It was about ten in the evening when we settled down together with the band’s singer Maniac to have a couple of very expensive (even by Norwegian standards, as we were told confidentially) but also extremely good (which, knowing the Norwegian standards, is not surprising) beer in the bar in the lobby of the ‘Ukraine’ hotel. Blasphemer was sitting at the table next to us involved in a very lively discussion with the band’s drum tech Oyvind. We were waiting for Hellhammer to show up for the interview. ‘In fact, what he told me was that he was just going to pop in for a quick shower and come down straight away,’ I said breaking the uneasy pause in the conversation. Maniac raised his eyes at me ‘I guess I’m gonna go and see what he’s doing.’ Alright, here goes the interview, we thought with bitterness, first we spend half an hour waiting for Hellhammer to come out of the shower and now Maniac’s gone too. An outline of a very grim perspective was opening before our eyes: getting “toadily” wasted in the company of our new Norwegian acquaintances while sitting in the bar of one of the Moscow’s most posh hotels – ooh, what a treat! However the gloom soon faded away as the huge and hairy figure of Maniac drove out of the elevator. ‘He’s in the shower,’ the singer grinned turning his side-bearded face to us, ‘It’s always like that with Hellhamnmer. He said he was going to be down in a minute. Shouldn’t take more than a half an hour really.” Right… Whatever… we settled down and ordered another round. Outside t’was raining
By the time when we finally climbed to the second floor lobby for the interview, my bootleg copy of Mayhem’s latest ‘Grand Declaration of War’ ceased the attention of Blasphemer who was cherishing it with his long-fingered hands and seemed not to have the slightest intention to give it back. As a matter of fact Blasphemer turned out to be the most talkative of this trio and as a result the role of Hellhammer and Maniac was reduced to silent and thoughtful nodding, as if to agree with their chattering guitarist. From a hall next-door we could clearly hear a gypsy choir that was accompanied by a no less loud and obviously drunk male choir. We put down the beers and sat around the table to start the interview.
MetalKings.com: You have a large collection of Bootlegs?
Blasphemer: No, but I collect them just because they are so rare in Norway.
MetalKings.com: Half of these questions were written with me thinking that Mayhem were splitting up because that was the official rumor here.
MetalKings.com: That tour. And as I already told Maniac one of the questions here was, what was the weirdest rumor you guys heard about yourselves, and I guess this is the one…
Blasphemer: No, I do not Agree. Actually, there has been some problems within the Mayhem camp for a couple of months. So there was some percentage of truth in it, I would say. And I think both Maniac and Hellhammer agree on that. But, now we are happy to say and to see that everything is working out with us.
MetalKings.com: As far as I understand, you guys are now working on a new album?
Blasphemer: Oh yeah, definitely. We’ve been working on the new album for a couple of months already. So we are about to rehearse it pretty soon.
MetalKings.com: Most of the songs are written already?
Blasphemer: No, I’ve written four songs which are almost completely made, y’know. It’s a very long process, so it will take us sometime, but I hope that we can start recording the album in July.
MetalKings.com: And it will be released at?
Maniac: That’s a good question. But we can’t answer it. We do have a title for it, tho.
MetalKings.com: And it is?
MetalKings.com: Are you fucking kidding me? Well, just for you to know one local band, a real shitty one, but tremendously popular, some fucking power metal Iron Maiden ripoff band, has just released an album with the same title.
Maniac: Oh really?
Blasphemer: I can't believe this
MetalKings.com: Well if I have the time before the tomorrow press-conference I will simply buy you a copy and give it to you as a present (running ahead of the train, we did in fact buy a copy of Aria's 'Chimera' and gave it to Blasphemer after the press-conference. We don't know anything as of his impressions but we'll tell ya as soon as we find out.) Anyways so what will the new material be like?
Blasphemer: As far as the music goes, I think it will be a lot darker approach, and it will have a much darker aura and a bigger atmosphere in a way.
MetalKings.com: Are you going to do any keyboards or sampling?
