THE 69 EYES – Death Of Darkness – April 21st, 2023
When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, Finnish goth/glam goo-goo mucks THE 69 EYES proudly wear their sunglasses, leather jackets and black eyeliner to become one with the night. Founded in the hazy, murky, twilit bars of Helsinki more than 30 years ago, the band circling around Northern gothic rock epitome Jyrki 69 has done exemplary service to all things dark, releasing twelve revered albums, touring the world over, even going platinum in their home country, all the while maintaining a strong tie to the graveyard shift of rock’n’roll.
With an eclectic penchant for morbidity, glamour, sex and the supernatural, these nocturnal animals embody both the foggy essence of Nordic gothic rock and the lusty decadence of Sunset Strip glam, haunting everyone from gothic rock ghoul to metal dude, from glam rock cat to rockabilly fiend. It’s classy, sexy, raunchy and dramatic. Their ominous thirteenth album »Death Of Darkness« celebrates this unholy union with a new set of love songs to the darkness in all of us, proudly howling at the moon and sinking their fangs deep within our necks. Come, sweet death, and have a drink with me. The night is young, and life is short.
With the irresistible first single, ‘Drive,‘ already being released in April 2022, THE 69 EYES found a whole new approach to creating albums. “We wanted to spread our gospel further and further,”Helsinki vampire Jyrki 69 says. “The main motivation of this band is to keep going, to please our loyal fanbase and to expand our audience. That’s why we released our first new single while we were still in the middle of working on the album. It’s a new approach for us, releasing a string of singles before we even announced the album. It kept everything really fresh and exciting and kept us on our toes which was a great motivator behind writing a killer album.” It paid off, too: ‘Drive‘ hit heavy rotation in Finnish radio, secured them a slot in Finnish reality TV music show »Vain Elämää / The Best Singers« and garnered them a string of sold out shows in their native Finland.
For the first time since chart-topping nocturne »Devils« (2004), THE 69 EYES are both fully embracing the Helsinki lifestyle and the Californian way of life, making the Suomi capital sound like it’s a depraved neighbourhood of Los Angeles in songs like ‘Drive‘ or morbid postcard anthem ‘California.‘“»Devils« introduced us to the US audience and we have not looked back since,”Jyrki smirks. They began haunting the Sunset Strip on a regular basis, becoming nighthawks of the bar and club scene there. “It was a homecoming for us and we never truly left,”Jyrki remembers. “The whole Hollywood vibe has inspired us greatly and fits the band like a glove. Life in California is always dreamy and overshadowed by drama. It’s an irresistible place and will be an eternal source of inspiration.”
No wonder parts of the album were written on the legendary grounds of the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood, notorious booze haunt of rock’n’rollers since the 70s. “It came to life between Hollywood and Helsinki, and sometimes even on an airplane. It was a very creative and uplifting time. Later in the studio, we brought the ideas together and put a bigger emphasis on jamming. Not only did it do the songs good but also ourselves.” As a band running for 34 years, it’s of course essential to keep things fresh – albeit in a rotten coffin context, of course. Easily as important, however, is staying true to their creed, their mission. “It’s a lifestyle,” nods Jyrki. “We truly are the Helsinki vampires. It’s the only life I ever knew and it’s the best life there will ever be. The band have never been more busy as right now which we couldn’t be more happier about, after all these years. We’ve seen everything with this band and yet we’re more determined than ever. THE 69 EYES are a very unique band and I simply hope people can enjoy it as much as we do.”
They will have no trouble to do so with »Death Of Darkness.« Sprawling across ten lavishly dark, effortlessly cool songs, their thirteenth record is one of their most flawless, most consistent – bearing a title that’s of course both stylish and symbolic. Just like their music. “The band started in 1989, so obviously our main influence is coming from that glorious decade,” says the singer with the deep Elvis croon and smiles: “What was interesting was that we now have a young fresh producer who is not old enough to be an 80s guy. His view of things really added a special layer.”
Next to their unique brand of gloom and doom, of glam and wham, two songs showcase the extraordinary nature of this album: ‘Gotta Rock,‘ their take on the classic tune by Finnish rock heroes BOYCOTT, and the secret highlight of the album, Southern gothic murder ballad ‘This Murder Takes Two.‘“John Carter Cash, Johnny Cash’s son, approached us to record an acoustic EP with him at Johnny Cash’s very own Cabin Studios in the US. We demoed some potential songs yet we ultimately never did this recording. This song somewhat just stuck with us,” remembers Jyrki. “It wasn’t complete without a female touch though, which is why we asked our good friend Kat Von D to sing on it. It’s my personal favourite.” Boy, is he not alone in this.
2023 is a far cry from the early days of the new millennium when gothic rock bands emerged from every graveyard and Finnish vampires stormed the charts around the world. However, the spirit of a world-class record like »Death Of Darkness,« the sheer passion and the enticing mystery, the suspense, and the smirk, are still very much alive. And not only them: “I still wear the same leather jacket from our early days. Simply because I can,” laughs Jyrki 69. Lucky guy, with the rest of us being happy they can still fit into their pre-pandemic pants.