(Ph. credits Ville Juurikkala)
Interview by Margherita Realmonte (MEG)
LFdM: What should we expect from your live shows?
Interview by Margherita Realmonte (MEG)
LFdM: What should we expect from your live shows?
Jyrki: I want to be clear: there won't be special effects. We'll just keep it as it is, very simple, let the music do the talking, there will be the amplifiers, the instruments, the guys and the songs, just like the Ramones or Motorhead had always done. No fireworks or stuff like that, you know what I mea
I had the chance to see you perform at Trezzo Live Club, the time you opened for the Hardcore Superstar and it was a great gig, just a bit too short for me, I would have loved to listen to more songs by you, but I hope to see you playing as headliners sometime soon here in Italy
Thank you! Yes, it was in Milan. We would really love to come to Italy again, but at the moment I have to tell you that we have no tour dates there, I'm sorry, I have no idea why. We would love to play everywhere and Italy is a place we like a lot, but in 27 years we happened to play there really few times, can't figure out why.
LFdM: As I said before, I am proud to say I am an old time 69 eyes fan and I remember the times when you still weren’t the Helsinki vampyres and played more rock’n’roll stuff as in albums like Savage Garden. What made you become vampires and change your music genre into something darker?
Jyrki: Well, you know, when we started the band, our first release, a 7 inch vynil single in 1990, had a 4-page mini comic book inside. In that comic The 69 Eyes were represented as a vampire rock band, so it kind of was my idea since the beginning. I guess it has something to do with The Lost Boys, the movie, which was released a couple of years before we started our adventure, so I found it cool to be rock'n'roll vampires, so that's been going on since the beginning and we had songs about zombies, vampires and so on. One of the first songs we wrote was called Fright Night, according to that American vampyìire movie, which is still one of my favourite. I think we should release that song at some point. So zombies, vampires, all this stuff has always been part of this band, it all came out from our love for horror movies and but also for Shockabilly, psychobilly, you know, I was a fan of the Cramps, the Meteors, the Flashstones and even gothis bands. I thought it would have been very cool to mix horror images with glam rock and that was unique. When we started I was 20 or 19 and we all were energy vampires, we were really high energy guys who wanted to play loud rock'n'roll and now, of course, when you're 47 you don't want to be that loud anymore, you know, I've been loud enough all my life, now there are different kind of things that I am interested in.
LFdM: What about your side project, The 69 Cats?
Jyrki: I always had side project bands through the years and 69 Cats is my American... let's say side project, but I'm really just the singer in this rockabilly super group, having the rockabilly legend Danny B. Harvey, recently known from Headcat, the band formed with Lemmi Killmister from Motorhead and Slim Jim Phantom from Stray Cats, with Danny the lead guitar, the leader of 69 Cats, I am just the singer, there is Chopper Franklin from The Cramps at the bass and on the album we have Clem Burke from Blondie at the drums, who played with us for some live dates. We toured the States, mostly, we now have a new drummer, Nicky Turner, from the Lords Of The New Church. We recorded an album, called Transylvania Tapes. It's something I really needed, I wanted to sing Elvis and all of these rockabilly songs, but, of course, as it always happens in these situations, I also have the chance to bring to The 69 Eyes a couple of things I learned while being with these cats, touring the States. We are also planning to record another album.
Pity you can't come to Italy for some live shows with them too...
Well, actually we could, but again, we need some promoters or someone to invite us there, we would love to play Italy, so if someone can give us this chance, if there's someone arranging shows and wants the 69 Cats or even the 69 Eyes there, please let us know, get in touch, we're ready!
LFdM: That would be really wonderful! So, in your opinion, side projects are more a blessing or a distraction for the main band?
Jyrki: No, no, no, if you come to Helsinki you'll find out that almost every musician here plays in more than one band. All The 69 Eyes members have side projects; if you come here you'll certainly see someone of us live, if not with the 69 Eyes, with some other group. You konw, we're rockers and we do rock'n'roll. Jussi, our drummer, for example, has this hard rock project called The Local Band, but also the other 69 Eyes guys play in these 80's punk or hard rock bands, one is called Ill City and I know they're recording something.
LFdM: When you re not composing, writing lyrics, recording what do you like to do?
Jyrki: A lot of things. I love reading and writing stories...at the moment I am writing a book
LFdM: Wow! An autobiography or...
Jyrki: No, it's just some adventures of mine around the world. It's in the beat style, cause I'm reading beat books. It's about travels, on the road, you know I like travelling. I think I'll be djing in Rome, in the midsummer weekend again. Like tis June, at the Gothic Club, with DJ Diego.
LFdM: Sounds great! I was wondering if you still like fishing. You know, I watched a video on youtube where you were pike fishing in an mazing -Finnish lake...
