Finnish rock band HIM’s goth-n-glam vibe made them one of the more unique and less-easily classified acts of the 2000s, and vocalist Ville Valo traces their success back to emulating one materially and aesthetically rich influence, the mighty Type O Negative. In an interview with Metal Hammer, Valo reminisced about HIM’s early days playing Type O covers, even playing full-sets of the Brooklyn metal giants' repertoire. One such occasion was a show that also included one of the first early performances of Apocalyptica.
"One of the first gigs we ever played was for a local promoter who was a mate of mine," Valo said. "He put this weird covers evening together with all these other bands and I think it was Apocalyptica's first gig, too, they were called Jailhouse Band at that point. We had a few of our own songs already, but decided to play Type O Negative [songs] instead. Apocalyptica played Metallica, obviously! Another band played Rage Against The Machine and another Danzig. We did it twice and it sounded pretty decent. [It] actually taught us to steal the best parts of Type O."
The idea of HIM “stealing” all the best parts of Type O does sound deliciously ironic, and feels like something late frontman Peter Steele would have appreciated. After all, Steele famously boasted that Type O Negative was simply poaching the best parts of Black Sabbath and The Beatles and brewing them together—often deadpanning their sound was more theft than tribute and often remarked that he believed they sucked at either, regardless.
Steele's dark comedy is so, so very much missed today—along with his big heart and even bigger physique. Valo and Steele crossed paths several times, though never had a chance to really get to know each other.
"I did meet Peter Steele a couple of times, but we never became friends," Valo said. "He [was] such a massive fella in every sense of the word, so imposing when he was standing over you. It was at one of the first festival gigs we played in Germany, so I was really new to everything and I remember sitting in the catering area not coming up with the courage to say anything."
We know the feeling, Ville—as we're sure do the many fans lucky enough to have met Pete Steele or saw him in action onstage. He was a satirical-genius-lamb inside the body of a lion.