Blasphemer: Hey, you’re talking to Mayhem, that will never happen. But I think it will be a bit slower as well. But it will be a more complete album, a more whole approach, like on the ‘Grand Declaration of War’ album, which is a concept album, we had to, in order to create a concept, to write the music in a certain way, just to get everything right, just to get the red line in the music and towards the lyrics. But this time around, it will be as I see it, a bit of a concept album but not written entirely as a concept album.
MetalKings.com: Now a question for all three of you would be, what is your definition of Mayhem in just a couple of words. Let’s start with you? (I turn to Maniac but he starts pointing the fingers to Blaz)
Blasphemer: (looking puzzled) Erm… Right… I would say… Warm chocolate in a trash can.
Hellhammer: Eternal. That’s the word that comes to mind.
Maniac: Reality as reality.
MetalKings.com: Well the usual one is what is the expectations for the Moscow gig?
Blasphemer: We’ve been looking forward to this gig, actually, I talked to a lot of guys around here, and they said that Mayhem are definitely one of the top-5 black metal bands in Russia. So I mean, we have great expectations and we are pleased to have actually gotten over the border and that we are actually capable of doing this gig. We were supposed to do St. Petersburg as well, but unfortunately that didn’t happen because of some stupid guards at the border. So we just had to, you know, cancel that one. But we definitely wanted to play here, that’s why we… I mean, fuck, we stayed at the border for like 10 hours in order to get through and to get here,in order to play the fucking gig. And I mean the roads here in Russia… its… bad, really bad, fucking awful roads. Like bumping all the time - bbrrrrdadadaddum! – all the fucking time. And we drove maybe for something like 12 hours, like that – boom-boom-boom.
MetalKings.com: Well in the XIX century one Russian writer said that Russia had two major problems: fools and roads
Blasphemer: Yeah, I know. What was his name again?
Blasphemer: Yes, Gogol, that's right.
MetalKings.com: Oh, there’s one for you Maniac. Well, I recently talked to Lord Arhiman from Dark Funeral, you know the band, and you surely know their EP which is called ‘Teach Children to Worship Satan’ (nods) And there he’s got his baby-daughter placed right in between two under-crosses. Well you, I know, being the father of a baby-daughter now too, what do you think of it, would you do anything like that?
Maniac: Ahh, well she’s on the cover of the Grand Declaration of War so… But you don’t have the official CD, so… In fact she’s inside the booklet, there’s a picture of her, so…
MetalKings.com: OK, what you guys been told that Mayhem is considered to be in the top-5 of most popular black metal bands here in Russia, and I guess that would be true all over the world, and in fact Mayhem are considered to be the kings of the scene. So who do you think could take the throne after you?
Blasphemer: I don’t think there are any bands within the black metal scene today, which have the uniqueness that Mayhem possess. Mayhem has a long history, and a bloody history, and it has all the relevant items which are considered to be black metal. I think, Mayhem is the only band, which actually can claim the throne. Of course there’s a lot of good bands…
MetalKings.com: For example? What’s your top-5 in black metal. I mean, your personal? Oh, and we are not talking Bathory, or Celtic Frost, or Venom.
Blasphemer: I wouldn’t have mentioned them, anyway, probably. OK, top-5 in black metal besides Mayhem are… It’s a tough question, maybe… Darkthrone, Emperor, and… er… let’s go with the two of them. But I think the Norwegians have quite some good bands, I think: Satyricon, Immortal, Enslaved – the new Enslaved album is also very good. But I mean, it’s impossible for me to say which band is in the top five. But I guess, Darkthrone and Emperor definitely are.
MetalKings.com: By the way do you know the reason behind Emperor stopping doing the tours?
Blasphemer: No, I don’t know. But I guess Ishahn is some kind of fed up with the whole idea of touring. But he has his side project as well, it’s Peccatum.
Hellhammer: And he is doing Peccatum life.
Blasphemer: I guess it’s the feel of it. He’s maybe tired of Emperor, but I don’t know.
