Jyrki69 (vocals) from The 69 Eyes
After my recent and very positive review of THE 69 EYES most recent output, ‘West End’, I wanted to know a bit more about the album that really stunned me, because of the nice guys at Nuclear Blast I had the opportunity to ask vocalist Jyrki69 a few questions about the album, the writing and a perfect day on tour. I reached Jyrki69 who just returned from L.A. for a video shoot, in Helsinki.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Thank you for finding the time for this interview with us. What do you think about your new album?
Jyrki 69: It’s obviously the best record we have ever done. It should be like that. Whenever you create something new, you should be excited of course by yourself. We have’ been playing Rock’n’Roll for 30 years and I think live-wise we are at our best, also creative-wise, I think we are at our best, at the moment. 30 years is a long time to play in a band and over the years I’ve always been saying this, it ends up being a cliché when it comes from my mouth, “We’re just getting better.” People have very different favourite records from our back catalogue and people who are interested in that we are making new music, they are listening to us like 10 years or even twenty years some even longer. We are the band that is not on the playlists. Somebody told me the terminology, that when you are not on the playlists meaning Spotify for instance, you have to find your customers. That term they used. Customers one by one, but that is how THE 69 EYES is happening. We are not on the playlists, people are not listening to our music like passively.
That’s a fact because I have checked it out, which is something that I don’t like, but this modern days statistics I wanted to take a little glimpse and I have noticed that we are not on the playlists and people who listen especially from streaming services we were talking about Spotify. So people who listen to our music, they are people who are just listening us, not like passively, they’ve been listening to us for such a long time. For them we do this record, they know what our band is about, they’ve known it for a long time and they want new music from us. And we are happy to deliver that and I hope we can share this like a nice experience of having a new record out and maybe celebrate a little bit that we’ve been playing longer than the other bands. But I think it’s just a fact that I hope that people see in the light of respect, like these guys keep on going, without like never turning back or looking around what is happening in this world... We’ve been staying true to our vision.
Even actually going back, like you said it sounds a little bit like something we have done a little bit before. That is a pretty good observation like which record you chose [comment: ‘Back in Blood’]. I would personally say probably ‘Devils’, but it is more aggressive and it’s really a Rock’n’Roll record. Sometimes we had lost of synthesizers and keyboards because those were the vibes then. Now it’s more like how the band is live. Like when you come to see us live in November, we are going to stand in front of your face and we just hammer our instruments and I’ll sing the best I can and I hope the guitars will be in tune. We don’t have bombs, we don’t have a special light show. It’s simple as that, it’s stripped down Rock’n’Roll.
But we have the songs that you come to listen to and they are songs that we have written and the songs that we have been maybe lived with you through these years and the most famous song, that we end our set with, it’s not a cover song that we have made famous, but a song that we have written ourselves. It’s our own music, we deliver it in the way the best we can, whatever the circumstances are. Now people want experiences like big shows, with lots of pyros and confetti and things like this. That’s another way of doing things. We’re doing things our simple and humble way, like we’ve always done and maybe you can think we never grew up as a band who will be there like hundreds of meters away from you and having the bombs and stuff. Our influences were not that kind of bands anyways. I personally, I didn’t have that in my mind at least.
I think our drummer wants to have a really tall drum-riser or something. He wants to be seen and he definitely needs to be seen because he’s a guy who plays drums in his special style, but you know I don’t care about that. Of course he’s bored to stare at my ass when we play smaller places, where we don’t have a drum-riser. But the whole idea is totally just to play and share the moments with the audience and that has actually crystallized. My vision has become clearer and it’s really good to be 50 years old now. I actually feel I come for ...the bullet. I know now. There has been l a lots of wild dreams and crazy adventures between. I must say the moment my vision is very clear and I think this can be heard also on the album. It’s not only about me but of course also for the whole band.
RoD: I’ve been listening to the whole album when going back home after a gig of Marky Ramone. I liked ‘Outsiders’ very much and I got the idea that it was about THE 69 EYES a bit.
Jyrki69: That is one of my favourite songs, too. Thank you so much. Good point, I never thought about that, but you’re right, it is a bit about THE 69 EYES and myself of course and there was this book ‘Outsiders’ I don’t know what it is in German, but it was definitely translated back in the days when it came out. There’s couple of movies ‘Outsiders’ of course and ‘Rumblefish’, which are by the same author. Bu they are originally books and they’re like boy books, they are about the young boys growing up and finding out about life and girls in the 50’s and they were inspiration for me. Like let’s all die young, let’s try to stay young for as long as we can, the same thing and I wanted to capture that essence. And maybe somebody has time to read those books or even the movie would even suit for everybody. The classic Coppola movie ‘Outsider’. It’s great, there has also to be a couple of movie themed songs on a 69 EYES album and that’s one of them.
