Razorblade Romances

Synnin Viemaa

An Essay
News and Gossip
Synnin Viemaa

Ville Hermanni Valo was born in Helsinki on November 22, 1976. During his childhood and teenage years he lived in the suburb Oulunkylä. His family is composed of his father Kari, his mother Anita and his seven years younger brother Jesse, who is a keen amateur of Thai Boxing.
" The hard-on at the Kesoil gas station in Oulunkylä is one of the first things from my childhood which I can remember " says Ville Valo. " I have no recollection of my birth at all. I think I was born at Kätilöopisto hospital, or in any case somewhere in Helsinki. During the first months of my life my family lived in the old part of Valilla, with it's old houses made of wood, then we moved to Oulunkylä, where I lived for the next seventeen years, in a perfectly normal three room flat in a high rise. Then we moved again. I went to school in Oulunkylä.
My childhood was pretty normal. My father used to potter about old cars and my mum has had the same job for 20 years running. They are normal working class people. When I was little, we used to have a lot of pets. We had a dog, who taught me how to walk. His name was Sami. When he died, it was a traumatic experience for me, and I developed allergies and asthma. I am sure this is psycho-somatic, at least I think so. We also had some gold fish, a turtle and all kinds of other animals.

I have never quite understood the guys who say they keep images in their minds from their childhood, like when they were toddlers. Well, I can't remember any of those things. I was only told a lot of stories.
There was this friend of the family, who's name is Jallu, who was and still is a fucking good Elvis imitator. The first "musical" souvenir that my parents recall about me, is from a family party we once had, when around midnight Jallu started to play Are you Lonesome Tonight. In my jumper, I scrambled on all fours to the record rack where the bongos stood, and started drumming in rhythm to the Elvis song. At that moment my parents thought: this was one is going to be a musician.
My first childhood horror souvenir also has to do with Jallu, or rather with his son. Jallu's son was an Iron Maiden fanatic, and at that time I was still very small, just about 4, when I went into his room. It was evening and dark and his room was full of Iron Maiden posters with the Eddie monster and other gloomy stuff. I got scared shitless and ran away. Maybe, even today, I'm still a little afraid of Eddie, just a tiny bit. I had to get over my fear so I could later get to like Iron Maiden.

How old was I, that time at the Oulunkylä gas station where my dad was fixing his car, together with some other guys? Anyway, I was still real small, you could have crushed me with your little finger. At the gas station I saw my first pin-up calendar and instantly got a hard-on. That's really one of my first childhood memories.
On those car repair evenings I mostly amused myself by stuffing nails into the exhaust of my Dad's old Cadillac or Ford. If ever my dad had started the car at such a moment, a lot of people standing behind it, would have gotten killed.
At that time, dad was a taxi driver and used to listen to all kinds of music. Hiski Salomaa, Tuomari Nurmio, Tapio Rautavaara - typical Finnish traditional stuff, no pop music, just old country music and normal songs. A lot of Helismaa and J.J. Cale. Maybe some Elvis, too, from time to time. I still keep my parents' old records: the Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens, some Reggae samplers, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley. Most of those records are o.k. Thank god my parents were no Finnish pop music fans. We already have one Danny (a famous Finnish pop singer) in the band, that's enough! My mum tells that when I was a baby and started to cry, my father used to play the song Paratiisi from Rauli Badding Somerjoki. Then he put me on his lap and started dancing. And I stopped crying.

I think all boys are a pain in the ass when they are kids. I can't really remember any stuff from when I was a baby but at school they used to move me from one class to another. I got into fights with boys bigger than myself and tried to play the leading tough guy. I was hyper active and around the age of seven they made me do all kinds of tests, like fixing wires to my head, to capture magnetic signals. But in the end the doctors didn't find anything and I got a special permission to draw in class, because otherwise I wouldn't sit still. I wasn't really bad, just a bit wild. Apart from that nothing special really happened during my school years. Somehow I managed to keep all the hatred and frustrations bottled up inside. There was also some trouble with teenage gangs in my neighborhood. There was the Oulunkylä gang and the gang from the Patola suburb. But I really sailed through all that and my grades at school were quite decent.
In Junior High Maths were almost my favorite. But at first Maths and a teacher named Ekki Falk were a real problem for me. He was really severe. He used to call me to the blackboard to question and to make a fool out of me. At one point, I was fed up with it and I decided I just had to learn the stuff. I invested a lot of time into Maths, and from then on I got straight A's. From then on, I got along well with the teacher and with myself too. At school, Drawing, Music and History were cool subjects. But altogether I think school is a waste of time, except for elementary school where you learn to read and to write, which is important. But school itself has no function. School should only be attended when one is ready to learn something. Like for example when you are thirty and really willing to study. School is just a necessary evil for all young people and everybody just hates it. You learn it all by heart without getting to the real meaning of things.
After Junior High I went to Evening school in Käpylä. I went there a year and a half, and then I stopped because I just couldn't take it anymore. I did not have enough discipline to continue. I was still living with my parents and never quite made it to school. The bus ride was too long. The guitar player Petri Valli of the former Kingston Wall Band was in my English class at the Evening school in Käpylä.

