"I felt this hairy tongue on my face": Ville Valo recalls meeting Dave Grohl for the first time and the album that made HIM goth metal stars

Ville Valo/Dave Grohl
(Image credit: Getty Images/snapshot-photography/ullstein bild/Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive)

It's no secret that former HIM frontman Ville Valo has long been a sex icon in the metal scene, as synonymous with shagging as Motorhead are with making an almighty racket or Iron Maiden are with history lectures cunningly concealed under riffs. But wind the clocks back 20 years and the Finnish group were only just rising to acclaim in the wider metal scene with the release of 2003's Love Metal. 

A feature in the new issue of Metal Hammer is dedicated to exploring the period that turned HIM into true goth metal icons and the creation of an album that would come to define HIM - and Ville - in the decades since. Naturally, becoming metal stars also meant HIM were rubbing shoulders with rock and metal royalty, including a memorable first meeting with an overly amorous Foo Fighter. 

“All of a sudden I felt this hairy tongue on my face. I looked around and it was Dave Grohl,” Ville tells Hammer's Paul Brannigan. “I’d never even met him before, so that’s how we got introduced. Now, I’m not sure if Dave Grohl does that to everybody the first time he meets them, but I kind of felt special for a moment. Love Metal might not be the biggest metal album ever, or even the biggest album we ever made, but that was a moment that made me realise we weren’t just another band anymore.” 

Elsewhere in the feature, Ville also reflects on some of the hedonistic excesses he and the band indulged with their newfound fame, including attending a party by longtime HIM champion Bam Margera.

“Bam sent a limo for me to bring me to his house, and there was this massive, wild party going on when I arrived,” he says. “We’d known Bam since 2000 – I met him when we played The Garage in London – and we’d taught him how to party, and he’d learned well! The whole time was a real honeymoon period for us. We were meeting with all these American record label executives, people like Seymour Stein and Jimmy Iovine, and they’d be telling these amazing stories, and we were just hypnotised and in awe. It was so cool, such a special time, a proper dreams-coming-true period for us. What a trip.”

You can read the full feature on Love Metal in the new issue of Metal Hammer, on sale now.  Order it online and have it delivered straight to your door.

Metal Hammer line break

MHR378 HIM Love Metal Feature

(Image credit: Future)

Sharon Den Adel on the cover of Metal Hammer

(Image credit: Future (Tim Troncke))
Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token. 

With contributions from