MAYHEM Frontman: 'Music Is A Lot More Than Simply Playing Some Notes'

Burning Misery recently conducted an interview with MAYHEM frontman Attila Csihar. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Burning Misery: You must be very eager to be on the road at last after having to wait so long because of injury related stuff (drummer Hellhammer broke an arm last year).

Attila: Yes, but we're doing it in a different way now. We've been playing quite a few gigs now throughout Europe, but we're not doing more than ten shows in a row because doing more wouldn't fit our style. The effect would not be the same if we did more shows in a row. Every individual show has a meaning. It shouldn't become like a machinery; we would lose impact if that happens. It's better to have a break now and then. We'll have a very short break now and then, after a couple of days, we will play in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Then we're finished in Europe and we will play in Japan and Australia. Then some festivals in the summer.

Burning Misery: That's still quite a busy schedule!

Attila: Oh yeah. We're pretty much booked until the end of the summer. We could take a couple of shows more, but we don't like to take too much at a time because then we wouldn't feel the right inspiration anymore to keep it unique. We shouldn't force ourselves to play. On the contrary: we should be very hungry to play. That hunger would be entirely gone if we played for thirty days in a row. Still, this might work for certain bands, but I prefer to keep that eagerness.

Burning Misery: It's that same hunger that is clearly present on your latest album, "Ordo ad Chao". In an interview that I saw online, you said that this is an album made entirely the way you wanted and that the way the people responded to it is completely unimportant. However, the amount of positive acclaim has been overwhelming and you even won the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy. Does this surprise you?

Attila: It's very interesting actually. It might have had a lot to do with luck, you know, because very often you see that certain bands, like TORMENTOR in my own case, only get recognized afterwards. These bands are ahead of their time, which is very important because this kind of music is supposed to be about not following trends and doing your own thing. Sure, there are certain common signs and structures in this music, but still you can try to rebuild, or fuck up, these structures. Anyway, I think the most important thing is to create your own vision within this style. That's why it's extreme music. Not caring about expectations but following your own ideas is a major part of the extremity. It's about giving yourself, to manifest your message. If you're lucky, people will understand and if you're not so lucky, people won't, but I think that in time the music will find its audience. It might be a lot or people or only a few, and it can take years to achieve that, but if there is a concrete message that is straightforward and true then eventually this message will arrive. That's what makes it worth to do it.

Burning Misery: Isn't that exactly what black metal has been all about from the beginning?

Attila: Of course! Everybody talks about how important individualism is, but at the same time many black metal bands look like copies of each other. You could say that individuality is actually losing ground now. To me it's very interesting to do these different live shows to show for myself that it's possible to do this in many other ways. Not just corpsepaint of pigheads. Sure, you can do it that way, but it's not the only way. So far I've shown at least twenty other ways to do it using different costumes and different messages and I haven't even used a crew for that so far! I'm basically doing it myself. It's only since this tour that somebody is assisting me, but in fact it's a pretty big challenge for me to realise this aspect of the live shows, but challenge and difficulties provide you with the opportunity to expand your abilities and that's an important part of making music. Music is a lot more than simply playing some notes. Obviously, music is my life. It has many different levels. For MAYHEM, the spiritual and the philosophical aspects of our music are vital. A beautiful thing about this form of art is that you're able to express messages that are very personal and unique. This band, four persons playing together, it's a unique feeling today. Looking at today's extreme metal scene, it's quite rare to see bands consisting of four individuals. Usually it's one or two, maybe three persons and the rest of the band isn't constant and changes often. In other cases it's one guy who's leading the band and the rest just follows. Things just don't work that way in MAYHEM; it's more complex. Finding a balance between each of us is what's important. If we achieve such a balance it resonates in our music and then each of us feels that this is our band and that we're not just guest musicians, not just travellers.

Read the entire interview at


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