(Ph. credits Ville Juurikkala)
The 69 Eyes vocalist joined us for a very pleasant, delightful and long phone call to tell us a lot about a tons of things, starting from some of the songs on their new record, one of their best albums ever. Let's check what he shared with us!
Interview by Margherita (MEG)
LFdM: Hi Jyrki! How's going?
Jyrki: Hi Margherita, molto lieto! It's going really fine and you?
LFdM: Wow! You can speak a bit Italian! It's going great, thank you! Let me tell you that it’s an honour and a pleasure to interview you. Welcome to Les Fleurs du Mal Webzine! I am an old time 69 Eyes supporter and I can’t wait to listen what you have to say about Universal Monsters. Why this title and who are these monsters?
Jyrki: Well, you know, this album is us. We've been around, playing for 27 years. This is our 11th relase and, to be honest, I think it's our best record for many reasons: life is good, it's been a wonderful ride and I am very happy how the band is at the moment. We're back home, we recorded the album with old friends with whom we've been doing this things for the last 20 years. Long gone is the time, like being part of the big music business, you know, like still 10 years ago we were touring all over the world and we were, like monsters, on the big international record labels. Those were great times and we did all the things we could possibly do, but now, now it's like the party is over, the ones who still play rock music are the real rockers.
LFdM: It's like only the brave...
Jyrki: Yeah, yeah, the ones who survived, the ones who make music for the real reasons. There're lots of stories nowadays, like crying on the spilt milk, but I think that times are not so difficult, they're just more creative, that's why only real rockers survive.That's what we are now, we're doing rock'n'roll from the heart, we are doing it for our fans, for those who want new music from us, the ones who've been following us since the beginning and for those who started listening to us a short while ago. So it's good times: 2016 and Universal Monsters are about to land in a week and the world will never be the same again (laughs)
LFdM: Do you really think so?
Jyrki: Yeah, everything will change. People will cut their hair like I do, when they see the pictures and the video...(laughs)
LFdM: Unfortunately I had a very short time before this interview to give it a better listening, but there are already a lot of things that impressed me very much and that I want to ask about. First of all congrats, it's a very good job indeed!
Jyrki: Don't worry, Thanx a lot! It's a pretty European record, don't you think?
LFdM: Exactly! I was just going to underline this feature. Universal Monsters sounds like a very international album. You sing in Italian, French, but there's also a bit of Arabic too! What's the reason behind this choice?
Jyrki: Yeah, you know, we've always been told we don't even sound that Finnish. I mean, there are many Finnish bands that have very specific features, like some national things involved in our music, old folklore and stuff like that, but we've alwyas been sounding more or less like an American rock'n' roll band. But, of course, the melodies are surely coming from our dark Finnish hearts (laughs). Well, we are Europeans too and there's a European flavour in this record, for sure. Maybe next time we will push it even further, maybe the whole songs will be written in Italian, you never know...
LFdM: That would be great!
Jyrki: Yeah, or maybe we could sing all the songs in French. That's what rock'n'roll is all about, that's what I like, that's what I get inspired from, I mean, that fits, I don't know, it's a kind of strange combination, like having a weird new wave 80's French punk sounding song and then singing chorus in French, but I don't konw, it's the 69 Eyes madness (laughs) like the part in Italian in the song Dolce Vita.
LFdM: Yes, I love that one! It reminds me about the movie by Federico Fellini...
Jyrki: Yes, sure. We named it Dolce Vita and not La Dolce Vita on purpose,I didn't want to entitle it like Fellini and, as you can notice, I pronounce it Vita, not Vida like the American way, so, it just fits, and with that song in mind, the whole record starts with the Church bells, which I recorded in Capitolini, with my i-phone. It was in June, when I was in Rome during the mid-summer weekend. I was there at 12 o' clock, as a tourist and sent my recordings and shots to my band mates, like greetings from Rome, like a postcard, you know and then we decided to use this recording for the song..
LFdM: It's great to find a song with an Italian title on your album!
Jyrki: Yeah, that's what I like, that's what we like. We love to be Europeans and we love Italian culture, French culture... you know, that has to be there, instead of singing about some bottle of red wine and a romantic moment alone in a cemetery or something like that.
An old stereotype...
Jyrki: Yeah, you know, I am an old man now, I' m more interested in a walk in the eternal city, or drinking pastis with a French woman (laughs)
LFdM: Like the one in the song Miss Pastis! (laughs) What about a song that impressed me quite a bit, since I find it not too 69 Eyes kind of style, I'm talking about Jerusalem...