Hellhammer: He’s tired of Emperor doing live shows, he’s tired of doing that kind of music. But he continues because, I mean the music you know, doing records and stuff. Have you heard the new Emperor album?
MetalKings.com: No, not yet. I’m really looking forward to it.
Hellhammer: It’s quite different I’ve been told.
MetalKings.com: Have you heard it?
Blasphemer: No. But you know, a lot of people were telling me about it, and many of them say it’s the same old Emperor and many think that it’s totally new. And some like it and some don’t.
MetalKings.com: Any new bands?
Blasphemer: No, I don’t know. Actually I’m not that into the scene. I am not that kind of person that runs into the closest metal store, and goes hey, they got something new black metal. I’m not that kind of person. I just don’t actually bother. But there’s one good band though, which… by the way, this guy is my guitar technician, he plays in that band, it’s called Audiopain.
MetalKings.com: He told me, it’s like this old school thrash metal.
Blasphemer: Yeah, but they are very talented, and that’s cool.
MetalKings.com: Right, so what is the usual stuff you guys play on the bus?
Maniac: Morbid Angel.
MetalKings.com: Which one?
Maniac: 'Covenant' è 'Domination'
Blasphemer: But there’s a but in here, the but is that we actually forgot that we have a CD player on the bus. If that was conscious to me when I was leaving my house I would have definitely brought some other CDs with me. So this is the only thing we have, so we’ve been listening to it…
MetalKings.com: So you only got those two albums with you…
Blasphemer: No, we have a lot of albums, but it’s not interesting to me… it’s not interesting to us to listen to that kind of…
Maniac: We have the new Slayer album.
Blasphemer: Yes that we actually have slaughtered in and out.
Maniac: Actually I thought some songs were quite good.
MetalKings.com: Well to me it sounded, like if you unleash a fight-dog the feeling is pretty much the same.
Blasphemer: Yeah, I agree it’s very-very aggressive. But his vocals are a bit too annoying, at least when it comes to the fifth song, he’s yelling like they are some stupid hardcore band.
Maniac: And actually we have another album that we like to play, which I really like to play, and that’s a Norwegian band called, Cadaver Inc.
MetalKings.com: Being a vocalist, whose voice do you like the best. I am not talking any influences of course…
Maniac: In black metal or in general?
MetalKings.com: Oh, in general.
Maniac: Shit… er… I really like Jello Biafra, and I like the very first demos of Necrophagia, which is where I really got my inspiration to start singing, and in black metal… I don’t know. Yeah Nocturno Culto because he’s got so amazingly ugly voice he’s like… Yaaarkhhhh! (sounds like he's gonna get sick right there and then) There’s so much feeling in it. It’s not very polished or beautiful, but I really like his voice.
MetalKings.com: How do you envisage Mayhem in the lengthy future?
Hellhammer: That’s a very difficult question at least for us to answer. It’s hopeless. I mean we’ve been around for almost 20 years. Mayhem started in 84 or something. And I mean 10 years from now nothing is for sure
Blasphemer: But I think Mayhem will always be remembered.
Hellhammer: Yeah, that’s for sure.
Blasphemer: And I think Mayhem will continue being the black metal band you know that people associate with everything bad.
MetalKings.ru Yeah, but don’t you feel trapped by your past? For some people Mayhem have become more of a legend than an actual band. That people pay more attention to your history, than your music?
Blasphemer: I mean the past is there, it’s alive, and you know you can’t escape from what’s happened to the band. But it’s very important to see the musical side of the band, when "De Mysteriis…" came out it was something new, that nobody has heard anything like that, and it was – wow. And that was the standard for black metal. And I think that the musical aspects of Mayhem are just as strong as the surrounding in a way. Because, Mayhem is a very true band, very true to themselves. We, or at that time they, didn’t bother about anyone or anything, and we did just what we want to do. I thing that’s a very strong statement. I mean OK, I can understand that a murder and a suicide could attract the opinions, but that’s a part of Mayhem it can’t be separated.
