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The 69 Eyes (V)
Interview mit Jyrki [The 69 Eyes], 22.08.2012, Skype

Das neue Album "X" von The 69 Eyes ist unter Dach und Fach. Doch die Hellsinki Vampires warten nicht nur mit einem neuen Ohrenschmaus auf. Sie haben auch etwas fürs Auge und den Gaumen zu bieten. Was genau, verriet mir Frontmann und Sänger Jyrki im Interview.

Hei Jyrki, how has been your summer so far? Is it warm in Finland?

Jyrki: No, but I've been travelling a lot, so I don't really mind. Now it's really getting chilly, the birds are almost all gone, it's really quiet and it smells like fall. It's like a sad and bitter pill to swallow that summer is gone. The sun might shine, but it's not warm anymore. This summer was kind of a quick one. As I said I travelled a lot and started my summer in Stockholm, Sweden, when we were recording the new album.

I have the feeling that the summer here has just begun, because last Sunday for example we had about 40 degrees…

[Suddenly the connection is interrupted, but after a few minutes Jyrki calls again.]

Jyrki: Sorry, I use Skype via my phone and my mother called me…anyway. So now the summer started in Germany?

Yeah, that's right. But let's talk about your new album "X" which will be released in September. Have the last days in the studio been relaxed or quite stressful?

Jyrki: It was really relaxed. We changed a lot of things recently: the management, the record company and then we have surrounded ourselves with positive people. We have our old school friends who are involved in many things like the cover artwork, videos, webpages and stuff like that. We did this new record with the Swedish production team On The Verge who are old friends. We already know them for years. Now everything connected with The 69 Eyes is based on friendship and there are just positive vibes around us. The same with the record: It was very enjoyable and a lot of fun to do it. The material was so good when we started to do the album. There were no questions or doubts about it. And during the time of recording we even realized that this record is going to be too good! The last record we did in Hollywood with the American producer Matt Hyde. It was a new thing recording in America and not all the material was completely ready when we started to work with him.

How was it this time?

Jyrki: We got all the material very ready, we went through a lot of songs and realized that we just got the best out of them. And with the producers the songs turned out to be even better. That's why we wanted to do the record in Sweden. They know the music, they have the pop sensibility and they know how to write memorable and touching songs. So do we, of course. But when we joined the venture and used the both forces together, the songs became even better. I can say this is the most musical record we've done. But a lot of things have changed in the music business since the last album. Then people were probably still buying CDs, then they were downloading records and now people don't buy CDs, they don't even download records – they stream the music via cloud services. So if you're creating new music, keep in mind that people are very impatient. So you have to make such a good record that they are patient enough to even stream the music. [laughs] You read about stories when Led Zeppelin released an album and people bought it, went home and played the both sides on their record player. And now? Who will listen to the whole record or even some songs? So if you do music, it has to be really good.

And you accepted the challenge…

Jyrki: I was thinking about a reason why The 69 Eyes should do a new record. And the main reason is the fans. The fans were asking from us, when we will have new songs out. So it's not the case that we just go to the studio, record a new album and then announce that we gonna play a tour and there we perform only one song of the new record, that's it. No! Our fans want to hear new songs live on stage, they want to hear new music. Obviously we, too, we think that all through the years the band is still progressing. So we think that we can still get the band further and further and come up with better and better material. This was the case! And when I said that people don't buy records anymore, well, they do if you think of Adele and her album, you know. It's the most sold record and why? Because it has great music on it. If the music is great, people come to your shows and buy your record. But you have to create fucking good material. And that's the reason why classic metal bands or classic rock bands are still playing big tours. They still write real songs. And people love real songs. The world hasn't changed, people still like the same things. One turning point was also when we toured a little over a year ago with the two Swedish sleaze bands Hardcore Superstar and Crash Diet. We just had released out sleazier and glammier album "Back In Blood" – so we have the background in that music as well – and they were great bands to tour with. But at some point we were also wondering, when we played in some countries for sleaze rock audiences, what they will think of our melancholic and melodic songs. Will they think that it's boring? But then songs like "Dance D'Amour" and so on turned out to be the favorites of our set. And those tracks were obviously different stuff than the other bands were playing. That told me that it's maybe the essence of The 69 Eyes, maybe that's the stuff that we can do best. And that was inspiring for us to come up and start to write more melancholic and melodic songs as we've been always doing… No one is doing that anymore. All the bands are gone. There is no Ramones, no Type'O'Negative anymore…

