The 69 Eyes: Somewhere between good and evil, and Rock´n´Roll

After presenting their upcoming album already in Germany, England and USA The 69 Eyes are back on home ground to present their rocking sound to Finnish fans as well. At the Apollo Club the band introduced their new stuff and style to us. However, Mr. Jyrki had us waiting for some time but we finally could have a chat with the good-humoured singer about the new record „Back in Blood“ and the band`s 20-year anniversary.

You were presenting your upcoming record „Back in Blood“ in the USA, London and Berlin. How was the reaction of the people so far?
Well, you know I think everybody has been thrilled, and in London where we had this last time people were already singing along, which is…on one side it was good but on the other I was suspicious. How can you guys know the songs already but you know, it`s how the times are going these days. It`s cool, exciting times.

You produced it in L.A., with Matt Hyde as a producer how was it to work with him?
He was very determined and he wanted us to rock extremely hard. He really put effort in, like what kind of attitude and what kind of passion every one of us was performing on that record. That was key factor why it sounds like the guys are playing like it`s the last day of their lives. He really kept us focused and you know he was really focused by himself. It wasn´t an easy experience but this was the whole deal. He really squeezed every tear and every drop of blood out of us for that record.

So is that one of the reasons why you chose to produce the record in the USA and not in your home country?
Yes, exactly. We`ve have always done our records here in Helsinki, this is our hometown. So it has always been very comfortable. We`ve been staying at home or going out to the bars after the recordings. It was just very easy. Everybody wanted us to make a record outside of Helsinki. Anywhere, it could have been even inside of Finland. That`s what we where considering first because we never tried to be anywhere else. At least I wanted it to be somewhere else where I can only focus on the music. So after couple of offers from producers, it turned out to be that guy from L.A which of course sounded cool and was exciting. But that was not the main reason to do the thing. First of all, we wanted to do it outside of Helsinki, somewhere. Then we started with who could produce it, someone who could be determined and subject a dictatorship over us to squeeze everything out of us to do this record. He sounded like very good and he truly was. He was actually better than I expected. You never know what to expect, especially because he was an outsider. He really was able see our band from the distance and could step into the fan`s shoes. So he was studying our band as a fan and came to the conclusion what kind of record our fans are awaiting from us. That was his motive and also he motivated us to see us as a rock band. When we are playing live we don´t have huge lightshows. We don´t have bombs. We are just very simple, just five guys playing Rock`n Roll. So, that`s what he wanted to catch on the record. No extra keyboards, not these samples there on this song and this there `cause we always had a lot of keyboards and a lot of stuff and we wanted to get rid of that to get back to the classic rock sound

In June you played for the first time in Australia, how was this experience for you?
That was really amazing because none of our records have ever been released there. None of us has done any interviews there. Except I did some phone ones two weeks before we arrived there. Then we played there and there were about 500 people at each show. Everybody had the records there, they had the tattoos, they knew the songs, it felt like we have been there forever. So that was definitely a very exciting experience. I think we are going back there as soon as we have the next chance, but it was amazing you know (gets very excited) It is exciting to travel but to play a show with a band. It`s a different thing. It`s not cheap. So the company who arranged the tour must have known that there will be people at the shows and so on. But we didn´t know anything so it was a pleasant surprise.

Lot of things have already happened this year like your new record, a new record deal, a deal with Playboy and the first gigs in Down Under, seems like a great year for the 69 Eyes, what more can we expect from you this year?
Yeah, basically everything has happened this year (laughs) Well we do an American tour and then we do a concrete Finnish tour which means we haven´t toured in Finland for a long, long time like in northern parts. So that´s the thing to do right now and everything that happens and why it happens in a certain order has to do with the state of the economy around the world. So the people who are playing with us like chess figures are putting us to go here and there next. They have decided these things which things come after another. First we do the American tour, then we do the Finnish tour, then we come back to the centre of Europe and once again more centre of Europe and so it will go till next summer again to the festivals. It´s the regular routine but this time it goes this way.

