TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This live interview with guitarist Rune "Blasphemer" Erickson from Mayhem was done by Jonathan Thell on April 9th, 2004, at their show at Musikens Hus in Gothenburg, Sweden, where they played together with Defiled and Manatark.
Tell us a little about your new album and the response you have had. What is the idea behind it?
It is really just to free the misanthropic and anti-social aspects. Lyrically it is very personal and there is very much negativity. You could say that the music begins where the words end. The music is my statement and people can interpret it any way they like. There is a lot of hate that runs like a red line throughout the album.
Has the reviews been any different this time compared with "Grand Declaration..."?
Yeah, that was very much a love or hate album and I think people were scared when they heard something different that wasn't Mayhem. They called us traitors and things like that. I still think that the album is very black metal but maybe more on a mental level and not the atmosphere. It is a very clinical and mental album. We just wanted to push the boundaries so to speak. Actually, we didn't really want that but it just turned out that way, maybe somewhat because of it being a concept album. Above all it is a concept which is very important to understand. If you read the lyrics and listen to the music you will get a long story and the electronic beats and everything in there are signs to create an image of a new world. For me electronic beats are closer to the thought of a new vision, a new creation, than blast beats. That is what happens, it's an album in two parts with a blast in the middle - the end of the civilization and all false stimuli. Then comes something new but let's not speak a lot more about this. People seem to take this album closer to themselves than "Grand" which is positive of course. I mean, we have always been black metal - "Wolf's Lair Abyss" and "Chimera". "Grand" was a one-timer and we have now done that concept and it will never happen again.
What do you think about the black metal scene of today?
I don't know if there is much of a scene. The term "black metal" has been overused, everybody plays "black metal". In reality not that damn many play black metal. I don't know, there are some interesting aspects but a lot of crap.
Are there any bands you like of those who are around today?
Gorgoroth, Darkthrone..., at least in black metal. Death metal... - Immolation, Morbid...
Are these some bands that you would like to do a split with?
I don't know, Darkthrone / Mayhem, it has been done, maybe not the right thing to do now. It could have been interesting to do something with Immolation.
Do you think that all line-up changes have changed the motives and the musical direction of Mayhem or are the old thoughts still important?
The old thoughts were mainly Řystein, wasn't it? He was the spokesman and more or less the musical brain with influences from several directions, maybe more from Thorns than Hellhammer. They were old songs where I did not take part. He established his thing, he has died and his material is not with us any longer but Mayhem has continued and is the most extreme black metal band. Maybe we are a little more misanthropic and hateful towards humanity than straightforward satanic.
Yesterday it was 13 years since Dead took his own life. How do you look upon his death today?
I didn't know Dead personally, very few did even though a lot of people say that they knew him personally. What he did was amazing. His death was more or less tragic for Necro who was his friend. I wasn't part of it and only know the tragic story.
Do you feel that the band's past has helped you or held you back in any way?
Both maybe. I mean, do you walk around with the picture of the first woman you were together with in your wallet? At least I don't, you need to try to move on. This is something people should think about. It is dead, can we not only let that period be? The old great period is over, that is something everyone knows. Now we have been doing this for ten years with the new line-up. We always get a lot of questions about the old things. It is nice that people are so involved. They are in this world and want to look out from it while others look from the outside in. Mayhem is characterized by quality and not quantity. We have released three studio albums in twenty years. That is not a hell of a lot but Mayhem opens its mouth when we have something to say and that is why we are unique. The chemistry within the band is also completely psychotic. Anything can happen with Mayhem.
Can you live off Mayhem or do you have regular jobs as well?
I manage because I have moved from Norway. I live, I wake up and I do my thing. I am independent and I live well in Portugal.
What do you think about people who burn cds and download them from the Internet?
Internet... Before "Chimera" was out the record company called and said "Oh no, the album is out". Ok, damn stupid but I don't fucking care about it. The response has been very good and maybe it's good advertising also to spread the word to other people that the album is out. I don't think extreme metal fans want a product that way. I think it's more a problem for pop music but metal fans value their favorite bands and want the thing in their hands. They want to see the product, feel it and read the lyrics. That you don't get from the Internet. I am both for and against.
You reunited after "De Mysteriis...", what made you keep the name Mayhem?
The founder Necrobutcher was still there and it was only natural that Mayhem had not said the final word. I am the only new input and the rest are old members and we didn't see a problem in keeping the band name. The band lives on.
Why do you think you have released so few studio albums, only 3 in 20 years?
Interesting... It is the chaos within Mayhem and our state of mind. After this very short tour I can promise you that no-one wants to see the other faces for at least three or four months. It is a bit too extreme to be in the band for a longer period of time. It is a very special atmosphere for which you need mental preparation.
How important are live shows for Mayhem as a band?
I think the essence of Mayhem comes from live shows where you get the raw and primal energy and not the details of the studio recording. It is also important to promote the album and it is always fun to play in front of fans who are into your music.
You have a rather extreme stage show, how important is it?
We have a Norwegian trash artist called Spacebrain [aka René Hamel] who does the stage decorations. The pig's blood and everything express our rawness and are quite essential for Mayhem I'd say.
When you're out on tour like this, what do you do in your spare time?
Drink beer, hehe. Well, we live in a tour bus for six weeks and it is misery after six weeks. You never get away from it. We have three days off during 37 gigs. There is no sightseeing, it's not very interesting. When you are on tour you are on tour and it is chaos.
What is in the future? What will come after "Chimera"?
Then we will not see each other for fucking long, hehe. No, I have a flame or a spark in me right now and feel very productive. I have a lot of poetry that I will try to sort out. After the tour we will not see each other for some time like I said and then try to tour in the US. If we don't get there before September 11th we can not get into the country, hehe. We will also play in Japan. Aside from that I don't have any plans, I live in the present. I can promise you that it will not pass four years until the next album, two I think.
How long will you continue with Mayhem? Until you die?
We'll keep on until the flame in us dies and it can be damn long. I have no problem seeing Mayhem alive for ten years. It is like it always has been. We are extreme personalities, extreme people. The intensity will never disappear. As long as no-one loses limbs or something like that we will keep on going fucking long.
Thanks a lot to Blasphemer for doing this interview even though there was a mix-up with guestlists etc.!
Links of interest:
Season Of Mist