When I was younger I used to draw a lot and went for quite a while to Art school. But then gradually music took all of my time. In 1984, I was 8 years old and listened to Animalize from Kiss. This was the very first record I ever bought. I can thank my cousin Pia for that. I had saved enough pocket money, to buy a record, and I asked her which record she'd recommend. I myself knew nothing about records or record shops. Pia said, Kiss is good, and I went to the record shop and took the record from the shelf where it said "from the TV ad". I did not know much about Kiss, but since my cousin said the band is good, I thought their music should be cool too. Basically, Pia brainwashed me into Rock'n Roll. Had she recommended Schubert for example, the result would have been much different.
I still like the Animalize album. For me personally it's the Kiss record. It often happens that the first record you ever hear, is the one to leave a lasting impression. In my opinion it's one of their most wickedly underrated albums. Later on I bought all of their other records or tapes. But I never got to like their masquerades, I guess because I first got to know the band without it.
In third grade, you could switch to music class. I passed all the tests to start music class and we had to choose an instrument. Because I thought Gene Simmons was so cool, I felt I absolutely had to start playing bass. I just needed the instrument.
Somewhere my parents found a second hand bass, and it was a great moment when they gave it to me. I'm a reasonable person, so I kept that bass all along and just had it checked. It's still fucking good and I still play it. It's a Dia SG Bass copy from the seventies. Later I changed that bass several times for better instruments, but I still remember that I got more pain than pleasure from that bass and the first small amp. My fingers were terribly sore, but still my mother said, now practice goddammit. A couple of times I also banged the thing against the wall. I don't know if my mum wanted me to become a musician, but still it was good that she forced me to practice. This way I learned a lot, even though the practicing bored me like hell. I never played the piano and I have no other classical basic knowledge. I preferred to learn how to play pop and rock instead of something of higher cultural value. My first bass teacher's name was Hannu Talako, he was the teacher of the music class of the school in Oulunkylä. We studied things like reading music. It took a hell of a lot of time till I got to learn something. Then there was the first band. I was in fourth or fifth grade. The band was called B.L.O.O.D., with dots in between the letters like in W.A.S.P. We did not know why they had those dots, but it looked good. With this band we performed once in front of the music class. The other guys where older than me, they were probably already in sixth grade. We played Run to the Hills instrumental from Iron Maiden. The special thing about B.L.O.O.D. was that we had two drummers. One used to play during rehearsals, but he used to have such stage fright that he couldn't perform in front of the public. Then we started to perform at school parties as the Elovena Boys. 

We played songs from U2 and Dire Straits and I wrote my first song fore the band. We did about five or six gigs together which was actually quite a lot. I only played the bass and never sang. At that time I was around nine or ten. But not everything was just music. I practiced judo for about nine years, starting when I was quite young. My father used to box, he likes that kind of combat sports. Since I didn't want to box, I went to Judo class. I only went once a week, I had something like a green belt and got three medals. Then I gave that up too. I never took part in any competition. Then I started skating and I stuck to that for a real long time. And then I was no longer a child. I went through a shitty adolescence phase, where I used to call my mother a whore constantly. My father forced me to write the word whore a thousand times, so I would check what a bad word it was. So I wrote whore a thousand times and my parents calmed down a bit. 

