Making the first album
HIM made their first album "Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666" in 15 days. Before going to the studio they practiced really hard, but suddenly they realized, that there weren't enough songs.
HIM started to record their first album in summer of '97. In spring and summer there was time to practice hard, when they didn't have gigs usually in week time. So they were focusing completely to recording album and making songs. Ville Valo confesses, that thank god they didn't go to make this album earlier. Band weren't ready for that then.
The problem was that Ville was slow songwriter and that's why band had only 8 songs ready for the album. Linde wrote together with Ville record's opening "For You" and also "Our Diabolikal Rapture". Those 2 songs are the only ones, which Linde has been making for HIM so far.
Songs' bases recorded mostly in "Young people" record studio in Munkkiniemi. After that the guys went to make the vocal parts, keyboard parts and other stuff to "Jokela". The recording took 15 days.
Because HIM's studio experience were almost zero, whole band was totally lost. Anyone didn't have any clue, what kind the end result would be. Recorder & producer was Hiili Hiilesmaa who had to help HIM during the whole session. Hiili mixed tapes to their final result in Finnvox studios less than one-week time.
"The playing parts were clear when we went to the studio, but everything extras we had to think together with Hiili, - Ville tells. - Keyboard parts and also guitar parts were clear but we didn't know how to put them into effect. We needed Hiili for that".
In the grace of your love I writhe in pain.
"We were so afraid, that Hiili would like to try too much and that record would become too insane. But when you listen to the record afterwards, everything went just right. Hiili was completely right with his crazy doctor method. <…> Hiili has actually built the HIM style. That time he was the 6th member of HIM. But before the studio he didn't interfere to our songs. The studio thing was his business".
HIM debut album picked 2 songs, which were released already in band's EP "666 Ways to Love: Prologue". The first songs were recorded now again. One of them was, of course, "Wicked Game". HIM had made already the 3rd studio version. The first version was the demo version and the second one was on the EP. Later HIM came one more time to make new version of "Wicked Game" with John Fryer to "Razorblade Romance" international CD.
"The Heartless" was another song from EP. A new version was made in studio for the album. On EP "The Heartless" was a 7-minute long progressive heavy thing. The band thought, that basically this good song should made a bit more simple and more poppy. "The Heartless" has recorded for an album without guitars, became softer in a good way for giving contrast to the rest material of the album.
"A bit trivia of recording. I played first guitar on "The Beginning of The End", 'cause Linde wasn't here then, - Ville tells. - It was made in "Jokela" with the most shitty amplifier. We wanted to make that completely shitty sound played in a shitty way, and Linde would have been too good for that. So that's why I showed my skills".
On the debut album Ville got a chance to show his writer skills. Lots of this same love & death symbolic came there. Ville says today, that he doesn't even remember his feelings that record time which he tried to put into the lyrics.
"It might be really conflicting feelings. I was trying to make lyrics with that method that I could feel different way every night singing those songs, even though I can always stand behind my words. So they aren't in a same way stories like Bruce Bringsteen's, that Leena goes to Ikaalinen (place in Finland) and midnight's worm comes.
'Cause of this first record I started to find that way to use cliches without sorrow. I don't know how being so young I could write lyrics for "For You". The sentence "In the grace of your love I writhe in pain" is so damn beautiful. That record is a lot more serious than our stuff nowadays. I guess I was then a bit serious. I thought we were doing fucking cool art or something, and afterwards I realized that perhaps it's not like that. I have to be serious and make lots of work, but you have to have self-irony also. And there wasn't that much self-irony in our first album.
Usually there are some songs on the record, which are important to yourself, which gives the atmosphere to the whole record. In this record "Wicked Game" is my personal favourite, "For You" is the one, "Our Diabolikal Rapture" & "When Love And Death Embrace" as well. "The Beginning of the End", "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and "The Heartless" are that kind of "record songs". They're not so important for me, even though I like them a lot and they have been important when they have been made. Nowadays they don't stir you anymore".
When HIM got their first album ready, they realized that record's length was only 32 minutes.
"We were thinking, that what the fuck we are going to do now. Slayer's "Reign In Blood" album's length is less than Ѕ hours, but of course HIM's record was a way too short. Then we remembered that Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" was good in the band's first demo, even though it was never published. So we put it to the end of record. As it lasted 7 minutes we got the whole album's length to 40 minutes, what was enough. "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is a really minor melancholic song in the same way like "Wicked Game", - Ville says. -There is that love and death symbolic, some kind of Romeo and Juliet theme. That's why when we were making demo I got an idea to make it with someone.
June Hyde came to sing the duet, the same girl who screamed also in the beginning of "The Heartless" on the first EP. June is a good-old schoolmate, she has lived in the same block where I lived with my parents right from the first class. Her dad is English and mom is Finnish so that's why she speaks really great English. She is an old crush from elementary school. We went even to the same Junior High school and to the same class. She started to date with Linde and they were together for 6 years. If I don't remember wrong Linde didn't want June to the studio, 'cause they just broke up and he didn't want to be there when June sang".
Translated by MaYu