THE 69 EYES is one of the best „cult” bands that Finland has ever put out.
Designer for those with melancholy hearts and romantic taste in music, the group successfully blends gothic rock with glam metal and some good ol’ rock’n’roll.
The sinister aesthetic of Edgar Allan Poe’s tales meets the eerie sounds produced by the likes of The Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, The Mission, Motley Crue and Guns N’Roses and gives birth to an original and charming „monster”, that has won the admiration of critics and the eternal devotion of the fans.
Surely, performing for the first time in Romania, Dracula’s country, is an important landmark for a band whose members pride themselves with the nickname of „Helsinki Vampires”.
On October 26th 2013, The 69 Eyes will deliver their first gig in Romania, at this year’s edition of Maximum Rock Festival, the country’s most important rock/metal event of the Fall.
We threw our stakes away and bravely invited Bazie, the band’s guitarist, to a rendezvous where we made him speak about the unholy Count, the state of Finnish rock music, the upcoming album and much more.
Feast your eyes and ears, ye mortals!
You will finally perform in Romania, Count Dracula’s country. I know this character is, in a way, your conceptual father. How does it make you feel to go to his realm?
Actually, we haven’t really thought about it that much. Going there is definitely a unique chance. We wanted to visit earlier, but we never managed to. Touring is always a struggle. We are really excited that we finally made it. We want to visit Dracula’s castle, especially since neither of us has been there before.
So you are actually planning to see some important sights connected to the story.
Yeah, we are planning to do that but we don’t know if we’ll have the time. It would be nice to get to visit those places and actually experience a connection. We will do our best to see some sights!
I always see on your Facebook page little pieces of news regarding the concert. You seem to be enthusiastic, especially when you call out to your „Transylvanian Vampires”. Does this show carry a special emotional load for you?
Yes, of course. It’s always interesting when you go to a country for the first time. You always experience mixed feelings because you don’t know what to expect. Of course we do have high expectations, it being Dracula’s country and all, but first of all we’re psyched about performing there for the very first time. I like to be surprised in a good way. It’s cool especially since what’s going on there is a big festival thing, with loads of happenings. It’s a good place to deliver a show!
Recently, you’ve released two types of wine – a white wine, and a red wine. Was there a „metaphoric” agenda behind releasing precisely a wine, and not a beer, or a vodka, for instance?
Wine is a beverage we all love and it takes the idea of „Vampire Branding” to a whole new level. Red wine, especially, is always connected to the metaphor of the vampire. We happened to know someone from a wine brand that made us the offer. We accepted because we are wine fans. Well, Jyrki likes whiskey and Jussi drinks beer, but we all like wine. We wanted to have a white, party wine, and a red, dinner wine, for more sophisticated occasions.
Did you get a chance to taste them?
Yes, we drank from the crates. The wines are really good. They’re more than just „stock” wines.
Would you say that bands that choose to release wines are more sophisticated than bands that release beer?
No, I don’t think so (laughs). For starters, we didn’t have money in mind when we decided to do this thing. We just wanted the fans to have something cool for their collections. Some bands release beers that are really expensive, and generally, this kind of product is expensive, so you don’t put it out with the intention of getting rich. We chose wine because it comes naturally to us.
The 69 Eyes is starting to adopt a marketing strategy similar to that of KISS. You’ve got wines, comic-books. Is that branding, multi-product concept something you’re willing to pursue?
We’ve been together for such a long time that everyone knows us, so it’s not something we’re doing on purpose. We’re not looking for these opportunities as part of a strategy. They just happen. For instance, the comic-book thing. Jyrki has always been into comic-books and he’s always drawn stuff like that. He knew some people in the field and they came up with the idea of a „The 69 Eyes” comic-book. Same with the wine. We just happened to know someone. We don’t do what we do because we intend to become „big business” or to „sell out”. As a band, we want some nice variation for our fans. For us, music has always been the most important thing. Strategies are pointless if the music isn’t good, and that’s our priority.
„Lost Without Love” is a singles compilation that happens to be, in a way, a best-of album. Releasing such material is an important landmark in the history of a band. How does it make you feel, looking back to when you started? How has the journey been?
What is important is that we’re always going somewhere new and interesting. We don’t think about the past that much. When we did this compilation album we had to look up songs that were 10 years old, so we definitely saw the changes. Nowadays our music is different. Back then, the vibe of our songs was in tune with the vibe of the age, so to say. Today there’s definitely more pressure, since there are many more bands out there. We’ve had our ups and downs but we always held on to a goal. The passion is still there, and the enthusiasm. The desire to do something new and relevant. That, I think, is the hardest part – keeping yourself really, really fresh and interesting, not only to the fans, but to yourself as well. The story about our change is a really long one – the way we make music is different, the way things work inside the band is different…recording, songwriting, everything is constantly changing. You never really know where you are, in your journey. Every year, every tour is a different story.
But, for instance, when you go to a bar and you meet, say, the guys from HIM, do you start to talk about stuff that happened? Don’t you get a bit nostalgic?
No, it’s like catching up with an old friend. You talk about how you’ve been, about the new record; it’s always a „present” thing, it’s all about „now”, and it’s not nostalgic at all. We, as a band, have been together for 25 years and sometimes, I admit, I don’t know where it all went, how it all happened, but I’m never nostalgic. You tell stories, you remember stuff, but the key is to live here and now.
The Finnish rock scene has changed in the last years. Newer bands seem to migrate away from that typically Finnish dark romanticism. Has this „idiom” gone out of fashion or is it a cultural revolt against the old idols?
Well, when we came out, and when HIM came out, that gothic romanticism was a new thing, so a lot of bands started „copying” us. That sound was the hip sound of the „day”. Nowadays, things have changed but I would still like to hear a new band coming out that does different stuff, that brings something truly new. That’s the way the times go, I guess. Whatever is trendy at the moment gets emulated, just like we „emulated” the bands that we loved, from the glam rock/metal scene. Hopefully, Finnish rock will evolve and find its own way.
Can you tell us something about the new album, maybe give us some spoilers?
We wanted to do it a bit earlier but we’ve been really busy so we haven’s started work on it yet. We are planning to go in the studio as soon as possible but I don’t think it’s going to happen in the next 6 months or so. We need to write more songs, and that is always a challenge, because you have to recreate everything you’ve done, and that takes time. It’s hard and you can’t push it too much, because then it would be a „forced” process, and that never works out. You need to want to write new stuff. The compilation comes out in November so that will give us more time to focus on the new record. It will probably be out by this time, next year.
Well hopefully Dracula will inspire you, now that you’re visiting him!
Yes, definitely! You have to open yourself to all forms of inspiration!