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Interview with Euronymous

Mayhem interview, Isten #6 Kari Laakso

"I hope lots of people will HATE this interview, and feel that it's THEM I'm talking shit about. People are supposed to hate us after all, we never intended to make a band which people should like," announces Euronymous of the legendary Mayhem. Legendary? Well, darn close anyway, I'd say. Our reporter Kari Laakso was bold enough to interview Mr. Euronymous, according to whom Death Metal is only for "the brutal people capable of killing"... So read on and disapprove!

A lot has happened to Mayhem lately, like vocalist Dead's death and parting ways with bassist Necro Butcher. You have also recruited a new member, if I'm not mistaken. Tell is about all this!

Euronymous: "The new member in Mayhem is Occultus. He used to sing in Abhorrent/Thyabhorrent, his vocals will be very different in Mayhem though. He's a total black metal head and very self-destructive, which is very good regarding our stage show. Yes, Necro Butcher is out of the band, because he's become a totally normal person with his own family (spit), and he has no longer anything to do with the black metal/death metal lifestyle. As for Dead - he hated this planet and all living creatures on it, the only thing which kept him here was his love for the ancient death/black metal lifestyle with face paint, spikes, leather, black clothes, Satanism and brutality. Today when all the so-called 'death' metal bands are wearing white clothes, jogging suits, basketball shoes, bermuda shorts, and have society lyrics (SPIT!), he thought that everything he lived for was destroyed and saw no longer any reason to live. The trend people killed him and we have declared WAR."

From now on you'll be a trio then. However, your songs are written for two guitars, and that also affects the sound. Are you looking for a fourth member and what kind of person would he be? Just a 'brutal' person perhaps?

Euronymous: "The Mayhem songs have always been made for only one guitar so that won't be any problem. Besides, we won't play very much live because there are mostly only trend people coming anyway and I refuse to play for such lowlife. That would only be if we could cut them up during the show and having them running out the emergency exit, screaming and bleeding with parts of their bodies missing. On the other hand, it's good to earn their money, of course. Anyway, if we should decide to have a fourth member some day, it would have to be a very special kind of person. Those who call themselves 'brutal' today are mostly fake trendies who have never done anything brutal in their lives. A member in Mayhem would have to be a total madman who followed the black metal/death metal lifestyle, looking the way Bathory, Hellhammer, Destruction, etc. did in the old days, and he should cultivate hate, war and DEATH (and I'm not thinking about the band Death!). He would have to have a BLACK personality."

Didn't Dead's death affect you in a major way? You have talked about it quite openly, and from what I've gathered, you also took some photos of his corpse?

Euronymous: "Although it was me who found him and had to crawl through his brains to get into his house, I don't think it affected me very much. Of course, he was a friend, but I know he wanted to die and then the only right thing he could do was to give his life to the Darkness. It would have been wrong to prevent him from doing it. Besides, when I say I'm into DEATH metal, I mean it. I hate when people say that they're into death, and when it comes to the point they're just life-loving humanitarian false trendies. OF COURSE I took photos, wouln't you? It's not every day you get to mess around with a real corpse! Unfortunately."

What kind of practicing possibilities do you have now, and is the situation stable, whatever that might mean...?

Euronymous: "The situation is still very difficult. I've been checking out some places lately and probably we'll manage to rent a good rehearsal place in a couple of weeks. In the future we'll join together with Thorns and possibly Darkthrone to make a really good rehearsal place with lots of equipment, and we have been talking about trying to put up a small studio too. We shall see."

It has been rather quiet on the Deathlike Silence Productions front (Euronymous' label that is). You're having some kind of problems, but is it all financial, or is there something else as well? I think the Merciless LP did sell quite well anyway - how much in fact? Is there going to be more editions?

Euronymous: "There have indeed been a lot of problems, mostly economical, but also concerning places to live and so on. Things shall be better in the future, I'm working hard with DSP now, as things finally have started to happen, I have a couple of releases coming up very soon. More about that later on. I've sold 2,000 Merciless records so far, which is not enough, there is still a good market for that record. Unfortunately, I shall have to start making CDs because a lot of people are only buying that now. I hate CDs but I need to survive."

