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Jussi 69, Rockstar on the road about home: "With my cell phone and my suitcase I'm pretty ok!"

 

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by Daniela Vorndran
Mit ein bisschen Verspätung, aber dafür frisch geduscht, gestylt und bestens gelaunt kam Jussi 69, Drummer der Goth-Rock-Band 69 EYES zum Treffpunkt fürs Interview. Glücklicherweise war dies nicht ein Tag, an dem er schon zig andere Interviews gegeben hatte und so war er richtig gut drauf und gab bereitwillig Auskunft darüber, welche Qualitäten ein Rockstar haben muss, warum er auch gut red hot chili sein könnte und wo er im September seinen Urlaub verbringt. Mit Sonnenbrille ob des herrlichen Wetters (in Finnland ist es ja auch viel dunkler), einer schottenträchtigen Hose mit vielen Zippern, Bändseln, etc. und einem neueren Haarstyle, der nun mehr in wild stacheliger Iroform kunstvoll in die Höhe ging statt in alle Richtungen, wäre Jussi schon bühnenfertig gewesen. Sein wohlgeformtes 6(9)-Pack-Waschbrett haben wir aber leider nicht aus nächster Nähe gesehn...

Nice to meet you.
Jussi: Nice to meet you guys.

My first question is: Yesterday you played at the Citadel Festival in Berlin, right? What was it like?
Jussi: It was great. I just woke up, we had a huge afterparty. Those IN EXTREMO guys, it's their festival, I guess. Anyway, they're good friends of ours, we've known each other like almost 10 years now or so. Great guys and I started to like the band more and more year after year. I watched the whole IN EXTREMO show and the location was great. I heard that there's 10.000 bats living in that castle, they only come out at night. I didn't see any but maybe I was just too drunk. But the show was good and we Haven't been playing in Germany that much at all so it was great to play for the German people.

You also were on a nearly two-month U.S.A. tour. How did things go there?
Jussi: Second tour this year, yeah. Better than we were expecting. It was an amazing tour: lots of people in every show, it was so crowded. It was quite different, first tour in the U.S. we were supporting CRADLE... and now we were headlining so of course it means that we played longer, like 17 songs every night, anyway it was great and great friends of mine, WEDNESDAY 13, I love the band, I'm a big fan of these too. So, they were with us and ...MIDLAND, I love the band too. So it was a great great package to everybody, I guess. We had fun.

So far, what's your impression of the atmosphere around here?
Jussi: Nice shower! I just woke up 45 minutes ago, you know, and had a nice clean shower with warm water which is pretty rare on festivals usually. There's lots of friends here, turned out like I know every other person in here - from organizers to bands. It's cool to see Juliette Lewis too.

So you know her?
Jussi: We played with her a month ago or so. This is embarrassing but I can't remember what country.

Well, it's like one world, one family...
Jussi: Yeah, it was a cool festival. We played before Slayer, Marilyn Manson was headlining and Juliette Lewis was on the other stage.

I would like to ask: Could you explain the differences of making a CD and playing live, both belonging to being a rock band?
Jussi: There's pretty much nothing similar, a totally different game. Everything is different, I don't know where to start. Recording might be very rewarding, you know what I mean? You look for some kind of sound, you look for some whatever thing and when you finally found it, it's an amazing feeling. It's interesting but at the same time there's so much bullshit around the whole recording process which is like record company people like coming to tell you you're over the deadline, you're going over the budget and all that which isn't supposed to be your problem when you're in a rock band. You're not a businessman, I'm a drummer but in that sense it might suck big time, cause it's like just 20% of recording for me is playing and the other stuff is that the schedules and budgets and that kind of stuff.
So playing live is nothing but you just rock out and I don't give a fuck if I make a mistake cause I enjoy playing. Nobody cares if I make a mistake cause it's not about playing perfectly, it's about rocking out. So it's kind of quite different.

How would you describe your new CD Angels, let's say in 5 words?
Jussi: Apocalyptic, ... (pause)

You only need one word?
Jussi: ... Rock ‘n' Roll, bloody, dirty and beautiful!

