An interview can be a simple Q/A session by asking the ‘right’ questions and getting the ‘appropriate’ answers. Yes, this is the ‘professional’ way to wrap up an assignment and feel good about it. Or you can throw all the questions out of the window and have a great talk with someone that makes you feel like you are old friends and you are catching up on things. This is exactly how the awesome chat took place having Jyrki 69 on the other side of the Skype connection, discussing more things than just the upcoming North American tour by THE 69 EYES. Check it out and please excuse the rather loose thematology.
Hi, how are you doing, Dimitris? This is Jyrki from THE 69 EYES.
Hi Jyrki, right on time like a true Englishman.
Of course, but I would say more like a Finnish.
Of course, man - I am just pulling your chain.
How are you?
I am fine, thank you. It is Christmas, man, come on. It is the best time of the year. No matter the decade is changing and there is something new coming.
Are you referring on the 30th anniversary of the band?
I am referring to everything... That’s true, but on the other hand, the whole world depends on how you count your years, man, we are going to the '20s, you know; it is time to look forward as the decade is changing. And it is surprising... I mean, as we are going into the new decade, all of us and especially our band, we are going to '20s and this actually means that THE 69 EYES have been playing Rock ‘n’ Roll on five decades.
Oh yeah, absolutely.
Yes, if you count the '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s and now the '20s is kind of interesting.
Well, it is more than interesting because each decade had different characteristics, right?
Yeah. As I was doing these interviews to promote our upcoming North American tour, I was thinking ‘what the hell to talk about?’ because I have already told everything about the new record, so if someone is interested in what I am saying, then they would have heard about it already. Sure, I can talk about the European tour, which has been fantastic, and I can always tell you about that. However, in almost every interview I am been asked ‘how come you’ve been playing this long?’ Even when the band had been around for 10 years, we were been asked about that. And now, after 30 years, it’s like ‘holy shit! What the hell? You are the Helsinki Vampires’.
Yeah, I was about to say that. You are vampires after all (laughs).
So, I was thinking that as THE 69 EYES are going to be playing for the fifth decade and obviously I do not have the answer to why have been playing for this long, but during this thought process, the ‘80s came to mind; I always like to say this from the stage like ‘greetings from 1989, we are an ‘80s band’ just to amuse people and some get the joke and others from the younger generation are probably a little bit shocked but that’s the reaction I am going for. If you think of the bands that started in the ‘80s are still going on. It can be Punk Rock, Metal, Rockabilly, Hard Rock bands or just artists like Billy Idol - everybody is still around. But back then, there was no template or blueprint of what to do next. There were THE ROLLING STONES, THE RAMONES and those you looked up to. What I am trying to say is that when you started a band in the ‘80s, the idea was that it would be for forever. Bands that started in the ‘90s are pretty much gone and even later than that; some of them have changed the singer or other band members and maybe it is just the original guitarist who has gathered all these musicians together to play the songs that other guys made famous. These are the modern times and in some cases bands feel that they have to change the singer, otherwise they will lose people’s interest. When we started, we thought that this would be the adventure of our lives and have what all those bands that started earlier had. This is the mindset of THE 69 EYES and fortunately there is still more like this old-school Rock ‘n’ Roll attitude. Like if you listen to the British Punk Rock, all these classic bands that had probably released some a couple of EPs and 7” singles and they are still together touring around the world and they are obviously more famous than ever. This original musicianship and mental attitude are needed. Nowadays, the way music and even the new bands are consumed so fast, you know, a new album comes out and it is already old after one tour. So, having this advantage of playing Rock ‘n’ Roll for 30 years is actually a pretty cool factor.
It is impressive, not just cool.
Yeah, it’s insane. And there was never a moment like ‘oh dear, we should have done something else’ or ‘why did I waste my time on this’ - it is the other way around. Our latest ‘difficult’ 12th album came out, and looking at the number of albums we have released and the years we’ve been around, it’s pretty horrible since we haven’t done as many as THE BEATLES had, although who cares about any band’s 40th album as long as you are on top of your game each and every time. I am saying this because I was in this vibe of ‘this is our best record we’ve ever done’, our fans agree with this, and we are playing almost half of that live, so the songs are proving themselves. Instead of regretting anything, I am super happy. As I said, we did this European tour and we had lots of sold-out shows, something that has not happened for the last 10 years. This also shows that during this time there is less competition; I mean, there used to be a lot of cool bands, like 10 or even 20 years ago. There are not so many anymore, you know, classic names, our friends have quite or dropped off or something sad has happened. I am glad we are still doing this.