You obviously have a lot of things going with DSP, because there's been talk about projects with bands like Tormentor, Abruptum, Alastis, Master's Hammer, Masacre and Rotting Christ. What is it all about? I mean, as far as I know at least Rotting Christ have a deal and so on. I've also heard that Darkthrone would make their third LP for DSP after their second with Peaceville. Tell us about that.

Euronymous: "First of all, in April this year ('92) there will be 2 DSP releases coming. First there will be an LP with the Norwegian black metal band Burzum. That LP is unbelievably great, when I write this it's just recorded. It's a kind of mixture of Hellhammer, old Bathory and Mayhem (yes!) if you can imagine something like that. It's very dark, depressive, moody, angry and still melodic and sad. The vocals are extreme, and I'm NOT thinking of the usual 'growling' vocals which sound like a dog barking. "A couple of weeks after this, the Abruptum LP will be released. This will be the most gruesome and black album ever, it's not ordinary music but pure EVIL on vinyl. The guys were torturing each other in the studio, they were whipping, beating, cutting, burning and pouring boiling water over each other DURING the recording, and you can HEAR it from the music that they were SUFFERING! These records will cost FIM 60, SEK/NOK 100, DEM 30, NLG 30, FRF 100, GBP 10, GRD 2900, or USD 15 in Europe (or the equivalent in other currencies), in Eastern Europe the price is USD 10. Outside Europe it's USD 15 by surface mail or USD 22 by air mail. Postage kills! "The Mayhem LP should be released after this, and then we should hopefully get enough money to send some of the other bands in studio. Rotting Christ don't have any deal, they just released a mini-LP on Decapitated Rec. while they are waiting for the DSP LP. As for Darkthrone - they wanted to sign on DSP but for practical reasons they will probably stick with Peaceville. Their LP should be out a couple weeks after this mag is printed, GET IT! It's incredible! Those guys have really understood what this music is really about." (Yeah, but as for the LP coming out AFTER this mag is printed... Oh well, call that "wishful thinking" or whatever! But who cares... - Ed.)

Another personal question here: now that a lot of things have changed in this world of ours, have you stuck to your principles, I mean politically?

Euronymous: "As Mayhem is NOT a political band, I don't really like to mix topics like this into band interviews, but anyway I'm still keeping the faith. I openly admit that I am a Stalinist and I'm very fascinated by extreme countries like Albania and Rumania in the good old days. I have thought about quitting from the communist party though, but this is just because they are not brutal enough any more. It was much better in the '70s, when they were very Albania-inspired and the leader even visited Cambodia during the Red Khmer period and had dinner with Pol Pot!! Those were the days!"

You've also started a record shop there in Oslo, tell us about that! I suppose you are also running a mail order thing?

Euronymous: "The record shop is called Helvete, which is Norwegian for Hell. I don't have much yet, due to the fact that it's very difficult to run a shop with only black/death metal here. The plan is that once I get out a couple of DSP releases, I'll be able to trade hundreds of records with other labels and hopefully earn some money. A shop like this is needed here (and other places), and if we hadn't started up a shop for death metal, someone else would. And those persons would most probably have nothing to do with the music, just like all the HC labels vomiting out 'death' metal releases all the time now, they should DIE, they don't have the slightest idea what this music is really about and they are running the whole thing. And it's better that WE earn the money that inevitably will be earned, than some shitty HC pigs. Yes, we are running mail order too, I'll have lists available soon. If anyone's interested, write."

In the beginning you sold the Merciless album at pretty low price, and aimed to sell it only in the underground. You must've known that you're going to lose money, but did you manage to stick to your principles? On the other hand, don't you think that the bands deserve better distribution? Is it just a case of you not wanting to be commercial, etc.?