RoD: The video for ‘27 & Done’ was filmed in Nosturi in Helsinki, I think? Why did you shoot the video there and not at Tavastia?
Jyrki69: The thing is that, we’re going to have four singles out from that album and I think the next video single comes out on Thursday. This is like our return to the Americas, let’s return to the States album many ways. We already toured there and this was my idea… We’ve been away from there for such a long time and it has been inspirational there. And then times changed and we have done something else between. And now I thought it’s time to return to the States, which is just an inspirational place for us because of the popular culture and how we use it in our music and imaginary and lyrics and everything. The videos on this record I wanted to use like Los Angeles based director Vicente Cordero who has done recently a movie about Johnny Thunders called ‘Room 37’, it’s already out, it’s a Johnny Thunders horror-movie. He’s a friend of mine and I have done a couple of videos with him for my other projects, so I wanted him to do the videos for this record.
He flew here to Helsinki, to film the band and actually we used the reason we filmed in this building is that our rehearsal room is in this building called “The Nosturi” in Helsinki. And they are actually turning the building down. So we wanted to capture something about the building, that’s why we’ve done like the promotion photos there - some of them we took during our America tour. But we wanted to capture the place; it’s been there like some 20 years nearly and we wanted to make it there since it is the last days. The same kind of thing happened when like some 20 years ago, when we did a video for ‘Wasting The Dawn’. It captured a very special youth-house which is seen in the video and the studios that was also torn down immediately after the video. So it’s kind of repeating the same the same, we capture some places in the video which play some role for us. When it comes to the video of ‘27 & Done’ it was a lucky coincidence that there is a kind of horror-movie called ‘The 27 Club’ featuring the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famer Todd Rundgren, you might now him for producing the NEW YORK DOLLS album and he’s in the movie and lots of other things and so it was just perfect we had the chance to use that clips from the movie in our video.
The whole idea for ‘27 & Done’ is like I pretty regularly these days hang out - I ‘ve have always been hanging out in L.A. - these days especially in Hollywood because that for my point of view is a very creative place. The people who come true, they come to fill their dreams, to find their dreams, make their dreams come true, but at some point they come there in their earlier 20’s and the desperation, you can really nearly see that, because if something is not happening, time is running out so you know… social media has the pressure on you and you have to be visible everywhere and show how good you’re doing and so on. It’s kind of desperate place, has always been of course. Always. Desperation you can touch it. You might as well say ‘27 & Done’ like you now live forever. There is always this kind of dark humour like ‘West End’ on the cover itself and especially ‘27 & Done’. We played it live last weekend at a festival here in Finland. There was like 10,000 people in front of us and we have played it like three times before and it was like first times live here in front of a big audience and it’s like fucking freaky when people sing “Let’s all die young, it’s so easy and fun...” and it’s my sense of humour but I sometimes even get myself like “Uff that was kind of spooky” and people just happily singing along and I’m like “Oh shit, I made this happen, too”.
But let’s see what happens for this song in the future. Of course I always want to inspire people make a little shake up or stir up or something like that. The times we live in people are… [sighs], social media is burning away peoples’ brains up and make them nervous and unsecure and many other things like that. Even I’ve been captured by that and I’m trying to get away from that and I succeeded pretty well. I don’t have to know all the time what my friends are doing or what is going on at some place, like who’s playing at The Whisky A GoGo tonight, what the show looks like or something like that. It’s like better to stay away and if some of my friends want to send a picture of themselves having a good time, they can send it straight to me to my phone, or I do that or I don’t need to share that socially. You can still communicate with people straight up through a modern device or even tell later “I have been there, it was cool.” So ‘27 & Done’ there is not enough time in the world and everybody wants everything right here, right now, so that’s about that.
