Interview with Blasphemer
How did you become part of Mayhem?
Actually, it was quite funny – or coincidental, if you will – that I was reading on the Internet a couple of days ago that Hellhammer did an interview with some Dutch magazine that had a completely different version of how I actually met up with them. Supposedly, he said “Oh, well, suddenly Blasphemer bumped into me” or something like that, so I was laughing about it, since it was quite funny. But the truth is that I already had a project with him, when De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas was either being recorded or released; he met me in a pub and he’d heard good things about me, so I believe he wanted to see how, and if, things could be pushed further with Mayhem. We first met in their old rehearsal place, which was located in Oslo’s main street (defunct now) and where the rehearsal sessions of De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas took place – everybody used to go there, even Count Grishnackh). And, curiously, enough, almost no one knows that this was the place that most Black Metal gatherings and rehearsals from several bands were held – even Mayhem’s most genuinely dark riffs were assembled there. Initially, when I talked to Hellhammer in Oslo, he told me he wanted to try me as a guitarist, and I remember meeting the Mortem guys as well, so we rehearsed a couple of times and things sounded really well (almost like a more Death Metal version of Mayhem). But, apart from that, I remember we started fighting some time later (me and Hellhammer) and everything was becoming out-of-hand – with what happened in Norway at the time – so we were really enemies for a period. But a year after Euronymous’ death he called me up and said “Hey, long time no see!”, and I think he realised that we had some qualities between us that could make things work, so I guess it was natural for him to get in touch. One time in the rehearsal room (I guess it was in 1995), me, Maniac, Necrobutcher and Hellhammer were talking to a journalist from Ablaze, a German magazine, and he was so dedicated into the Mayhem stuff that it was kind of funny to watch. So at one point, something started to smell really, really bad and we were like “What the fuck?”. I remember it could have been from the candles we had lit before, but the stench was so thick that it had to be something else. Then, a couple of minutes later, we found that the source of the smell was the photographer’s hair that was getting on fire, so the back of his head was actually burning (laughs)! But the funny thing, I guess, is that if he washed his hair more often he could have avoided that from happen and then maybe his hair wouldn’t get on fire that easily (laughs).
From a musical and personal stanpoint, how do you see Mayhem in your life, and its legacy, after all these years?
I think there are several ways of looking at it. Sometimes it can be both funny and frustrating to see people talking about the “new” Mayhem – which frankly has been less than new than De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas, for instance. I mean, I’ve been Mayhem’s musical source since 1994, and when I get these questions about a guy who’s been dead for more than a decade it’s really strange for me to answer that. I have respect for what Euronymous did and all that, but leave him alone, let him rest in peace. Apart from that, I think the essence of Mayhem is still with us and, most important, the darkness and the uniqueness has been kept intact. It’s interesting to see that, throughout the years, the buzz about the line-up changes and how those would compromise Mayhem’s future have been exactly the same. First it was Maniac – nobody knew what to make of it – then it was when Dead killed himself – everyone thought that Mayhem would end as a consequence – so it’s been like that all the time and, believe me, there’s been numerous people involved in Mayhem, but this line-up, as we see it today, as been stable for ten years and I see it as the most progressive and intelligent that has existed so far. Grand Declaration of War has been the most conscious Mayhem release ever. De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas is a genius record, a very good album that had to be done that way but, at the same time, I look at it as the most brutal release up until the point when we released Grand Declaration of War, which is the most intelligent Mayhem approach ever. And even if people don’t see it at first, I think it’s very much in the vein, or in the roots, of what Mayhem has been in the early 90s, so I see it as a continuation of that, even if in a different approach. I still see De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas as a kind of a religious approach, whereas Grand Declaration of War is totally anti-religious in that regard.
