Jyrki 69: An Interview With A Helsinki Vampire

Jyrki 69: An Interview With A Helsinki Vampire

15th February 2024 1 By Gavin Griffiths

If you recall my recent live review of THE 69 EYES from London back in October, you may remember I was scheduled to interview the band regarding their latest album; “Death Of Darkness”, and everything else the Helsinki Vampires had in the pipeline. Sadly, due to Sunday transport and delays, I missed my time slot and felt incredibly guilty about it. I hate to waste bands time and let people down. I had to make up for it; but how?

On Friday, February 9th, The 69 Eyes continued their ongoing world tour, with a hometown show at Helsinki’s iconic Tavastia Klubi, and I had a plan. I’m not going to wait however long it would be for the band to come back to the UK, no, I was going to be pro-active.  I renewed my passport, booked flights and accommodation and travelled the near 2000 miles to go to THEM, getting to tick off several bucket list items in the process (That’ll be rambled about in my live review). Jyrki 69 being the gentleman he is, warmly welcomed me to Finland’s capital, and we talked for a good twenty minutes about the album, collaborations, covers and some cheeky exclusives too…here’s what went down before the show. 

Gav: “Ok, so it’s Gavin Griffiths here for All About The Rock, and I’m here today at the legendary Tavastia venue, for a special hometown show with The 69 Eyes, and I am joined today by Jyrki 69, again, pleasure to talk to you Sir… 

Jyrki: Yeah! Good to see you in Finland, welcome to Helsinki! 

Gav: Thank you very much! 

Jyrki: It’s cool to have you here and thank you for travelling all the way to our beautiful hometown as well, and I think at this moment, Helsinki is at its best, because it’s Winter. If you’ve seen The 69 Eyes video for “Death Of Darkness” and for instance, “Wasting The Dawn”, that was something I wanted to capture, how, the Winter is here. I love Winter, I love snow, I love exactly what the weather is now, like, the sea is frozen in front of Helsinki, and that’s something I wanted to capture, for both of those videos, for example, and I’m glad you’re experiencing it, but, be careful, don’t get, you know, cold…if you have time, you should go to visit the cemetery where we filmed “Wasting The Dawn”, you can trip around listening to the song and it’s a pretty cool place! 

Gav: Thankyou, yes, I’ll certainly check that out next time I’m here, it is a beautiful city! I’m just not used to THIS kind of cold, we have Winters back home, as does everywhere, but when I landed and got off the plane, it was –17, and I’m not used to that, that was new to me! 

Jyrki: I love it, I was jogging around to get more energy before the show yesterday, I just love the Winter… 

Gav: So, yes, the last time we spoke, was back in 2019, and you were celebrating thirty years of “Goth ‘N’ Roll”, with the album “West End”, but the band goes on, there’s a new chapter, and as you mentioned you released “Death Of Darkness”, it’s coming up to a year now with that being released, how has this past year been for you, in terms of the band and the broader picture? 

Jyrki: Well it’s just the beginning of the new year now, last year was extremely busy, we did some TV shows here in Finland, that’s gotten us extremely popular here, we played tons of shows here in Finland, and we did a short American tour, a couple of UK shows, now it’s a new year, we’re still on the same tour for “Death Of Darkness”, and we continue them to the East coast of the US, also playing in Sweden, but surprise surprise, and you are the first one to hear, we release NEW music in March. That’s totally new music, and it’s not announced anywhere yet. We’re super excited about that. You know we’re playing these shows but behind the scenes we’re planning something new, so we have new music coming out… 

Gav: Exclusive news there, that’s intriguing! We’ll come back to that, but, a year on, with the success of the album, what does “Death Of Darkness” mean to you now?  

Jyrki: Well, it’s actually nominated as the “Best Rock Album” here in Finland, and with, the awards…they’ll be in a week 

Gav: That’ll be the Emma Gala correct? 

Jyrki: It’s the Emma awards here, yes, so and you know it’s cool that, we’re noticed here as well. We’re an old rock ‘n’ roll band. We’ve released a lot of albums but, we’re still being nominated, we’re really happy about it, you know, and to us you know, even being nominated, means we’ve already won, if that makes sense?  

