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Interview with

Bazie from The 69 Eyes

The beginnings of THE 69 EYES are going back to 1989 when they were founded as a Sleaze and Garage Rock band in Helsinki. Through local gigs they earned a contract with a Finnish label, they’ve released their first albums on before getting signed to the renowned Roadrunner Records label in 1999, which also meant a huge step forward in their career with the first internationally released album ‘Wasting The Dawn’. The single, spawned from the record became an instant hit and brought another boost of popularity for them. Within the years to come, they’d be enlarging their fan base significantly, as well as expanding their touring schedule to countries such as the US, Mexico and even Japan. 2009 then was the year for them to release their tenth studio album ‘Back in Blood’ which will supposedly be one focus of the tour’s set besides the hits the fans have come to love them for. After the acoustic show in Stockholm we had a chance to talk to the band.

Reflections of Darkness (RoD): You celebrated 20 years as a band in autumn 2009, how does it feel?
Bazie: Actually it’s a little weird, I’ve never really thought about it *laughs* it never came to my mind or to anybody’s mind that we actually been together for 20 years, it’s been so fast in that sense and you never thought about it. We always do stuff in the present to go forward and not backward it makes more sense for us. We just try to carry on and that is why we are still together and doing the same thing and why it’s working… maybe not always working, but yeah it feels pretty good!

RoD: Do you have any special memories during this journey, as well as hopes for the future?
Bazie: As I’ve said we don’t lock back we look for the future but of course with the new album ‘Back in Blood’ there were some moments when we got the producer Matt Hyde who wanted us to go back to some elements in our past, in our past albums. He wanted to re-enter the moments and the energy that we have had and some elements in some songs. Matt wanted us to bring it back, so in that sense when it comes to the music we were a little bit in the past. When we started the band, we were a small band, travelling with the band everything was unorganized of course and you keep memories of that. Also when we did our first three albums that is what I would say the history of the band after that we started with ‘Blessed Be’ and we got more famous and everything has been really hectic after that so there has been no time to really like how would I say, have a recollection of all the things. It’s been the same time line from the ‘Blessed Be’ album it’s been the same and it’s like you don’t separate some things before that.

RoD: Do you have a favourite album?
Bazie: Ah all the albums are in some way, but every time you do a new one you want to do the best. I think that I am really lucky and all the albums that we have done are favourite albums. On the first one (‘Bump´n´Grind’ 1992), the songs are really good but we were so inexperienced that *laughs* I like the songs even if we were not prepared, in some way we were prepared but well we fucked up on ourselves. But my favourite album I would say is of course the new one because I really like it. We challenged ourselves to do something else with that one, in something else I mean to just relay on ourselves and that is what the producer has really pushed us to do. Whatever people like it or not it was the thing to do - what we wanted to do. The last two or three albums is more like I like them pretty much but we had a different approach on them I think, we relied more on the producers and that kind of things. Of course I have fun memories of the time before we did the ‘Blessed Be’ album, it was the first one in a new era, how we started to gain more reaction from the mainstream media in Finland; that was the new start, that album brings back good memories. You tend to think of that because people really liked that album very much but really I would not know it is so different when you are in a band but all our albums are favourites! *laughs*

RoD: What has been the major source of inspiration on ‘Back in Blood’?
Bazie: The best basic thing is to get more into the band. We have had this huge production of everything for the two past albums like you know before we had a producer who did all the arrangements, like an orchestration with a lot of keyboards, a lot of strings and everything. But now we wanted to strip it down - it was the main thing, to strip it down, get more focus on drums and vocals together with the rhythm, and more varying vocals that was the main thing with the producer that we wanted to do. But as a songwriting thing we also wanted to get more up tempo and a little bit different like more rock from our past albums ‘Savage Garden’ and ‘Wrap your troubles in dreams’ some elements, no hard rocking things, we. But when you do the album… there was actually another guy involved who cancelled, a US guy who was supposed to do the album. I don’t remember his name but that is the reason why the album is a little bit delayed, this album was supposed to be out last April, but then the producer cancelled and we had to get another one. Then we found Matt Hyde. I’ve talked to a lot of these producers and he was in the same state of mind, we liked his work and it’s like we connected to him personally. I think when you do the album in the US - it was the first time we recorded outside of Finland and that was kind of an experience, it was a different kind of approach.

RoD: I have listened to the album and I think ‘Back in Blood’ is your best album this far…
Bazie: Yeah thank you!

