After a live appearance in Athens' Woodstock club (23.1.99), Hellhammer
and Maniac accepted to answer some of our questions…
PT I (HELLHAMMER)
SLATAN: So, first of all welcome to Greece and, I would like to ask you what were your impressions from the Greek people yesterday?
Hellhammer: The people? As you could probably see I was kind of "attacked"... Not me but the drumkits was attacked after the show. Was very hysterical but… we don't mind… I just feel sorry for the guy who owns the drumkits… Because I guess, it was kind of destroyed. And the people came up to the stage after the show…
SLATAN: You also had a problem with the security… In the first moments…
Hellhammer: The security?
SLATAN: Yes, the security was in front of you and the people didn't like this…
Hellhammer: Yeah, I know…There should be all of this security, of course, you know. But I think that the security guide this time was too much in front… But then again, you know, maybe it was necessary.
SLATAN: I've heard that Mayhem are about to compose a very famous computer game's music theme. Quake 3's.. Is that just a rumor or is it true?
Hellhammer: Computer game's?!
SLATAN: Yes, it's a rumor that was circulating on internet…
Hellhammer: I don't know anything about that…
(I asked him here what his opinion was about the Lords of Chaos book. But I really couldn't listen a shit, because of some really annoying people who were making several noises, yelling etc.)
SLATAN: Euronymous was a talented musician. Do you believe that if he still was alive, things would be different in the worldwide metal scene?
Hellhammer: If he would be still alive, we wouldn't have Blasphemer in the guitars… He's a better guitarist than Euronymous was… It's hard to say because he was kind of changing at the end into more of a business man. I don't think that Mayhem would have been the same… So, it's better that it happened this way, you know…
SLATAN: I would like to ask you also a question about COVENANT. What are your expectations from COVENANT? Are you planning to remain in the band?
Blasphemer: The ultimate question!
Hellhammer: Well, when new material is ready, we'll probably go in studio in about March/April or something to record and I will probably remain in COVENANT because its like different music and it's a different treat for my drumming abilities… Therefore it's good to me as a drummer to play in like different band, different kinds of music…
SLATAN: What is your opinion about bands like Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir?
Hellhammer: Well, they're very alike commercial and the stuff they do, it's like a theatre thing you know, but they do it good because they sell lots of records and they're happy with it - lots of fans… so, it's their thing… But I wouldn't call the stuff they do black metal. Because I mean black metal is something different it's not only music, it's something more than that.
SLATAN:What are your future plans concerning both Mayhem and Covenant? Are we about to witness any tours in the nearby future and new material?
Hellhammer: Yeah, well, concerning Covenant, probably a recording in March/April this year. Tours: Yeah I guess we'll play something with Covenant… I'm more involved with Mayhem now…
Mayhem: we will do tours this summer and also release a new record. This "Grand Declaration of War"…
SLATAN: What about your live video? Are you satisfied with it?
Hellhammer: No. Pictures are very good, but the sound is horrible! Very horrible and grotesque sound!
SLATAN: Concerning COVENANT we had been informed that the band had to change it's name… What happened finally? Did Covenant change their name after all?
Blasphemer: *BURP* (He was drinkin' a beer!)
Melissa: What do you remember from the crime period of the Norwegian black metal scene? After all these years, how do you feel about it?
Hellhammer: ……………You know, people had to die, people had to go to jail for some extreme ideas. So, I guess it put music in a kind of bad light (?), but then again the people who were caught did suffer from this. Afterwards, they contempted that. I don't care about that.
Melissa: When Euronymous was alive, he had an organization called Inner Circle. Is it still going?
Hellhammer: No, it died with him.
Melissa: What is your opinion about it?
Hellhammer: Oh, the Inner Circle was just us sitting and… (A cellphone's ridiculous ringing makes Hellhammer laugh for the next couple of minutes and, as a result, he leaves his sentence unfinished). The Inner Circle is dead now. That's all I have to say. It kind of released the stuff it was talking about then.
Melissa: Compare today's Mayhem to 1984's Mayhem. What are the elements that have remained unchanged since then?