Does the new record nevertheless seamlessly tie in with "Back In Blood" or is it more a step into another direction? In one of the "X"-trailers you said for example that the new one is a pop album…

Jyrki: Well, pop means that it's recorded in Sweden and our Swedish producers have the pop sensibility. Think of the biggest hits that you listen to on the radio for many years – they are all written by Swedish songwriters or produced by Swedish producers. So the contemporary pop music has come out from Sweden for years. Combining that with our melancholic and melodic way of writing music, that makes good songs that stuck in your head and go deeper. Of course we've been always writing really memorable choruses, but this time I think we just topped ourselves. The songs are very catchy and most of all they are very beautiful.

What has been your inspiration source for the song texts?

Jyrki: Lyric wise the songs are very personal this time. I took the inspiration from my life, my girlfriend who left me a couple of years ago and then we started to write the new material. Of course those vibes were very easy to put into the music as well: There was a melancholic song and I put in my melancholic feelings. Well, it's a classic way of writing melancholic music. But the songs are not depressing or sad, they just go a little bit deeper…

What I have realized is that the word "love" appears quite often in your song titles…

Jyrki: When we had our previous album out, we didn't have a facebook page yet. So when we had the record out, the feedback we got from fans was like when we played the songs live. And then after five shows we finally knew which songs they like and which they don't like. Now it's different, we can read the feedback on the Internet. You know, we released a new single over a week ago and now there are hundreds of opinions from our fans on facebook. Actually they seem to love the song which is great, but I didn't expect that they will be so happy about it. And now let's come to your question: When we announced that this album will have ten songs and we named the titles, somebody else also pointed out that there's "love" in many titles. I haven't thought about it at all. I don't know if it means anything, but there have been a lot of personal vibes around.

How long have you been in the studio on the whole working for this new album?

Jyrki: The first song we wrote was the first single called "Red". It was already written like two years ago. So we've been writing the new songs over two years. But after the last album we toured a lot, we played nearly 200 shows and I even counted 37 countries. So we toured like hell and somebody checked out that we've been touring continuously from 2004. But last summer we played the last shows as we were burned out. I guess at some point we have been playing too much. Sometimes bands have holidays or something, but we didn't have any fucking breaks. I just started to write new songs, because we wanted to have the new album out as soon as possible. Then since winter 2011 we've been going through the songs with the production team, while the actual record was recorded in about two months – from April to June 2012. [suddenly laughs] I was actually yesterday singing another song that we gonna have as some bonus material. So we're still in the middle of making the record.

Which feedback did you get so far by your family and friends referring to the new material?

Jyrki: I have no friends and I haven't played the record to my mother. [laughs] I haven't played the record to anyone! No one of us did. As I said we changed all the people around us to get these positive vibes. The only feedback I got was for the single which people really seem to like. It's also a funny thing, well [laughs], when a band or an artist releases a single, it is released because they want it to be played on the radio. So when we had our own single out, one fan said "Oh no, it sounds like a radio hit" and I was just shaking my head and thought "Hold on, like what else it should sound? We released a single, so what's the point if it's not supposed to be played anywhere?" Obviously "Red" was picked up by the record company, because they thought that it's gonna be a good track for the radio. Have you heard the album at all?

Yeah, I have.

Jyrki: So you know that "Red" doesn't give a whole picture of the record at all! There's so much different material. Furthermore I think it's a special song with a hypnotic vibe and strong emotions included. That's the whole thing. But it's cool that people seem to like it. And actually here in Finland it's getting to all the playlists of the commercial radio stations, that's once again a step forward to a new level. So what the hell? Let's see what happens with the record. When I listened to the whole album a little over a month ago, I was drinking some white vine and actually I was really crying, because the songs came out so beautiful that it was really shocking for me. The only concern with the record has been questions like "What if people don't know somehow that this record is out? What if people don't have a chance to listen to it for some strange reasons?" I am sure our fans will love the record, because it has so great songs. We pushed so much ourselves for it, just to make our fans happy. It's exciting to hear what they like about it. Actually after this interview I will go to rehearsals. I think we have to play at least eight songs in our new live set. There will be songs like "Gothic Girl" and "Lost Boys" in the set anyway.