RoD: …it’s special and the songs are really different, I really like for example the songs ‘Hunger’ and oh the last song on the record… ‘Eternal’, because it’s so unexpected in a way I think…
Bazie: Yeah the song ‘Hunger’ is typical in the way like what we have done before and it’s actually an old song. There was another song ‘Night Watch’ that Matt Hyde appraised as ok, it was like the exact songs he wanted to have on the album. It connects it’s like in a good way a typical 69 EYES song. We had a lot of songs and then we decided what to do, to risk it with some songs but I think that is fine. ‘Eternal’ is the last song on the record and I really like that it’s a reminder from the last album (‘Angels’ 2007) with the song ‘Star of faith’; so that kind of felt up close to the music. That is what I mean it’s in the songwriting, it’s a different thing how you put it on the record, you can tell like they hired another producer and the same people that we had on before, the sound is totally different but with the same songs… but thank you! Because it’s good to hear! I am really positively happy about it.

RoD: Will it take more of you to get this album to work live?
Bazie: We have only played two songs live ‘Back in Blood’ and ‘Dead girls are easy’, we have just started rehearsing… yeah actually it’s a little bit more challenging because when we play live we have some keyboards that we play to, we have backing tracks, we don’t have a keyboard player so… but now it’s like it’s a different thing, it’s a different approach. When you have a lot of guitars tracks so ok we are not going to play, because on previous albums were based on like we have two / three guitars and we were actually to play them but with arrangements, you could do with two guitars and there were nothing extra you could not do and there were keyboards but I was like I can play the guitar and it’s a different thing to do live, it’s a framed mind, it just replaces a lot…

RoD: Do you think you will play ‘Eternal’ live, is it possible to do this song live?
Bazie: Yeah it is but I think it will come later.

RoD: I understand that.
Baize: Like yesterday we played this acoustic set.

RoD: Yes I was there and saw you.
Bazie: Yeah well I don’t think we will start it from there, because that was something new we did last night and that was a bit of a challenge but also a chance to challenge ourselves and to have some fun!

RoD: And it’s cool to do something different, if you don’t try stuff then you don’t know…
Bazie: Yeah that is what I mean, like we had ‘Star of faith’ on the ‘Angels’ album but we never thought we were going to play it live, we could have done it but then it was a different situation, we actually went on tour before the album even came out. Now we actually have a little bit more time to get in some space for rehearsals. But with ‘Angles’ we just went on tour, we came back and the album was out and we had like two weeks before we went out on tour again. There was no time to digest the album and it went a little bit like we had no time to maybe do songs like ‘Star of faith’ then we just had to go with the more obvious songs when we played live. But now we have a little more time to work with the new things because the album was actually ready in June.

RoD: Ok, what inspires you and makes you feel creative?
Bazie: I think… hm that is a good question actually *laughs*. Sometimes you get the inspiration from some other music, some beat, your write some riff or… but in general if I am stressed and there is a lot of noise like being out on tour that is no place to create anything. The best environment for me is to be in silence, alone and you know to just have time to let some inspiration come in because that is the main thing. Nowadays it’s really hard to find that kind of things, usually it’s during the night time because everybody is asleep and the phone is not ringing. When you start writing songs it’s kind of a nocturnal kind of thing you live on the night time you turn the clock that way, the night time is the best time to for inspiration. Another way is going to a place in the countryside but that is the something that I have never tried. The way to start is to have no distractions, silence and to just have time for you. But usually when we work on the songs, when we have the first ideas you can work on that but it’s hard, you can work on the songs but if you don’t have the inspiration… sometimes it will let go when you work…

RoD: You go and do some other stuff?
Bazie: Yeah while you work on the stuff you can… it’s not like you can wait for inspiration, when I get the basic idea for a song then I can work on that, it all depends where you are in the writing position you know.

RoD: Can you relate to how important you music and you are to your fans and have you had or do you still have any idols yourself?
Bazie: Yeah I think one thing that I will always remember is when I was a teenager and Metallica played on a small festival 1986 in Finland. Somehow I got into the backstage - by accident, I don’t know I just wanted to go there, but that always reminds of how kind they were. I got there and they were like “do you want a beer” and I got the song book and everything, I got the pictures even with the bass player who died, Cliff Burger. That is the one thing that always comes back to me to remind me that it was all pretty good. I actually saw them this summer but I will always remember the memories that moment gave me.