The first time I got completely wasted, was when I started seventh grade. I was about thirteen. I was a fairly simple kid, if you compare me to Linde, for example. He got completely plastered for the first time when he was barely six. I also never got into fights or did anything really criminal, music and skating where more important to me. And living in Oulunkylä was not that stressful. Mige used to live in Patola and Linde in East Pakila, there were some kinds of freaks hanging around. I was the kind of kid that grew up wrapped in cotton wood. I tried alcohol for the first time, when I was only two or three. I was taking a bath with my dad, and he was, as usual, drinking his glass of Whisky in the bathtub. I wanted to try it too, and my parents thought, they'd let me, so that I get a trauma for life and will never touch drink again. I took a sip of the whisky and said: "Tastes good, can I have more?" The attempt failed... The first time I got really wasted was when I downed seven bottles of beer and then lay on the playground in Oulunkylä. The second time was funnier, with Linde and the other guys we threw our money together und bought about seven crates of beer. Then we watched the video of The Song Remains The Same by Led Zeppelin, which in Finnish is wisely titled Laulu jää pystyyn = a song stands still. At that time I also had a girlfriend. I used to get bloody drunk, puking all over, and then passed out somewhere. In between I was making out with my girlfriend on the bed and threw up all over her. At one point the cops came because, we made such a racket. Then we escaped into the woods. There we continued boozing, and it all ended up with Linde and his dudes carrying me to East Pakila to the room of a guy called Joonas, who' s parents slept on the floor above. First I went to the loo, to vomit, and then I went upstairs and messed around there. Joonas' father almost beat me up. That was my second time of being completely wasted and the hangover was just as bad. 

My own parents were really worried about my experiments with booze, but they also understood, that at some point you have to try everything. We often went to the Lepakko, to listen to Punk, once in front of the autonomous youth center we emptied, two bottles of Liebfrauenmilch, warm German white wine. We scotched small bottles of Koskenkorva to our legs. I remember that the security woke me up, lying in a some corner of the Lepakko. The whole place was empty and the band had already performed. I was there lying around in my own vomit. Somehow I got to catch the last bus and also puked in there, then I passed out on the floor in front of the last seat row of the bus. The bus driver hadn't noticed I was still on the bus and drove directly to the terminal. He went fucking mad and picked me up from my vomit and I kept excusing myself over and over. Strangely enough ,I somehow managed to find a taxi. When I got home, from the courtyard I yelled up to my parents to throw me some money to pay the taxi. Then I just dropped onto the bed, with all my clothes on, shaking all over, I was feeling so fucking dizzy. Suddenly the door opens and my parents turn the lights on, point at me, dying of laughter. Much ado about nothing. Of course my parents were worried that something might happen to me. But as I've said, you have to try everything when you're young. Already in elementary school 

I got interested in girls. But at that stage I showed my interest by throwing pebbles at them. And in a way, l even today I still throw pebbles at them, intellectually. Well I was never the kind of guy to have steady relationships, and in my school years I had no real girlfriends. I just dated some girls sometimes. The first time I had sex was so late, that I don't even want to talk about it. I'm sure people think something completely different about me, and I don't want to disappoint anybody, being the Love-Metal Messenger, that I am. Of course I could pretend that I had sex when I was twelve or seven - the way everybody wants to show off, even though it is all make-believe. Let's just say I was already quite grown up. Until then I got by with the help of my right hand. 

Now let's go back again in time and to the Pop and Jazz school of Olunkylä. So my first real band was B.L.O.O.D. There we rehearsed the music that was important to us. Meaning Iron Maiden. With the Elovena Boys I rehearsed a lot too, but then came Aurora. There I played the drums and Linde played the guitar. And we seriously started doing our own songs. I was in seventh grade when I met Linde. I went to the school on the border between East Pakila and Oulunkylä and Linde was going to the same school. Because he was guitarist and I was bassist, we sometimes played together. The two of us used to play Charlie Parker or stuff like that. Little by little I got to know the other guys and we often hung around together. Linde was already the same hopeless guy as today. Maybe he is even more introverted today, as silent as a talking man can be. In junior high at the worst times I had six or seven bands running at the same time and at least one rehearsal per day. There were the Jazz and Dixieland bands at school and also Aurora, which always meant beer in excess. We dug Shitter Limited and played their classics, like Anna pillua Helena Pesola (in English meaning something like: Fuck me, Helena Pesola). We also wrote some songs along that line and created a public scandal. That was already quite cool. Our singer, Erkki, who nowadays plays the organ with Ihmepoika, once drank a whole bottle of Koskenkorva followed by some sixty nine percent booze and we had to carry him on stage. He fell on the support of the beams and all the spots fell down, two inches short of my head. All this happened before the first song. The spotlights fell on my drums and everything was fucked up. It took ages to fix everything up again. That was the first band in which we also rocked. 

