Darkness 69 On September - 4 - 2014

A LOVE LETTER TO THE 69 EYES – HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY!

helsinkiintro69So, my darlings, I’ve decided to write you a love letter (not the first, and not the last) to thank you for everything and celebrate your amazing talents and 25 years of contribution to the world of music. My choice of words here at the beginning might seem cliché and dispassionate at first, but you know this passion is all dark fire.

The reason behind this writing? Too often I see people commemorating and remembering their favourite musicians, actors, writers and other artists when it’s simply too little, too late. I don’t want to do that. Perhaps the first sign of mortality is when you realize you don’t have all the time in the world, so I want to write and say everything in my heart right now. I want to celebrate and not mourn. And since you haven’t been getting any letters from me in a while (ran out of that black stationery), here it goes…

The 69 Eyes. The name of this majestic band itself makes me smile. And grin. Remembering all the good times with five guys dressed in black. The one and only Helsinki Vampires.

It’s been more than a decade since I first heard of the band and their enchanting, electrifying music. You know the moment when Christian Bale’s character in „Velvet Goldmine“ starts jumping ecstatically in front of his folks, pointing to the TV and the footage of his idol, the ethereal Brian Slade, saying, ‘This is me! This is me!’“? Well, I had that moment with The 69 Eyes. It was seeing my own spirit displayed through their lens. Now, I’ve been through all kinds of rock genres, beginning with U2 in 1989, enriched with the discovery of punk, grunge, and then metal and all its subgenres. Coupled with my love for 80’s music, it was soon that I discovered one of the most famous Finnish bands – HIM – and their rendition of „Wicked Game“. From then on, it was only a matter of time before I would discover the Helsinki Vampires too (via an Italian rock magazine with HIM on the cover, but also a sampler with „The Chair“ on it). While I have abandoned HIM a long time ago, The 69 Eyes were always the Holy Grail, even before I knew I was searching for THE band. The band of my life.

Then came the first concerts, but it wasn’t all that easy. Bosnian fans had an obstacle in the form of the visa regime until 2010, which basically meant no 69 gigs whatsoever. But I was persistent, often achieving almost the impossible. My first show was at Sziget Festival 2005 in Budapest, Hungary. I managed to get a visa and it all turned out to be a memorable week and also one of the best times of my life. This also marked the first time that I almost fainted. I held on to that front row fence for dear life, despite a very violent fan behind me of some band who was performing before the Eyes. And then… the catharsis! That show was incredible! Plus, I got Jussi’s drumstick!Szigetdrumstick I couldn’t stop smiling. Of course, I had to see them again, which is where Helldone Festival comes into play. I got the ticket, got the visa, and then it was only a small question of surviving the time between that autumn and those magical December – January nights. I got to see Helsinki for the first time! The first song on my CD player after take-off was, naturally, „Crashing High“. Those eight days were so crucial for my life that I still remember them as if they happened only yesterday. Meeting people all around the world at the Stadium hostel. Going around Helsinki in winter. The shock of meeting Jussi on the street! I could’ve died right then and there! Half an hour in Helsinki and bam! I’m sure Jussi still remembers a bewildered me, about to faint from sheer excitement. Did I come to my senses since then? A strong „no“. Meeting my dearest friend Claudia at Helldone with whom I clicked after 5 seconds or so. Meeting Bazie and Timo in front of Tavastia after another incredible show. Getting wasted on New Year’s and having a nice absinthe-lined hangover on January 1st in „Lost & Found“, meeting Jussi again, Bam MargeraJussi69&Darkness69When I got back home and finished up the gigantic update on the website (back then it was www.HelsinkiVampyyrit.com), I knew I had to continue walking on this path. But it wasn’t always possible. See, people at some embassies don’t really understand what’s it like to want and need to see your favourite band in the world, but not having the EU passport. One time I even got my passport to my dear friend Ivana (from the Croatian website), to Jyrki to sign it, out of sheer rage and sorrow for not getting a visa in time. Instead, he didn’t want to cause me any trouble (even though I couldn’t care less), and signed a postcard for me with the words „See you soon!“ Sweet Jyrki!

