September 25, 2019 Jyrki 69 Talks 30 Years of The 69 Eyes, New Music + More
Emerging from the shadows of Helsinki three decades ago, The 69 Eyes are one of Finland’s most beloved Rock-n-Roll treasures. A multi-platinum act, the self-proclaimed vampires have built their legacy by staying true to who they are no matter what the latest trends may be. From Horror-themed lyrics to gritty Rock-n-Roll attitude mixed with a sexy Gothic vibe, there is simply no one quite like them.
Now celebrating their 30th anniversary with one of their best albums to date in the recently released West End, they also have a new documentary, plus plans to return to North American soil for a full-fledged tour with Wednesday 13. Rising from the crypt to lurk in the night, lead vampire Jyrki 69 recently took the time to chat about the years gone by with The 69 Eyes, the work put into West End, his renewed inspiration, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – Last we spoke in 2017 you had released your debut album. Since then you have been busy, and now you have the new The 69 Eyes album. What have the last few years been like for you?
Jyrki 69 – I am glad we can continue the update from that interview. It really was a platform to go to the next level in my musical adventure. The solo album, Helsinki Vampire, came when we spoke last, then I put up an L.A.-based band, which had great members of DevilDriver, L.A. Guns, and Faster Pussycat. I did a short but really cool and tight West Coast tour in the spring of the next year. I was thinking The 69 Eyes was going on and would always go on, but I had my American adventures going on with a Rockabilly band, then the solo album, so I was really happy.
Someone noticed this and Dez Fafara from DevilDriver just started The Oracle Management Company. He got interested in what was going on with The 69 Eyes, and all of a sudden things started happening and The Oracle Management began to manage The 69 Eyes. He was an amazing force coming into the picture – he not only kicked our asses, but also sort of woke us up. Like I said, The 69 Eyes was happening, we had records out, but touring regular routes in Europe, Russia, and Finland. We were sort of like one of those kings in The Lord of the Rings sitting there, but with a lot of spiderwebs around him and not really seeing clearly what was happening around him. Then Dez came into the picture and really shook us up; he wanted to put us back on the American map. He was always really inspiring how we would approach the 30th anniversary.
I wasn’t that excited about celebrating the 30th anniversary at all – maybe release a record, but let’s not talk about it – it was a lame and boring subject to me. Dez had another opinion, so now we have a 30th anniversary documentary of The 69 Eyes as a Blu-ray with the CD version. After West End album, I wrote the manuscript for the documentary. We have a couple of releases coming out now. Now we have a lot of other things happening with the new management, such as an American tour that will be announced first thing in 2020.
I was having my musical adventures in the U.S., but I guess I was doing something right, because someone noticed. We are already on a different level with The 69 Eyes, we are at the top of the game in our bubble at least. What was most exciting for a decade was The 69 Eyes returning to play in the States. Dez put us back on the American map – we did this tour back in April. It was probably the best tour we had ever done; the second best was with Cradle of Filth nearly 15 years earlier. Hopefully what everybody can inspired by from this is keep on doing what you are doing and what you are best at; keep on dreaming, those dreams might come true.
Cryptic Rock – It is fantastic to hear how things are going in an upward direction. Sometimes when you are doing something as long as you have it is difficult to find new inspiration. Is that an accurate assessment?
Jyrki 69 – Doing the interviews for this new record I’ve been saying the new record, West End, is the best record we’ve ever done. I’m also saying Universal Monsters is the worst album we’ve done, just because at the moment I don’t feel very inspired by that record. When we spoke last, I had the solo adventures because I was thinking The 69 Eyes was repeating the same old same old too much for me. I now realize the value of The 69 Eyes. I did earlier, but then you hear it from other people; so I’m totally focused only on The 69 Eyes right now.
West End is a great album; that’s the thing that excites me the most. The opening track, “Two Horns Up” with Dani Filth from Cradle of Filth, I’m really excited to hear and see the reactions of the people when they hear the song and especially when they see the video as well.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like you are very inspired. West End is perhaps one of the best 69 Eyes’ albums in sometime. What was the writing and recording process like this time?