Gav: Ultimately, it’s deserved recognition at the end of the day… 

Jyrki: It is, it is, and that’s in a week, so, you know it’s cool! We’ve been doing so many records, existed forever, hundreds of years, and all of a sudden our new album is nominated as the best rock album in Finland, so thank you, we’re very happy about it! 

Gav: That’s great. As I said, it’s deserved…with that, Jussi mentioned in a previous interview that, for this album and the cycle in general, you focussed more on specific singles like, earlier on in your career? 

Jyrki: Yeah! We basically recorded and released our main singles, and you know, promoted them, recorded the album around a couple more tracks, after we had a bunch of them, and combined everything as the album, and, that’s the way to do it. As I said we have a brand new single coming out in March, it’s better to, do that and stay fresh, you know, than to, do just one single, do the album and then everybody is waiting, you know. It keeps everything flowing. Actually, talking of promotion, there’s going to be your country man, a journalist from Kerrang! here as well, coming to the show, so you may bump into them! 

Gav: I’m not sure who’s here for them but I may do! But yes, regarding the song itself; “Death Of Darkness”, I understand it was co-composed by Ben Christo…obviously with your established career, you’ve done your own thing throughout the years, what was it like collaborating from a composition point of view? Have someone else write for you? 

Jyrki: Well, he’s been friends forever, and even before he’s been in some extremely famous bands, like, currently playing with Sisters Of Mercy, and he’s keeping that Goth guitar style alive single-handedly…

Gav: His band Diamond Black to are a really good band, we have to mention them… 

Jyrki: Yeah! You know, it was just fun to ask if he had some, extra riffs he might suit for us and, he had some, and we used them and it was just cool. Like, it sounded…you know a lot of people have had collaboration ideas for us over the years, and some people try to write The 69 Eyes song… 

 

 

Gav: Some people appreciate the sound but they don’t quite grasp it… 

Jyrki: Yes, you know, we’re not looking for that, that’s something we can do, we’re looking for something different… 

Gav: You’re looking for something fresh and inspiring… 

Jyrki: You know “Death Of Darkness” sounded like something a LITTLE bit familiar, and there are times where you think, have we done this actually before? All of the elements, on purpose, but that’s the core of it, that’s the beauty of The 69 Eyes…you know it’s there; it sums up the element of our band… 

Gav: It does have a very, “Blessed Be” and, “Paris Kills” era kind of vibe to it in a way… 

Jyrki: Yes so, that was fun with that song, it was a bit different, and I’m happy with that and I’m sure we’re going to play it in our set. You know, we release records, but not all of them survive, you know we have, single tracks, that make our live set, but that song will be there. And then, what else is happening? This year there’s a certain record of ours, which turns twenty years old, so we’re going to celebrate that in the fall… 

Gav: Would that be “Devils” by any chance? 

Jyrki: *Gives a cheeky look*…I don’t tell… 

Gav: *Laughs* 

Jyrki: You can do your math…if you know…those with the know…*grins* 

Gav: If I’ve matched the math correctly it MIGHT be that, shall we say? Who knows?  

Jyrki: Well, it’s something we’re looking to celebrate in the fall, but before that, there comes an extremely cool piece of new music from The 69 Eyes.  

Gav: Well I’m looking forward to that! Now, you mentioned collaborations just then briefly, you’ve worked again on this album, with Kat Von D… 

Jyrki: Oh yeah! 

Gav: Previously, it was the album “X” and it was a bonus track there, “Rosary Blue” 

Jyrki: Yeah just then it was like, a wild idea, and we tried it, and uh, and I really don’t think it did the song justice, just being a bonus song somewhere, it should have been, opening the album or something, so now it was a time to do the payback timing, get Kat back and, get the proper track and, I’m happy we did that. She’s having new music coming out very soon as well so… 

Gav: She’s grown quite well as an artist, more of an electronic-pop aesthetic than maybe expected but she did really well with her last album… 

Jyrki: I mean, she has a lot of values that like, this world needs. Music is one of them.  

