still feel fresh to me,” he considers. “It’s not about finding something new but it’s more that you are centred at the core of the song. You might sing those things differently today but that’s the beauty of it all. You couldn’t sing them in the way you used to back in the day because your experience is different. I find it all related to each other, the old and the new, and thankfully enough, time in my mind is not linear. It’s more circular. There’s a lot to be learned.”

Nonetheless, the end is nigh for the current album cycle. After a long run on the road, it’ll all be laid to rest in a suitably majestic venue, London’s Royal Albert Hall, on on May 10/ Fittingly, HIM had also looked into the possibility of playing the venue while they were still active as a band, making this into a proper bucket list moment. 

“I think it’s a perfect ending,” says Ville. “I’m a proud Finnish eccentric and there’s a long lineage of Finnish Anglophile eccentrics. Coming from Finland and touring a lot in central Europe, there aren’t a lot of theatres or old, beautiful venues that you can play. When something’s gilded well, we all start drooling. What would be more perfect than playing the Royal Albert Hall as a proper ending?” As excited as he might be, though, he stops before prematurely counting his chickens. “I don’t want to brag about how great it’s going to be before it actually happens, just in case,” he says. “You never know what might happen.”

If that sounds ominous, it pales in comparison to the way this show has been framed. The word ‘ending’ has been a recurring feature in the way Ville has talked about the Royal Albert Hall gig, sparking questions about how final this final show really is. Is it just a goodbye to the ‘Neon Noir’ era? Is he going to step back into the shadows again? Do more years of silence on his part await?

“The sense of impending doom with a smile on your face is what I’m trying to do musically,” he says. “I love the idea that since it is not a band, it is a project with my own initials, there doesn’t have to be a continuation. There’s no one nagging me to get a record done. I love music and I will definitely be involved with making it one way or another. But I’m 47 now, which means I’ve got, what, four good albums in me? I really have to decide which kinds of albums I’m going to be involved in.”

For now, the conclusion of this era is open-ended. In Ville’s mind, that’s a freeing prospect. “I love the fact that I don’t know what’s around the corner. I’m trying to enjoy it as much as HIM’s farewell tour,” he says. “A lot of times, bands have the subliminal pressure that comes from what’s next. There’s a sense of freedom in that there’s no deals to be made, no golden handshakes. It’s a welcome position to be in.”

Ville Valo Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri May 10 2024 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall

Compare & Buy Ville Valo Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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