H.I.M. with FINCH and SKINDRED at Kool Haus (1 Jarvis), Sunday (November 13). All ages, doors 7 pm. $23.50. 416-870-8000.
Listen up, all you insensitive metal heads, it's time to get in touch with your feelings. Lucky for you, Finnish crooner Ville Valo and his band, H.I.M., are leading the way with their unabashed love of schmaltz. "Basically, when we started out, one of the first songs we ever played was Wicked Game, by Chris Isaak. I've always been a sucker for love songs and sentimental music. I'm a big fan of Neil Young, Elvis Presley and Cat Stevens. You know, the singer/songwriter stuff."
Hmm, not exactly tough-guy talk, is it? But don't be fooled goth rockers H.I.M. are still all about bringing the noise. Calling from a hurricane-bashed Ft. Lauderdale amidst fallen palm trees, Valo says he couldn't be more surprised at the band's success in the Americas.
"A lot of our shows have sold out. We never expect too much, because when you do you're easily disappointed. We just go with the flow and try to enjoy the moment."
Fortunately for H.I.M., it looks like they'll have more than a couple of moments to savour. Currently on their third North American tour, they're promoting their latest melancholic opus, Dark Light. Valo is happy with the band's success so far, and he looks at their first proper international release as progress.
"When we went into the studio we wanted to be somewhere in between Black Sabbath and U2, really cinematic and epic, with big singalong choruses, but still keeping the earthiness and melancholy of Sabbath."
But Valo's cheerless "this life ain't worth living" lyrics shouldn't be too surprising considering where they call home.
"This aspect of our music comes from our roots in Finnish traditional music. A lot of that stuff is supposed to be really sad and moody."
Gloomy folk music aside, the band and their fans aren't always into grey skies and doom. Oddly enough, due to a boost from MTV shit disturber and former Jackass star Bam Margera, H.I.M. have enjoyed attention in unexpected circles, including legions of skater kids who stumbled upon them accidentally.
"He's a big fan of our band, so he started using our music in his skate videos. All of a sudden, all the kids who thought of him as their idol started following everything he liked."
It may seem an unlikely marriage: velvet, leather and mascara on H.I.M.'s side and baggy pants and side-cocked ball caps on the other. But Valo reveals H.I.M.'s connection to skating while kicking some lingo.
"I used to be a skateboarder myself but haven't been skating for years. It's so fuckin' hard in Finland, because the winter's so long and summer's so short. I basically quit when the 360-flip olies started to happen, when it got really technical."
Valo and his bandmates won't have much time to practise their skate tricks for a while, since they continue to tour well into the new year. But in the meantime, they're living it up onstage. Valo assures me that "it's all about the smiles when we're playing.
"It's all about contradiction. Life's about dualism anyway, and if you laugh in the face of death, that's the best thing you can do."