In the meantime, I grew further as a person and The 69 Eyes were my faithful companions. My uncle made me a coffin with an ankh symbol on the lid, many Halloweens ago. My drumstick collection grew, as well as my T-shirts pile, CDs, DVDs, books, live photos, all kinds of memorabilia. Claudia and I went on a daywalker trip through Austria and Germany, following The 69 Eyes, Deathstars, Maryslim and Wednesday 13 all the way to Berlin and the legendary show at Postbahnhof (and the infamous Wild at Heart afterparty). We slept on benches, hitchhiked, had only 5 cents to our name and the time of our lives. We were crazy, but we would still take Bazie’s invitation to come to Berlin any day, after we had thought we’d only see them in Dresden. Then all the anticipation of new singles and albums – what joy that brought me! Unpacking the album and listening to it for the first time, looking at the booklet, candles lit… Life went on, carrying with it a share of milestones (Bachelor’s, first employment, Master’s degree, PhD studies), but the real gothic highlights were always The 69 Eyes. The happiness of finally having the opportunity to travel anywhere and quickly seizing that opportunity with a road trip for the Dark Decadence tour in Italy and Sweden, followed by some great times in Bratislava and Vienna in 2013.Bazie_Darkness69_Bratislava2013 I’ve been to 17 shows in the past decade, but, in the immortal words of Andrew Eldritch, “I want more!“ Each show was special, and on almost every performance the Eyes prepare a surprise for their fans, playing either a song they haven’t expected or some great cover. The first time I heard „Still Waters Run Deep“ (in Helsinki), I could’ve died, because all that beauty and atmosphere was simply unfathomable. I will never forget Archzie signing a setlist for me with „Hey lö, let’s go!“ (we both cracked at the surprise „lö“)…setlist_Salzburg Talking with Bazie in Passignano after the show about everything and hearing him try to pronounce my surname (sweet!), sightseeing around Zagreb with the guys and Ivana, Jyrki’s design of the ankh with a halo and wings on my „Framed in Blood“ copy, which later became the logo for my website. Finding those five perfect shots in a sea of 500 taken during the show… Chatting with my ladies Claudia and Olga until the morning about the meaning of the lyrics and 69 clothing style… Getting to know other great bands through the 69 connection (Maryslim, Hellsingland Underground, Charon, Negative)… Picking up fashion inspiration from Zombie Love… Watching the Helsinki Vampires DVD for months (literally, it didn’t leave my player)… Tweeting to and with Jyrki about „Midnight in Paris“… Having a random guy (fan) talk to me when he saw my pink suitcase decorated with 69 Eyes insignia… Sleepless nights before The 69 Eyes shows… Wasting the dawn in some part of Europe after a fantastic show, talking about this song or that song, Timo’s smiling during the performance…TimoTimoandDarkness69_aftershow Getting the „Still Waters Run Deep“ tattoo and proudly wearing it, attracting glances and answering people’s questions about my favourite song… I was always a still water – even my professors used to call me by that saying, and ever since I know the Eyes, I have known my title song too. My life’s soundtrack.

Vienna_Aftershow_06During all these years, I have had the honour and privilege to spend time with these five guys from Finland who absolutely changed my life. I got to interview Jussi, Jyrki and Bazie about the new albums, tours, and all things 69 Eyes for my website. A surprise encounter in front of Alepa in Helsinki all those years ago evolved into warm hugs and „How are you?“-s with Jussi in Bratislava. I will never forget our dancing night there, guys! You haven’t lived until you danced with Archzie and Bazie, as well as listen to some record spinning and absinthe toasting with Jyrki.

Bratislava_aftershow_03

I could go on and on, because memories are piling up and my jaw is starting to hurt from all this smiling. Instead, I will toast once more to the 69 Eyes and celebrate their music by listening to their albums forever, going to shows, hopefully embracing them all again on an after party in some European city soon. Guys, you are my dark princes. I will love you to my death… and then some more.The69EyesandDarkness69inZagreb I simply don’t want to experience a world without you, so you better still be goth’n’rolling around in your mid-seventies like the Rolling Stones (that’s an order, by the way).

Thank you for all the gifts you have bestowed me with in the past years; for my friendships with Claudia, Olga, Ivana, Luka, and all the other great people I’ve met on my 69 trips. This website is just a small token of my undying love and devotion. Kiitos! Goth on!

Oceans of dark love from Bosnia and Herzegovina,

Ilhana /Darkness 69


/photos: first intro for the website in 2005; Jussi’s drumstick from Sziget 2005; with Jussi in Helsinki, 2006; with Bazie in Bratislava, 2013; Setlist signed by Archzie, 2007; with Timo-Timo in Zagreb, 2010; with Jyrki in Vienna, 2007; with Jussi in Bratislava, 2013; with the guys in Zagreb, 2010/

Categories: Greets, News, Uncategorized

2 Responses

  1. Mira (Ravenheart) says:

    Wow.. What a great letter! Couldn’t imagine better gift for the guys. It even took me back and made me smile.It was like reading my own thoughts. The 69 Eyes has been (and always will be such a important part of my life). I dont know if you still remember me or anything but we also met at Helldone. I was waiting for the doors to open in front of Tavastia with my friend Maria and her boyfriend. And we all ended up in the front row 🙂

  2. Darkness 69 says:

    Dear Mira, thank you! Of course I remember you! Those magical moments in Helsinki and our emails afterwards. I also remember your friends. Thank you for reading and the comment – let’s keep in touch, because Claudia and I plan to mark the 10-year anniversary next year in Helsinki! 😀

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