MetalKings.com: For years of being interested in the music, and for a couple of months that I’ve been doing this project. Whenever I talk to musicians, all the time I hear about musical development. Like in every interview which is connected with some new album everyone is talking about their musical development. But what I gathered was that everyone puts pretty much a different sense in it. Because I mean, take up Metallica for instance where musical development was moving from 'Master of Puppets' to 'Load' and 'Reload.'
Blasphemer: Or, from ‘Kill’em All’ to ‘Master of Puppets…’
MetalKings.com: Yeah, whatever. For some other people, it is making their sound a bit on the harder side, and that’s it. So what is development in the Mayhem case?
Blasphemer: I mean musical development is always the matter of personal development. Of course it is. I mean as a person you develop from your 15 to your 25 – there’s a big development, you learn how to…
MetalKings.com: Well, you just change as a person, don’t you?
Blasphemer: No, you don’t change as a person you base your personality on ideas and facts that you have realized and experienced through that period, so you don’t change as a person you just understate what you’re really are, I think. And for me, when writing Wolf’s Lair Abyss - it was a big difference from that mini-CD compared to Grand Declaration of War. But, I mean ok, in between there was like three years or something, and maybe I experienced a whole lot of different aspects of things during that period. So that… And I mean next album, I’ve written some songs, yeah, but the end result what it is to people is still unknown…
MetalKings.com: Another thing that always surprised me, was what sort of music different musicians listen to, when they write their music and I guess the most weird, or one of the most weird things that I heard, was that Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel actually listens to a lot of nowadays the Gathering. And he says when I’m writing new MA material I’m pretty much influenced by that.
Blasphemer: I mean how can you be influenced by music, I can’t see the link. I listen to a lot of other music styles, or at least other bands than just pure metal. And when it comes to writing music I don’t think of it at all, maybe in the subconscious, but you’re not conscious about it in that way, that you actually listen to one band and take inspiration from that band. The one thing that you actually take inspiration from is your own self. I mean there’re so much things going so if you just can sense some of its not the base of some 'fork, blood, double-album song'. And now its so much things going on, and so many thoughts, and so many happenings and confrontations in life, which make you always rethink and accept what happens. I mean maybe you experienced this before and bla-bla-bla but every time something happens to you, you changes in a way. Your opinion about everything changes, that’s what inspiration is all about, I think. Just going through life… Life is shit ok (snaps fingers and whistles) – good.
MetalKings.com: So is life really shit?
Blasphemer: (Cracks) Sometimes, it’s really shit. I think so. Sometimes it’s as ugly as…
MetalKings.com: What’s the most typical situation when you not just say that life sucks, but you feel that life sucks.
Blasphemer: Typical situation? What do you mean?
MetalKings.com: When was the last time you said that and you meant it.
Maniac: (Cracks) He says it all the time.
Blasphemer: (Laughing) Yeah, I says it all the time.
Maniac: (Laughing) Constantly, fucking the most negative person in the world.
Blasphemer: Thank you.
Hellhammer: Necro is worse.
Maniac: Yeah, Necro is worse. Mayhem is a very negative band.
Blasphemer: The negativity is deadly to positive people. But I mean, it’s… (Cracks) I don’t see that many positive sides actually. When you actually get to live outside of, what I call a suicide, which in a way is in fact the Gland Declaraiton of War concept theme. It’s the basic theme – to get outside of everything. When you do that can you at that time find anything, any reason, which makes you feel like you’re alive. Or in other words that you have something to live for.
MetalKings.com: Yeah listening to that music – yes.
Blasphemer: But that’s not the issue forget about the music. Just imagine the idea of getting outside of everything. I mean people always claim to own something because they are afraid of not having anything. That’s what keeps people alive, because they have something, they always have something.
MetalKings.com: Yeah they associate themselves with different things in their lives that makes them feel alive. I tried detaching myself from life and just look at it as stranger, it was a lot of fun.
