I might have been a latecomer to the tunes of The 69 Eyes, but since that time I have made up for it and managed to catch every appearance that the guys do when they come into town. I’ve spoken with the bands charismatic front man a number of times as well and with each meeting find him to be one of the most engaging and interesting purveyors of the Gothic Hard Rock & Roll scene. We met up with Jyrki 69 on his tour bus this time and found the singer just getting back from the local comic book store and from CD shopping. He is a big fan of that sort of activity and its fun to realize our musical heroes have the same hobbies as many of us. It was summer and found the band on tour with Wednesday 13 as their direct support. Check out the full conversation below.
This will be the third time that I have gotten to see The 69 Eyes perform in NYC and what began as a Bowery Ballroom appearance turned into a tour with Cradle Of Filth and then a return headlining engagement at one of the new Rock venues in the Big Apple. Three gigs in just over two and a half years is not a bad way to bring the fans up to speed on your music especially if you are one of those bands who does not get to come over to this region as often as you would have liked. I first met lead singer Jyrki 69 when the band was delivering “Devils” to the US for the first time and since then all of the bands back catalog had been released here as well as a new release entitled “Angels”. It’s always fun to talk to him as he is interested in so many cool things and while I would have liked a little more time to do this the bands day was running late so we were instructed to keep it simple and quick. Based on this, I pretty much just talked to him off the top of my head. Our entire brief conversation is documented below.
Jyrki 69: It’s always good to be back in New York, the streets to kill.
PiercingMetal: You and I met about two years ago not too far from this same location and now you are back but when we talked that first time it was the first time that The 69 Eyes had ever been into town, what do you recall about that first time around and this is even though you came back afterwards.
Jyrki 69: Well it was like really nice because it was the venue where I had seen Monster Magnet some years before which I think I mentioned then and it was thrilling for us to be playing there ourselves. So it was almost like coming home because there were a lot of friends from over the years as well as a lot of new people as well. There were also a lot of strangers who seemed to accept and adapt to The 69 Eyes. So in many ways it was like, and I think I might have told you this last time as well, that for many years New York has been our mental home and our source of inspiration as far as bands, atmosphere and streets to kill with those clubs that date back to the late eighties and early nineties.
PiercingMetal: Another thing that comes to mind is that at the time only “Devils” was the only album available at the time in the States and this album had actually been out for The 69 Eyes for about a year already – now you are finally getting the chance to tour here with the band and all of a sudden the band gets this deal with Cleopatra Records who end up releasing the entire back catalog of the band and then you jump over to Caroline Records to put out “Angels”, an album that I thought you were teasing me about the title of when we discussed “Devils”. Then the band goes on this Cradle of Filth tour which actually unnerved me a little as a fan. I mean because of the difference in overall sound from what you guys do against the stuff in CoF. What was it like being this Gothic Hard Rock Old School type of band against the music that gets done by Cradle.
Jyrki 69: Well it turned out to be a really good tour and we believed it would be because we had been friends with the Cradle guys for a long, long time. There were probably others who wondered how it would work with this Black Metal band and a Glammy Goth band but it was great and I think you were referring to our not being a new band and our long history and knowing the history of Rock so well how could this work out well I have a nice example for instance about that which really surprised me as well. You see we played in Baltimore near the end of the tour and I just thought how I like to dedicate some songs to some people and we have a song called “Lost Boys” so I just thought to, well in Baltimore the only thing that I knew by then, which was in the beginning of the year around March, that in the area was a band called Kix. So I thought it would be kind of cool to dedicate the song to them tonight since we are there. Of course I was expecting my band mates to be looking at me like oh what the hell is he talking about now and perhaps maybe some of the old timers at the bar saying oh yeah cheers but for my big surprise, because I am thinking that we have all these Cradle kids in the audience mixed in with the hard core 69 Eyes following as well ——- everybody cheered. It was really loud and the mosh pit started so I guess that is the best answer for you about worries with this show, there were none. The good times are pretty much back and we just rocked and the people liked that. On this tour when we went to our merch stand to sign stuff and there is like of course our 69 Eyes fans, but even some of the Cradle Of Filth fans who had now come to shake our hand and they are like “hey you rock and I never heard of you guys before”. So that was our intention and now during this tour, headlining on our own, that we have gathered all of these new friends and fans and of course those hard core 69 Eyes followers from before.
PiercingMetal: How do you like having every single The 69 Eyes album finally available domestically here.
Jyrki 69: It’s like amazing and it’s something that really justifies the band.
PiercingMetal: May I interject for a moment about this please. What I liked the most about it was because of the amount of records you had and normally when a band has this much back catalog and they eventually are performing here and you find the older music being released in the region, its one recording every few months. In this case, we found every single release by The 69 Eyes coming out pretty much all at the same time over the course of about three months total. This is actually how I am curious about your feelings on it.
