Mayhem Mindview Sept 1998
Discussing philosophy,religion,guns and cow heads with Maniac of Mayhem.
Another saga begins in the twisted realm that is Mayhem. Ask anyone in America if they thought that this chapter would unfold for this band, 6 years after they first gained noteriety in their homeland as card-carrying members of the Norwegian "Inner Circle", and the answer would be no. Who would have answered yes? Hellhammer, the one Mayhem member who survived the carnage unscathed. Never letting the fire go out, he single-handedly carried the Mayhem torch, reforming the band in 1994 with origional members Maniac, (vocals) and Necrobutcher (bass). Adding a new guitarist, Blasphemer, Mayhem last year released Wolf's Lair Abyss, five songs destined to kindle the flame of remembrance for the MUSIC, and not the controversy surrounding the band. And now, amongst the growing firestorm of black metal rapidly consuming America, Mayhem have brought their torch here, to add to the inferno. Wanting to feel the fire myself, I caught up with Mayhem at their second American gig at the infamous Milwuakee (Wisconsin) Metalfest, and had this conversation with Maniac...
So how was your
Pretty horrible, it took 24 hours altogether. We got detained in Philadelphia for 5 hours by airport security....Why was that?
When they asked us what was in our cases, we told them shotguns.....Shotguns!
Whatever possesed you to say that?!?
Oh we were just joking around. They finally let us go. Canada is more strict you know, we were supposed to play there also but they won't let us in. Our bassist and guitarist have a police record you know.
You've already played Los Angeles..
Yes! LA is a fucked up city! They have really stupid rules, like you can't smoke in bars! I've been to New York before, and I'm really sorry we are not playing there. But the LA show went really well. I was really anxious to play there, I was sure that LA was full of glam people. It wasn't like that. It was 75% Mexicans, and they were fucking crazy! The response was good. We played the Whiskey a Go-Go, to me a legendary place. All the great old bands have played there. It was like, OK, we're going to play the Whiskey A Go-Go, fuck man! When we arrived in Los Angeles, It was like a movie. We walked up and down Hollywood Blvd.,looking a t the walk of fame and saying Fuck! It was weird.
Did you have any preconcieved notions of the metal scene in America? What were you expecting here?I was expecting that almost no one had heard of Mayhem. I didn't think black metal was big here at all, especially in LA. I was thinking that maybe New York or Chicago, people had heard of Mayhem. But LA? i didn't think there would be any fans there at all. When we got there, we were freaked out by all the crazy fans! There was one crazy guy who jumped up on stage and grabbed the cow head and dived back into the audience. hahahahaha They ripped that cow head apart down there too....
Where do you get the Cow heads?
We contact a local butcher in every town we play. At first we had a problem at the Whiskey, they told us you can't do it, no cows onstage. So in the middle of the set, the two guys who work for us snuck up and put the cowhead on stage anyway. We only had one though, we usually have two. Here in Milwaukee it was no problem at all. The stage manager was like sure, go ahead, just make sure you get rid of them after you've finished.
When I saw the cow heads, I got a little scared. I was upfront taking photographs, And I thought maybe you were going to throw them into the audience. All I could think of was raw meat on my dress...
I'm not doing any of that shit here. NOT in the United States.
Some people would like it though...
Yeah, but I'm not going to get myself in trouble here also. You see, Right before we came here we played in Austria. I threw a pigs head in the audience there, and hit a girl in the face. Now we have a lawsuit against us. And here in America they sue you for anything! At the Whiskey they told me if I cut myself and bled on there new carpet they would sue me. So I said OK, I won't do that either.
Where you happy with the response here in Milwaukee?
Yeah! I felt really good onstage. The crowd here was even better than LA. I had a really good time up there. Lots of crazy people up front, moshing. Except for this one guy in the first row. I noticed him when I was shaking hands with the fans up front. He had a rosary, and he kept showing it to me, and crossing himself. And he kept trying to touch me! I freaked out on him. I kept telling him to get the fuck out of here.
He was probably trying to save you hahahaha!
Maniac, why did you leave Mayhem all those years ago?
Oh well...I was living 250 kilometers from the rest of the guys, and I was studying. Also, in 1988 I was really fed up with the metal scene. I liked death metal, but when it became really popular, and the bands starting wearing jogging suits, and writing politically correct lyrics, I got really tired of it. I felt that death and black metal should never have anything to do with politics. That should be left to the punk bands. So I left, and started to do industrial stuff. I love industrial music, especially European industrial, because yeah fuck, that's hard!