I read that you once said that no.1s and such things don't mean so much to the band. Now that Angels got gold in Finland, which meaning does this actually have for you?
Jussi: Of course it's great, nobody can deny that. I mean, you're lying if you say: ‘I don't give a fuck!' but still that's not the reason we started the band. Our dream was to play our stuff, tour, play in new countries, cool places. And in that sense we kind of achieved our goal. Like years ago we were already successful in our own heads and not cause we were no.1 in whatever country. But there is always another mountain you wanna climb but anyway I guess that's the reason why we stayed together for so many years with the same line-up cause nobody ever got frustrated cause they did not get the dream, like I wanna ???6:04 in America. Of course it's absolutely great. If we do get back to Finland it makes it possible for us to go to some country where nobody knows us. We can  go to (thinking) Israel, cause we can afford to go there, cause we're doing quite good back home. So we like to do stupid thingd - businesswise stupid things - we're not like: ‘Let's do it this or that way, we gotta make best profit out of it.' If we get some money, we go to some stupid place and spend it all. It's not about money and no.1s and gold records.

So what's it like when you compare Finland and other countries where you play? For example concerning the audience?
Jussi: In Finland it's like you know the faces in the front row cause you se them pretty much every night. We're kind of household name, which means that there's family, even some truck driver with his wife and kid, which doesn't happen like here in Germany.You don't get ordinary Joe coming up: 'Hey, let's go to see 69 Eyes!' They don't know who the fuck is 69 Eyes. In that sense it's different when we go to other countries it's more like hardcore fans who really want to see the band, not just because of to see a band, that you don't even have a record, but these guys are those guys (laughs).

You said you have been touring and making records for such a long time, from where do the ideas still come, where do you get inspiration?
Jussi: That's weird. Sometimes I wonder. You kind of learn, you live and learn and I think that we're still starting to learn how to write songs and that's so cool and you get more and more ideas every year. But anyway our albums are quite different from each other. We got o whatever directions. Some albums had kind of a metal sound, some's been like dark gothic, so it's just what kind of mood we are in.

How do you as a drummer come into the songwriting?
Jussi: I wanna do the best for the song, not the best for the show people that ‘I'm a great drummer!' cause it doesn't make sense if we have a song like "Never say die" and I'm doin' a drum solo in the middle. I don't know...

You just feel the song and then you add what's best for the song?
Jussi: Ya, and I follow some sets and parts, the melody, sometimes the singer, which sounds weird, sometimes we don't even know what kind of vocals there's gonna be because the song is so new. I wrote a couple of songs and I'm proud that we have got 2 or 3 songs in our history which have got my name on it. It's pretty cool, I mean it sounds like: ‘Oh, dude, he can't write songs!' but I'm proud that I was able to make 3 songs that ended up in our albums.

Which are these?
Jussi: "Gothic girl", "Stolen Seas" and - what's the name - "You ain't the reason" from "Wasting the dawn". I came up with the song and everybody was like rearranging and came up with hundreds of other chords, but I'm happy that I was able to come up with something.

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by Tritoxin
And how come that you as the drummer - besides Jyrki - do a lot of interviews?
Jussi: Sometimes it's pretty much you guys,... like back in Finland they usually ask me but I don't know why. I guess the reason is that I talk a lot of bullshit and some of the guys are not that talkative. I don't say that I am smart or have opinions or anything, but I just talk.

That's the best for interviews!
Jussi: Sometimes giving interviews might be lots of fun, like right now. You guys are the only interview and it's fun. But on a promotion tour when you have like 25 interviews in a row, all for the album. You even haven't heard the album more than couple of times in the studio and then you have to answer 25 interviews: ‘How would you describe the album?' (with a funny voice) I don't like to describe our album, which kind of sucks because it is my job to describe our albums in interviews.

In another interview you said that you'd have to think about your absolutely favourite song ever from any other band. Could you answer this question right now?
Jussi: "Gimme something" by Stones. I mean it's a different answer every minute. I just saw the Stones again and you have to see the Stones whenever you have the chance to see them.

They're still there.
Jussi: Yeah. You never know when they're NOT gonna be there any more.

One of your main influences is Rock music. What would you say which characteristics must a good rock star have? Let's say like in a "Rock star's guide to success"?
Jussi: I can tell you this one. I was drinking with a guy from Scorpions - the drummer is a good friend of mine, James - he was drunk and he dragged me to Klaus, the singer and he was pulling my hair until my face ended next to Klaus' and told him: ‘Dude, this is what we need in our band: haaiir!' That's my answer!

