Feb 2nd, 2007
Good afternoon sir.
How are you?
Good. Outside the legendary Harpo’s club sitting in the tour bus waiting to play for Detroit rock city.
How is the tour going so far?
It’s been really really cool. It’s a great package, different bands but on the other hand allot of similarities. Usually every night when we’ve been playing I have dedicated our song “Framed In Blood” for the other 2 bands. First of all these bands are somehow all connected through the term blood, like 3 Inches of Blood or ???? from Vancouver and the British vampires Cradle of Filth and of course The 69 Eyes the infamous Helsinki Vampires. It’s a great bill, it’s a really cool tour, mostly sold out if not its like a couple people to sold out. Great audience, great response for all the bands. We’re like a happy traveling family or lets say 24/7 party people.
I see some Canadian dates. Is this your first time visiting Canada?
Yeah,Yeah; its really exciting. In my private life or with the band we’ve never visited there so its really exciting for us. Of course whenever visiting a new country and Canada being a legendary place not only for Finnish ice hockey players but to see what its about. So far we’ve played Quebec, Montreal and Toronto. Later on this tour we’ll come to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. In only a little over a week I can shout from the stage again “It’s good to be back Canada”.
Has the audience response been what you have expected?
Well I’ve been personal friends with the Cradle of Filth guys for over 10 years and we been talking every now and then when we have seen each other what it would be like doing a tour and it took like over 10 years to finally do it but timing is great. It doesn’t matter if we are friends inside of bands it seems the crowd is really open for all this stuff and of course whenever there is a metal crowd, if we played with Slayer I would expect there would be some people there who are a little surprised to see a Glammy Goth Rock band playing. Always; whenever there is a 69 Eyes show or whenever we are meeting a bunch of fans they have been wearing Cradle of Filth T-Shirts, now its more evident during this tour. All the audience that comes to see Cradle have shown great interest in us, of course there is a heavy allegiance of The 69 Eyes vampire fans in the audience too. Its like another step for The 69 Eyes in North America to play bigger venues and also to make a lot of new fans and friends and to play for the old fans as well. Its an exciting moment also as the next album will come out in the beginning of March in Canada and the US, as well as elsewhere in the world. We’re not playing the new stuff except the latest single “Perfect Skin” but it’s sort of like the just before the new chapter opens up. We’re sort of like sealing the case called DEVILS which is our latest album.
Any plans to come back and play once the new album is out?
After this tour like I said the new album ANGELS comes out and we’re gonna tour for that in Europe and then comes summer and we play the summer festivals. Don’t know yet if we are doing some summer festivals in North America too but most likely we’re doing another North American tour including US and Canada. After the summer we’ll play the new set totally with the stuff from ANGELS album. That’s something which is coming up. I don’t know if I should be happy or stressed out? If I look at my calendar it’s booked already until the end of the year. It includes coming back even though we’re still here.
I just heard the new album on a stream from EMI Canada.
Alright. What do you think?
It’s a great album
Cool, cool. Thanks allot, I appreciate your words.
What can you tell the fans and readers about the album that they won’t hear until March?
OK first of all there are people that don’t know about The 69 Eyes yet or have just heard our name or haven’t heard the jungle drums or the hype to heighten us up should check out the compilation album FRAMED IN BLOOD which is also released last year here in North America by the legendary California gothic label Cleopatra Records. That would be a great record to start and on the other hand of course the album before; DEVILS, the essential 69 Eyes purchase. From DEVILS the previous album, ANGELS is like the sister album for DEVILS, but unlike the name the record ANGELS is far more darker and more apocalyptical than DEVILS was. Also it has all the best sides of The 69 Eyes. It has a heavy dose of Gothic Rock, it has allot of Glam and streetwise Rock n Roll. It’s just a hell of a cool Rock n Roll record. The 69 Eyes have been going since the late, very late days of the 80’s so of course there is allot of the 80’s vibe. We’re sort of like recycling the long gone and forgotten classic Rock n Roll like black leather jackets, sunglasses and black hair. Ya know danger, excitement, sex, porn; whatever you want there to be and everything is loosely based on our vampire theme which has been going on forever. Sex, Blood and Rock n Roll; just like the Helsinki Vampires can do it. I think we don’t sound like any other band in this world, we’re like the band that time forgot or something like that. That’s something people keep telling, we sound fresh in that way. It’s like the good old values that we’d been carrying on and carrying the torch ever since the beginning of the band nearly 18 years now. Times have changed so much and times are like that these days, you know people are excited again about the good old Rock n Roll values.
I can hear the Ramones, the Dolls and stuff like that in there and Elvis and The Cult.