Jyrki: Aweee, thanks a lot! You know, this i s gonna be the third single from the album
Great! I love it!
Thank you so much, it seems many people appreciate it. This goes hand in hand with what I said before. I heard the song the guitarist sent me as an instrumental demo. I've given it a listening almost everywhere, at home, in the hotel rooms around the world or somewhere and I got inspired by what was on TV or by something around me, or in my brain, there's that something...this song has an Oriental flavour, like this camel beat, you know, when camels walk and make that funny sound, there's this Arabic beat, it mentally took me to the Middle East and so I imagined this song to be about Jerusalem. Besides, one of my fave movies is Ridley Scott's Kingdom Of Heaven and, all of a sudden, I kind of realized I had never been there, in Jerusalem, so I immediately booked a flight. That journey made me finish the song; of course there's also some goth kind of sound in it, but it's not a “typical” song for anybody, especially for us.
That's why it impressed me so much...
I expected that place to be very unique, but it is by far better than what I thought! I went there more than once, it's really fantastic! I'm happy that music called me there, or that town called me through music; it means I had to have that place in my life. I'm excited to hear what people like when they hear the song and of course as I've been there I filmed there our new video.
LFdM: Can't wait to see it! Can we say there's a sort of spiritual quest in this album? From Rome to Jerusalem...
Jyrki: Yeah! I think so because that's actually what I'm really interested in at the moment: spirituality, peace in the mind. Jerusalem is a place where man meets God. It's always been like that for thousands of years and it was then that I finished the lyrics, when I stayed there for a longer period and loved to have long walks, by myself, early in the morning, in the old town...it feels like it hasn't really changed for thousands of years, it's a really really beatiful, spiritual and magical place, really beyond words! A very deep kind of experience
LFdM: Did you percieve a particoular kind of atmosphere when you where there? Jerusalem is a very meaningful place for the three main monotheistic religions, besides, as far as I know, there are some areas which are considered pretty dangerous to walk...
Jyrki: Well, sun shines to all, sun doesn't chose for who to shine... but yeah, it is a very troubled land. It's also a very fascinating place for pilgrimage. Rome is very important too, but just for Christianity, while Jerusalem is a fundamental place for every religious person and it's so sad that this holy place can't find peace. I think to the Golden Gate Jesus passed through on the donkey when he went there: now it has been closed and it has been closed and reopened so many times during these centuries that in in end they gave up. But this city, basically in the middle of nowhere, has a history which is one of the most fascinating ever and I can't imagine a better way to inspire people to respect each other, to look for freedom and brotherhood... In our song there's also hope for peace: it has been said that when there will be peace inside the walls of Jerusalem, there will be peace everywhere, so one day I guess we'll live in a better and peaceful world. I love that place, I love its history and I find it very interesting, certainly more than any vampire movie (laughs)
LFdM: Indeed! Thanks a lot for this very interesting digression, but now, what can ypu tell us about the other songs of your new album?
Jyrki: The album is pretty much rocking, the only really moody song on the record is called Blue, which has some typical 69 Eyes features of when we used to work with Jonny Lee Michaels, with whom we've been working for years. This song makes me think to the ocean and to Luc Besson's really beautiful movie from the 80's The Big Blue. Another movie title and, as someone already made me notice, another colour...you know we had that song Red, in the previous album...
LFdM: How would you compare Universal Monsters to the previous albums you did?
Jyrki: It sounds a bit like this album we recorded in Los Angeles, Back In Blood, with the Slayer's producer. It has a more aggressive sound, but it also has a sweeter tune, maybe from the album X, that we recorded in Sweden with Westlife producer, so something more pop oriented. This new album is a mix of these two extremes and it's also like a home coming kind of record, since we recorded it with Johnny, who's been a part of our team already 15 yars ago and the album sounds like a come back, in a certain sense. Even the back ground vocals guys are the same, but we didn't do it on purpose, it came out pretty naturally. All the records we've done are outsiders, like us. We don't belong to any peculiar scene, we're not a metal, glam, punk, hard rock or gothic band...in the end we're just like very unique. Our records are like us, timeless, I mean soundwise speaking, they do not belong to a particoular scene. There's nothing that can make you list them among the metal, hard rock or punk records, you know what I mean...This one, for example, doesn't sound retro, but neither like any of the current sounds in music field, I can't even describe it properly, there are so many influences.... it's just timeless rock'n'roll, like leather jackets and black hair, that never go out of fashion (laughs)
to be continued...