Metal Mofos’ Isaac Sauers spoke with Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar on January 26th to check in to see how the band’s current tour is going where Mayhem are playing their famed De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album in its entirety. Attila and I also discussed the background on when he first joined Mayhem.
Metal Mofos: Hi Attila, How’s the tour going so far?
Attila Csihar: It’s been really good so far. Not a lot of issues. We’ve been getting good crowds. The shows in Canada went well. Chicago was really great and last night (Minneapolis) was really good as well.
MM: That’s great. You have a day off today, right?
Attila: Yes, it’s our first day off. We had like six shows in a row. Now we are here in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s good to have a day off for the routine. It’s good to relax a bit also. It’s all good. Everything has been going smooth which in our case is a great thing. We used to have some problems, but everything is good now.
MM: What kind of problems did you have in the past?
Attila: One tour we had to cancel some shows because of snow storms in the beginning of the tour, flights got delayed, and stuff like that. Our bus broke down before. Stuff like that. Of course it could still happen so fingers crossed. I hate to cancel shows like that.
MM: Yes, we fans don’t want cancelled shows either. Both ends get hurt. What have fan reactions been so far to you playing the whole De Mysteriis album live?
Attila: I think fans really love that we are doing this. We’ve had great responses so far. We even self-released a live DVD and LP of the first show and it was special for us, you know. It was a small releases for just a few fans. In general I think people appreciate we are doing this. It’s a good vibe, and I personally enjoy it. It’s really cool to play the set. This album is very special and very atmospheric. It’s really important for us and for everyone. I really enjoy the whole vibe and the vocal parts. It’s pretty magical.
MM: What do you think makes De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas so special to make you want to perform the entire album live and for fans to want to hear and see it?
Attila: Obviously the surroundings of the record. It’s really meant a lot for us emotionally with the things that happened then (to find out more about what happened then click HERE for an article from August 2016), and how much it later affected the scene. It became really important for everyone. It’s one of the reasons we didn’t want play it before. It wasn’t the right time, you know. Maybe it was our mindset, but finally we got to this point and it’s great to play. I think the whole record itself, I have a lot of vocals, you know, like spiritual vocals, and it means a lot for people. Technically also we needed to get the players. We have a steady lineup now. It’s been steady more than 5 years. It’s not easy with our band. It’s solid now. We don’t play the album just to play it, we are there too, in our minds, you know. Spiritually. Consciously. I think it’s good. People seem really into it. The crowd yesterday was great, a pure vibe in a smaller room. The feeling going back and forth between the audience and us is good. You can tell people are totally there, there’s a tension, you know. It’s not easy to recreate this album’s atmosphere. People have certain expectations when they go see a show like this. They want to feel something. To create that feeling Still today more than two decades later is very special, and I feel it. The old members are still with us in a way. It’s kind of magic almost, in some moments. And there are a lot of those moments. The vibe is so great, so f**king great.
MM: Can you see Mayhem’s influence in other black metal bands?
Attila: Yeah, of course. Let’s say how it was for me when I first heard the demos for De Mysteriis. The drumming was very special first of all. It was really fast blast beats. To that point the fastest things I heard were like Slayer, S.O.D., Cryptic Slaughter, and stuff like that. Of course there were blast beat bands already, but there was a certain slow motion, like a pendulum in the music, while there is a lot of blast beats going on. Then there’s the picking, riffing, and arrangements of the guitars. Euronymous had this picking style where he played really fast on open chords up and down the strings. I’m not a guitarist so I don’t really know how to say it (tremolo picking for all you guitarists out there). It was something new and unique, and I can hear that in other music. I’ve heard we have influenced a lot of bands. I can hear our type of tones and harmonies in other music, but of course it’s just variations. I’m not saying it’s all coming from us. We are just part of it. I can of course certainly see it, our influence. Even in vocals and that’s cool. Even I’ve been influenced by my favorite musicians. As long as you aren’t trying to repeat someone and it’s just influence its fine. It’s never been interesting to me to even repeat ourselves. Even if something is very successful I feel it is not necessary to repeat it. You need to take it somewhere else, you know, to another level. I like to discover new horizons if possible. There’s always new possibilities.