Jyrki: Oh, no, I never liked that! It's horrible! Somebody sometimes still asks me about that fishing thing. Actually I did it for a friend of mine who was starting this show with that pilot episode and back then I needed money to go abroad, so it's not my cup of tea. I hate hurting living creatures, even fishes. I hate to cause pain to any animal, you know. It's not that I am ashamed of it, it's just that in a couple of decades you happen to do lots of things...
LFdM: Awe, I see... But I thought it was a catch and release, so you hadn't to kill or cook the fishes, besides I found it kind of funny, since it revealed a less dark and more private side of you, back in the days...
Jyrki: Yeah, it was and I can imagine that seeing me not playing on stage but doing something more common could be considered as fun, but really, I don't like it and it's still not really nice for the fishes, belive me. In my spare time I prefer reading, going out for a walk...there're lots of better things to do, more than that. Here in Finland we all have a very close relationship with nature, we all learn skiing or swimming in the cold lakes and stuff like that, you know...
LFdM: Is there still a dream you would love to realize?
Jyrki: Well, as it is said in The Rocky Horror Picture Show : “don't dream it, be it!” so, actually it's just like what I'm been doing, I am free as a bird and I am aware of being here and now, enjoying the moment, not worrying for yesterday or for tomorrow. So more than a dream a have some projects still to realize, like the book I ma writing, I'd like to see it finished and why not I could think of some retirement plans including the career of the writer, you never know...
LFdM: Wow! Great plans then! Is there a band you would like to record or play with?
Jyrki: No, not really, I think we've already had a lot of meaningful experiences in this field. At the moment there's no one I could name...no one comes to my mind...
LFdM: Is there a song from another musician that you would have liked to have written for your band?
Jyrki: Nope, I'm pretty happy with all the songs I have written so far and of course the best one has still to be written...
LFdM: What kind of music is in your stereo right now?
Jyrki: Today it was the amazing Edit Piaf, with Exodus, that song is fantastic! Have you ever listened to it? I recommend it, it's really awesome! I bet you'll love it too, that's really gonna make your night. I also love to listen to Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's duet album pretty often. Do you know them? Give them a listen, it's great! I am so sad that Merle has recently gone, he was such a great musician...
LFdM: Yeah that's sad how many precious artists we lost this year...
Jyrki: I would have never imagined you as a Willie Nelson fan, but I absolutely trust your taste, I am sure I'll love it. Now, I am curious to know your opinion about all these talent shows? Do you think that they really can find new amazing talents?
Oh, well, I don't know, I have no idea! I never followed that kind of stuff, I walked the streets of Jerusalem, I visited Rome, I don't like spending time watching useless tv shows, who cares?(laughs)
LFdM: You're absolutely right! What is your approach to social networks instead, what is your opinion about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...are they really useful for an artist nowadays?
Jyrki: Uhm... maybe they can be useful in the way that we can tell how many people are following us on Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever, but it's a tricky thing, since that number doesn't correspond to the number of people who would come to our live shows, or who would buy our cds, so...maybe social networks could be more useful to let people know when our new video or our new album is out, but still, we cannot be sure if this information really reached everyone of them, so when you check on your Youtube channel, you find out that there are not as many people to watch your stuff, so... it's a very strange kind of thing. There's so much information nowadays, too many news, too many media... it's a new way to pass information, but it's not guaranteed that they really reach everyobody. So, in the end, I'd say it's not worth the time you spend on social networks, yet again, it's better to spend it doing more creative things, let your brain rest
LFdM: So social networks are more useful for young bands to promote their stuff?
Jyrki: I don't know, I am not sure of that either... I believe that for beginners it's even worse, there are so many new bands that people react like they don't really care, you know, people follow so many bands that possibly they even forget their names. So for young musicians, in my opinion, is even harder to get their message through. I think, if it's hard for us, for a band like us to check if everyone on our page is aware of the release of our new material, how can lots of nobodies succede in getting enough attention or long time attention? Did you notice that these social media are based on the instant? Ok, there's the chance to reach a great number of people at the same time, but will they remember what you posted after a day, a week or a month? If people like a picture you post today they will probably poke at you tomorrow, but after a longer while? People have just limited time and can't spend their days checking who that certain song they once liked belongs to...
LFdM: Are you still Unicef ambassador for Finland? What can you tell us about this challenging and inspiring kind of experience?
Jyrki: Yeah, of course! It's been a decade already and I have been in Kenya and Nicaragua to witness what Unicef actually does for people in need, especially for kids and I tell what I saw there on Tv shows when they ask me to raise people attention on topics like poverty or children exploitation, trying also to collect funds to help them. I am even happy if people reading interviews like this will check what Uncef does and be inspired to give some money for the cause.
LFdM: Would you like to add something else about your new album?
Jyrki: Buonanotte! (laughs)
LFdM: Wow! Perfectly pronounced! Hyvää yötä then! Sorry for my bad Finnish!
Jyrki: No, it was as good as my Italian!
LFdM: It has been really a pleasure, thank you very much indeed, kiitos paljon Jyrki!
Jyrki: Ciao, buonanotte!