Mayhem Interview with Attila and HellHammer

We had an interview with Mayhem members Attila and Hellhammer on April 3rd, in Joliet, IL during their last concert of their US tour. With Attila we delved deep into topics like ancient civilizations, religions, conspiracy theories… and so on.

Photo Credit : Esra Ozgun

Photo Credit: Esra Ozgun

Esra: Hi, first of all, I’d like to thank you for the time to have this interview with me today. So, my first question is; is this your first tour since the pandemic? How did the pandemic affect your music?

Attila: It was a small Norwegian tour in December, with 5 or 7 shows, so that was the first tour. And then we had two festivals last summer; one in Belgium and one in Norway. But this is the first serious tour we postponed so many times now. We were here in Chicago and the pandemic broke out, so we went back home. Because we couldn’t make it to one single show. It was postponed 3 times and then it never happened. And this one now is finally happening which is a real US tour since the pandemic

Hellhammer: Well, I can start by explaining how the pandemic affected me. How I see pandemic is, I think it’s bullshit, all the lies inflicted and broke the whole world. That’s the irritating part. Because I mean that’s irritating that people are so stupid. I know that Coronavirus exists but, we don’t have to stop or pause the whole world for 2 years. It doesn’t make sense.

When and how did you come up with the name The true Mayhem? Why not just Mayhem?

Hellhammer: I think back to the days, when they picked this name, it was before my time. There was a band from South America, called Mayhem. So they wanted to call themselves “The true Mayhem”.

Attila: So they changed their name to The true Mayhem to indicate that they are the first and the real one. Back in those days, we didn’t have the internet. We only had fanzines. So they changed the name to “The true Mayhem”. The funny thing is, I had a band called “Tormentor” from 1989 to 1990 in Hungary. I was 15 when we already had our first show. We had a crowd of 15 hundred crowds in Budapest. So, we had the same crowd as today, but we didn’t make any money. It was the system and we were kids. We couldn’t play legally, there was a lot of chaos. And then we made our first demo and an LP and a studio recording which couldn’t even be released because of the system in Hungary. But we had a tape which we copied for the fans. This tape ended up in Norway and it became the favourite band of the vocalist Dead. When Dead passed away, Euronymous reached me very soon. So this is the story. And why I told you is because the name Mayhem has a mystical aspect to it. We all had these stage names like Necrobutcher, Hellhammer… . And we had the same thing in our band Tormentor, like the bass player’s name was Wolf Carion, the guitar player was called the Bestial Animal… and so on… and my name was Mayhem… So, when they called me, I was thinking, what is this? A joke? It was very strange that my name was Mayhem and the band Mayhem approached me. That’s why I used my name Attila actually. So, I am the only one that uses his own name in the band. Everybody liked the name Attila, so I decided to stick to it. Another funny thing is, that when they released De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, they did not mention my name. I performed the vocals. I don’t know why. If it was a mistake, it was a very strange mistake. The image of my head was on the record cover, it was like a silhouette of my face. It was three of us, looking from space: Hellhammer, Euronymous and me. (He laughs) It’s just a silhouette photo. I went to a festival and the organizer couldn’t recognize me. They said “You are with Mayhem? No fuckin way.” So, I had to pull out my ID to make them believe. And nobody knew who was singing in Mayhem during that time.

Attila, I know you studied engineering. How did you get into music? Did you study music at school? Your throat singing is amazing.

Attila: I’m glad you brought that up. When I was 6, I was interested in bands like Abba, and Beetles or whatever I heard on the radio. And the music touched me very soon. So, my dad bought this Philips Mono Cassette player and recorder. So, I was already into that shit, I was recording my own music. During a Hungarian holiday camping, I saw this guy recording on a Hitachi cassette player. I was standing and looking. He told my dad that I was interested and he could buy this at the store. During communism, we had these tourist stores where you could find electronics, stereos, candies and cosmetics and shit like that. Because regular stores did not have those. So, I got my Hitachi and I was totally blown away by that. I started to get into more metal music, with bands like AC DC and Judas Priest. Then I bought my stereo. My parents sent me to a technical school to learn how to make music and I always got good grades at school. So, today the pore sound doesn’t exist anymore, and I want to bring that back. The pure sound has just one bottom which is the volume. I love the concept of sound in music. Playing music is one thing. And everybody listens to music, which is another thing. But the music that has quality is my thing to achieve. I want to use a good amplifier. There are so many expensive companies out there with no quality, if I want to start my own company, I will make sure to use quality music systems. My favourite amph is Audio Research D 70 It’s very beautiful but the sound isn’t even about the look. I enjoyed listening to dark voices, loops, and weird tunes. It was like manifesting into darkness and you feel the presence of that thing. When it’s a good system, it all becomes real and I love that. So, I wish parents would encourage their kids to listen to music like that. You won’t get the same sound effect with Bluetooth today.