What you are currently describing about the current music scene, I don’t like to use the term ‘music industry’…
I hate the word ‘industry’ because we have never really made it to be part of this. We people around us like 10 to 15 years ago but then everything changed and we could not afford anyone and did not bring fortune to anybody not even to ourselves. I know that someone may say that I am saying this because I am bitter because we never became part of it and probably that may be true. Well, it never happened to us but we can still afford a light-guy on the tour (laughs). Anyway, I believe we can avoid that word [industry] when the other values come forward. Maybe ‘music business’ is not a bad word to use.
Where I was going with that is to say that the bands that you are describing, and THE 69 EYES is one of those, when they started, they wanted to make a name of them by writing music. Nowadays, you can also make a name just by posting stuff on the ‘so called’ social media, doing this or that, but not trying to write good music.
That’s right, or even make a collection of songs and put out an EP. It is great that people are creative, artistic and so on, but I guess some may get upset because the success does not come fast. Everybody wants everything to happen immediately. I mean, it took us 10 years to reach the sound that we are doing right now. On the other hand, THE 69 EYES was our first band and we did not have prior experience and this is why it took us so long. Even if 30 years have passed, we still think like the best days are ahead of us; what I am trying to say here is that we have not let this become a routine or a job.
I know exactly what you’re saying and I believe that the fans see this; I mean, when I saw you guys live in April, I got the feeling that you are still enjoying what you are doing, you are still having fun on stage and therefore the band has not turned into a ‘day job’. On the other hand, there are all those “famous” bands that have been doing this as being part of a daily routine or just another day at the office.
This is another way of being a musician and there is nothing wrong doing this. We are still a cult band and every show is different from the other and although we also have been doing this for so long we do not treat this as a job and I know that (again) someone will say ‘they never reached that level and this is why this band is not professional’. But I never liked the word ‘professional’; I am more like an adventurer, a dreamer and feel like some songs are fantastic and there is magic in the music where anything can happen. You know, sometimes we are drunk onstage, the electricity goes off, the instruments are out of tune or something else happens but that’s part of Rock ‘n’ Roll where anything can happen. We are sharing this weird moment where we are playing these songs for a group of strangers that somehow it feels like we have met before (and with some we probably have). This is how I like to see this instead of having a show that follows a plan and goes according to the script. We may never reach that level but to be honest, I have never thought about this. Maybe this is also because I always consider THE 69 EYES as a band for smaller venues and not for stadiums; this kind of bands were my favorites. On the other hand, and I am taking my words back, I went to see THE MISFITS in New York at the Madison Square Garden and that was perfect. It was like seeing the same band that played in the legendary CBGB club. Because they delivered us something that nobody else has, and have these songs that nowadays have become anthems that can be played in places like Madison Square Garden. But on the stage, it was the same band that was playing in the CBGB.
That’s great to hear; although, sometimes when I see a lineup getting together just for some shows, it does not feel that appealing. To me, a band means writing and releasing new music, if you know what I’m saying.
Well, this Fall while we were on tour, as a fanboy aside from THE MISFITS in New York, I went to Stockholm to see THE SISTERS OF MERCY and that says a little bit of what kind of guy I am. THE SISTERS OF MERCY did play some new songs but THE MISFITS did only the classics, but I didn’t care; both were brilliant, both had passion and both were doing this for the right reasons.
Well, we love Glenn.
Absolutely and also Andrew Eldritch, god bless.
Of course! I love how our discussion destroyed the set of questions I had prepared and how it kind of shines a light on “West End”; I mean, the title says that this is the end of something and at the same time the beginning of something new, right?