Aurora had been rehearsing for about half a year, when we decided to collect money for a class trip, by organizing a hippy party. We had also been busy rehearsing Smoke On The Water from Deep Purple, Purple Haze from Jimi Hendrix and Paranoid from Black Sabbath. The party was to take place a week later and we got all excited because finally something was going to happen. Then Martti Ilmonen, our school director, had a kind of schizophrenic fit and came running into the aula of the school yelling that no way there was going to be a hippy party in his school, cause it was all about smoking hash. That blew the party and since then we hated the man. We even had the permission of our class teacher to collect money, so we could make the trip for example to Amsterdam to smoke pot. To take revenge, we wrote a song called Martti Ilmonen tunkee kyrpää suoleen (in English something like: Martti Ilmonen puts his dick in the ass). We played that song at the autumn concert and all the other teachers laughed their heads off. People went completely crazy and started throwing chairs around. From then on we were forbidden to play at school concerts in Oulunkylä. In the end we still made it to Amsterdam. We collected the money another way, selling donuts from door to door or so. It was an excursion of the music class and we traveled to Holland passing through Sweden, Denmark and Germany. The idea was to perform at the local schools. In Holland we had three or four performances and the whole trip lasted ten days. Amsterdam was a lot of fun. I had been abroad only once before. In 1991 I went to Thailand with my parents and my younger brother. We celebrated Christmas and the New Year there. That was my first real vacation trip and until today the only one. All other trips somehow had to do with music, touring or promotion. 

On the school trip to Holland a lot of us discovered themselves. That was the time, when people slowly grew up, like for example some homosexuals revealed themselves and some nerds had complete breakdowns because they became aware that studying is not all there is to life. The trip was a catastrophe in a good way and we partied a lot. We were staying in Utrecht, not far from Amsterdam at a big youth hostel, that had a bar. There we set up everything and in a totally slushed state played some fucking Prog Jazz. This was really weird. In a way the first gig abroad. People climbed onto the roof and did all kinds of stupid shit, the way teenagers do. Of course I smoked some dope there. Well, I had also already tried some before. We had only been in Amsterdam for a couple of hours and had some time left on our own. The teachers gave us twenty guilders each, saying that's the money for your lunch, we meet again here in two hours. At that time I already had dread locks and listened to Reggae. While the others went to MacDonalds, I went into the next Coffee shop and seriously smoked up. The rest of the day went by in a haze. That was my first contact with foreign clean drugs. I'm sure Linde made the same kind of experiences. Because Linde was on the same Amsterdam trip, but not Mige. 

I already knew Mige then, but he was two years older than me, he was at the Sibelius school and always hanging around with people the same age. I met Mige when I was in third grade, when I started playing bass. He was in fifth grade then. Because Mige also had a bass, we hung around quit a lot, but we just spent all the time playing our basses. Mige lived in Tuusula, so I didn't see him that often. Mige was the same as today. He fucking stunk, because he never really washed himself. Mige has not brushed his teeth in thirteen years. Honestly. And he never had any caries or anything, hard to believe, isn't it? Mige comes from an artistic family. He was a freak, who used to wear two different shoes, with incredibly long filthy hair and incredibly ugly clothes and had the strangest friends. I always considered myself to be a better bass player than Mige and therefore had no problem with him. Mige and I are still like night and day. We are so different, that we can never envy each other for anything. We're both very balanced, but in a different, really bizarre way. 

When finally I was going to turn eighteen, I moved from home. My parents were paying and I could move into the center of the city. The way it happened was that I didn't follow the medication treatment although I had quite bad allergies and severe asthma, meaning I didn't take the necessary cortisone because I didn't think it useful. Then my parents got a dog, which is still alive. She is a Great Dane named Fido. She was saved because her owner wanted to have her put down, although he himself had kicked her in the head. At that time my cousin Pia was already a full veterinarian. Of course, she noticed that there was nothing wrong with the dog but with it's owner. So we adopted her. Fido was a bit shy at first, but now she gets along with every one in the family. So my parents brought the dog home and we decided to find out if I would have an allergic reaction. It had been years since I had had any problems. But then I had such a heavy asthma attack that I had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital where I spent two weeks on the same station with the lung cancer patients connected to a drip. After this my father rented the apartment as a kind birthday present. He came to the hospital and told me that there was this apartment and of course I was very happy. I moved directly from the hospital to the new flat and my parents could keep the dog. Shit. But still it was the good timing. The apartment was in the posh area, south of Bulevardi. A small place of 23 square meters. I'd rather not give you the exact address because Mige lives there now. It was an incredible feeling to move into your own place. One didn't need to fear the toilet door would open while masturbating, and one could sleep whenever he wanted, listen to music or play it, whenever one felt like it. This was real freedom. For me at least eighteen was a bloody good age, to leave home. I can only recommend it. My parents probably were disappointed when I quit school. But I have a feeling that my dad is more disappointed over the fact that until today I haven't passed my driver's license.

Please note, this is not an official site, I am not a member of HIM or do I have any contanct with the band members. Please enjoy the site.