Thanks, you’re on the right path. Also a heavy dose of gothic feeling there too. Ever since the beginning of the band it was like a mathematical equation we wanted to solve. We love the New York Doll, The Ramones and The Doors. On the other hand we love Danzig, The Misfits and Sisters of Mercy. How to make it to reach the sound of all these elements from different angles and from the other sides would be there is present and it took like 10 years and a couple of albums to reach and create 69 Eyes sound how it is today. After like last the 21st century 69 Eyes sound has been how it is today, but with the new album ANGELS its definitely more raw, more alive and its more present than ever before. That’s something that we also reached for with the album. We have some albums where we have keyboards and synthesizers and things like that but on this record the sound is more raw and alive. I’ve had experiences with my vocals, I’ve sang as low as possible in the early days a couple of albums ago to reach the ultimate Goth bottom. Now my vocals are more alive and are like how we sound when we play, for instance when we play Harpo’s tonight in Detroit.
How did L.A. influence the outcome of the new record?
Well it was actually recorded in Helsinki, Finland. The influence for the album was definitely Hollywood Babylon and also this apocalyptical feeling, something that was really up in the air in the 80’s like the movies like Mad Max and Apocalypse Now and came up with the old decadence and debauchery of Sunset Strip in the 80’s. That’s something that was really inspiring me for the lyrics and also what we experienced in our first time into the states last March, 2006. We been hanging around a lot in L.A. recently, we just did 3 latest music videos there. The first one was “Lost Boys” for the album DEVILS which we did with Bam Margera; you know the guy who has the show Viva La Bam! And the latest 2 videos for this ANGELS album; “Perfect Skin” and upcoming new single “Never Say Die”. Those are both filmed in Hollywood. Just an inspiring place to pay our tribute to our favorite Sunset Strip Glam Rock bands like L.A.Guns and Guns and Roses and Motley Crue. Things like that.
Is that what inspires your lyrics as well as movies?
I watch allot of movies. Horror movies have been an influence for us over the years and on this record there are a couple of horror punk songs too. For instance I just watched Mad Max and at the same time I was listening to DEVILS. After a couple days I’m just mixing my head if I have a chance to sleep or something like that it just pop up. Movies are like a language we use when we are making music, we don’t use so much musical terms when we are describing something. What we use is like talking about movies, describing parts of the song and movie or some character or something like that. Like the opening track of the album ANGELS of the same title was actually inspired by the movie Black Hawk Down. I heard the demo of the song, the instrumental demo and it was real apocalyptical and sounded like a war song or something and I happen to watch the movie and it gave me inspiration to get some out there as well.
Do you write as a whole or individually?
I am responsible for the outlook and the art and the layouts. I’m responsible for the visual side of the band. As I write all the lyrics I come up with the theme for the records and the names and so on. Sometimes I just feel like we need a song based loosely or totally on my idea, like with the “Lost Boys” and I started to talk about it with our guitarist bassist is writing the majority of the music so he’s composing the stuff at home and he gives me a bunch of demos with the music and sometimes I found such a song from the demos which suits my idea or vice versa I hear a song which reminds me of something then I start to think about it and come up with the idea like for instance the song “Angels”. On the other hand we have the first single from the album which is called “Perfect Skin”, I was thinking the last 2 years TV has really been like totally full on, like in Finland we have American reality TV shows. There are so many shows these days about how to get a perfect skin, everybody wants to get a perfect skin, everybody wants to live in Hollywood and so on. Somehow I thought that would be a great idea for the song and that’s like the current state of the world. A perfect skin is something this world is going around these days. Just like there was this demo which was pretty close to this idea of what I had been thinking of and that’s how “Perfect Skin” came alive.
You mentioned you did the “Lost Boys” video with Bam Margera. How did you hook up with him?
He’s a huge fan of this band called Him and as you might know Him are from Helsinki Finland. Bam is hanging allot in Helsinki, Finland a couple times a year and we got to know him 5 years or more ago. We always been talking about it’d be cool to do a video with him, it just took awhile. The chance was to get him to do the video for “Lost Boys” and that’s how it happened. He was the only cool person to be involved in the first place. If you see the video, you can check it out on You Tube, its like a total remake of the movie The Lost Boys. That’s really really cool. We just saw Bam a few nights ago when we played Philadelphia and we’re still planning on doing a new music video with him in the near future. So far we have done 2 music videos from ANGELS and I think there is 2 more coming up. Like you heard the album and there’s some potential for singles.
You are labeled a Goth band by some. What does Goth mean to you?
