It was about ten in the evening when we settled down together with the bandís 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 ĎUkraineí hotel. Blasphemer was sitting at the table next to us involved in a very lively discussion with the bandís drum tech Oyvind. We were waiting for Hellhammer to show up for the interview. ĎIn fact, what he told me was that he was just going to pop in for a quick shower and come down straight away,í I said breaking the uneasy pause in the conversation. Maniac raised his eyes at me ĎI guess Iím gonna go and see what heís doing.í 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 Maniacís gone too. An outline of a very grim perspective was opening before our eyes: getting ďtoadilyĒ wasted in the company of our new Norwegian acquaintances while sitting in the bar of one of the Moscowís most posh hotels Ė ooh, what a treat! However the gloom soon faded away as the huge and hairy figure of Maniac drove out of the elevator. ĎHeís in the shower,í the singer grinned turning his side-bearded face to us, ĎItís always like that with Hellhamnmer. He said he was going to be down in a minute. Shouldnít take more than a half an hour really.Ē RightÖ WhateverÖ we settled down and ordered another round. Outside tíwas raining
By the time when we finally climbed to the second floor lobby for the interview, my bootleg copy of Mayhemís latest ĎGrand Declaration of Warí 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 oneÖ
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. Weíve 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, Iíve written four songs which are almost completely made, yíknow. Itís 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: Thatís a good question. But we canít 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, youíre 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 ĎGrand Declaration of Warí 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. Letís start with you? (I turn to Maniac but he starts pointing the fingers to Blaz)
Blasphemer: (looking puzzled) ErmÖ RightÖ I would sayÖ Warm chocolate in a trash can.
Hellhammer: Eternal. Thatís 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: Weíve 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 didnít 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, thatís why weÖ 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 RussiaÖ itsÖ bad, really bad, fucking awful roads. Like bumping all the time - bbrrrrdadadaddum! Ė all the fucking time. And we drove maybe for something like 12 hours, like that Ė 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, thereís 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 ĎTeach Children to Worship Sataní (nods) And there heís 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 sheís on the cover of the Grand Declaration of War soÖ But you donít have the official CD, soÖ In fact sheís inside the booklet, thereís a picture of her, soÖ
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 donít 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 thereís a lot of good bandsÖ
MetalKings.com: For example? Whatís your top-5 in black metal. I mean, your personal? Oh, and we are not talking Bathory, or Celtic Frost, or Venom.
Blasphemer: I wouldnít have mentioned them, anyway, probably. OK, top-5 in black metal besides Mayhem areÖ Itís a tough question, maybeÖ Darkthrone, Emperor, andÖ erÖ letís go with the two of them. But I think the Norwegians have quite some good bands, I think: Satyricon, Immortal, Enslaved Ė the new Enslaved album is also very good. But I mean, itís 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 donít 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, itís Peccatum.
Hellhammer: And he is doing Peccatum life.
Blasphemer: I guess itís the feel of it. Heís maybe tired of Emperor, but I donít know.
Hellhammer: Heís tired of Emperor doing live shows, heís 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. Iím really looking forward to it.
Hellhammer: Itís quite different Iíve 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 itís the same old Emperor and many think that itís totally new. And some like it and some donít.
MetalKings.com: Any new bands?
Blasphemer: No, I donít know. Actually Iím 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. Iím not that kind of person. I just donít actually bother. But thereís one good band though, whichÖ by the way, this guy is my guitar technician, he plays in that band, itís called Audiopain.
MetalKings.com: He told me, itís like this old school thrash metal.
Blasphemer: Yeah, but they are very talented, and thatís 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' Ť 'Domination'
Blasphemer: But thereís 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 weíve been listening to itÖ
MetalKings.com: So you only got those two albums with youÖ
Blasphemer: No, we have a lot of albums, but itís not interesting to meÖ itís not interesting to us to listen to that kind ofÖ
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 itís very-very aggressive. But his vocals are a bit too annoying, at least when it comes to the fifth song, heís 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 thatís 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 courseÖ
Maniac: In black metal or in general?
MetalKings.com: Oh, in general.
Maniac: ShitÖ erÖ 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 metalÖ I donít know. Yeah Nocturno Culto because heís got so amazingly ugly voice heís likeÖ Yaaarkhhhh! (sounds like he's gonna get sick right there and then) Thereís so much feeling in it. Itís not very polished or beautiful, but I really like his voice.
MetalKings.com: How do you envisage Mayhem in the lengthy future?
Hellhammer: Thatís a very difficult question at least for us to answer. Itís hopeless. I mean weíve 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, thatís 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 donít 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, itís alive, and you know you canít escape from whatís happened to the band. But itís very important to see the musical side of the band, when "De MysteriisÖ" came out it was something new, that nobody has heard anything like that, and it was Ė 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, didnít bother about anyone or anything, and we did just what we want to do. I thing thatís a very strong statement. I mean OK, I can understand that a murder and a suicide could attract the opinions, but thatís a part of Mayhem it canít be separated.