I always have been shouting and yelling at other Black Metal bands to be much more serious and brutal, so that’s why we didn’t record any album in such a long time. We’re not the kind of band that rehearses all the time, or has fixed schedules just for the sake of it, so mostly we just meet. I really believe that we’ve taken Black Metal to a more extreme extent than any other band in Norway. I wouldn’t say that it’s wrong to have a job or anything, because in order to survive you have to do that, but we are extremely, or totally, different individuals. I’ve never worked in my whole life, actually, and I’ve been feeding and living of Mayhem’s negativity since 1996, so that’s what I’ve been fuckin’ worshipping. I’ve been living on the street, so to speak, just believing in the force that I have and the force of the band, so don’t even question our “trueness” in comparison with almost 100% of the bands out there playing extreme Metal.
You told me that Mayhem was “anti-everything”, but were you actually generalising or are there any specific things that, when gathered, create this “whole” you addressed?
If I would worry about one specific thing it would mean that I would see it as a consequence of something else. I’m not going to be modest now, because I’ve been so for two or three years, so I’ll say that people should open their fucking eyes and ears and start questioning themselves if they’re really aware of what’s happening around them or not. The consequences of society and, specifically, of Norwegian society and the way people look at life, makes you feel sick – especially if you’re familiar with Black Metal. You wonder about what’s true and what’s not and that’s why Chimera is such an important word, as it questions if there’s really a truth out there, you know? Basically, it means that you don’t know anything until you witness it, and, when you witness, you see the wrong side of it – or the other side of it – and then everything turns upside down again; you don’t know shit, and that’s what Chimera is about.
How would you view Mr. Doctor’s thought “A man is the less likely to become great the more he’s dominated by Reason”?
That’s a quite interesting question, really. When I joined the band, back in 1994, there was a lot of hassling about my appearance in the whole, because everybody had a huge romantic relationship to the Black Metal scene – which is dead now, of course – and nobody had a clue of what they were talking about, but they know that now (smiles). But it was very funny, frightening and hard for me, at the same time, fighting against something that was invisible, in a way, and being repelled by people who, in a way, didn’t know what the fuss was all about, so it was like fighting against empty walls. I ended up not paying much attention, which I think was the right thing to do, because, if I had taken that in a more serious way, I’d probably leave the whole thing in the first place. So if I would be thinking about a reason that would have probably kept me out of it, but I went for it; I have forces with me and that’s what keeps me strong.
Better to be “in control” instead of “out of control”, you mean?
Yes. I mean, what I said was based on deeper feelings and instincts and, if I had paid much attention to it, I would probably grind my mind over it and I would come out of it without a solution. I was feeling with my heart and I went for it, and I’m very glad I did that now, but, when I think back on it, I think I would never fuckin’ experience that again, so I’m almost about to silence the person who compares me to a guy who’s been dead for ten years: get over it.
Do you see mourning as a selfish thing?
No, but I mean, you don’t mourn for ten years, do you? The way I see what happened is quite close to a play, actually, because the more I know about things and the deeper I get into them I feel more like a stranger… I know it’s a vague word, but in a way it’s true. Many people don’t know what they’re talking about, and I guess that if they would level things a bit more they would see that you never die, in the actual sense.
In your opinion, is there be a difference between existing and living?
Oh, yes, definitely. Many people don’t know that they’re actually living. For instance, when you’re eating, how many times are you aware of what you’re eating if you’re just reading a magazine on the side?
I was leaning towards the aspects of “living” as in “enjoying life” and “existing” as in “wasting life”.
That’s a different one. I know people – including myself – who have been through “vivid” things but, at the same time, everybody seems to calm down and I can’t understand why. It’s like a flame inside that gets weaker and weaker. I think this is quite a broad subject to discuss and unusual, really, so that’s why it’s hard to point out specific things over it. I’d like to say that I’ve been through a lot of things – in and out of Mayhem – that wouldn’t be possible if I wasn’t in the position that I am, despite the fact that some hate me as a consequence but, as usual, people don’t know shit. Mayhem is still important to this fucking scene, as a result of us doing it in a brutal, disgusting, way, and people should definitely be aware of that instead of just associating the name with “a guy who died” – which is the case, some times.
Speaking about weakness, would you see Man as, possibly, the lowest denominator in the scale of all living beings?
Yes, I would, because we can’t control our ability to think. Our intelligence is completely destructive towards ourselves, and I really believe that humanity has lost its essence.