Euronymous: "You are mentioning some topics which have been subjects of intense thinking here. There is obviously an antagonism between being 'underground' in the common sense of the word, and the original black metal ideas. If you start to look at how black metal bands were in the ancient days, such as Venom, Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer, Bathory, Destruction, Sodom, etc., you see that they had nothing to do with what is called 'underground'. They were signed to big labels, they earned well-deserved money and were NOT submitted to the hardcore-laws which are ruling the 'underground' today. These laws say that you are not allowed to play death or black metal (!) if you don't: (1) hate money and refuse to earn anything on what you've paid enormous amounts of blood, sweat, money and time for. (2) Are 'openminded' and have lots of 'attitudes', like being vegetarian, being into peace and love (Fuck off! War and Sodomy!), singing about pollution and other society lyrics or other things that are approved by the moral police (HC pigs). (3) You must absolutely not think that you ARE anything. You must creep for your fans ('Oh, do you really like us? Thank you', etc.), you must use most of your life answering thousands of letters or you are being called a ripoff, nobody of course thinks about the fact that it costs a band maybe $25 EACH day just for postage! These people obviously have never tried living on their own and feeling the PAIN of not being able to EAT because you use all your money on postage. "There are other moral laws too but I get too angry when thinking about this. The black metal bands of ancient times didn't have to think about any of these shitty things, they could go for being BIG, having a huge stage show and earning big money. And nothing was wrong with that. Now, WE have been servants of the 'underground' for 8 years. Where do we stand today? We have NO money, sometimes not enough to eat. Our equipment is fucked up, shit, or non-existent. We don't have proper places to live. This would be no problem if it had been a GAIN for the TRUE SCENE, but take a look at which people we have been slaves for: the underground today consists of short-haired children or trendies with white clothes and jogging suits, HC-moral-police-pigs, and a VERY small percentage of TRUE people. "All these 'underground' rules look great at first sight - the music becomes a protest towards the commercial music industry. This is good of course. But on the other hand - they KILL the bands. After 8 years of being broke, I'm starting to become quite fed up. Why shouldn't I live on the music? Basically I have the choice between two things - staying 'underground' and slowly taking the life of the band - in the end I'd have to quit and get myself a job, the band/label is a full-time job so I couldn't do both. The other thing is to say FUCK OFF to most of the 'underground' principles and start to EARN MONEY. Then, I'd be able to make more music with the band, and release tons of great records with great bands. This is of course a much better gain for the true scene. This is why I've now decided to do things a little bigger. Still I hate to see big distributors getting their hands on the records, but I simply don't have a choice. I've never wanted to expose this music to trend people, but I realise that I'm dependent on sucking money from them in order to make a decent living. And I have NO bad feelings about taking the money of trendies. This would also help the bands getting the money they deserve, maybe a few of them can even quit their jobs and start living on the music." "Of course there are limits, I HATE to see Earache bands with videos on MTV, and I was DISGUSTED to see Entombed playing a playback show for discokids on a disco show on Swedish TV. These people shall FEAR this music. We must return to the old days of Venom and the other ancient ones. They were big, but they were NOT commercial! Their music is still ten times more gruesome than all the Morrisound/Sunlight trend recordings of today. Another view - if we don't do DSP much bigger, someone else will make a black metal label which will start selling good, and what happens then? We sit here, broke and without bands. That shall not happen. Everything may very well be big, but the TRUE ONES must control it.

Now that the underground is changing or has changed its outlook, do you think that it's better to give up all that, or would it be wiser just to wait and see what it will be? When you compare the situation now and about four or five years ago, what's the difference?

Euronymous: "The underground is dead. It has ceased to exist. It has no meaning anymore, since you're only killing yourself if you blindly follow its rules. Here in Norway, a new and TRUE underground is slowly growing from the darkness, it consists of the TRUE bands and the TRUE fans. All in black clothes and taking the original meaning of DEATH metal into an extremity. All these people HATE a lot, and will take part in the great WAR against the trendies. It's about time to make an ABYSS between the trendies and the others, they shall have NO ACCESS to this internal (Infernal? - Ed.) fellowship. They shall just be allowed to buy the records and giving us their money. I can actually only admire the glamrock scene here in Oslo, they just don't accept ANYONE who isn't exactly like them - make-up and all that shit. Of course this is neither open-minded or 'kind', and that's great. People are supposed to HATE us."