 

 

Gav: What inspired the almost, Western vibe of the video for that song? 

Jyrki: Well it is sort of a dark, country track, and uh, and the video maker Vincente Cordero, that’s his vision, and he took us to the desert at this weird location. It was actually freezing cold there. I mean, now we’re in Helsinki and I’m excited that it’s really cold here, but for me, it was weirdly even colder in the desert doing the video!  

Gav: And that’s coming from you! 

Jyrki: It was exactly a year ago thinking about it, when we filmed it now and yeah it was just, freezing cold in the desert…it’s not like I was sweating in the long leather jacket, it was vice versa it was, I needed more jackets on. But it was a cool video and I love how it turns out to be, it’s one of those things is, at this point with The 69 Eyes, whatever we’re doing, it has to be pleasurable and exciting for ourselves, I mean we’ve gained everything, we’ve seen everything, played everywhere, we’ve existed extremely long so, whatever we do in the future and also currently, it always should be something adventurous for ourselves 

Gav: On the same note, as well as the album cycle, you’ve also released a small selection of cover singles, what made you choose those particular tracks and how did they come to light? 

Jyrki: Well our friendly label, Cleopatra Records from LA, they just once every while ask us, would you be interested in being on this like, a uh, tribute album. One of the tribute albums was The Cramps, one of them was Rammstein, and I think we recorded the songs before recording “Death Of Darkness”, or around the same time, so, the songs were there… 

Gav: Just separate little projects intertwined with your main recordings? 

Jyrki: Yeah just these cool little projects, and if people haven’t already they should check those out because they were cool to do but, they were already done as their own little things, just in a way to keep us fresh while recording our own tracks you know? 

Gav: It can maybe give you fresh ideas and inspiration hearing and playing something different as a break from recording in a way… 

Jyrki: Exactly and it gives you some break from, focussing on your own material. I don’t like to use the word ‘fun’ much but those were fun to do. 

Gav: So coming back to that new single…you’ve mentioned a release in March, as of yet unnamed? 

Jyrki: Oh I don’t tell, you will find out and it will be announced… 

Gav: Well I’m looking forward to that announcement, you’ve already mentioned the upcoming US tour as well, not forgetting the special anniversary project, is that it for the foreseeable year or, do you have any more projects lined up that you are going to be working on? 

Jyrki: Well I mean there’s a lot of stuff going on, there’s a lot of stuff happening, but really I’d like to focus on this new piece of music which comes in March, because, we just got it ready yesterday (Feb 8th) and I’m super excited about that, it’s going to just be like such a fucking cool thing, but news about it will come out soon. It’s something very, very special. 

Gav: I’m genuinely looking forward to this news when it drops! I guess then I’ll just say, good luck with the rest of this current tour…plenty of opportunity to catch you guys on the road this year…

Jyrki: Well we’ll play forever and uh…there’s been talks about, like for instance working with the UK band Creeper, to do something with them… 

Gav: That’d be cool! 

Jyrki: That would be cool yes, but I mean, they have their own schedules…Summer is pretty much sealed, we play Wacken, we’ve got that American tour, and we also will be playing in Brazil…UK uh, we played that Goth festival in Whitby, that was like, one of the best things, that was fantastic, the location is incredible, London was cool as well. I WISH we had the chance to play more in the UK, it’s just these tiny shows here and there, but I hope we have a chance to come there properly and, people are always asking about it. Let’s hope this new piece of music will make that possible! I mean I love touring and it’s criminal how seldom we play in the UK, but I’m glad you flew over here to see this place! 

Gav: It’s been a pleasure, honestly. But yes, all of these plans sound amazing, I look forward to all of them, best of luck with tonight’s show, I’m looking forward to that of course, and it’s going to be a really good time. Kiitos, thank you! 

Jyrki: Thank you! 

“Death Of Darkness” is available now via Atomic Fire / Vanilla House: https://69eyes.com/ 

 

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