Interview: 10 Questions with Jussi 69 of Helsinki Vampires The 69 Eyes
By Natalie Perez
We recently caught up with drummer Jussi 69 of Finland's The 69 Eyes to discuss the band's new album, X, their new comic book and plans for the near future.
01. How amazing has 2012 has been for you guys?
Well, 2012 has been the biggest year for us — and for me. We're getting better and better at making better songs, making every melody more beautiful and making those rock songs rock even more, I'm proud to say.
02. The 69 Eyes have 10 albums under their belt. What runs through your mind when you ponder that?
In a way, it feels like we're just getting started. Things are finally starting to roll since we've been around for nearly 20 years, but it doesn't seem like it. With every album, it gets more exciting and takes us to new places. On our last album, we went to 27 different countries. So things are just getting more exciting year after year. Some people have asked me, "Are you getting tired of doing this?" I don't understand that question. To me and us, it's the only dream we've ever had, so we're having the time of our lives right now.
03. What was the inspiration for the album name X?
Well, it's 10 songs, it's our 10th album, and X means 10 so it's pretty logical. We had the time for the album almost a year ago and I really liked the title and it looks really cool on a T-shirt. It's a great-looking album cover, and I really love it. I think it's great when a person goes to a store and asks for the album, "The 69 Eyes — X." I think it's pretty clever and smart.
04. Why did you pick "Red" as your single?
With this album, we didn't play any songs or demos to anybody. Usually there's someone from the record company who thinks they're smarter than the musicians, someone pointing out you should do this or that, but we make the choices until we had it altogether as a package. Then we gave it to the record label and told them to do their job, and they picked out the singles. So there's no comprise when it comes to creating and writing music, but when it comes to picking out the singles, every major radio station goes and plays it, and this single has been played like hell here. So it's their job to make the decision, but I don't understand it. Like the last time we started with the most aggressive song on the album, "Dead Girls Are Easy," but this time we started off with a ballad, so it's nice to hear that every mainstream station is playing it. Last night we did a filmed charity show at an arena playing for 8,000 fans, and we played the song for the first time. So we're only getting started right now as we speak.
05. You shot a video for the song "Red." Can you tell me about the concept behind it?
The whole album was done in Sweden, so it was logical to shoot the video there. Patrick Ullaeus directed the video and is well known, so we wanted to go to a castle and do something there. We had the girl from the movie The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and also had some Playmate girls. But we wanted to have that type of movie video. But it's pretty simple; it's us, the girls and a beautiful location.
06. What was most different about recording X?
After all these years, I'm happy to tell you I still find recording to be very magical. Making music and creating stuff that works and stuff that doesn't work to then having it work, it builds memories. I will never forget the song "If You Love Me The Morning After." It took me to some weird place where I lost the sense of time and didn't know how many times I had played it. So I had probably played it 200 times, over and over, so the song was playing me. I just lose the sense of time and could listen to the song forever on repeat.
07. What is your favorite song from X?
"If You Love Me The Morning After" is a very special song for me. But I think the opening track, "Love Runs Away," is one of the best love songs. The second song, "Tonight," is something different from The 69 Eyes and the tempo and feel of it and how the feel of it you just feel like you're flying.
08. Your band has been around for nearly 25 years. How does this make you feel?
It's the 23rd year, but like I said before, it feels like we're only getting started. Every year there's so many things we go and do, places to visit, new things to discover, and we're not even half-way through it. Like on our last album, we went to so many different countries that it's exciting for us. This is something we love to do, and sometimes it comes to a surprise when a journalist tells me how long we have been around. But after all we are vampires so we got a couple of thousand of years left.
09. Can you tell me about the comic book you have coming out this fall?
That's something I am happy and proud of. We are the "comic book and movie band," and our characters represent that. We don't do the makeup thing, but I would like to compare us to Rob Zombie or Kiss. We are the Helsinki Vampires, so we are telling our story, and if I remember right, it started in the 18th century where Jyrki is hanging around. And after a couple of years we run into each other, having met in Hollywood one night. So for us it's exciting and a dream come true. We had released, for the first time ever, 7-inch singles before the first album, so that had tiny comic books. If you own those you can pay your rent by selling them because they're pretty rare — maybe 1,200 copies were printed. Now we have a real comic so that's what we're all about. The comics and movies that we do we put a visual into the sense of it and get really excited about it.
Also I have to add that we had wanted to have our own blood in the ink of the comic just like Kiss had done when they had printed their own comics. But we couldn't do that because if you send your DNA across the sea it's a crime. But it's weird; if you send a tiny drop of blood, it's against the law so I'm sorry to tell the fans this but there is no blood involved. But it's still exciting.
10. What plans do you have for the rest of this year? And is there anything else you want to add?
Last night was an arena show we did for charity, and 8,000 fans were in the audience. It was shot live on national TV. Now we wanted to start the tour in Finland because the last time we had toured, we didn't get to tour in our country. Our fans in Finland sometimes get pissed off because we never play in our country, but now we are. So up until Christmas, we will be playing in every city. Next year in January we will be touring in the UK and Europe. Before the festival season starts, we'll be playing in the US, then later on return. The pieces are already put together for 2013, so I can't wait.
To the fans, wait until you hear the new album because it truly is the best album we've ever done. It's what The 69 Eyes are all about and it's the album we've always dreamt of doing. Now it's there so we can't wait to tour and tour in the US because it's our ultimate dream to be in the tour bus and play every city out there.
Southern Californian Natalie Perez has a fiery passion for music, writing and photography. Dying to know more? Connect with her via her own reality she calls Natalie’s World.