RoD: Talking about social media, at ‘Burn Witch Burn’ I caught myself thinking that the crystal ball was my smartphone’s display…
Jyrki69: Once again dark humour and of course living in the present times I would never mention present time things like… but you can use vocabulary which can be understandable like after a decade like using the same kind of words being used during the 50s Rock’n’Roll. I would never say “Selfie” or things like this. But of course it is about what I just said, people are staring at the crystal ball and basically like comparing themselves to each other and then it turns out like that everybody hate each other and it is negative commentary left. It’s like long, long time ago… like some - hold on – it is 10 years ago, that we were recording with Kat Von D and then I noticed…, I checked out like that her fans really love her, give her like really positive comments. And then I was... she was doing something and I was like “What are you doing now?” and she was like “I am deleting the negative comments.” So you know, that’s when I realized “It is what it is”. But it is just one of the dark humour, but hopefully somebody will get out of spell after hearing that song. On the other hand it’s just a rocking tune and it can tell about whatever, middle ages...
RoD: Let’s talk about touring in Europe. What does a perfect day during the “West End” tour look like?
Jyrki69: First of all like I said, it’s great to be 50. So actually what I discovered maybe this spring, when we did the American tour latest, that what I really want. It’s always the question in interviews and I never thought about it… the question what is better? To play a show or being the studio and blablabla… then I come up with some illogical answer. Honestly now I think, where I belong is the road. I really belong on the road and that is the privilege that I have and I enjoy the road and I really realized that how much I love did last year. And that is what I want to do and that is the essence of being in a Rock’n’Roll band. It’s being on the road, playing for people and being on the road itself. And there’s been times, you know we have been playing for 30 years, there’s been times when I hated that. I hated to tour, way or another.
Of course circumstances have changed, our status hasn’t changed, so we’re not living in better hotels, or having bigger clubs or anything, those haven’t changed. It’s still the same, because we’re still the same band. But my personal experience of my life has changed. I love the road, I love to be on the road and the road is my home. So when it comes to touring, if I come to a familiar town, I like to go somewhere, where there’s a few things that I like to check out. Probably like if I go to Munich, I go to the Pinakothek, if I have time maybe go to the older part of the town for classic, maybe an antique shop and I love that. Then happens what belongs to the show, like the sound check and then there is the show, too. And during this social media times I also do my best to tell the people, whoever follows or comes to the show. “Hey I’m here” and maybe take a picture in front of the club or the Pinakothek. “Hey I’m here.” just for paying respect and that I’m very pleased and happy to be in your town and hope to see you maybe not this time, but later and that I’m here and I love this place. It doesn’t take so much effort and I like to do it.
RoD: Question for our readers from the USA. Are there any plans for a US-tour?
Jyrki69: That comes out in January and will be revealed in a month [comment: August]. It’s like lots of things are happening and changing at the moment. And you go and see Marky Ramone and it’s still cool and he’s been playing there for whatever reason. Who knows? And what he might think of keeping the torch alive after two decades after everybody else is gone. Rock’n’Roll is still here. We are here still playing and I hope people have time and I’m sure they will have time and it’s time to return to this basic elements. This time we’re actually doing a smaller German tour and I think this it’s more like SOCIAL DISTORTION is doing this, that they rather play three smaller shows than one big show. I always personally say like I said earlier, I like to play small shows and I’m not the “big-crowd-pleaser”. It’s cool, I can do it, but I rather play the small shows because that is what I enjoy myself if I go to see a show, you know.
This time in Germany we’re playing a little bit more intimate for a reason. I actually have no idea at the moment but if somebody thinks those things in head and maybe they think it is cooler that half of the people get left out. So I hope that people get their tickets soon enough and make sure they will see us. Because we’re in a top shape, we’re very motivated and we’re happy to play the classics and couple of songs - let’s see what songs are people are going to like form the new album, so we have plenty of time to analyse that.
RoD: I think ‘Two Horns Up’ will be the perfect opener for the show.
Jyrki69: Yeah, in fact we will have to open with that. But I have to tell you that Dani Filth won’t be there at all the shows.
RoD: Any legendary venues on your bucket-list you haven’t played yet?
Jyrki69: Oh common man! We haven’t played Wacken for instance. That is like lots of festivals we have never played. We hope we’re gonna change that for next summer, there’s some classic big Metal festival even though we were just talking about that I like playing small clubs, there is still place for different sizes of venues. I hope we can crack up some festivals like Wacken or something like that in Germany next summer because we have never done them and we’re working on it. So my bucket list… I think this is something that would be really those and we’re gonna play a lot after this album, just because it’s time.
RoD: Thank you for the interview. See you on tour in November.
Promo pictures by Pasi Klemetti & Vilhelm Sjostrom