‘Ohmigod!’ Migé Armour laughed enthusiastically as we contemplated the soaring highs and plummeting drops of the Big Dipper at Sydney’s Luna Park. ‘I’ll have to take a spin on it!’
The towering bass player from Finnish rockers H.I.M. had been excited to learn that the venue for the band’s Sydney show, in just a few hours, would be under the Big Top in the old amusement park in the heart of the city, but, he confessed, ‘I’m sure to be dizzy enough that I’ll vomit on the top of it.’
After forming in 1991, and touring since soon after, I guessed that H.I.M. must have seen its fair share of other interesting concert venues in its history. ‘I dare say that we’ve played most of the rock clubs that there are in Europe for bands of our size… But it’s funny. When you tour for a long time, you tend to recognise the venues. You start to remember the backstages of venues in Germany. It’s pretty kinky.’
Migé speaks with a heavy accent, but his English is eloquent and it is easy to get caught up in his tales of touring, but what I really wanted to hear about were the grimy dives and dingy stages H.I.M. had played, the really bad places.
‘Ooh, plenty of bad places,’ Migé recalls, trying to think of examples, before explaining broadly. ‘I think the worst places to play are venues that are nice and neat and not made for music. There are a lot of sports halls that we’ve ended up playing, and cultural events centres, and campuses in the USA, and those are always the hardest venues to transform.’
It seemed an appropriate moment to interrupt with the news that Festival Hall in Melbourne, where H.I.M. were scheduled to perform a couple of nights later, was formerly a boxing arena.
‘A boxing arena is actually different. Believe it or not, boxing and rock music have something in common. I don’t know exactly what it is. Perhaps they are both kind of primitive in their own way. I think the boxing arena will be a pretty good one.’
Before discissions became too philosophical, we moved onto the matter of the tour at hand on the back H.I.M.’s latest release, Venus Doom. Migé promised the appeal of a rock club, even though the band have progressed, at least in this country, to larger venues, two years on from their last visit to our shores. ‘We’re old-school people. We don’t carry anything extra with us. First of all, because we can’t afford it. We’ve always done it so we just play. Whatever gets delivered gets delivered through the music.’
I mentioned that frontman Ville Valo seemed to be a charismatic personality live, and wondered if he presented competition for spotlight for the rest of the band. ‘Ooh, I wouldn’t say so,’ Migé dealt with this particular matter swiftly and diplomatically. ‘Maybe chicks dig Ville, and that’s a very good thing for a band. You have to have a very charismatic or exquisite front-man. Fortunately, or unfortunately.’ And, true to his word, Migé, Ville, and the rest of the band put on a show to remember.
Venus Doom by H.I.M. is out now. The Digital Versatile Doom DVD is out this month.
From Buzz Magazine, April 2008.