Back to the single "Red": You produced a music video for it in Sweden. How much of your own ideas could you contribute to this video?

Jyrki: At this point I have to say that it's a special deal that we do the whole record in Sweden and especially in Stockholm, because the city is a very important place for The 69 Eyes. That was the first place where we played outside of Finland. That's the place where we started to spread the world of The 69 Eyes. It was the first time we played in a big city which has a great music scene. That was over 20 years ago. So we've been a lot in the city and we have a lot of friends over there. My best ones live in Stockholm – especially friends from other bands. By the way: There's gonna be a DVD with the digipak album of "X" and it will include a nearly one hour documentary of The 69 Eyes in Stockholm. It explains the whole history since the early 90ies to this day of The 69 Eyes. There are a lot of interviews with our friends from Backyard Babies, Gemini 5, Maryslim – just a lot of Swedish rockers. So it's really, really cool!

And what about the music video now?

Jyrki: As we decided to make the whole record in Stockholm, I wanted that everything else has also something to do with it. I really like David Fincher's version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", the American version of that movie, and it is maybe something that comes to the most people's mind if they think of Sweden. Not only pop music and metal comes from there, but also movies and crime books. So my inspiration for the music video was that movie. And I met Patric Ullaeus, a very famous Swedish metal and rock video producer, about ten years ago when we played the first time in Gothenburg. He came backstage to say "Hello" to the guys of In Flames. Then he gave me his business card and said that he wants to do a video for us. For the last ten years I've been sending him emails now and then and had to put him off. But now we did this Swedish made record and obviously we wanted to do a video which suits to that. So it was time to call Patric Ullaeus. I told him that I want this "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"-vibe in the music video. So we went to a beautiful Swedish countryside and there was a mystery mansion like in that movie. Of course I also wanted to have Swedish stereotype girls taking part in the video, so now you will find these funeral black widows in there as well. We filmed the video on a beautiful summer day! Recording the album wasn't actually nice or easy, because I had to go back to some certain moments and relive some feelings when I was singing the album. But making a video should be fun!

When will the video be published?

Jyrki: The video will be included on the DVD, of course, but before that we will present it online on the 1st of September. There are a lot of things we have planned for our fans. Everything happens in a certain order. We will also gonna have our own red wine out at the same time than the album.

Can we also taste it here in Germany?

Jyrki: Yeah, of course. It's gonna be called "Red". That's a really cool thing! It's an Italian red wine and it comes from the Verona region where also Romeo and Juliet come from. Then again we also gonna have a comic book out. It's a three series graphical novel and it will be released in the States. The novels will tell the story of The 69 Eyes. It has nearly 200 pages and it roots back to the time when the Hellsinki Vampires were born. It's a fantasy story of how The 69 Eyes become the Hellsinki Vampires. That's a really cool thing!

What is your current album highlight and maybe the second single candidate?

Jyrki: As I said the first single was chosen by the record company. But I think in the end it's a cool song. We actually thought that "Love Runs Away", which is the opening track of the new album, could be the first single. That would have been the obvious choice. But then again I think, all the songs could work out as a single: the song "Tonight" and also the track "Borderline" which is a bit different. But I hope we'll have the chance to put that track out. In general on this record my voice is the main instrument. On the last album it was more the driving beat or hard hitting guitar riffs, but now my voice is the main thing in every song. And especially in "Borderline" my voice is in the foreground. We also recorded a duet together with Kat von D and that song is called "Rosary Blue". It will be released as a bonus track.

And who's actually that woman singing in the track "I'm Ready"?

Jyrki: Oh, she is a famous Swedish gospel and soul singer. She sounds like Tina Turner and that suits for the song. "I'm Ready" is the rock'n'roll number on the record.

Who is responsible for the cover artwork this time?