You have your band anniversary this year, did you celebrate it, and if yes, how? What are the most important changes if you think of the differences „The 69 Eyes” 20 years ago, 10 years ago & the band now?
Yeah, it´s (next month) in September the 19th right, we are actually still teenagers, teenager band (laughs) The new album is how we celebrate the band, to put out a kick ass record, you know we could put out some compilation and do some golden oldies tour or something but that´s nothing that we do. We just could put out a compilation to celebrate our 20 anniversary and you know, rest for a while, have n easy year. I mean, we never thought about that. Honestly it´s scary how fast the time just passed by. Well, we wasted, no not wasted, sacrificed all our youth to the band. So that´s kind of interesting thing. Still, we are as thrilled and still in the same nihilistic dream as when we started the band. You know, nothing is clear nothing is finished, everything can happen. I don´t know what´s gonna happen when this record comes out. That´s interesting to see, you know. I think over the, let´s say 10 years, every time we put out a new record it´s not us it´s the media and fans who are excited. They say, “Hey this is actually a cool new band” even though all this time has passed, and what will it be like with this record? No one will say, “Oh, it´s this 20 year old band and they tour and they had to put out the record“ and so on. Everybody is like „Hey, the new 69 Eyes album and it´s cool and it´s rocking“ or „Oh well, I like the old one better“ but still somebody likes the old one. That´s a good point. I don´t think we have like expire date, we have never been fashionable, we have never been trendy enough so I don´t know what the hell is going on, we are still in scene at least inside of ourselves which is most important. We are our biggest fans anyway (laughs)

Since 2003 you are working for UNICEF, you have been supporting the campaign „Stolen Childhood“ and you got an award (The Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP)) from Seoul, South Korea in November 2006, are there some other projects that you are doing at the moment for UNICEF? What does the work with this organisation mean to you?
Mh, I am a good guy after all, even though I might suck blood. I am not doing anything at the moment. It´s like when I have time. Now it´s the time for the band and UNICEF is at the moment waiting for when they need me for the next thing. Of course, I like it a lot to cooperate with them but at this moment it´s all about the record. I don´t wanna mix them because it´s a totally different world. I´m glad to have the chance to hold the balance between good and evil, and Rock´n´Roll (laughs)

In Finland you were part of a project last year with the goal to save the Baltic Sea from pollution, what was the outcome of that? Would you like to participate in more projects like this?
Yeah that was the TV-Show we did last year because we had some spare time so why not, what the hell, I have never done TV shows before so it´s funny. It was like something to do once so let´s see what happens, I don´t know maybe in two years I am more attending some, when somebody asks me to be part of a TV show or something.

You have been living in Africa for some time and been in the USA many times, how is it for you to see these two extremely different lifestyles?
I´d love to tour in Africa this would be really interesting to play shows there, and Joel Madden from Good Charlotte is also at UNICEF so we have been talking about managing to play some UNICEF shows together in Africa. Maybe, that would be pretty cool to do. I don´t see any difference, I mean, what the hell. Mhh, I can not answer you (laughs) Everybody is flesh and blood everywhere.

If you could change something in this world what would it be?
Ammm… what would it be. I don´t know. Well, there is so many but I…I can`t. What could it be…(thinks) Well I would say I wish to go to school and learn German because then we could do this interview in German and I could practice my German but I didn´t do that. Unfortunately I learned any other language but not German so I mean it would be cool.

Ok then thanks a lot for the interview and have a great night.
Thank you.

Author: Sandy Mahrer, transl. Sonja Kappes, photos: Sandy Mahrer, Ville Juurikkala, 69 Eyes

Sandy Mahrer

Fresh Act editor, reports, reviews, photos - - - Favorite genres? - Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Pop-Rock etc. Less Death, Black, Grind Core