RoD: They know what they do, they are very professional.
Bazie: Yeah that band still has fan meetings every day before they play, it’s organized now but it was not so organized back then*laughs* It’s really not chocking but when you got people tattooing black ankhs and for example when we were to the US and I signed a guys arm and he was like “now I am going to get this tattooed” and I was like “Oh, okay…” *laughs*

RoD: Oh my god! *laughs*
Bazie: But then you are just like Oh…OK… *We both laugh* Yeah there were actually one guy who wanted me to draw something on his leg and then he said like “now I am going to get this tattooed so sign it” and I said hey this is so bad so you should not do it so... it’s cool but well you know what I mean is that it does not have to be happening like that. That is the one thing when you can tell that people really like what we do. It comes to my mind that we actually has this competition up on Nuclear Blast website where you can send your 69 Eyes tattoo and then Kat Von Dee from LA, we know her, she is going to choose the best tattoo.

RoD: It’s going to be interesting to see the result of that competition. Do you get recognized when you walk out in the street?
Bazie: Yeah but usually nobody says anything…

RoD: They just stare…
Bazie: Yeah and that is actually good because nobody is pointing you out, like on the food store you get recognized but the thing is that Helsinki is such a small city and there are a lot of actresses and other famous people and people are used to seeing them so nobody is like harassing them that much.

RoD: That must be good…
Bazie: Yeah if you don’t get recognized because I see many of them but nobody pays too much attention. But if you go outside in the night and people are a little bit drunk and they get loose, they get loose in their minds and it’s so different in that way. In Finland where I live I have a normal life that I actually go back to in the city, I go there and see people like coming here (Stockholm, Sweden). When you are going on tour you usually stay in the bus, or stay in the hotel and see the certain people we are usually around and you live in a little some kind of bubble. It’s like you see only the people you are supposed to see *laughs*

Rod: Let’s talk some about music videos. You have done some interesting and cool music videos through the years and now on the video for the first single ‘Dead girls are easy’ you are once again working with Bam Margera who directed the video ‘Lost Boys’, what can you say about this?
Bazie: The thing is that everyone wants a song that kicks, a song that is not so serious. We were really happy with the ‘Lost Boys’ video we did with Bam. I think it’s the best video we have done!

RoD: Yeah it’s a cool video
Bazie: Yeah so we were ok about options but we wanted to work with Bam. The US label wanted that song as a single and to be honest we were like “OK, you want that song as a single OK I am not going to come and…” I never thought it would be a single but I was like if you want it, it’s ok. But then usually it’s like, we choose the guy, who choose the team who is going to do it and then they get to come with the ideas, if it’s something bad then we don’t want it. But with this kind of production you have to make it cheap and do it really fast, it’s like this for all involved. You give the whole thing to the guys who is going to do it you know, of course the whole idea you have to except that but it’s always like “Oh it’s like this” *laughs*

RoD: Oh you want us to do this…*more laughs*
Bazie No, no, no because of the money and everything you have to compromise and things changes on the way. But it was fun to do the video with Bam because he is so - that is why we love him - he loves music and he is passionate about what he do, he doesn’t do it for the money. When you are choosing the producer and whoever they have to want to do it, if it’s just like a job for them then it’s not going to work in the end. In the long run it’s getting like demanding in that way whatever you do, like the record, the video, the manager or whatever to do with the band you have to have a passion to do it because it’s going to get less trouble in the end. That is the main thing for everybody who are involved to want to do the things and that is why we know Bam is going to do it with the heart and he wants to do it!

RoD: Do you think it is fun to do music videos?
Bazie: Yeah! Actually that video was the easiest that we have done actually *laughs* in that way because it had a storyline that is you know good, you see the band play and there is some other things in there, that video has more like we are not too much in the picture. We are not the main road in that one and that is why it’s so different, it was really easy to do because when we were on the set, we were on the turf cheering on. We were filming one day when we played and that day went by really fast. The next day we were in a bar and they were filming but they were continuing to film all the time and we were like “Ok let us just hang around” *laughs*. But you know when you are doing these videos you can appreciate that really good sprit musicians has. I don’t know someone who is an actor you know, it’s not that fun, it’s not like you glamorizing it to do his job, I can imagine how you know spend like 24 hours on a trailer and then here we go we got one minute shoot but where we going now, because it takes so much.