Was your music perceived differently in the ’90s? What do you think about the new generation? Do you think they understand the messages and pay attention to the lyrics in metal music songs and your songs as Mayhem?

Hellhammer: It would be much easier for me if I could say I’m also the same age and in the same state in the 90s, as I am now, you know. But I was different in the ’90s. And I thought of most things differently. I think there are always going to be 16-year-olds that appreciate what you do and take your ideas. For example, we did random stuff back in the days too. But we took it seriously. We were 18 years old. But thank God time changed. When you are noticed, I mean, when people understand your art and everything. Without that, a band being noticed is basically nothing. Yeah, it can be a kind of esoteric, nihilistic artist that hates everything. Yeah, but they are usually broke and hungry (he laughs) The thing is, what keeps me going is how people appreciate my drumming, my art and my stuff, that gives me a goal to keep going.

What was the best or worst, an unforgettable incident, a memory that happened during your stage shows?

Hellhammer: Uumm, I’m trying to remember the most memorable stage show.

Esra: Must be hard to remember now. There are probably so many, right?

Hellhammer: Yeah, yeah, I remember there was one time in Mexico. Of course, the crowds are wild there, you know. The guy was running up while I was playing the drums, so he took the drumsticks out of my hand and said “Thank you Hellhammer”. It was pretty funny. (we laugh) yeah, I mean, I like interaction. Some people don’t like stage diving and stuff, I love it. I think it’s cool. People do stage diving and have a good time.

Attila: When I came back with Mayhem, everything was so fresh and new during that period. There was a time we had shows every night and different sets up. It was fun. The album “Ordo Ad Chao” was about a sick society. So, I thought about portraying a different character for each night of the show. There was a Mommy character that gave an interview on stage. The mint was drinking tea and reading the newspaper. There was a slave reading country. I asked them if they had black actors for the show. So two guys showed up and I need one guy. So I showed them the slave costume. So, he played the slave and I put him on a leash on stage. I asked him how much his life was worth and things like that, and things got crazy and of course, I freed, and released the slave. So, there was freedom in the end. Another time, when I was in Finland, I played an evil Santa Claus. These characters and their stories have meanings. Some people just die in their sleep. Not everyone dies in pain. But some die in so much pain and suffering. Just like a mother that gives birth. She goes through so much pain during labour, it can be a tremendous amount of pain for both the mother and the child and in some cases, she dies during the giving birth process. And this situation is not respected enough. I’m a spiritual person that respects the powerful mother figure, what it’s called the Matriarch. It’s very important because all that energy has been suppressed and fucked up by religions. So, to represent this pain, I gave birth on stage. So, I had a monster freak costume made of a potato sack that had hooks on it. I came up with that idea. And I had a mask that looked like a sea monster, really abstract. I think it was in 2008 So, my friend and I went to the fish market on the morning of the day of the festival. We got a fish head and we sewed the head on the baby also we got some bowels to use as chords from the butcher, put them in a plastic bag and placed them in my costume. I actually wanted to have a micro camera to project and film the whole action so people can see what happened, but we didn’t have this wireless system and we didn’t have enough time to set it up either. So, I was on a table, blades came out. I was screaming in pain and agony. You could hear the echo loud. I was giving birth… My stomach was cut and I took out the baby. And I was holding the baby in my hand… It was cool… Of course, there was a big scandal and a big headline in the media afterwards. The Daily Paper called me at 10 pm at night, and I don’t know how they found my number. They said they wanted to talk to me and animal protectors were reacting to the whole thing. So it was all bullshit. I was going to the interviews and telling people “what’s the problem? I’m a vegetarian” I also portrayed the mad doctor, the mad scientist. MedicalScientists actually use pigs in their experiments, to replace organs, because they are the closest animals to humans. I’ve heard something strange. Pigs stop eating 2 days before the slaughter. They feel something is wrong. And imagine, you’re a pig and some guys in black clothes come and take your head and use it on stage to freak people out. I think I would be ok with that as a pig.

Esra: You don’t use pig heads on stage now as Mayhem.

Attila: No. it’s really not my thing but they used that before, it was cool and pretty wild. And I don’t see any problem with that. I’d like to tell these people; You go to the butcher and get a pig to eat. You do this every day, you eat it every day. This slaughter happens every day. You use their organs. What the fuck is your problem? Tell me exactly what you don’t like about it.