When Hellhammer contacted you about coming back into Mayhem, what were your feeling at first?
I wasn't sure at all. He said "Do you want to go back and play in Mayhem?" And I was like, no, I'm not really sure of this. He said "OK, well why don't you just show up at a rehearsal?" He told me he had a new guitarist, and I didn't know this guy at all. So I went to the rehearsal place, met up with him (Blasphemer), and now I love him! He's one of my best friends. But when we came there, and started to play the old songs, it was like (makes an explosion sound), and it just hit us right away! The feeling was immediate. I was like Fuck! I want to do this again!
And you're happy you did?
Oh yeah! We weren't going to do this if that feeling wasn't there, and we all felt it.
Is that feeling why Hellhammer worked so hard to keep Mayhem together all these years?
Yes, he wanted to keep that brutality and aggression alive. It doesn't matter that Euronymous isn't in the band anymore, it felt like Mayhem. I was there on the first album in 1987,but Hellhammer wasn't. Then he was there and I wasn't. He wanted to keep the Mayhem feeling alive, and as long as it's there we will keep on playing.
I've seen quotes that say musically, Wolf's Lair Abyss is the best thing Mayhem's ever done. I would have to agree with that. You've been together for 4 years now. Why only five songs?
Um, (laughs) yeah well, Mayhem's been together since 1984, and how many REAL albums are there? Just a couple. Well, (laughs again) We're a really slow band. But things are happening much faster now. We have almost all the songs finished for our new album.
When do you plan on recording?
We're doing the States now, when we get back we'll do a small European tour. We just have to do some live gigs now. It's been so long since Mayhem have toured. People are really anxious to see us live. And touring sells records. There are some black metal bands that don't play live, and that's bad. I love playing live! When we get back from touring, we hope to get in the studio right away. We have 6 songs finished, and 2 more we're working on. The lyrics are done, and I've finished the sleeve layout. It's going to be called, A Grand Declaration Of War. We're hoping to release it in December.
Why do you think Americans are just picking up on black metal now?
I don't know. I know that Mayhem are the first European black metal band to play Los Angeles!
I guess you consider Mayhem to be "true black metal".
What is your definition of true black metal?
My definition of true black metal is... oh fuck, I've answered this one before and I used to have a really good quote about it. Let's see, it's aggressive, brutal, and no fucking keyboards!
So Emperor is not true black metal?
(Laughing) Well yes, they are. Some of my bands I listen to, and I listen to a lot of different music because I have to, But Marduk, they are genuine black metal. They even have it printed on their CD sleeve, NO KEYBOARDS USED ON THIS ALBUM. And all those female vocals. Mayhem will never use female vocals. I believe that the aggressiveness and brutality are lost with keyboards and female vocals. Emperor are aggressive, and they use keyboards in a different way than a lot of other bands. Are you familiar with Dimmu Borgir?
Those guys are my friends, but I try to tell them all the time, When I hear their music I feel like dancing....
And Covenant, they're like poser black metal...
That's just gay metal.
I like it though...
Yeah but it's not black metal. When I hear those bands I get visions of a large hall with people dancing around, happily cavorting. Cradle of Filth also. I hate Cradle Of Filth. It's bad. I don't hate them as people because I don't know them, but I hate their music.
I've seen this quote recently by Hellhammer, "At
that time it was very dark satanic stuff, but that isn't what I feel Mayhem is
about today" What is Mayhem about these days?
It depends on what you mean by Satanic. I detest Christianity, and if you believe in Satan, you have to accept Christianity as well. It's more like uh, I believe in the eternal recurrence of things. I'm a huge fan of Nietzsche. I'm not a pagan, or a Nilhist. I'm a huge lover of life. And that's what Nietzsche said, love life. Because that's the only thing you've got. And I want to LIVE life! In 1989, I tried to commit suicide.
I was so fucked up and tired of everything. Everything was just fucking shit! And I did it, and my brother found me. Luckily he found me! I'm so happy he did, because I want to live! And live it to the fullest! Like with Satanism, there are a lot of good things with it, I agree with a lot of it. But the actual thing about believing in Satan as a personality....
Like a horned being that runs around on hooves making people do bad things....
Yeah, yeah yeah,... that's stupid. Humanity is bad anyway. I mean uh....
Humans are evil....
All those Christian people running around....
Yeah, they go home at night and beat up their wives.....
They kill in the name of god.....