Blasphemer: Now, ok. But you have strings (shows the inner strings on his chest) attached from yourself to other persons, to other things, bla-bla-bla. Cut all the steel wires – creeksh – with scissors. Imagine standing there alone on your own self like with nothing just this (body) and the idea of your own self, without anything… What was the question?
MetalKings.com: Oops, I think I forgot it altogether (everybody laughs)
Blasphemer: I forgot what my aiming point was…
MetalKings.com: Oh, yeah. Life sucks – that was the question.
Blasphemer: Then you see that… You know, I’m totally, well not totally, but I’m trying to be out of everything to free myself from the limitations, which I call is upper mankind, in many ways. As feelings, regards, as the conscious way of acting upon others. If you just get rid of those things, you don’t have anything, and that’s when you actually realize that this is just Fata Morgana in a way, you know. Whishing which is not there. I think that life is actually that. I think life is what it is, and that’s the only policy. This is life. That’s it.
MetalKings.com: You guys feel the same way?
Maniac: In very many ways, yeah. If you see people, if you see how people actually are… and… I mean, for me the answer is like, now I will be repeating a lot of the stuff that he said. Take away religion, and religion for me is more than believing in a god – I hate religion, I fucking hate it. Take away that. People have always had to believe that not just in life, but there is something higher, something to aim for. And take away that, and people would die like flies. They would commit suicide.
Blasphemer: Then they will understand how fucking fake they are…
Maniac: Yeah, how fucking empty their life is.
Blasphemer: That’s what actually life is, I think, it’s nothing. The only thing it is your own thought creating, ideas and how to actually survive life, which is not life which is your pure imagination.
Maniac: I think actually, I just remembered a line from Nietzsche, he said that if you can handle the thought that life there will be nothing more than what you have on this Earth, and what you do every fucking day will happen, again, and again, and again - forever. If you can handle that thought without committing suicide than you’re a super human.
Blasphemer: I mean life to me, is like a necessary disaster that has to be fulfilled.
MetalKings.com: So you plan to enter the studio in July, when should we expect the next album?
Blasphemer: If we enter the studio in July, we have to be there at least one and a half months I guess. Let’s say in November next year, hopefully.
MetalKings.com: Who’s gonna produce the album?
Blasphemer: We are going use the same producer as we did on the GDW. He is very easy to work with and we all have this very good vibe with this guy. He is not a typical black metal producer, at all.
Maniac: Or even metal.
Blasphemer: Yeah, or even metal. He used to work with choirs and other strange stuffs, so he’s been a contribution to the whole sound which by the way on the Grand Declaration of War I have to say I am very proud of.
MetalKings.com: So is he like a fifth member to the band?
Blasphemer: No, I won’t say that. But we will definitely use him on the next record as well. And one thing, he lives in Oslo, which is very convenient for us.
Hellhammer: We introduced him to the kind of sound that we wanted. So he didn’t make the sound for us, he helped us achieve the sound there.
Blasphemer: Exactly. I also have a very-very big idea and clue what the next sound should be at the moment. What taste we should have to forward the best in those songs.
MetalKings.com: I had one question for you (turning to Hellhammer). Given the latest happenings… it doesn’t really have to do with Mayhem, but just for the kicks of it. So given the latest happenings in the US and all that, how do you feel about the song Jihad that Kovenant recorded.
Hellhammer: Well, I mean it’s all happened now.
Blasphemer: But I mean, this is actually quite interesting, because the GDW is very much more interesting than the Jihad song. That’s fucking stupid. (Everybody cracks) With GDW it’s exactly what’s going on. Yeah, it’s happening, hey. In some ways we declared war at this Melting Pot, the Western society. You know in a way.
MetalKings.com: Whadya mean western society?
MetalKings.com: Are you like what? northern society?
Maniac: No, like western culture.
Blasphemer: Yeah, western culture. The pot. Especially the States. Which are, I mean… I can look at my dick on a bad day. And I don’t see America even then.
MetalKings.com: But I mean, like, what happened for Russians – we were very connected to it. Because with the residential houses bombings that were performed by Chechens in 1999 – it was pretty much the same thing. When they blew up several residential buildings, killing, what, several hundreds of people? It was pretty much the same thing and we are not western society.