Esra: They use pigs to create half-human half-animal hybrids. They inject human stem cells into pig embryos. And when we talk about these things, they call us conspiracy theorists. They started experimenting on these things as early as the 1940s in underground centres.

Attila: Oh yeah? That’s insane. The term “conspiracy theory” wasn’t even used popularly until about 2007

Esra: Yes, because they don’t want us to think for ourselves and question anything, and believe what they feed us blindly.

Attila: True. For example, they want us to believe everything about space. I’d like to ask an astronaut myself, what they really saw and experienced out there in space. They brainwash us. All you see is a fucking photo of the space. There is so much misinformation out there. Another thing is the usage of masks for this covid pandemic: when you go to a restaurant, you have to wear your mask to go to the restroom, but you are allowed to take it off when you come back to your table. What’s the difference? It doesn’t make sense. People from Texas were talking about not following the rules and nothing happened to them. Fear is the key to controlling us, so we can obey them. They use the old techniques: also divide and conquer and the third one is, to create the problem and offer the solution. It’s only to make a profit.

Esra: It’s not only about the money anymore. They’re trying to open the portals to invite their Gods to conquer the world. I used to investigate topics like human cloning, and reptilians and actively share information in groups on social media. But I stopped getting involved with all that later on.

Attila: Really? I like the reptilian team (we laugh) There is this T-Rex dinosaur in the museum of Chicago. It looks real but I don’t know. Reptilian lizards ruled the world hundreds of millions of years ago. I believe some of those reptilians got smart. We humans did not even exist then. And from the reptilian perspective, it’s us, the humans that are the intruders, not them.

Esra: They are shapeshifters too. We don’t know what has really happened, so that’s why I’d like to find a wormhole and time travel, just to witness with my own eyes.

Attila: Time traveling? Yeah, we should do that. We don’t know what really happened, so we should keep an open mind and maintain that, I often meditate. You can go in and out. They say there is energy inside your genes. Power of mind is amazing. We’ve been told these lies all this time. For instance, what is Satanism? It’s like an inversion. What they say that’s bad may be good. So, it’s profound mind control. And we can learn how to control our own minds.

Esra: Yes, it’s about learning to look at things from a different perspective. We can lucid dream and do astral travels by training our minds.

Attila: I didn’t go that far, like astral travel but with meditation and everything, it took me a long time to reach that mindset. I’ve tried different techniques. For meditation, you have to lose the ego. Religions mislead people. I don’t like the traditional God concept in religions. There were Goddesses before Gods. When we look at ancient civilizations, like ancient Egypt, when you look at the sculptures, you can see the importance of women. Some people think I’m a feminist. But I think women should be respected more in our society. Then we won’t have wars. That pure female energy can come back. We don’t know shit.

Esra: Ancient people had advanced technology, wisdom and knowledge, but something happened and we forgot everything. Mu, Atlantis, pyramids and so on…

Attila: Yes, they call those legends and mythology. But when you go to Egypt and see the ancient building and touch it, you know it’s real, not a legend. It’s pure magic when you see the hieroglyphs and everything. It’s magical communication with the ancients. Also, I’m an engineer, so I can see the engineering in those ancient buildings. It’s an amazing mathematical technique they used. So that technology is totally different from today’s technology. Wow, We have gone really deep in this interview! (we laugh) so Let me show you on my phone, how amazing this pyramid was built with 8 sides. Incredible.

Esra: Do you know about White pyramids in China? They are 6 thousand years old Turkish pyramids, and 3 hundred meters high, which is twice the size of the ones in Egypt.

Attila: Yes, I know, and I want to go there too. Also, we should go to Gobeklitepe in Turkey to shoot a video there. It’s ancient architecture. When you go there, you feel the mystic vibe and energy. I’ve also been to the Middle East. We need to have an open mind and explore.

And last, I’d like to thank you for keeping Dead’s legacy, especially with the song Life Eternal. It’s very meaningful for me.

Hellhammer: Yes, of course… and Life Eternal is a very special, emotional song, absolutely… you know. I’m just not really fond of it, but it’s only because as a drummer, it’s a little boring to play. I’d like to play stuff that is much more challenging.

Esra: I guess it’s because you play mostly at the same pace and the same rhythm. If you played the guitar, it would be different. Do you play the guitar?

Hellhammer: Yes, absolutely it would be different. With the guitar, there is much more going on. But with the drums, it’s like da da da da da da… Because It’s a fast-paced song. Yes, I play a little bit of guitar.

Esra: Cool. I play a little bit of guitar too. My dream is to play Life Eternal on stage one day. Thank you for your time for this interview.

Esra Ozgun with Hell-Hammer

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