Yes! What I'm really opposed to with Christianity...I really love our culture, our ancient European culture. I love it. And Christianity has been fucking it up for two thousand years. Well, a thousand in Norway. It's a slave mentality. You are your own God. How can I say this. With Christianity you worship something that you don't even know exists.
It's a cruel god I think, too many rules.
All those rules and morals. Totally fucked up. Christian moral standards! And it's got a double morality, I don't know if that's what it's called in English. You've got to be good, real good and MAYBE you'll end up in heaven, ha ha. You stay on earth, and you can't do anything but be good and worship and all that shit, and then MAYBE you'll go to heaven? The gates of paradise lay shattered!
Just think, if they made all those rules for down here, what do you think the rules are going to be like up in heaven in the presence of god? I don't think we're going to be having any fun up there either! No thank you!
Yeah, it's going to be worse!
They think that just to be in the presence of god in the afterlife is the whole reason for existence.
And it's so false. They say you have to love your fellow man. Why? Not because you want to, but because you have to so you can go to heaven. I love my friends, but I don't have to love anybody else. I don't give a shit if people are dying of starvation in Ethiopia or whatever. It doesn't bother me, I'm not there.
It's all part of the plan of nature, we're all ruled by nature.
Yeah, nature. Well, I'm also a fan of social dominance, the law of the strong.
The rest of the quote by Hellhammer I wanted to ask you about goes "I found out over the years that those powers are very dangerous and they can get out of control" What kind of powers is he talking about? what was he into?
(long pause and very blank look)
He goes on to say " we all use to laugh about it, but now we know it's actually true" What's true?
(another long pause) Heh, Heh, Uh, Um. I don't know
Is he talking about black magic or something?
Yeah, I guess.
But isn't Hellhammer a Christian?
He told me he was.
Yup. Uh, he might be. Um. (looking quite uncomfortable now) Well I don't know. I don't know about that. It's like dark powers I guess.
I guess I'll have to ask him.
Have you ever heard of a band called GGFH? Global Genocide Forget Heaven?
Well they have a song called Dark Powers. I guess that's what it's all about. Like poltergeists or something. The walls are moving! (waving arms around)
Like, I don't believe in any of that stuff, what's it called?
Yeah, magic and the supernatural. I'm so down to earth, probably because I'm reading too much Nietzsche. I believe in eternal recurrence. I believe we live all the time. Like I'm living now, but I'm also living 2000 years ago, and at the same time I'm living 2000 years in the future. Everything is happening at the same time.
So you're not talking about a reincarnation thing here.
No, no, no,. It's all happening at the same time.
Yes. It fucks up my mind to think about it. It's like ah fuck! I believe in it so, I read a lot of shit, you know. If we were really going to talk about it we'd sit here for another five hours.
Where did you come up with this concept?
It's from Nietzsche, and it developed in my own head, from him. He wrote the Antichrist. He was really opposed to Christianity. But at the same time he was a big fan of Jesus Christ. He thought Jesus was the only true Christian that ever lived. Everyone after him are posers. And their trying to score from it. The Hypocrisies in Christianity has worsened since when Jesus lived. And now it's totally fucked up. In America it's really fucked up.
Yeah, and getting worse. Just think, this country was founded by people who left where they were living because of religious persecution. And the whole reason this country was founded was so people could worship what they wanted, without persecution. And now it seems like they want to renege on it.
They want to take our constitution and burn it.
I mean Jerry Falwell and all those TV preachers....
They're so full of shit.
They're probably more Satanic than any Satanist.
They're evil. They just want money. And if the people of this country think for one second that religion does not have a hand in politics than all their heads are up their asses. Because religion plays a big part in politics, and it's not supposed to. People need to wake up.
Yes, people are being stuffed with Christian morals and they don't think for themselves.
Kids are starting to have open minds these days, I see kids wearing pentegrams and quiz them on what is the meaning of it. It used to be they would answer it's a devil symbol, but now they are answering correctly. A lot of kids are claiming to be into Wicca. But it's a start, at least they know there are other choices. I hear Wicca is the fastest growing religion in America.
A pentegram is not a devil symbol.
Yeah and it drives me crazy when people say that. So when I see kids wearing it, I ask them, are you wearing that because you are into Marilyn Manson, or are you interested in Wicca? And more and more these days the answer is Wicca. So then I give them some book titles to read!
Speaking of Marilyn Manson, I got mistaken for him in the Chicago airport.
I hate him.
I guess you guys get asked a lot about the murder, suicide, church burnings and all that shit...
I'm not really going to ask you about it, I just want to know if you are tired of being asked about it.
Yes! I'm really tired of it!
