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Finland's HIM Releases Early Work In 'Lashes to Ashes'


It is very cold and very dark in Finland this time of year - every time of year, I understand. But there's a band that finds inspiration in that dark and cold. For more than 20 years, the group HIM has been heating up Helsinki nights.


HIM: (Singing) She is smiling like heaven's down on earth. And her heart is weeping.

SIMON: Back in 1999, HIM's hit, "Right Here In My Arms" helped propel the group to platinum status in the U.S. Now after eight albums, the quintet is releasing a box set of their earliest work. It's called "Lashes To Ashes, Lust To Dust." HIM is currently touring the U.S., so we're lucky enough to get two of its members in the studio with us. We have the drummer, Mika Karppinen. Thanks for being with us.

MIKA KARPPINEN: You're welcome. Thank you.

SIMON: And bass player Mige Paananen.

MIGE PAANANEN: Hey. What's up?

SIMON: And how was my pronunciation?

PAANANEN: It was perfect.

KARPPINEN: It was great.

PAANANEN: Yeah. I like you now.

SIMON: And Mika Karppinen, we can call you Gas? Where's that come from? Do I want to know?

KARPPINEN: Yeah, well, no.

PAANANEN: (Laughter).

KARPPINEN: It's basically an old joke which stuck with me, and here I am.

SIMON: You have coined the term love metal to describe your music, right?

PAANANEN: Yes, sir. Yeah. We always try to include in our - you know, 'cause we are kind of, you know, rockers in our hearts, but we always wanted to include sort of like a romantic aspect in our music.

SIMON: What's a love metal song in this collection that we might be able to find?

PAANANEN: "Gone With The Sin."

SIMON: "Gone With The Sin."


PAANANEN: That's a love metal song.


HIM: (Singing) Oh, my baby, how beautiful you are. Oh, my darling, completely torn apart.

SIMON: Even though you've sold a lot of records in this country, you are still sometimes just described - often described as, you know, having a cult following. Who are your followers do you think?

PAANANEN: Well, it's terrible because, you know, you - when you start complimenting your followers, say that they are smart, you're kind of complementing yourself. I always got the feeling that they are people who have lots of thoughts in their heads - maybe too much.

SIMON: (Laughter) Maybe too many thoughts in their heads?

PAANANEN: Yeah. And maybe they're a bit sad. You know, I mean, you know, having a hard times to relate to, you know - I don't know - relationships and to this world altogether so - you know. And maybe those people, they tend to be mystified by our - you know.

KARPPINEN: So you mean like smart, lost souls? - in a way.

SIMON: Smart, lost souls?

KARPPINEN: Yeah. Romantic people.


SIMON: Tell us about the song "All Lips Go Blue."

PAANANEN: Well, you know, I guess everybody knows the reference of lips turning blue.

SIMON: Well, tell us.

PAANANEN: (Laughter) It's not a corpse thing or anything like that. It's a...

SIMON: Just cold?

PAANANEN: No. All the lyrics of this band, they tend to be metaphors.

SIMON: Yeah.

PAANANEN: And you kind of...

SIMON: So "All Lips Go Blue" - it's not a metaphor for death?

PAANANEN: For me, no, no.

SIMON: Yeah. OK.

PAANANEN: For me, death is - it's a powerful world. It's nice to put it in a places that it doesn't belong to - to describe something that's dying which is actually just, you know, has nothing to do with dying in the real world.

SIMON: But I guess in the real world everything's dying, right?


SIMON: Everyone, everything.

PAANANEN: Yes, yes, exactly.

SIMON: See, I'm just in the studio...

PAANANEN: You're in the mood already.

SIMON: ...With a couple of guys from Finland, and I'm in... (Laughter)

PAANANEN: You're already contemplating the concept of everything dying.


SIMON: Oh, my gosh. How does this happen?

PAANANEN: What have we done to you?




HIM: (Singing) The one that made all lips go blue, blue, blue.

SIMON: It's been a delight to talk you gentlemen. Thank you very much.

PAANANEN: Thank you.

KARPPINEN: Thank you.

SIMON: HIM - the drummer Mika Karppinen and bass player Mige Paananen. Their new box set - "Lashes to Ashes, Lush To Dust." Thank you very much.

KARPPINEN: Thank you.

PAANANEN: Thank you for having us here. Thank you.

SIMON: It's been a pleasure.


HIM: (Singing) I read the words on torn down walls reminding me how much I loved you. I weep... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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