If I say newcomer from Finland, which name comes to your mind?
Jussi: Deep Insight, they're gonna support us in a couple of months in Finland. They've been touring in Germany, I hope people liked them. I mean, these guys are good friends of mine. They're kind of like emo, like Billy Talent meets my Chemical Romance.

Often people ask which bands you'd like to go on tour with, but I'd like to ask the opposite. Have you ever toured with a band and it was really crap?
Jussi: We're so lucky but no! I'm sure people are not gonna believe this, but every band we've toured with became good friends of ours and we stay in touch and it's been great. Every band!

Could you tell us - if that's not to personal - the last really unexpected thing that happened in your life?
Jussi: Unexpected? Hmm, that I'm actually not that hangover right now. (laughter) I mean who would have believed if you had seen me 7 a.m. last night. So I'm pretty ok.

Nice surprise! I would also like to ask what is home for you, because you're touring a lot all around the world?
Jussi: My cell phone and my suitcase! With them I'm pretty ok.

For us Finland is something quite exotic, foreign, so how could you describe it to someone who has never been there?
Jussi: I always say that Finland is such a small country, but what I mean is the population. The size of the country is, I guess, almost as big as Germany. We have like 5 million people, you have like 5 million people only in Berlin... So, you drive through the country and there is nothing, but nature and forest and lakes and that's pretty rare anywhere, cause every country is pretty crowded. So that's my description. I mean, that's pretty cool, you can drive for twelve hours and see nothing but forest and fields and lakes...

...and animals.
Jussi: Exactly, moose. (laughing)

My personal though very generalized impression of Finnish bands is that there is always something melancholic in it.
Jussi: That's true. You can't hide it, I guess. Even the dance bands who are supposed to be like, you know, like dance music, even they have that melancholic vibe. It's in our nature, you can't take that away.

In another interview I read that if you were to decide which spice you would like to be, you said you would like to be hot chilli. Why is that?
Jussi: I like hot chili. I relate to it the red hot chili peppers - not the band - but the actual chili pepper. (laughing) I am pretty hot.

I've seen that there seems to be a gap in September, regarding your future dates.
Jussi: Yeah, this is last show until in 5 weeks. We had a meeting two years ago about having a holiday and we decided two years ago that next month that's the thing. So I knew two years ago that I'm going to have some time off. So I'm going to Bali. I didn't wanna go to Hollywood, New York or big cities to see some rock bands, I'm in big cities and rock venues every day. It's like almost 100 shows this year already and think that's quite a lot. So I'm going to Bali to see some monkeys and sunsets and have Piña Coladas.

...while watching the sunsets...
Jussi: Yeah, exactly!

I read that the band's nickname "Helsinki Vampires" comes from a reference to L.A. Guns? Which qualities do you personally associate with vampires?
Jussi: They have an album titled "Hollywood Vampires". Vampires are sexy creatures with sharp teeth. (laughter)

Interruption

What does the name 69 Eyes mean? I couldn't find any explanation and no one seems to ask this any more.
Jussi: Nothing really means anything. I lied so many different stories just to amuse myself, but the real story is that it doesn't mean anything. We had the name before we had the band. This friend of ours from New York came up with the name in the 80s and Jyrki was hanging out with her, they're friends, not anything else. Anyway, she came up with: "That would be a cool name for a band!" and was like: "Yeah!" and then he had a name for the band but he didn't have band... So, couple of years after: Here we are! Sounds cool, I like the name a lot. Looks cool on posters and it could be the name of a 50s horror movie and give you that kind of feeling. You know, some cheesy, cheap 50s black-and-white horror movie: "69 Eyes".

Famous last words:
Jussi: Never say die!

Thank you very much. It was nice talking to you.
Jussi: Thank you, I had fun. Take care! See you guys later.

Thanks to Jussi 69 for having some time and patience for this really entertaining interview!

Jussi also filled in a questionnaire that is going to complete a collection on a well-done 69 Eyes fansite . Thanks to Siggi for co-operation!
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69 Eyes Links:
www.myspace.com/theofficial69eyes

www.69eyes.com/angelsite/

-Lady Reason-