Wouldn't you like to move on?
Yes! It was like 5 years ago and I've answered it like 500 times!
Do the other guys feel that way also? Because sometimes it seems like Hellhammer enjoys talking about it the way he goes on and on, never telling the interviewer he does not want to talk about it, He even laughs about it.
It's in the past. I want to move on, move away from it.
How do you think you can move away from it?
Heh, uh, well actually, it has been slowing down with those questions. And I'm really happy about it. Because I'm so fucking tired of those questions. You know, Euronymous and Dead, both of them were my best friends, I used to live with them! But I can't think about what happened the rest of my life! I've got to move on. I can't sit down and say oh fuck, Euronymous got murdered, Dead committed suicide, I'm so sad about it, oh fuck! I can't do that, it fucks with my head.
What about this book "Lords Of Chaos"? What impact will this book coming out now have? Do you think that it's going to be hard for you not to have those questions asked? I mean, there are kids who were 10 years old when that stuff was going down, who never heard of it then. Now they're 16, they've got that book, and they're just hearing about it now. Ultimately, you'll get exposure from it, but what are your feelings about it?
Actually, I've read the book, and I think it's a good book. It's objective. It's not like all those tabloid articles, the horrible Spin magazine piece. The author, Michael Moynihan, is a friend of mine. I've written reviews of the book for him. It might have a bad impact with teenagers. And I guess we're probably going to get asked those questions a lot of times, over and over and over again!
Maybe from now on when you get asked those questions you should tell them to read the book.
Just say, we don't want to talk about it anymore, just read the book!
Yeah! That's a fucking great Idea! Thanks!
I'm surprised you didn't think of it before.
Wow, that's great. Cause I actually like the book.
Where you interviewed for it at all?
No, but Michael interviewed me after it came out. There are some small errors in it.
Are you happy with the way Mayhem was portrayed in the book?
Partially. One of the errors was he wrote that Dead was the first singer of Mayhem.
I was. And he's dead, and I'm not. But apart from that, it's a good book, like a documentary.
You think anyone will make a movie out of it? That would be interesting huh?
Hahahahah Yeah it would. Very fucking interesting.
Yeah, Lords of chaos documentary movie. Like the documentary Paradise Lost. Have you heard of that?
No I haven't.
It's about these three kids from the south in America, that were into death and black metal music, and Satanism and paganism. They are in jail now, charged with murdering three 8 year old boys. One is on death row. There are questions whether they did it or not. They might have been railroaded.
Paradise Lost for me is a book.
Yes, John Milton. I've read it. A book, a band and a movie.
Quite hard to read actually.
Yes, I've been trying to read the classics just recently, and I am finding them hard to read.
I love to read. I read a lot of philosophy. My favorite writer of all time is an American, Ezra Pound.
Ah, the fascist poet. It seems to me the classic authors use too many words to describe what they are trying to say.
Yes, that's true. Have you ever read James Joyce? Try to read Ulysses. Now that's a hard book to read.
Are you kidding? I'm having trouble getting through Nathaniel Hawthorne. My mother has told me Ulysses is the hardest book to read, that it makes no sense.
I've read it three times and I still don't know what it's about. Try to read it. Have you ever read Dante? How about, I don't know what it called in English, War and Peace I think. It's by a Russian writer, 1500 pages. There's another one, If I translate it, It's called Crime and Punishment.
That's correct, that's what it's called.
That's a fucking great book! Do you know Wynham Lewis? But Ezra Pound is my favorite. He's hard to read also. Like his book Cantos, It's really a poem, 900 pages long. And the problem is, he knows French, Italian, German, Latin, Greek, and Chinese and he uses all of them!
How did you learn English? Did you teach yourself?
In Norway we learn English in school, starting in the third grade.
I don't know.
I know that in a lot of European countries they teach English in school. In America we chose to learn other languages, and if we don't want to, we don't. I took French, but I guess it wasn't what I was into when I was a teenager, so I didn't apply myself and I didn't learn it. Now I'd like to learn German.
I know the Scandinavian languages, Swedish and Danish. And I know a little German. I thought when I was coming here that my English was pretty bad and no one would be able to understand me.
No, it's pretty good. Well, I think I'm just about out of questions.
This is probably the best interview I've ever done. You didn't ask me , What kind of music do you play? Where are you from?
Hahahah. Yeah, I don't like to ask those kinds of questions. I like to get into peoples heads, and find out what they're about.
Yeah, sit and talk.
Have a conversation. Well thanks for letting me pick your brain.