Dirty Work: HIM Guitarist Mikko Lindström Talks Gear, Influences and More

by Andrew Bansal
Posted Mar 19, 2014 at 12:08pm

Finnish goth rockers HIM are on a U.S. headline tour, playing songs from their entire catalog, including their new album, Tears On Tape.

The tour began March 7 at the House Of Blues Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. A few hours before the show, guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindström spoke to Guitar World about his gear setup, his favorite guitarists and cover tunes and more. Check out the conversation below, along with photos from the LA show.

GUITAR WORLD: Tonight is your first show of this tour. How are you feeling today?

A bit jet-lagged! We flew in the day before from Australia, where we did the Soundwave Festival tour for about two weeks. It was kind of a killer flight, so we're hanging in there but very excited for tonight.

Touring in the U.S. with Anathema must be nice, because you've bee trying to make this tour happen for a while.

Yeah, we had to cancel the last time because the singer got sick, but we're back and we've been playing with Anathema quite a bit. They're nice guys and we love the band.

In terms of your set, what exactly are you trying to do?

It's a bit of a mix of everything. We added some really old songs from the first album and little surprises here and there. But, of course, we're playing songs from the latest album too.

Your early catalog is being reissued digitally and is coming out as a deluxe edition. That must be nice for your younger fans who caught on late and can't find the old albums in stores.

Yeah, exactly. They've never been released here properly before, so it should be a good thing.

What's your current gear setup?

I have a double stack with two Laney heads and one Peavey 5150. The 5150 is the main lead sound, and one of the two Laneys has an Octafuzz Multiplexer and the other one has a Pharaoh fuzz pedal. It's a combo, and it's like a big mess basically [laughs]. In the studio we always change a lot of things like small combos and try to get the weirdest possible sounds and mix them. We didn't record too many tracks this time, and I just played with my SG on the left side and on the right side I played with a Fender Tele, using different setups with both amps.

I read that you've simplified your setup for your most recent album.

Yes, I don't play any clean stuff at all anymore. I only have a distorted setting and a distorted mode with all the fuzz pedals on. So I only have one switch and that's it [laughs].

I bet that also kind of unifies your live and studio sounds, correct?

Yes. It's pretty much the same sound.

When you say you're not doing any clean parts anymore, you're not playing acoustic guitar at all?

I'm not. Ville is playing acoustic this time, so he's taking care of that.

How has your role as the guitar player in the band developed and changed over the years?

I'm not sure whether my role has changed that much, but the older I get, the more confident I get. I play more solos and do that kind of s--- more now. I guess my main role has always been to create a big wall of fuzzy, distorted s--- [laughs].

So you do the dirty work.

Yeah exactly, and I'm happy with that [laughs].

Aside from HIM, have you been pursuing any other projects?

I have a side project called Daniel Lioneye. I've released two albums with that, and the next one is almost ready now. I don't know when it's coming out, but it sounds great!

I believe you were also involved in the all-star project WhoCares; they put out an album to raise money for charity. That project starred Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi, Nicko McBrain and more. How did you get involved, and what was it like to share a creative process with those people?

Well, it was a one-off. Actually, I didn't see any of the guys [laughs]. We weren't like together in the studio hanging around. But I was given just one song and Tony was like, "Do you want to add anything to this?" I said, yeah sure! And then I went into his studio for two hours and that was it.

You don't have to meet anybody anymore. You can just send files around.

Yeah that's the way it goes [laughs]. Of course, it's a different vibe but it's nice to do these little special things this way every now and then.

In terms of your personal favorites, which guitarists would you cite, and how has that developed in terms of what you've been listening to over the years?

Well, there's quite a lot of guitar players I've been listening to. I started with bands like Kiss and stuff like that, but Steve Vai was the first guitar hero to me when I was 13 or 14. Then I got more into Sabbath, and the technical side wasn't as important to me as it was when I started.

I got into Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and then Iggy Pop. He's never been like an awesome, brilliant guitar player or anything, but I love the vibe of the music. And then Jimi Hendrix, obviously. All of that has affected my playing in some way. I used to listen to a lot of blues as well. I'm a blues player at heart.

When you started out as a musician, I'm sure you jammed some cover tunes. What are some of the songs you played on guitar?

Actually when we started out with HIM, our first show was a Type-O Negative cover gig, so we used to play those songs a lot. Of course, we tried other covers as well, like the Wicked Game stuff, and we used to cover Madonna and all these different Eighties songs and turned them into metal. That's what we used to do.

Photo: Andrew Bansal

Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website — with the help of a small group of people. He briefly moved away from the Los Angeles scene and explored metal in India, but he is now back in LA continuing from where he left off.