Hellhammer: Of course we are better musicians. We have rehearsed much since then. He went (he refers to Blasphemer who's sitting next to him) to a guitar school to learn to play more things on guitar. I'm very dedicated to the art of drumming myself. That's kind of a problem for a lot of bands, especially black metal bands, the people cannot play. They can play one thing, you know, the drummer can play pulse, he doesn't know about drumming in general. That goes also for the guitar players, the bassist and stuff like that. Either say that Mayhem are good musicians, we all know how to play our instruments and of course, today is much better.
Melissa: We've asked you about Covenant, now tell us some things about Arcturus. They are very different from both Mayhem and Covenant. Do you feel that your musical/artistic worries cannot be fulfilled just through Mayhem?
Hellhammer: Yeah, that's what I was talking about before. For me, as a drummer, is good not to play different styles of music. Of course you can do it at home, at rehearsals, but if I do it in studio, I'm just not dedicated. Every drumming style combines a lot of different stuff. I think it's good because it creates a lot of styles.
Melissa: What is your opinion about bands like Cradle Of Filth or Hecate Enthroned and all those who play like them? Do you believe that music or image is their main characteristic?
Hellhammer: Well, I wouldn't call it cult music, or black metal, because I really believe that black metal would be like… You know, this kind of bands that create different music. It's music they believe is beautiful, I don't. I think they do what they do well and I don't have a problem with it, because it's their choice, their style of music. I wouldn't say any shit about Cradle Of Filth or Dimmu Borgir.
Melissa: Mayhem is considered to be the "fathers" of the present back metal scene. How does it make you feel when new bands come to you and say that Mayhem is their main influence?
Hellhammer: That's great, absolutely great. It shows that the people have actually learned something… Well, let's skip that.
Melissa: When you listen to a new black metal band, can you distinguish its Mayhem elements/influences?
Hellhammer: I like to hear elements in lots of other bands which are influenced by that we did in the past. I think it's cool and I don't have any problem with that.
Melissa: Is there a particular reason behind your sudden leaving the scene yesterday, without having finished the last track or saying goodnight?
Hellhammer: A string broke in Blasphemer's guitar and we had to leave the stage. His guitar was gone at the airport.
Blasphemer: I believe it's lost.
Melissa: I think you played with Naer Mataron's instruments.
Hellhammer: Yeah. I'll tell you what happened. We were supposed to come here on Friday, but when we arrived in Amsterdam the fog was very thick. We had to go through hell, we were hustled by the police and all that kind of shit.
Melissa: A lot of bad luck.
Hellhammer: Yeah, but I guess that any other band would just say "Fuck off, I go home", but I wouldn't be in that kind of band, this kind of rock star bands.
Melissa: Many people would be disappointed if you did that.
Hellhammer: of course, we know. I enjoyed playing yesterday. The Greek audience was fuckin' crazy
Melissa: This means that we'll see you again sometime…
Hellhammer: Of course. I guess we'll be back in a kind of a tour.
Melissa: Is there a chance of seeing you with Covenant or Arcturus?
Hellhammer: Not Arcturus, but Covenant.
Blasphemer: Mayhem/Arcturus/Covenant together.
(At this point Hellhammer sees the Mayhem review in the first issue of A.O.M. `zine)
Hellhammer: What's this? 6,5? That's not very good, is it?
Blasphemer: It's bad.
Melissa: Actually, I wrote that.
Blasphemer: You're judging because of the sound.
Hellhammer: Mayhem's music is difficult to get into. It's not music for everyone. I like to call it music for the experienced listener. It's not commercial, it's not catchy.
PT II (Maniac)
Melissa: Well, good morning. Dead…
Maniac: Is dead.
Melissa: I know. He was a cult figure and became even greater because if his death and the way he died. Do you feel that the fans compare you to him?
Maniac: No, because Dead was one of my best friends and… maybe sometimes I do. But, I'm a very different person from him, so, I don't see that the fans do that.
