Interview: Ivana Sataić (ivana@venia-mag.net)

Photo: Pauli Rouvinen

THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS THE MUSIC, NOTHING ELSE REALLY SURVIVES

The 69 Eyes, famous Helsinki Vampires, will in only a few days release their tenth studio piece symbolically named ”X” with which they will mark more twenty years of life on Finnish but also world’s rock scene as well.

What is needed to underline is that the band has released the debut album ”Bump ‘N’ Grind” grown from sleazy rock twenty years ago and that the band today on the top of the scene of Gothic Rock taste with an album ”X” did another step further and entered into the real and modern sound of dark rock of the 21st Century.

About some of the songs from the upcoming album, inspiration and new surprises these tireless Finns are preparing for their fans and our first impressions of the album ”X” for Venia-Mag we talked with bands front man Jyrki69.

VENIA: Let’s start the interview with a few questions related to your new single, „Red“. So, first, Jyrki, in the meaning of the song, what is real?

JYRKI69: Erm… what is real? Everything you know around you. *silence* It’s kind of a weird question. *laughing*

VENIA: Yes, I know it’s weird. But when you sing: ”Red is like you always told me, the color of what is real..” you just ask yourself what is real.

JYRKI69: The real, like reality. Red is related to the song itself. The song is very simple, first of all. It was the first song that we wrote for this album already two years ago. Actually I even sung it two years ago. So, we’ve recorded it back then and it’s a very simple, hypnotic song and what is in that song is like a snapshot of emotions. It’s full of emotion, the one emotion and the song is full of that. It’s not a complicated song, it’s that one emotion and then red, if you think of emotions, is one of the colors that means many things and is mostly used to express emotions. So, it’s love, it’s hate, it’s everything, you know. It’s very real. It causes effects on animals, effects on humans, it causes a reaction when you see that color. It’s seen differently and in many expressions as well, but the emotions are real. You can see many things in your life that are real, your emotions, how you feel and there is a color for emotions and your feelings as well. It’s a very simple song, very simple lyrics as well, but maybe we managed to send the most important message that lyrics couldn’t handle.

VENIA: Now I have to tell you that I had the honor of hearing the album yesterday.

JYRKI:Cool.

VENIA:So, the first impression is that you merged all your musical sides and influences into one amazingly mid-tempo album with fascinating vocal lines somewhere between, I don’t know, The Cult and even Elvis and Andrew Eldritch and maybe not too far from Carl McCoy. It’s like – wow!

JYRKI:Huh, thank you! It’s like…. *silence* We had a lot of fans over the last five years, and you’ve been around and seen our shows and stuff so you know what I mean. We’ve just been conquering the world. Now we have the old record companies and management and everything for this record, we just surrounded ourselves with very positive people like old-school friends, so everybody who is involved in this record are people we’ve known for years, old-school positive friends and that was the main vibe to create this, because basically there was no one else left. It goes a little bit like this, like, what is going on with the music business. So all of a sudden, the only thing that matters is really the music, nothing else really survives. It was never, like you know, seriously being any bussiness – we haven’t succeeded, we haven’t made any money really. It’s just that we have enjoyed meeting our favourite musicians or playing at some festivals where our favourite bands are or playing Whisky A-Go-Go, maybe even filming the live DVD there or, you know, something like which we saw exciting and important. That’s the thing that we’ve always been doing and that has been interesting doing. So, nowadays there is less…. what is left is the real music. That’s what survives. With this record, when I heard it the first time in July, I was actually crying, not only because the songs are, I think, extremely beautiful and melody lines are nice, I see a lot of beautiful stuff there, but mostly because I was touched, because these same five guys, or if I’m telling, four guys playing on this. We are still playing together after all these years, because we really believe in this. We always believed. We’ve been playing big arenas, small venues and we still do that and you never know what awaits you there. The thing is – we are The 69 Eyes and we believe in that stuff. Now as well, we just wrote the music and it’s really, really good music. The last album was really important, like living the dream and going to Hollywood and make the album there, but this now, we’re back only to music, nothing else, so it’s full of really beautiful music and we’ve done this record for ourselves and our fans who asked us to make a new music… we just served them, so I hope they will like this record as well. I think they will. If there is a person whose favorite album of The 69 Eyes is Bump N’ Grind, that person would also be happy. There is stuff like that on this album, but mostly I think it just captures… I mean, musically it’s really the best, soundwise it’s also the best we ever sounded. Well, actually, better than ever, it just comes with age. I think it comes with age, with age comes the music and when it comes to The 69 Eyes as well. I was happy when Bump N’ Grind came out 20 years ago, but I’m happy because I’m having this album out now in this time.