Jyrki 69: Well it’s great because now we get more feedback. For instance you do a record like “Angels” and some of the ideas for the songs sometimes just come out and I have no explanation about where they come out from and sometimes you learn about your own thing in the songs. For instance we sometimes get some feedback from some other bands who come up and say “hey wow, you wrote about my life” and I know that you meant what you were singing. To which I sometimes have to say “oh really, wow”. Of course I never really try to explain my art as I prefer to let the fans experience it on their own way and I let the music historians and critics explain it in their own way. So, this is all about the album that we just did so now I am getting the feedback right now and every now and then because the album is still fresh on the minds of the fans so its easy to say that this song is about this while another is about that. Maybe I meant something for some of these songs and maybe I didn’t. Of course when you are playing them live you get to see what the songs are meaning for the people based on how they are reacting to them. Well, now we have the entire back catalog coming out like that so now we are finding out that the people are able to understand what I really meant since way back. I don’t really remember if I said this to you but it was once said of the Beatles that they were the most American band coming out of America way back then and in a way you can think that also about The 69 Eyes because our own, and especially my major influences come from American Pop culture. So there are a lot of things that I picked up and recycled or just turned into a little piece of lyrics in a song idea or whatever. So now it’s like really cool to have all of the albums out here as we are more or less this exciting cult band for this young MySpace generation so to speak. So it’s cool to have all of these young kids or even the old geezers coming out and being able to say “wow this is about this” and so on. That’s the way it is because I probably told you this about the song “Lost Boys” and we did a sort of remake in the video with Bam Margera but to our audiences in Central Europe and the record companies there that “Lost Boys” was an American Rock & Roll vampire movie but when you come here and say “Lost Boys” as a movie, the people say yeah man that’s a classic. Then you don’t have to explain everything and its like case closed. That’s the beauty of it and I enjoy it with my whole heart.
PiercingMetal: So now Jyrki, with all of these albums out here do you feel pressured to do an old, old song because now you don’t only have “Paris Kills” and “Blessed Be” available, which are all loaded with some really great Gothic Hard Rock songs and depict the melancholy sound you are so good at. With albums like “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” out there and the rest do you feel it needs to be addressed in the live set as well?
Jyrki 69: Like I said, it is really interesting also because we are finding that the kids have the first record and even the first EP we ever did. We have this compilation piece called “Motor City Resurrection” which takes all of our different singles and seven inch vinyl’s…
PiercingMetal: I love that one because it is you guys as a Trash Glam Rock cover band doing NY Dolls and more.
Jyrki 69: It’s something that has a little about every influence we had in the Dolls, and GG Allin and so on and it was because we were always in the underground fan culture which really was really active in the early nineties so there were also a lot of tribute albums put out then. So we were asked to do that because we were a part of this underground Glam Rock culture which was worldwide and everybody knew each other and since this was before the Internet all of the people would write letters to each other. So this is why we had recorded that stuff at the time and it’s rather interesting to see now these teenage kids who are wearing The 69 Eyes stuff or planning on taking a tattoo or already even have one or maybe even are finding themselves inspired by our band as it relates to starting their own band. They have discovered us and tell us these exact words like “hey we like your sound because it is so raw” and so on and that’s exciting for me. There are some songs from the very early days of The 69 Eyes that you will find yourself getting feedback on or even MySpace mail about and while we read this stuff when time allows we are finding that some songs are mentioned more than others and of course when you create music or when I write lyrics or the titles for the song or an album and you see that other people are using this stuff around the Internet I know that I have really succeeded in creating something which has inspired people or touched them. Those words and lyrics have sparked something within these peoples own lives and since some of these things come from the older songs, I dunno, we have been thinking about playing some really old stuff from The 69 Eyes catalog during this tour. It still doesn’t feel like nearly eighteen years since this band first got together. We’re the same guys and we’re all still excited and it doesn’t feel like that long but on the other hand it’s kind of hard to explain ones career on why this record is like that and another one is like this after so long. We definitely were one of the first with this type of sound but it is sometimes difficult to go into every single detail from across the years of it.
At that point the Road Manager pops in and tells me that the already hectic day has gotten more so and he needs Jyrki69 to finish up so they could take care of some important business. Given that I did my best to close out our discussion.
PiercingMetal: I couldn’t help but notice that you have once again paid a visit to the comic book store and bought a batch of stuff.
Jyrki 69: It’s that and a movie magazine, I actually just saw the new Tarantino movie and I really liked that. One of the things I picked up was this really cool comic book called “100 Bullets” and this is some really cool stuff. Hey by the way, do you have a copy of my comic (at that point the singer pulls out a trade paperback comic book that he did and its loaded with drawings and text from him). Yeah, I was drawing all of this stuff in the eighties and it’s kind of got scary how all of this stuff came out. For instance, if you look at the picture of the band in my comic it’s pretty much the same thing now in person. This comic also explains the history of The 69 Eyes in some detail.
PiercingMetal: As always it was a pleasure to talk to you and I wish you continued success with the albums both old and new as well as all of the other interesting things you are involved in.
Jyrki 69: Thanks man.
With that we snapped a couple of the ever required photos and compared notes on recent comic book movies which oddly enough he had some of the same opinion about as me. The singer’s comic book is called “Zombie Love” and if you can find a copy I suggest you grab it since its pretty cool. It’s mostly in Finnish but there is some English and of course a lot of cool illustrations are on every page. The bands complete back catalog is currently available courtesy of Cleopatra Records and all can be ordered rather reasonably via Amazon.com, so dig into those releases as your first order of business as soon as the available cash finds its way to your pocket. “Angels” was released in the US by Caroline Records and a special edition that features “Devils” and a DVD of videos and live footage is in the works.
Official Website: www.69eyes.com