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Mayhem

“Ik mis de oude bandleden niet. Om de progressie van Mayhem te waarborgen, moesten ze sterven.” Harde woorden van drummer HELLHAMMER van Mayhem, waarmee gelijk de toon voor dit interview is gezet. Lords Of Metal plaatste vorige maand een interview met gitarist Blasphemer, naar aanleiding van onder meer de nieuwe plaat 'Chimaira'. Mayhem is echter een band met minstens zoveel verleden als toekomst. Lords Of Metal sprak met drummer Hellhammer en ex-zanger Attila over het bloederige verleden van de band.

Door: Ferdi | Archiveer onder black/pagan metal

What is the biggest difference between the current Mayhem and the Mayhem of old?

[B]HELLHAMMER[/B]: “The biggest change is the line-up. The main difference is that we are now better muscisians. The philosophy of the band, on the other hand, has not changed a bit. We as a band have the same mentality as we had fifteen years ago, but our personal philosophies have evolved. Fortunately! I started playing in this band when I was 18 and I would be ashamed of myself if I was still the same person as I was back then.”

[B]ATTILA[/B]: “I still listen to the new Mayhem-stuff and find their new album really fascinating. Technically it is much better than they were. Very raw and technical, but at the same time still fresh and aggressive. The line-up is different now, of course. But at the same time it is familiar, even though they have a new guitarists. They get a lot of criticism for having a new guitarist, but I think that is unfair. Of course Euronymous was one of the founding members. But Necrobutcher is still in the band, Hellhammer has been with them for a long time and Maniac was one of the first singers.”

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How come all the stories surrounding the old Mayhem - including the murder, the church-burnings, the suicide and the eating of human brains– still fascinate people, even though they happened over ten years ago?

[B]HELLHAMMER[/B]: “People are always fascinated by history. And Mayhem has a long one. We may be tired of it and not proud of it, but we can never outrun it. It is a legacy that we have learnt to live with because it has kept haunting us. We are all getting tired of it right now. This especially goes for our guitarist Blasphemer, who wasn't even in the band when all the controversial issues took place. But fans still confront him with it. People should understand that this is not 1990 anymore."

[B]ATTILA[/B]: “The stories surrounding Mayhem are very extreme stories, which is why they have run their course. They are fascinating and people – including me - still find them interesting. It fitted in with the music: dark, intense. Personally I have nothing against these tales and I do not mind talking about the old Mayhem. I never participated in the churchburnings, because I was never around when that happened. But I might have joined them if they asked me: I support the idea behind it. Committing suicide, like Dead did, is not my thing. I did consider suicide at a couple of moments in my life, but it is not my time yet.”

What kind of person was Euronymous?

[B]HELLHAMMER[/B]: “Euronymous was a good guy. He was quite a social person, contrary to Dead who was as antisocial as one can be. It was obvious that he was crazy, although you didn't notice that from him in everyday life. When I first met him he seemed a very normal person. But the more I got to know him, the more I understood that he was cracked in the head. I mean, eating other people's brains is very disturbed. After Dead blew off his head, Euronymous took a small piece of brain, put it in his food and ate it. Just so he could claim to have eaten human tissue. But we always got along fine together, despite his crazy ways. Euronymous, Dead and I used to live together in this old house in Norway. We had our office there and our rehearsalplace. It gave being in the band a cool feeling. That house was actually the place where Dead killed himself. The police removed Dead's corpse, but the stains of the blood and the brains remained. Euronymous moved in with his parents again, because he could not bear the stench. I had to live there for months because I did not have any other place. Sometimes I had to go into Dead's room and came out puking.”

[B]ATTILA[/B]: “Euronymous was a very polite and quite intelligent person. But he had some extreme personal visions, some of which I did not share. But we respected him. There are a lot of stories surrounding him, for example that he was gay and a communist. I certainly do not believe that he was gay. As for him being a communist: we talked a lot about this. After all, I am from a communist country, namely Hungary. After these conversations I do not believe that he was a communist in the political sense of the word. He was, however, fascinated by communist rulers like Mao and Stalin and the power they had over their people. They ordered the death of millions of people and that fascinated him – another sign of his extreme personality. I think he sympathised with communists but he wasn't one of them.”

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The bandmembers in Mayhem were pretty young at the time: in their early twenties. Do you think things would have went any differently if the bandmembers involved were five to ten years older?

[B]HELLHAMMER[/B]: “Of course. But then again, Mayhem would probably not exist today if these events never took place. I do not miss Euronymous or Dead, nor the old times. I like to progress instead of looking back. Neither bandmember was a big loss: both members left this world at a pretty appropriate time for Mayhem. In order for this band to exist like it does today, both bandmembers had to die. So melancholy is not my thing. Never resent, never regret.”

[B]ATTILA[/B]: “I myself was still young at the time and doing drugs heavily. I might have acted differently if I was older, though I do not know how. What has happened, happened. I do not know if Euronymous still would have lived if he and his murderer were a couple of years older. Frankly, even all these years I do not understand why Varg stabbed Euronymous to death. There were no signs of him going to do it. After the recordings of 'De Mysteriis' we were sitting in Euronymous' place together, chatting and drinking. Everything seemed alright. Varg was a nice person and for some time we were all living at the same place. He would sometimes put loud technomusic in the stereo just to piss Euronymous off, but it was all a friendly thing. Murdering Euronymous and going to jail for it definetely wasn't a wise thing to do. I lost not one but two good friends.”

Does Mayhem have a big legacy to live up to?

[B]HELLHAMMER[/B]: “Definetely. I think that we are living up to it just fine by doing the music that we feel is excellent. We do have a lot of ex-fans, but I do not care about them. They do not see or appreciate our progression and just want us to repeat the old school stuff. I do not give a flying fuck about them . I do care about our own fans, because our fans respect us. It is okay if people still think that 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' is Mayhem's best album, but please do not disrespect the new material. Our guitarist Blasphemer gets a lot of shit thrown at him for replacing Euronymous. He certainly underestimated this when he joined the band. I think that, if he knew that people kept comparing him to bandmembers, he never would have joined the band. Hey, he has big shoes to fill, after all. But I reckon he fucking filled them, completely.”

[B]ATTILA[/B]: “Some old-school muscisians like to do the same thing over and over again, while others prefer to find new reasons and add new layers of depth to the music. This almost became a danger for Mayhem when they released their 'Grand Declaration'-album. When you change too much, you run the risk of losing too much of your fans. Fortunately, their new album 'Chimera' is really dark and extreme. Mayhem is still not a commercial band. When you see the band live they are still one of the extremist bands on earth. Of course they have changed and that is something that they are entitled to.”

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