VENIA: Ok. And when it comes to your voice, how you keep it and develop it? I’m asking you because I was listening to older records today to hear a bit more changes in your voice as I need to write the ‘X’ review, which is gonna be fucking hard, I have to be honest….

JYRKI:Why? You don’t like it?

VENIA:No, the problem is that I have the feeling I like it too much. *laugh*

JYRKI:Ok. You know what you like, so I guess it’s a great reaction. I hope that the other people who knows us as well as you do will share your opinion. But, come on, I was there, so I know that even better. *laughing*

VENIA:Yeah.

JYRKI: Even if I really don’t know the lyrics of the songs. *both laughing* I mean, this was a real, relaxed session in Stockholm. Just this production team. We are friends for 10 years, so we just had fun, we had a time when we were recording everything. It was really relaxed and that affects the vocals as well and the songs are all very real to me. Back In Blood was a fun and mean idea about this vampire fantasies and actually they are always there, but this time I was just singing about what happened in the last few years and there were like real things and I was singing for a real person actually. It was more personal and I think it’s more interesting to hear what people think about the songs, because they have a real subject and maybe people can relate to them.

VENIA: I understand. But…. what people expect to hear about the album before it’s released is – if you can compare it to ”Blessed Be” and ”Paris Kills”, because ”X” is announced as your return to Gothic Rock sound and those two albums are your classics in that area, so as it was announced as the album on the trail of ”Blessed Be”, now everyone is expecting to hear ”Blessed Be”, but I think it’s pretty much different.

JYRKI: Oh, really?

VENIA:I think it is, it’s more melodic…

JYRKI:Ok, that was 10 years ago and it has lot of keyboards. This record has also like lot of keyboards. I don’t know.

VENIA:Yeah, you’re right. But somehow I still think it’s closest to ”Paris Kills”. But, hey, I’ve heard it only a few times, so it might be that I’m wrong.

JYRKI:Yeah, I think it has a similar type of vibe. ”Paris Kills” was the second record we did with Johnny Lee Michaels and we gave him free hands, so he really aroused the music there on top, not only with the keyboards and that’s why ”Paris Kills” is what it is. This is also the same thing, we gave free hands to producers to get this record to sound as it sounds. And actually, when we were recording the vocals, after a while I realized this record is gonna be really, really good. I was sort of shocked how good this is gonna be and the only thing that worried me was what if people don’t have time to check this album or what if people even don’t know that this record comes out so… that still worries me a little bit. It disturbs me a bit, but people who had been interested in us will check out this album. But also after a month or so, I heard the final album and I was so much in shock because the vocals were incredible and it sounded so good. But like I said, everybody involved in this album is like old-school friends from old times and the guy who did the cover for this album  is the guy who used to run a gothic rock club here in Helsinki some 13, 15 years ago. There is a lot of cool people and we’ve also done video for Red with Patric Ulleaus there, so it’s kind of a different vibe for this album.

VENIA: What can you tell me about the song ”Rosary Blue”. I have a special interest in this one as it is the only one I didn’t hear yet.

JYRKI:Oh, Rosary… the story is like this: Kat Von D was visiting here in Helsinki for New Years Eve and we were going out for a dinner and she started telling that she’s gonna start a music career and start a band or something like that. She’s been playing the classical piano since forever, so she was just telling me about it and then at some point she said that it would be interesting to do some musical cooperation some day and we had that song…. I mean, I don’t wanna do any duet, I’m not interested in doing duets with anybody and… actually there is one person that I can do duet with and that’s Lisa Marie Presley, that would be really cool.  But nobody else would be. I wasn’t even thinking of it, because this record really doesn’t need a duet, but we had a song that needed female vocals also, so immediately when she said that, I jumped to the taxi, drove home and e-mailed Rosary Blue to her and she said she likes the song and that she wants to do it, so she just flew over to Stockholm to recorded it. It’s just a great song, it’s really beautiful as well. It’s a really great piece of music and she sounds so great and real. I think it’s gonna be a hit, it’s a really cool, fantastic song, and I think it’s a very nice present for The 69 Eyes fans and Kat Von D fans, it was just a nice thing to do among friends.

VENIA:  What is also interesting is that you’ve recently presented your first branded product – red wine simply named „Red“. What’s the story behind this product and why did you choose the red wine to be your first ever brand product?

JYRKI:Well, you know, all classic rock bands are having their own vines these days, like AC/DC, Motörhead and even Slayer, so we were told that if we are interested in getting in that market, we should do that, as we are like Helsinki Vampires and red wine sounds perfect and then we had the chance to pick up the wine and I think we picked it up by the taste. When we did, they told us that it comes from Verona, from Italy and from, like, Romeo and Juliet. So it get this romantic side – wow, it’s like Romeo and Juliet’s wine. It’s really good wine.