Did the planned Mayhem tour happen last year? Have you had any gigs lately? Do you try to arrange your gigs all by yourself or what is it like...? Are you an expensive band?

Euronymous: "We had a tour in East-Germany and Turkey. We were supposed to play in Greece and Holland too, but by some unfortunate coincidences it was fucked up. We have not had any gigs since, because of a lot of problems. We were asked by Tormentor (Hungary) to make a tour there and in Rumania, and we're thinking about that and possibly some other East-European countries as well. We're not principally an expensive band, we see what we can get compared to the expenses, and if we can get an ok amount of cash, depending on WHERE we play (it's difficult in e.g. Eastern Europe), we will take the offer. Right now we aren't able to play live, but that will come. We should also be sure to have a good stage show with impaled pig heads, etc."

Tell us about your visions of your forthcoming album?

Euronymous: "The new Mayhem LP will be entitled De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and it will be DARK. If everything goes OK, we'll record it VERY soon and get it out some time in the summer of '92. We'll try to record it by using a good studio which is quite cheap so that should be ok. It will be very massive, as we'll have two guitars (+ solo) abd two basses. It will be very fast, with lots of dark emotions and moods. I can't really tell so much about it, anything may still happen (as usual)."

Do you follow all the movements in the underground? And what about your favourite bands at the moment (wasn't that original?)? Do you listen to any records released by commercial labels? What do you think about bands that don't give a shit about the underground after they've signed a major deal?

Euronymous: "I don't find it very strange that bands don't wnt to be in the 'underground' after getting a deal, most of all because they are very busy with touring, rehearsing and doing business. You have to consider that if your use 15 minutes for one letter (which means quite a short letter to someone you haven't written in a long while to), a band probably gets 20-50 letters each day depending on how known it is, and that would mean 5-12 1/2 hours of steady letter writing EVERY DAY not including interviews (like this one)! I mean - we must get rid of the idea that you're not allowed to exist as a band if you don't use half of your life answering letters! It must be up to the band itself, whether it wants to write letters to half the world or not. It irritates me to see people calling bands ripoffs, they obviously have no idea what it means to be buried in mail. It costs a fortune too. Another things is of course when someone has send money for something. Well, I don't care which label has released a record as long as I like the record, of course. Maybe some HC idiots think that way but they're also taking stupidity to extremes. About fave bands - they are many and it's hard to mention a few. Recently I've listened a lot to Burzum, and the new Darkthrone is just unbelievable. I also recently discovered The Gathering from Holland - they kill. But of course we have the ancient godz like old Venom, Bathory, Hellhammer etc. There is a lot of shit bands being released today, but if you search, there are some really good ones too."

One more question: you have Mayhem t-shirts available now, right? How about your music then, because we're all dying to hear some new Mayhem material (and anxiously waiting for the "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" of course)...?

Euronymous: "There is actually a record out now including a Mayhem tune, it's a compilation album released on CBR in Sweden. On the CD version there is even one more song (I hate that), and these two songs are the only ones we ever recorded with Dead. I'll be selling this album later if someone's interested. There are a lot of bad Swedish standard 'death' metal bands on it, but a couple of good ones too (Merciless). Yes, we have t-shirts available, they're black with white logo, sizes M/L/XL (big ones) and they cost KR 100 in Scandinavia, FIM 60 in Finland, DM/NLG 30 in Germany/Holland. In the rest of Western Europe they cost the same as DM 30/USD 17 in each country's currency, in Eastern Europe it's USD 17 by surface and USD 22 by air mail. I don't think there is anything more I should say, but FUCK trend people. Let us suck their money and beat them up afterwards."

The latest news is that Euronymous is planning to rerelease Mayhem's "Deathcrush" mini-LP in April/May '92. It'll be available at a price of $13 in Europe, and everywhere else $13 by surface and $20 (air mail). Write to: Mayhem, Schweigaardsgt. 56, N-0656 Oslo, Norway. (February 1992)

(c) Kari Laakso/Isten 1992. All rights reserved.