Melissa: What were your expectations when you came to Greece and were they fullfilled?
Maniac: Actually I was very worried because you know…Greece. We came here and played and the crowd was great. It was fucking excellent! And the only thing I hated was the stage people. The security. Very bad. Should have a bullet.
Melissa: We saw them more than we saw you.
Maniac: They were all over the stage. Should have a bullet.
George: Do you think that if Euronymous was alive, Mayhem would be different?
Maniac: Yeah, I think so. It wouldn't be so aggressive. It would be less aggressive, because he was more into this melody mood things. But Blasphemer is very much aggressive.
Melissa: Hellhammer is involved with Arcturus/Covenant and …
Maniac: You know what I always tell him? Covenant: Gay Metal (laughs)
Melissa: Do you plan to create any projects or do you believe that Mayhem is enough for you?
Maniac: Mayhem is my main thing but I also have a solo project and it's going to be released now. It sounds like lord Axxis. I have also another project, and we're going to record this summer, with Blasphemer (guitars), Phil Anselmo (guitars), Killjoy (vocals), me (vocals) and Fenriz (drums).
Melissa: All the choices, but Philips Anselmo's, are obvious.
Maniac: The reason is that Killjoy knows him and he really likes Norwegian Black Metal. The music is oing to be like Celtic Frost.
Slatan: What do you think of the support bands, Naer Mataron and Dark Vision?
Maniac: I hardly even heard them, because we were backstage then. Dark Vision were very melodic, very heavy metal influenced. But, we almost didn't hear them.
Slatan: What about other greek bands, like Rotting Christ?
Maniac: I listen to very few of those bands. I haven't bought a black metal CD for 5 years.
Melissa: I asked Hellhammer before and I'll ask you, too. What do you remember and what do you feel, after all these years, about the crime period of the Norwegian black metal scene?
Maniac: It was a good era. The only problem was that the people were getting arrested. Actually, I was sitting home with my grandmother watching the news, when this picture of Euronymous came along and said: "Dead". In Norway now: nothing. The black metal scene in Norway is almost dead.
Slatan: Only in Norway?
Maniac: In some countries, like South America and Eastern Europe (Polland, Eastern Germany), is very big, but in Norway… What people call black metal today is like Covenant and Dimmu Borgir. And I hate those bands. It's not black metal for me, it's very melodic. It sounds like dance music and I always tell that to Hellhammer: "Covenant's gay metal". I don't know if you have it in Greece, something about all Norwegian bands getting nominated. For a prize. It's like MTV awards or Grammy prize. We have this on February and both Dimmu Borgir and Covenant are nominated, so Hellhammer will be there.
George: Tell us a few words on your forthcoming LP
Maniac: It's going to be the fastest album ever released. It's going to be very brutal. Hellhammer is doing some drum things, you won't believe. It's turning to this thing, it's like total fucking speed. Very, very aggressive.
George: Except for this song you played last night.
Maniac: Yeah, and we have some other songs. The LP is kind of divided into pt I and pt II, because on the other side it's going to be some very, very strange things.
Melissa: Compare today's Mayhem to 1984's Mayhem, the "Deathcrush" demo era.
Maniac: It was aggressive back then, when we first started, but now is more aggressive. And what we did back then… I mean, I was 17 years old when I recorded that LP and I'm 30 now. It's a very young album. It was the first time for this kind of music ever to be released. Actually, the best review, I ever heard of "Deathcrush" came from a guy in Norway who wrote in a national paper. He wrote that "I just heard this LP and it's like Hook is feastfucking Margaret Thutcher". I thought it was good.
Melissa: Ok. Thanx for the interview.
Interview By George Andreadakis, Melissa (Thank you BOTH, for your great questions!!!) and me (SLATAN)
PS: Afterwards we had a small discussion with Maniac, where he told us some important info. The upcoming Mayhem album will be entitled "A Grand Declaration of War" (Like Hellhammer already told us) and, it's cover will show a white dove… stabbed with a knife! Maniac said that this is to symbolize that Mayhem killed peace… forever!