Blasphemer: Yeah, ok, I guess I have a reason. The thing now, is that, I mean Of course, this act against the States can…
MetalKings.com: Doncha think it was against the whole world?
Blasphemer: Yeah, let me finish. Against the States. OK, you have the States which are the world police, the ugly world police. And they are holding this finger upon everything, you know they are in charge of everything, and how many years have they been bombing and terrorizing these… not that I defend them, but I’d like to see the whole of it, you know. Because people don’t know what the fuck is going on. The only thing they see is these planes crushing into the World Trade Center. And hey, let’s show to all the people down there. Almost everybody that I know in Norway has this opinion about it. Because they don’t know what caused the actual aggression, the actual reaction. We have to see. OK, you tell me, they are not the nice guys, America are the world terrorists. And they are holding this blow, this hand, the palm over this world, controlling everything – they are fucking nazis.
MetalKings.com: OK (Everybody laughs)
Blasphemer: But, anyway, I don’t support these acts. Of course there was a lot of people who actually had nothing to do with anything of this.
MetalKings.com: There was at least 500 Muslims killed in those bombings.
Blasphemer: That’s true, that’s true.
MetalKings.com: It’s not about jihad, it’s not about holy war, gimme a fucking break. It’s just some sick prick who wants to maim and kill stuff.
Blasphemer: No. I don’t think it’s that simple. I don’t think so. You mean this 500 Muslims that were living in the States.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, they were still Muslims.
Blasphemer: But I don’t see any connection there.
MetalKings.com: But this guy knew he was killing someone from his own kin.
Blasphemer: But the twin towers were a fucking symbol of what America stood for.
MetalKings.com: Not only America. The whole world economy stood for that.
Blasphemer: Yeah it was the center of the fucking world, you know, the western world. It’s not the Islamic world. It’s the western society. So I think its under… (thinking) no, I can’t figure out the world even in Norwegian.
MetalKings.com: Well, I’m thru with the serious questions, so I have a couple of completely off-the-wall stupid questions, that I ask all of the musicians esp. black metal musicians. A friend of mine in Finalnd really into Motorhead and old-school metal, said that Kiss and Alice Cooper should team up and sue everyfuckingbody.
Blasphemer: I think Kiss and Alice Cooper should pack their fucking bags. (everybody laughs)
MetalKings.com: Blast beats were invented by SOD.
Hellhammer: Oh really?
MetalKings.com: Charlie Benante used them first.
Hellhammer: Well, maybe. The Amerricans invented the term blast beats, I have invented something new, it’s called – hyper-blast-beats, this is twice as fast. Fuck off to them.
Blasphemer: Fuck off to the fucking…
Maniac: How cool is this? (starts singing SOD’s ‘MILK')
MetalKings.com: Hey, come on, it’s been the back bone for hundreds of people in this world.
Maniac: Yeah exactly, hundreds of people in this world… how many is that?
MetalKings.com: Right you got me there. Where were the other stupid questions I was supposed to ask?
Blasphemer: And no – we don’t take drugs. Final comment, you say? So far I’ve enjoyed walking through Moscow streets, I had a blast, I had a lot of fun, so – DON’T DISAPPOINT ME TOMORROW!!!
MetalKings.com: (Turning to Maniac) You, final word?
Maniac: Ahhh, him first (pointing to Hellhammer) – I cannot fucking think tonight.
Hellhammer: Russia has a very impressive history. It’s unreal for me to be here in the former Soviet Union.
Maniac: Yeah I mean we had hell coming here on this small fucking tour bus . But now we are finally here, and we really like, at least I really like to see real Moscow. Thank you.
MetalKings.com: OK, thank you very much iundeed and break a leg tomorrow
-- October 9, 2001, Moscow, The "Ukraine" Hotel
MetalKings.com pass out their thanks to Yevgeniy 'Agen Price' Aksyonov for helping to organize this interview
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