MetalKings.com: For years of being interested in the music, and for a couple of months that Iíve 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 ĎKillíem Allí to ĎMaster of PuppetsÖí
MetalKings.com: Yeah, whatever. For some other people, it is making their sound a bit on the harder side, and thatís 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 Ė thereís a big development, you learn how toÖ
MetalKings.com: Well, you just change as a person, donít you?
Blasphemer: No, you donít change as a person you base your personality on ideas and facts that you have realized and experienced through that period, so you donít change as a person you just understate what youíre really are, I think. And for me, when writing Wolfís 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 thatÖ And I mean next album, Iíve written some songs, yeah, but the end result what it is to people is still unknownÖ
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 Iím writing new MA material Iím pretty much influenced by that.
Blasphemer: I mean how can you be influenced by music, I canít 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 donít think of it at all, maybe in the subconscious, but youíre 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 thereíre 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, thatís what inspiration is all about, I think. Just going through lifeÖ Life is shit ok (snaps fingers and whistles) Ė good.
MetalKings.com: So is life really shit?
Blasphemer: (Cracks) Sometimes, itís really shit. I think so. Sometimes itís as ugly asÖ
MetalKings.com: Whatís 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, itísÖ (Cracks) I donít 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. Itís the basic theme Ė to get outside of everything. When you do that can you at that time find anything, any reason, which makes you feel like youíre alive. Or in other words that you have something to live for.
MetalKings.com: Yeah listening to that music Ė yes.
Blasphemer: But thatís 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. Thatís 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 Ė creeksh Ė with scissors. Imagine standing there alone on your own self like with nothing just this (body) and the idea of your own self, without anythingÖ What was the question?
MetalKings.com: Oops, I think I forgot it altogether (everybody laughs)
Blasphemer: I forgot what my aiming point wasÖ
MetalKings.com: Oh, yeah. Life sucks Ė that was the question.
Blasphemer: Then you see thatÖ You know, Iím totally, well not totally, but Iím 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 donít have anything, and thatís 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 thatís the only policy. This is life. Thatís 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 areÖ andÖ 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 Ė 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 areÖ
Maniac: Yeah, how fucking empty their life is.
Blasphemer: Thatís what actually life is, I think, itís 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 youíre 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. Letís say in November next year, hopefully.
MetalKings.com: Whoís 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 heís 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 wonít 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 didnít 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 happeningsÖ it doesnít 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 itís all happened now.
Blasphemer: But I mean, this is actually quite interesting, because the GDW is very much more interesting than the Jihad song. Thatís fucking stupid. (Everybody cracks) With GDW itís exactly whatís going on. Yeah, itís 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 meanÖ I can look at my dick on a bad day. And I donít see America even then.
MetalKings.com: But I mean, like, what happened for Russians Ė we were very connected to it. Because with the residential houses bombings that were performed by Chechens in 1999 Ė 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 canÖ
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 theseÖ not that I defend them, but Iíd like to see the whole of it, you know. Because people donít know what the fuck is going on. The only thing they see is these planes crushing into the World Trade Center. And hey, letís show to all the people down there. Almost everybody that I know in Norway has this opinion about it. Because they donít 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 Ė they are fucking nazis.
MetalKings.com: OK (Everybody laughs)
Blasphemer: But, anyway, I donít 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: Thatís true, thatís true.
MetalKings.com: Itís not about jihad, itís not about holy war, gimme a fucking break. Itís just some sick prick who wants to maim and kill stuff.
Blasphemer: No. I donít think itís that simple. I donít think so. You mean this 500 Muslims that were living in the States.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, they were still Muslims.
Blasphemer: But I donít 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. Itís not the Islamic world. Itís the western society. So I think its underÖ (thinking) no, I canít figure out the world even in Norwegian.
MetalKings.com: Well, Iím 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, itís called Ė hyper-blast-beats, this is twice as fast. Fuck off to them.
Blasphemer: Fuck off to the fuckingÖ
Maniac: How cool is this? (starts singing SODís ĎMILK')
MetalKings.com: Hey, come on, itís been the back bone for hundreds of people in this world.
Maniac: Yeah exactly, hundreds of people in this worldÖ 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 Ė we donít take drugs. Final comment, you say? So far Iíve enjoyed walking through Moscow streets, I had a blast, I had a lot of fun, so Ė DONíT DISAPPOINT ME TOMORROW!!!
MetalKings.com: (Turning to Maniac) You, final word?
Maniac: Ahhh, him first (pointing to Hellhammer) Ė I cannot fucking think tonight.
Hellhammer: Russia has a very impressive history. Itís 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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