Robbie: We’re having a chat with frontman of the highly influential black metal band, Mayhem, hey Attila, you’re talking to Robbie and Dean from Metal-Roos. How are you today?
Attila Csihar: Hi Robbie, thanks. I’m fine. Greetings from Budapest.
Dean: So we’ll jump straight into it. De Mysteriis has left such a huge musical legacy behind. What was it like recording the album for you?
Attila: Thank you, wow, that was very special. It’s like when I first heard about the band Mayhem, it was towards the end of the final years of my band Tormentor. Even my stage name in Tormentor was ‘Mayhem’ so already it was a really fucked up sign, which felt very mystical and like a crazy coincidence. But when I listened to the music, the guys contacted me and they wanted me to do the vocals in all their songs and they were great. I thought it was interesting but when I heard the new songs which are now De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the album was fucking amazing and felt like another level, it’s almost like a completely different band in music. The whole drumming and composition and everything was amazing. That whole experience was really special, because it was back in the days, when we had no money and we were young, and it was so surreal that me, from Hungary, to travel up to Norway to Scandinavia and through other countries and to do the recordings with these guys and there was big expectations already and a lot of crazy stuff happened that nobody could have foreseen that this album would be like this. It’s important that it all happened at the time.
Robbie: Yeah it’s a really special album and it’s left a huge legacy in black metal. So did you ever think that you’d be playing this album live across the world over 20 years later?
Attila: That’s another thing man. That would have sound really fucking surreal too if someone would tell me that. We did hope that we would tour with the record but it didn’t happen of course because the band had fallen apart. But now it’s pretty interesting that it took like 24 or something years to do all this and it wasn’t even planned because this album really deeply affected everyone. It was just too much that happened, with our friends dying and the police and all those fucking media campaigns like crazy on every level. On the other hand, we really respected our legacy and our brothers who passed away and we didn’t think we should touch it like that and we thought we should have left the album. But through the years we’ve been playing and Mayhem is still here and I’ve been playing with Mayhem for 14 years. We’ve always thought that maybe one day we could play the whole album or maybe do a De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas tour but it never felt right or something felt wrong and even this tour was not really planned, we just got asked once around Christmas time two years ago and we were like “fuck it, why not?” and somehow we said yes and then we started to rehearse and play and it felt really good and then we did it and it was a good show. So we just started touring and playing it from there. Australia was always a part of the plan and I’m really glad to come.
Dean: And we’re really glad to have you.
Attila: Thank you.
Dean: How does it feel playing De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas live today? Has the experience changed at all for you since when you first started playing them
Attila: A little bit, not too much. First it was very ecstatic and you had to be very focused and it was very different, but now we’ve played what’s thought about 100 times from the tours. In that sense, everyone is more secure about what’s happening and we are more in the group. On the other hand to maintain this atmosphere and the intensity, it’s very important that we always try to be the best every night. When you’re on stage, the magic happens and it has to happen, and to maintain that, everyone has their own techniques and I feel it still and that’s a really amazing experience to myself and for all of us because we used to change the setlist every tour and now we’re just playing the same stuff and for me now it’s the same method for getting to this every night. But when you get on stage and start performing, it’s magical. It’s still magical to play this kind of music is an honour to play with the other guys too, they’re great artists and it’s fucking beautiful in every aspect, but at the same time it’s just really hard, everyone knows that nothing is easy in this life and this time and space. It gives a lot of joy and this reflection of joy when I see our fans at these shows. Every night I think of the other members who passed away and that I invite them a bit more close than regularly so it’s more about them as well and I think it all adds up. All in all, every night it’s a great experience and there’s no other Mayhem album that we could tour with like that. It’s special and it definitely works like no other.
Robbie: We’re all really excited to hear it and get behind the history of the album and appreciate it even further. You’re in a few bands, not just Mayhem, what inspires you musically today?
Attila: That’s a good question. With Mayhem I’m always actually looking for new horizons and new sounds but it’s always extreme and full of negativity but also very spiritual and scientific in a way. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s definitely different. For inspiration, if I listen to industrial music, I find a lot of inspirational there, and I feel it in some Mayhem songs. Also it’s a wide spectrum to what inspires me and what doesn’t, like my other band Sunn O))) inspires Mayhem and vice versa, it’s a strange thing because they are so different but I use so many experiences from Sunn O))) in Mayhem and the experiences and consequences that I use in Mayhem, I use in Sunn O))). Even though there are these crossings between my two main bands, which are definitely two big parts of my life and my music, it’s kind of like an equilibrium in terms of inspiration. But I listen to classical music, I listen to a lot of 80’s metal, sometimes I even listen to new bands, even the other day I found myself in a session listening to stuff that I don’t ever listen to. Even nu metal bands, like the new metal, just for half an hour. I like doing this to follow up what’s going on and see what the kids are doing. Interesting stuff like that that make me love music and I don’t have these sessions when I was young I would listen to music everyday for two to three hours but it’s not like that anymore. I still really enjoy listening to music. It’s hard to say exactly what inspires me.
Dean: Completely. It takes such a wide spectrum of musical and life experiences to pull influences like. Last question. What are some plans Mayhem have for the future?
Attila: Now we’re going to finish these tours. We have this Australian tour and one more in South America with this album. Then we’re going to definitely work for the rest of this year on new ideas, which is still not entirely clear which way we should move and we’re going to be working on new material and a new album.
Robbie: That’s sick. Thanks for chatting with us today. We’re Robbie and Dean from Metal-Roos.
Dean: Thank you so much for your time Attila and we’ll see you in January.
Attila: Thanks Dean, see you in January. Take care, bye!
Interview Date: 2017-12-27
Interviewer: Robbie Tannous & Dean Fernance