This is just a dark joke of mine; I came up with the name and asked the guys what did they think about it and they said that it was interesting. For some months I have been explaining this to people about what it means or heard about what they think it means and really this is just a sick joke, a cool name. There is always some weird news coming up and especially these days I cannot stop thinking ‘oh whoa, that is kind of west end news’. I like this kind of stuff like your website is called KAOZ because chaos is beautiful, it’s interesting and obviously it belongs to this world. These are very chaotic times, although I cannot think of any era that was not chaotic. So, “West End” belongs here as a record but also as a title of our 12th album.
I think you are right about these days feeling like being more chaotic than others because with the internet and all the information at the palm of hands, we’re getting exposed to all the chaotic things happening everywhere. And because of that, it feels like these days are more chaotic than everything else, but I think it’s been like this since the beginning of times.
Yeah, you are right. It is crazy that you get all the news around the world immediately. Adding to this, is that you can practically see any picture of whatever comes to mind; you can google it and you can see a picture of musicians, movie stars, paintings, any kind of animal, anything. But think of those days that there was only a church in a town and that was the only place you could see a couple of paintings and pictures. Really, it was the only place you could see a picture of history or of a religious subject because there was no other place. When I was called to do a guest appearance on LIV SIN’s debut album [“Follow Me”] for the FIGHT cover song “Immortal Sin”, I met with the producer of the album who was in ACCEPT and had produced the majority of the albums [Stefan Kaufmann]. I went to his home in Germany and he explained to me the fact that in the early ‘80s there were like five (cutting corners here) Metal bands like ACCEPT, JUDAS PRIEST, MOTÖRHEAD, SAXON… What else can we say... BLACK SABBATH for instance, and SCORPIONS of course. Anyways, let’s say five European bands in the early ‘80s and were selling 5 million albums each and were doing stadium tours all around the world. Now, there are 5 million bands and are selling like 5 records each.
Yeah, I see what you are saying.
So, going for some pictures in a church town, you now have every picture you may think of. The same goes with music. I mean, now bands have followers who may not be buying records at all.
This may have killed the artistic imagination because nowadays the competition is very hard with so many bands and sometimes it feels like every song and every melody has been played and recorded.
Indeed, but still these are interesting times. I am happy and I am not hopeful because I know these things will rock out. It is really cool to be a 50 years old rocker and playing in a band that has been going on for 30 years. It’s kind of like God-given advantage, which I am not shame of, it is the coolest ever. You just need to be more active because you are getting buried with so much BS at the moment and this sometimes frustrates you.
Yes, this can happen. So, what is your way to celebrate the 30th anniversary?
Well, it was the new record and touring right now. Also, returning to the States after a decade was amazing. It was really beautiful coming there to play live in the Spring time. As you said in the beginning, and you used the swear words “music industry”, I was told that ‘you have to keep the momentum’ especially when touring the States.
Oh, my apologies for cussing (laughs)…
I was told in 2007 that we should keep coming back in the States if we wanted to keep the momentum. But then 2008-09 happened... I watched the movie “Hustlers” with JLO, fantastic movie in many ways, and it was about strip clubs getting closed down; strip clubs gone out in 2008-09? It was the same time when THE 69 EYES stopped coming to the States. Those times hit different things hard and also hit our band in a way that we did not have reason or chance or support to come back to the States. Returning to the States against all odds and seeing the same people that we had in our shows a decade ago is huge, and what really made me feel humble is that they had the records we released during those years that we had not been playing in the States. I was really surprised and it seriously felt like nothing had happened and we had not missed anything. I was surprised seeing people wanting us to sing those records; I was like ‘whoa, you really got these’ even if we had lost the momentum by not coming over. There are many ways of doing things and I just want to whoever is reading this or following my rants hopefully should and will get inspired to keep on and believe. This is the only way to go on, no matter the things we are talking about life. Life is wonderful and Rock ‘n’ Roll is amazing; you just need to keep on dreaming. But you also have to rock hard because no miracle will happen, unless you work hard.
Awesome Jyrki, this is the best way to wrap this extremely interesting discussion.
Thank you, sir!
As I said, I love that I did not use any of the questions I had prepared for this interview. I think this came out great. We will see you live in Chicago.
Yeah, that’s great, man! We are finally playing in Chicago. See you at Reggies!