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Interview with Jyrki 69 (The 69 Eyes) | FESTIVALPHOTO

Interview with Jyrki 69 (The 69 Eyes)


We meet in a bare conference room in central Stockholm. After about 30 minutes of waiting in the reception at Warner Music, I get introduced to Jyrki Linnankivi, or as he calls himself, Jyrki 69. The singer of The 69 Eyes sits down opposite side of the table and starts talking directly about how much he loves Sweden, and it is something he has done for a long time. Though one thing he is unhappy with, we close the shops too early. He will go out on Christmas lookout after our interview, and his schedule is very tight.

- I was going to help Santa a bit and try to find something that I want for christmas. It will probably be the new book about Yngwie Malmsteen (written by Anders Tengner), because I want to learn Swedish little better.

We often hear about that Finns are not very happy to speak Swedish, probably because they were forced to learn it in school, but this is not the case with The 69 Eyes.

- It's actually the opposite for us. If you watch the documentary you get when you buy digipack disc, you will see that a lot is recorded in Sweden. Many interviews with Swedish artists such as Dregen and Crash Diet, did their interviews in Swedish. And also another thing that was pretty funny was when I got the crowd at Peace & Love Festival a few years ago singing "Here comes Pippi Longstocking," he says, smiling.

And Sweden has inspired them a lot. It started early, when they looked up to Hanoi Rocks very much. And Hanoi Rocks had moved to Stockholm, and then The 69 Eyes felt even that there is probably something they should think about as well.

- We went back and forth to Stockholm after having toured throughout Finland for a couple of years.

When it was time for the last album X, there was no doubt about where it should be recorded.

- We said: Wait! We did our last album in Hollywood. But why haven’t we recorded any record in Stockholm?

Then we came into why it’s so good to record here in Sweden. Jyrki says that it’s because in Sweden we have melodies, and Finns have melancholy. So why not combine both? And he also believes that it’s the melancholy that has made the Finnish rock musicians became so successful. Bands like The 69 Eyes, HIM, Apocalyptica, etc. would not have had such success if not the melancholy was real.

- When HIM peaked about 10 years ago a lot foreign bands came to Finland to record their CDs. They thought they could get something out of this melancholy only they got there. But I think it needs to be in your blood, he says smiling. It will not help if you are non-Finn, get super drunk and going to Finland.

Since the start of The 69 Eyes, their sound has changed quite a lot, according to many. Something Jyrki himself does not directly agree with. He means the most to this is that he began to experiment more with his voice. And with his adjustments in the voice so also followed the music.

- In the end, we started to get songs on the radio, even if we didn’t write so it suited the "masses". Before that, we just wanted to be unbearable and loud. But even on that records, you hear that we experimented a lot. On the last record we have a song called Borderline, which is a type of 50’s song. And through those years, I think we have managed to create a timeless sound.

And it has been a journey, and experimentation. 11 albums later they have a wide fan base, which according to Jyrki, very mixed. Just because they have experimented, they have fans who like the first album a lot, but then when you ask them about the last one, it's not really their style. While you can ask another person, and he/she thinks just the opposite. A broad spectrum of fans who mostly still appreciate how the band developed.

- But yet we are the same guys who think with the same brain, and like the same movies. And that is probably what has kept us together all these years, too. That, and that there is no big money involved. We are still big fans of rock and roll and we still think it's exciting to go to festivals and play.

One of their big fans is the famous tattoo artist Kat Von D. She was on a visit to Stockholm when the band recorded their last record. They then decided to record a duet with her, who became an extra track on iTunes. The song is called Blue Rosary, and will probably be released in more places soon.

- It was cool to record something with her, and something totally unexpected. She is a good friend to us and we all wanted to do this. And I think the song is really good!

But how would he describe the rest of the album X?

- It sounds like it is made of goth rockers that are 40 something and feels good! And that is very aware of their own sex appeal. No, by the way, I'm just talking about myself, he says, laughing.

Suddenly we start talking about Swedish music again, and Jyrki name drops very many bands that he likes. He is hoping for a new album from Crash Diet soon. He says that he saw the Soundtrack of Our Lives on Gröna Lund and thought it was really cool with all the attractions that was going while the concert went on. And he appreciates bands like Graveyard and Witchcraft. His latest discovery was H.E.A.T.

- Their music makes me really happy. I forced a friend to listen to a song that I sent to him on Spotify. He thought it was really good, and described them really perfect: It sounds like some lost 80’s movies soundtrack, where you can see Rob Lowe driving a car without roof against the sunset with Ray-Bans on.

Now it’s time for the last question before it's time for Jyrki to venture out on snowy streets of Stockholm to hunt gifts. And I wonder how it is after all these years, to go out on tour, do they appreciate it still?

- We have toured on weekends now in Finland, and we are a little worried because we have partied pretty hard. And it's really weird. When we tour with other bands they sit there with their laptops, all quiet and go to bed early. And we are, on the contrary after a million years of touring. That's what I think is the secret to why we are still together, we want to have fun!

So for those of you who want to see The 69 Eyes when they play in Sweden may look out in March. They will head out on tour with the Gothenburg band Baby Jane. They will then play in Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm. But if you miss it then you have the chance again this summer at Skogsröjet. The rest of the tour dates will be posted on their website:


Writer: Hanna Hultman
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