I can reveal you now the craziest new thing which is just coming out, we will have our own coffee.

VENIA:Wow! Cool!

JYRKI: Yeah! That’s crazy! I actually came up with this idea, well, like it or not. But, of course, it should be called BLACK. *both laughing* Becuse drinking coffee is what vampires do at night. The red wine is already here, but coffee will come out in maybe a month or something like that. That’s pretty cool.

VENIA:It is!

JYRKI:It’s fun! And what is really cool that we’re gonna have is a mobile phone application for iPhone, Androids and also Nokia phones. It comes out in a couple of weeks. That’s a really good thing, it’s gonna be a cool thing to keep in contact with each other. One thing that people maybe don’t understand is that we were not on the Facebook when the previous album came out, now we are for the first time there, so we are finally on social networks and we get responses from the fans and that’s excited and new.

VENIA:It’s fun but it’s hard to follow you sometimes, especially your tweets.

JYRKI:But it’s a cool way to tell what is gonna happen and tell about these new things.

VENIA:Of course it is. *both laughing*

JYRKI: But I also think this way. As The 69 Eyes is pretty much an old-school band in the way that not all our fans are on the social networks, I don’t count on that. I mean, I don’t follow the bands that I like in social networks really so… Well, consider the fact that I’m fucking 43 years old *laughing*, but we also have a bunch of fans who don’t give a fuck about social networking, but those are people who are most excited and people who are far from us, so this is a nice way of telling them what is going on.

VENIA: Another interesting thing related to the album ”X” is that will be three The 69 Eyes comic books published.

JYRKI: A friend of mine from New Orleans is a comic author and he’s been arranging my Fangtasia DJ nights there during the last couple of summers. And we had an idea to come out with The 69 Eyes comics, so he wrote the whole history of Helsinki Vampires, which is really exciting and it comes out in three books and it’s a really, really cool thing. The story goes: before The 69 Eyes shows fans meet and argue if The 69 Eyes are real vampires or not. Then a guy appears on the show, who is from a 17th century Swedish-Finnish kingdom, who pretty much looks like me, so that’s where the story starts. Then it takes us to Los Angeles rock scene in the 1980’s and so on. It’s really cool. It’s in the three books and the first one comes out now with the album. When I was in the States I wanted to do the same thing like Kiss and donate my blood to come out with the books, but unfortunatelly there’s  now a law and it’s illegal not only with blood, but with all human liquids. That’s crazy. So, sorry guys, no blood!

VENIA: Some years ago you’ve published your own comic book „Zombie Love“ that is absolutely awesome. Are you still drawing and is there a plan for a new comic book?

JYRKI:I never have time for that and I’m not that patient anymore. I’m actually planning to do this interactive possibility of drawing, that’s my dream, I shouldn’t supposed to tell you. The idea is that I’m trying to draw every day when we’re on tour and post it online what I’m drawing, so it’s at least a way to force myself to create something. But there is so many other things that I’m doing all the time so, for instance, now I have like 25 e-mail interviews waiting.

VENIA:Oh, God!

JYRKI: Yeah, it’s like pretty much so….

VENIA:And at least the same number of phoners, I guess.

JYRKI:Yes, but I don’t mind. It’s great to have the record out so I’m happy and positive and we are really excited to do something nice that people will hear. Actually, just before this phone call, that’s also why I wasn’t online on this other device, I saw the official version of our video ”Red” and with the all darkness I think it’s really, really cool and it will be out probably tomorrow, they’re still doing something for it and I think it’s gonna be fantastic. I’ve never dreamed of this. I always wanted to do cool things and I wanted to do it higher, but this is higher than I ever aimed. This is now like living the dream number 69 again. One of the exciting thing is, in New Orleans I met the person who is running Ann Rice’ Vampire Lestate fan club since, like, the early 80’s. We all know the movie Inteview with the Vampire so… she will have a new movie soon and I never could’ve even dreamed that The 69 Eyes will be connected to Anne Rice. That’s like… cool things are coming up all the time. But the coolest thing is, of course, the album. I’m really excited to hear the feedback from the fans.

VENIA: In the end, do you have some message for Venia-Mag readers?

JYRKI: Well, obviously I hope that, like we already talked, we have the chance to come to play for you guys. I think we’re coming… I don’t know, I think that we are coming to Bratislava and Zagreb on this tour, but it’s not sealed yet. But that’s where we are gonna be in February and I hope that we can come and see you guys in summertime as well. I definitely want to come to Dubrovnik, I’ve heard so much about it and it’s time for me to take over that scene as well.

VENIA: Thank you for another interview!

JYRKI:It was really nice talking to you! We’ll keep in touch!

VENIA:Sure! *both laughing*

official web: www.69eyes.com

Croatian fan web: www.the69-eyes.com