RoD: When you write and create music can you see like this is how I want the music video to be like?
Bazie: No it’s never like that because as I said the songs that in the end becomes the singles are often the ones that we never thought would be so it’s actually never like that *laughs*

RoD: I just thought about it…
Bazie: *laughs* Yeah well we never even think about it, like on every album you think “that this is going to be a single and this is not going to be one” and in the end it’s not a single. Maybe you think it in your head and you can say that it’s the ugliest for me because I draw in to the song, I am in so deep in there in the songs so you don’t see what comes next so you have to have eyes on people. Because every time we do an album we put down the songs and what we like and as I have said on all the albums I really like all the songs, there is nothing that I would change with the songs. But sometimes on some albums like how they happen you know the sound and how they connect with people but that is something that you never know.

RoD: When did you love for music start?
Bazie: Ah it was when I was like 7 or 8 years old. I had an older sister; she was like 9 years older than me and she was a really big influence for me. When you are reckoning she was a teenager and I was a pain in the ass for her but she had a lot of good music. It was the time of the punk rock when she was like “ok I’ve got the whole tapes with The Ramones and The Six Pistols and all these punk rock bands”. When I started to study the music and went over the tapes and the vinyl’s she moved out from home. My sister was a big influence for me and actually she bought my first guitar.

RoD: Ok, how old were you then when you got your first guitar?
Bazie: I was 13 but when I just got the guitar I was like “OK”. I did not play it I just drummed. I had it for like one year and back then I had no friends, we lived in a small city and then we moved to Helsinki. There I got a group of friends, we were teenagers and we were like playing football and then we were like let’s start a band. The thing is that when I started playing it was literally not with the band it was not easy. I played to myself, I tried to play and it was fun, it was like a practice in me, it was something like playing ping pong or playing football it was like “ok let’s go and play”. Live music was everywhere and still is with those guys because of the kind of music fans we are. What I really like with being in a band is that it's a lot of people involved, it’s not something you do all by yourself – of course nowadays it’s more like I can do the demos for the songs as I did basically myself and then you listen to that and then you get more experienced and you think you can do it. But the main thing is if you don’t know how to do shows and to have a band then it’s just nothing because it’s not the fun part, it’s the boring part. I don’t think I could do without, I could do music but there is always like you need to have that kind of …

RoD: Like an outlet…
Bazie: Yeah like an outlet, playing in the band is something you know, I like to be alone and I have to do these things all by myself but now the things are also like to do with other people and to have fun.

RoD: When you listen to music what is the most important thing for you? I mean do you listen and read the lyrics or do you just enjoy the music and take it all in at once?
Bazie: I think it’s the vibe like how it appeals, there is not about the lyrics, it’s how it connects you know. It’s like I actually try not to analyze that, if it feels good if you like it then you like it. The lyrics are not so important that way when you first hear the song but when you actually start to like some songs or a band or whatever then you get into it some more like “ok what are they singing about”? There are some bands that I really like, they are not so original in that way and I like them. Music is like you feel if it feels good or not so it’s not that overly complicated in that way but it has a lot to do with the - actually I have never thought about this - but it comes to my mind that a friend of mine who is not a musician, can’t play or make a record but my friend said that “it’s a lot about the singers voice”, if you like the singers voice or not. Like there are some bands I actually think is good but I don’t like the singer’s voice. I have never thought about that before and my friend who does not know anything about music said “this is good but I don’t like the singer’s voice and it’s just harder”. I actually never thought about this myself but of course all people are different but there is the thing that we wanted to improve with like everything that we have done after the “Blessed Be” album is Jyrkis voice.

RoD: What do you listen to, do you have any favourites?
Bazie: Yeah *laughs*, what do I listen to… hm at the moment I have not listened to actually anything for a while. I try to check out new bands of course. I have always loved to check out new bands and I try to go and see new bands play whenever it’s possible. It’s more like in that sense that I am working with music and then I check what is going on but there is no new favourite band. I always started from the punk rock thing, listening to Punk then I moved on to more, it’s not Punk and Hard Rock or anything you know like when I started listening to Metallica and Anthrax and all that stuff. But it’s not that thing anymore, I think Lamb of God is good; I liked them when I was younger and now I like more variety. I like trick hop, Radiohead and stuff like that, but when you go back to hard rock then I like Motorhead, AC/DC, Whitesnake and stuff like that. I think actually that I am in the phase of like you know I really get bored in that kind of way I just want to find something new but what I like never goes away. But basically as I said I like this Punk and Hard Rock Music is for me like a state of mind you know that atmosphere where you go and explore things and that is why I try to find some new music.

RoD: If you were hit by a car and lie dying on the ground but you got to sing one song, a song that people would remember you for a song that would sum up you, which song would that be?
Bazie: “Killed by death” by Motorhead *laughs*

RoD: Good choice *laughs*


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