HIM frontman Ville Valo says that "accessibility was a key factor" in making the Finnish hard rockers' seventh studio album, "Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice," which is due out Feb. 9.
Acknowledging that the 13-song set is the group's most "straightforward" and hook-filled release yet, Valo tells Billboard.com that he wanted "Screamworks" to "kind of have the similar vibe as Depeche Mode's classic albums such as 'Violator' and 'Songs of Faith and Devotion' -- brooding, melancholy albums but they still make you want to dance. The big picture production view I had was to have the rock in there so you could drink a beer and do all things legal and illegal but then hopefully have that more poetic and sensitive sensibility in there as well."
Valo, however, might not be hoisting his own glass while listening to the album. "I quit drinking -- not for good but for awhile -- about two and a half years ago," he says. "This is the first album I wrote fully sober, and I wanted to put all the energy I used to put into hanging out in pubs into working on the music. So it was pretty insane, working 18-hour days for the past year, year and a half. We really went for all those details and didn't leave any stone unturned. Hopefully it shows."
Valo and his HIM mates recorded "Screamworks" in Los Angeles with producer Matt Squire, and he says the locale helped keep him healthy as well.
"Since I don't drive," Valo explains, "I was walking to the studio or walking to the house where the rest of the guys were staying, walking five miles everyday, enjoying the sun. Normally I don't do that. I even got a bit of a tan, and people were surprised. But I was in good shape, getting rid of all the excess flab of doing nothing back home."
Valo says the long walks also allowed him to immerse himself in the sounds of Jane's Addiction and new French house music artists. Other influences on "Screamworks" included Duran Duran, Kraftwerk, a-ha and Pink Floyd's "On the Run." "In the past we used synthesizers to emulate real instruments -- piano and strings and all that," Valo notes. "This time we wanted all the synths to sound like synths. It's a pretty 80s album for us, but I grew up in the 80s and I love the 80s because the 80s, musically, was about melody and huge choruses. That's very essential for me."
HIM will start touring in mid-February, according to Valo, with showcase dates in Europe and followed by a run on the Soundwave tour in Australia with Jane's Addiction and Faith No More. HIM will then tour the U.K. and hit North America for a lengthy tour starting in mid-March. HIM also plans to play the European festival circuit this summer.