Jyrki: It's an old friend of mine. Actually he has been designing snowboard graphics and stuff like that. I just liked his stuff, because the covers are really cool. He's been taking photos all over the world on his journeys. He's some kind of survival guy who enjoys the wilderness. So all pictures he's been taking are from his journeys. In our cover there are animal bones he discovered in some forest. And when we came up with the idea that the album is gonna be called "X", he created the picture with these crossed bones…

The cover also reminds me a bit of the Voodoo cult with all these circles and signs…

Jyrki: Oh yeah, exactly! It is a X-agram thing which of course gives a tribute to classic gothic stuff like albums of Fields Of The Nephilim etc. But there are also our goth'n'roll symbols like the eye, heart, vampire and skull – and these symbols can be found on a circle. It's a trippy, mysterious album cover, but also a gateway to the music.

What do you in general think about all this Voodoo stuff being practiced in a lot of cultures?

Jyrki: The very first song on the first The 69 Eyes album was called "Voodoo Queen", so the topic has always been around as I'm influenced by bands like The Cramps and that kind of rock'n'roll. There have always been horror movies, vampires, werewolves and Voodoo in our music and what we've been creating.

Do you have a Voodoo doll under your pillow?

Jyrki: Do I? Maybe.

A lot of bands releasing a new album often come up with an optical change at the same time. Which importance would you ascribe to The 69 Eyes' visual image?

Jyrki: A lot of bands inspired us like Misfits and The Ramones – they are visual bands and always have/had young audiences on their gigs. If you go to see Motley Crüe or The Sisters Of Mercy, there's gonna be a lot of young people in the audience, too, because they are great bands and youngsters discover them all the time. And the same with The 69 Eyes. First of all I got the idea of being in a band when I've been asked at the rock clubs in Helsinki over and over again what my band is. But I didn't have a band at that time. I just looked like a rocker, I guess, as I started to dress up like my favorite bands. So I looked like a guy from a band. And it was boring to say that I don't have a band. Then I met the others…we all looked like guys from a band even we didn't have any bands back then. So over the years, of course, we became these caricature characters of ourselves. If you come to see our show and you don't know where the venue is, you can find the place by following the freaks. [laughter] If you go to see those bands like Misfits, Danzig, The Sisters Of Mercy etc., there are very different subcultures present in the audience. There are psychobilly people, gothic and glam rockers, black metal fans – and that's also with The 69 Eyes. We gather different kind of subcultures around us.

When will it be possible to hear the new songs live on stage?

Jyrki: We will start the touring here in Helsinki on Halloween and play all over in Scandinavia. After that we will come to central Europe and Germany. We actually start the tour in Cologne, I think it's the 25th of January. So we will be there from the end of January…

How are you going to celebrate the album release?

Jyrki: My side hobby is being a DJ in rock clubs. So I've been around in Barcelona, Spain, playing new songs, and also in New Orleans, USA. It was cool to see how people react to them. I will also do it in Stockholm, Sweden, of course. There will be a record release party here in Helsinki and during the last year I was also deejaying two times in Leipzig at the Dark Flower club. It's a really cool club and I love Leipzig as well. We'll gonna have a pre-listening party there in September. I just try to be at as many places as possible to play the new songs before the record comes out. That is exciting. We keep the The 69 Eyes going for 23 years now and I spent the major part of my entire life by being in this band. It gives a lot to have a chance to create something which is respected by other people, which entertains or even helps sometimes.

And it's cool that you never had a lineup change. You're still the same bunch of guys than in the beginning…

Jyrki: Yeah, that's crazy! I'm not sure if it's a wise move, because at some point I started to think that the metal bands always change their members. Maybe that is a cool thing? Maybe it's exciting to create a new album with total new guys? And we've been stupid not to change the members...

No, you're not!

Jyrki: I don't know. It's a pretty unique thing.

But I think as soon as you change a member, especially the singer, it's not the same band anymore…

Jyrki: Well, I wouldn't change the singer.

Yeah, but Nightwish did it for example.

Jyrki: Maybe I should sing in Nightwish…

No, just stay with The 69 Eyes…

Jyrki: Tuomas can join us at any time. We actually need a keyboarder for live shows.

Interview: Lea S.
Fotos: taken from 69eyes.com
Website Band: www.69eyes.com

(c) Zillo Musikmagazin / Ausgabe 10/12 / www.zillo.de
copyright: Aurora Borealis 2007-2015
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