When I was a teenager and I went to record stores there was only one shelf; well first of all they were selling vinyl records and I’m talking about mid 80’s. All the records were called Pop/Rock and a small section that said Punk/Rock. In that small section there was like Sex Pistols,there was also The Cramps and Gun Club and Sisters of Mercy album so all these cool bands were under this small section and all these cool records they looked cooler than anything else. There was these guys who dressed up in black, had black hair and wore black sunglasses. That was like really exciting so I started to buy these records and they had great record sleeves too. Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy but also like The Cramps and The Cult are what represents Gothic to me and as we started up the band they were still the only bands that considered us Gothic and also at the same time we’re listening to Glam Rock, 80’s Glam Rock and also like the New York Dolls, Jetboy, also Doors and this kind of things. For me all these things they are like the same or in the record shops are in the same place. Those albums were put in the one place under the title Punk/Rock. For me Gothic is just dark Rock n Roll, nothing different. Nowadays if you go to the record stores thhey’re under the title Gothic. There’s so many different Gothic styles; Electronic Gothic, Batcave Gothic, ZBM and so on. Those days it was only a couple of bands and basically they were like Rock n Roll bands with guitars and real instruments and cool singers. I never thought they were anything else but Rock n Roll and for me Gothic and Glam Rock are so far away from each other.In our sound the Gothic elements started to creep up over the years more and more. When we started we wanted to be the loudest band from Helsinki and the snotiest and the most badass. Later on as the Gothic roots have been creeping up and mixing more into this glammy loud streetwise sound. At some point we started to be called Gothic Rock. Now I just been throwing it out there that we are a Gothic Glam Rock band. What the hell? In the end we’re just a Rock n Roll band but maybe it helps teenagers who have found out that they are interested in gothic culture to pick us up or if there’s punk kids turning into Poison they define us as a glam band. It’s all the same to me.
Where you are from Finland and they have such a massive Power Metal scene, do you think it has had any influence on you?
Well the lead guitarist and mastermind behind this band Stratovarius has produced our early albums in the early 90’s. He was one of the only guys that believed in our band and he taught us how to do a record in the studio. In that way we have a connection to the Power Metal side as well. We’ve toured..I don’t know if you consider Nightwish Power Metal but we toured with them as well. Pretty much small country and everybody knows each other more or less.
I notice an Elvis influence in regards to your vocals. Was Elvis a big influence?
Sure, and also if you listen to our earlier records my voice is really high but the thing is over the years if you listen to Elvis’ first single “That’s Alright Mama” then you listen to his last album MOODY BLUE his vocals have changed also through the years. My vocal’s have gotten lower not only because of the large consumption of alcohol but also by maturing, trying out a couple of styles and finally found the right tone to my voice.
Did you ever do vocal lessons to train your voice?
Yeah sure, of course. That’s really necessary if you’re doing tours like this like 6 weeks and only a couple days off you have to know about singing, how to maintain your voice. Jagermeister also helps but that’s another thing (Laughter). That’s just the truth but I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody.
Outside of music you are the Goodwill Ambassador of Unicef for Finland. How did that come about?
I think that’s a really wise move by Unicef. They chose me a so different character to be their spokesperson and goodwill ambassador. I consider myself a goodwill ambassador linked between 2 worlds. I have had the chance to see what Unicef is doing in Africa and on the other hand I can tell here how a simple thing like drilling a well makes a difference to thousands of people. How to make the whole village bloom up just drill a well for them and go on. Through me this message goes to totally different people; it goes to this tattooed dark rock generation more than having your ideas…..or something like that. I think it was a really wise move from them. I’m proud of it and I’m reallyexcited to be involved with their activities. Only as a spokesperson it has brought a new meaning to my life and I’m really enthusiastic about it. Good guys don’t always wear white.
It appears to work both ways that they both bring new exposure to the other.
Yeah, that’s what I’m really proud of. All The 69 fans are really happy about it and it encouraged me more and I’ve never run into anyone who said “That’s a fucking wimpy thing to do” or “Lame” or something like that. I’ve actually been kind of disappointed because I haven’t gotten any bad feedback because of it. It’s this world we’re living in and I’m happy to be a part of it, something else besides Sex, Blood and Rock n Roll lifestyle. I can do more than that as well.
Where did you get the bands name?
This is something that is asked of every band; “Where does the name come from?”. It’s a big cliché and no band can answer straight with an answer. For instance I asked 3 Inches of Blood: “Hey, where did your band’s name come from?”. They were kind of like embarrassed to say “Well we come up with a different story each time”. That’s a little bit the same case with The 69 Eyes. It sounds cool, it looks cool. There’s sex, there’s ancient symbols there, its everything its been the last 18 years; the symbol for Sex, Blood and Rock n Roll in the Helsinki Vampires style.
Anything you’d like to say to the fans and readers out there?
I just can’t wait for the feedback from our new album ANGELS. Just play it loud and don’t forget your sunglasses after dark.
Thanks to Stereo Dynamite for setting up the interview.