Jyrki 69 – It’s always the same with The 69 Eyes, there’s nothing new. As the singer, I only write the lyrics and how the vocal lines go; it is our lead guitarist who basically delivers me the entire songs. The structures are there, even the guitar solos are there; it is a total song without vocals. I come up with the vocals and lyrics. I try to do them extremely fast. I use a method when I listen to the demo: if I come up with the chorus immediately, or even the lyrics, then it’s really good. If I have toss and turn the song, re-write, then it’s not that good. The best songs come really quickly.
Also, our producer, Johnny Lee Michaels, he has some arrangement ideas. For instance, for this record the guitars were arranged again. They spent the most time for this album recording the guitars over and over again. There are only two guitars and there is no overdubbing, and there are less layers of rhythm guitars. They arranged them like the guitars are sort of talking to each other – if you listen to the album with headphones you can hear that. They spent a lot of time for guitars on this record.
This record is really guitar-driven, more than some earlier records. Johnny Lee Michaels is a keyboardist himself, so obviously he adds the keyboards sometimes. Sometimes there is a competition of how much keyboard is there because he wants there to be a lot, and sometimes the guitarist doesn’t want there to be too many keyboards. In this case, with this record there was a strange balance and all of a sudden it was more guitar-driven. You can hear it: it’s very carefully orchestrated for guitars. It pays off, it is very fresh and energetic.
Cryptic Rock – It does sound great! You also pay homage to the Horror film passion of the past with “Last House On The Left.” What inspired this track?
Jyrki 69 – Wes Craven, who directed the original 1972 film, always has really cool movie titles – one of the first songs The 69 Eyes ever wrote was called “The Hills Have Eyes.” Somehow Wes Craven has been inspiring The 69 Eyes all these years. I just love the title – the movie itself is very sick and unique, but there is also a remake. I would recommend if you haven’t seen the original film to see it, but I would also recommend to check out the remake, it’s really good as well. The story is classic and disgusting.
For the song I wanted it to be presciently like in the movie. I came up with the first verse and chorus by myself, then I ran into Wednesday 13 who came to a show I was playing at Whiskey A Go Go. I had not seen him in nearly a decade, it was great to see him, so I immediately told him we should do some musical collaborations. At the same time we had that song done already, so I asked him to write the rest of the lyrics according to the movie. He wrote the story until the end, then to go along with the storyline of the movie, we needed an avenging woman. We chose Calico Cooper, who is part of The 69 Eyes’ family, and she was a great choice.
I am going to jump to another thing now, because it is part of the same story. Once again a little time passes, and I’m in Hollywood at the Rainbow Bar and Grill where I ran into Dani Filth. I hadn’t seen him also in nearly a decade, and I asked him if he would be interested in doing some feature vocals for the new 69 Eyes album. I thought it would be cool to have him on the song as well and he is there screaming his lungs out; it is a cool Horror team up for the song. We are going to put the song out for a video for Halloween 2019 as well.
Cryptic Rock – That will be awesome to see! Let’s talk about the documentary a little. When you are living something you seldom look at what you are doing. That said, what was it like putting the documentary together?
Jyrki 69 – That is a good point. It’s good to do some self-analyzing at some point. First I wasn’t interested in doing the documentary, but Dez said you should put out a documentary. With self-analyzing, I have to say The 69 Eyes hasn’t changed that much at all ever since 1989. Even if you look at our pictures through the years for 30 years, we pretty much look the same; at least in my own bubble I see it like that. The band and the vision hasn’t changed at all, but the real world around us has changed. That’s pretty weird, but also very interesting. Then when I think of different times and what happened in the world, what music was popular, etc., then you get the prospective of how long we’ve been doing this.
I didn’t do the vocals and the manuscript for the documentary at the same time. When you try to create something new you can’t dwell in the past, at least that is what I thought. I had to record the album first, create something new, and then go back to dwell in the past.
Cryptic Rock – Very interesting to hear that. The real fans will want to pick up the Digipak with the documentary. Last question, have there been any new Horror films you have seen that you enjoyed?
Jyrki 69– Because I’m saying so it is, but I would say the new Tarantino movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it has it’s moments that it is a Horror movie, it has it’s gore. The other thing which I’ve been really enjoying is Netflix’s Mindhunter, it’s a real world horror about serial killers. From my point of view it is the best Netflix series going on right now. It’s about the real thing, the real psychos out there and that is why it’s very interesting. I would really recommend Mindhunter.