MM: Had you heard Mayhem’s music before you were asked to join the band? Did you own the Deathcrush EP?
Attila: Honestly, I didn’t hear it, and I didn’t know about the band. It was the most strange thing because my first band was Tormentor in the 80s, and we were a bit isolated because we were behind the iron curtain and that sh*t (Attila is from Hungary). Hungary was a little more relaxed but we were still in f**king sh*t. We still got some music like Bathory and Celtic Frost and that was not so underground. You could buy it on vinyl and stuff so we could reach that, but Mayhem was more for someone who was into tape trading which was really small in the 80s. We hardly new any guys who were really trading. We would make tapes ourselves of course like when we made a demo and then we gave it to fans. Now here’s the thing, my stage name in that band was Mayhem so it was a bit confusing when I first heard of the band Mayhem, it was funny, but then I heard more about the band and that they were from Norway. Euronymous wrote me, and he was really cool in approach. He was really interested in Tormentor as well. Then we talked about the band and he sent me Deathcrush, and Burzum, and stuff like that. I then of course learned more about the band. It was into the 90s by then and my other band Tormentor stopped in like 1990. It was maybe two years after. I already had another band. It was different than black metal and extreme metal because after Tormentor I thought there was no point to do that and I thought the scene was dead or something. So I was surprised to hear about Mayhem and that there was something still going on. Then when I heard the first demos I became really interested of course. The music kind of blew me away. It sounded nice and old school yet futuristic and advanced.
MM: Do you have a favorite song on De Mysteriis?
Attila: I like all of them you know. “Life Eternal” is very emotional. “Cursed in Eternity” is really great to play. “From the Dark Past”, I love this. Good energies in these. Then there’s the classic “Freezing Moon” which is awesome to play and something which we always play.
MM: Did you contribute lyrics to this album or were they all written by Dead?
Attila: They were all written by Dead. I only did vocal arrangements. Many were already done by him. I didn’t want to copy him. We wanted to do something unique so there was rearranging. Of course I did a different type of voice. The lyrics and emotions are the same.
MM: What do you think is next for Mayhem after this tour? Any plans for the rest of 2017?
Attila: We will see. It’s interesting. It’s like a tank. It goes on and on this band. Most bands have breaks or break up and come back then come back and headline or they just have a break after a record, but we are always playing live and touring. Obviously we should start to work on a new record, but it’s never been a stress or rush. We just love to go with the flow and play live, you know. I guess there will be a new record. That’s always the plan. Something is cooking, but it might take some time still. It’s hard to predict in our case. We don’t function on agendas or plans. It’s not always the best to be less organized, but so far this tour is well organized and we have a great group. We don’t have a manager or anyone telling us what to do. We are completely free. We still have to stay focused though and we do of course. We like it this way. The plan is to just keep going with De Mysterris hopefully to do more in Europe, and Japan, and Australia, the whole world. Then maybe start making some new or keeping doing this tour. This tour wasn’t even planned to happen it just happened. It felt right though. It’s a bit chaotic, but I don’t think we can do any other way.
MM: All right. I just have one more question for you. How long does it take you to put your paint on your face before each show?
Attila: Normally like one and a half hours for my make up and everything. That’s the schedule. Have you seen our show?
MM: Yes, I actually saw you play the De Mysteriis set last year at Maryland Deathfest.
Attila: Ok, yeah. That was the 2nd time we played. There were some technical problems there but was still a great show. Fun.
MM: I had a lot of fun. I was right there in the very front watching and you all looked like you were having fun playing. I will also be at the show in Washington DC in a couple weeks.
Attila: Cool. We’ll see you then.
MM: Thanks a lot for the interview.
Attila: Thank you and have a nice day.
Check out the remaining dates of Mayhem’s North American tour in the poster below:
Photo credits as viewed: Phil Erbacher, Fernando Serani, Isaac Sauers
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