Mayhem - Interview

I have never had a bucket list, but for black metal fans seeing Mayhem live and interviewing Attila Csihar would be definitely on top of that list. So when I heard that I was given 20-30 minutes with a note that he usually doesn't like to give interviews and the questions better be good it stressed me out a little. Long story short, we talked for over an hour. This was long enough not only to talk about Mayhem, but also Void Of Voices, Sunn 0))), Sinsaneum, his project with Flo from Cryptopsy. I've also had a proper lesson about history and geography and got an update on Attila's long-life passion - hi-end sound (just check his FB profile and you'll see). So, if you're interested in finding out what Attila is most passionate about, read below.


Hi, first of all thank you very much for your time before the show. I'm glad we can chat before the performance and just wanted to ask what we can expect? Is the show still divided into 3 parts?

Yeah, I think we have one more song, because of the timeframe. We just finished a long tour, came home about 3 days ago, so we didn't have enough time to change anything.

Fantastic, I'm really looking forward to seeing it! It's also quite a late show - 1am-2am, does it happen often that you play shows that late?

No, we have nothing to do with the schedules, when we are on tour we usually play 8pm-9pm. But this one is different, it's a festival, you know, I'm looking forward to it.

I also wanted to ask about something you mentioned in the past, about your travels to Turkey, Peru and other places with artifacts from pre-Christian era. You also mentioned how fascinated you are with the North Pole - is this still on your "to do" list? Is it possible to arrange such a trip?

I would love it to happen. It's a good question, I haven't been thinking about it lately, but if I ever get the chance to go to the North Pole... I never got the chance to say "yes" because it's not easy. First of all I think you need to get a special permission and I don't know anyone who's been there. It's also difficult because the pole is constantly moving. You know, I love ancient legends and mythology, the ones talking about Agartha, that there's apparently an entrance into an inner world at the North Pole. I like the idea, I really like reading about alternative science, alternative history and everything that keeps you open-minded. There's so much information on the Internet nowadays, there's so much shit, so how can I select anything? I actually follow my instinct in a way like when I read something that is really fucked up or even have some strange thought I realize, that's my experience, when I find out that if it was true, it's a release inside. So nature somehow gives me a release in my spirit or soul. I don't know how to put it in words, but somehow I feel a release. This is how I select. Actually Agartha and all these things mentioned for thousands of years in legends, even during WWII the Nazis were looking for an entrance to the "underworld", it means that there might be some other people also, some exhibitions, Jules Verne's book "The Journey to the Centre of the World". When you mentioned the North Pole it made me think of that. But also if you think about the North Pole, the whole Earth's magnetic field is focused in that area, so it must be a very special feeling to be there.

During one of your trips to see the monoliths you decided to do Void Of Voices recording. Were you thinking about recording other Void Of Voices releases at other sites you visited?

Maybe, you know I recorded Void Of Voices in 2012 in Baalbek in Lebanon, that was one of the most amazing sights for me, that really touched me, and so-called trilithons in the basement of the Jupiter Temple. It was built by Romans, the giant structure built on top of The Great Court, they were those giant stones and I heard about those trilithons. When I was there the second time I heard about some other trilithons, about the half size of the big ones, like 400 tonnes. And under those there are even smaller ones, the further you go down they are getting smaller, so you begin to think "how?" and "why?”, “what's the point?". I decided to choose the biggest one for the recording, the one which is in the quarry. But now I want to go there again or do an exhibition, like go there and dig it out. And I know that someone already did and they found an even bigger one underneath. I want to go back, it's so fucked up, I am an engineer, I know what I'm talking about and even for today's technology it would be a big challenge to move stones that big. It's like 1000 VW Golfs, imagine a whole parking lot of these in one piece and move it around. And they didn't use electricity, just ropes. Forget about it, even if you have a million of slaves, it still sounds impossible. And it was built even before Romans, because the Roman ruins are on top of these, these appear to be even 1500 years older. You also mentioned Turkey - Göbeklitepe is where I want to go, because when you read about it it says it's about 12000 years old, it looks like a fucking Stonehenge, it's a circle of monoliths and blocks of stones, looks like a calendar or a clock. It has all of those carvings, one is like a dog or some other animal and it was buried 12000 years ago, so it wasn't done by some people who have just exited the caves. There must have been a civilization which was able to do this. You know, when you hear about ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia being about 7000 years old, now you can add 5000 more and they already had these structures. It's not the headline news, but it seems like our civilization is at least twice as old and we have no idea what happened in between them, too. There is no official explanation of that shit. But regarding Void Of Voices - I did that recording in 2012 and wasn't sure what to do with it, Steven wanted to release (Steve Joh from Century Media - MW) and now it's on its way, it's gonna be a vinyl and maybe CD, this recording is 10 years old now (laugh) but it is coming out. The idea behind it is that during the recording I captured the atmosphere, the space, I am spaced out in my mind, so these two things connected, I connect to the ruins and to the whole area at the same time. And I would like to do one more at Göbeklitepe, that's probably going to be the next one. I still haven't been to Peru and I really want to go, we already played there, but I haven't seen the ruins, I've checked Pumapunku and Gate of the Sun in Bolivia, also Mexico, we traveled around, at least I did, I visited Palenque in Chiapas.

You also like to describe your performances as some kind of meditation or a ritual.

Yeah, these things are connected, because I was always into mysticism and different philosophies and I love for instance Indian mythology, ancient. I always liked pre-Christian mythologies more. Mostly Egyptian and Indian, South American, too. Their stories are great, they talk about gods' and demons' fights, The Nephilim, the people who descend from the sky, they are in every culture, Nordic cultures, too. But when I see the ruins, they are real. You can touch them and then you can connect to all of those mythologies behind them. And they can always be interpreted personally, it can have a different meaning to everyone, the more you lock out whatever you heard the more you get out of them. I traveled to Egypt many times, but I like Lebanon a lot as well. I had to go there to check it for myself, because seeing photos is one thing, but I can tell it is there, I've seen it. And that determines my way of thinking, these seem to be impossible to make or something is wrong there, like Cusco in Peru and all these places we were talking about. Or, everyone talks about pyramids, that if you stand in front of them you see polinomial granite walls - I saw that shit in Japan, in Osaka. And there's no explanation for that. And just to finish the subject, because I can talk about it for hours (laugh), but really kids should know about it. You should hear about Göbeklitepe, you should know about pyramids that have 8 parts when you look at them from the sky. It gives me goosebumps even talking about it because it opens my mind and I start thinking about it "this is some high tech". And going back to the subject of meditation or rituals - the whole show for me is like one ritual. Especially in this kind of music you have to make sure, I'm trying to create an atmosphere and then create a space and energy and channel it to the audience. And they send the energy back. The best moments are when I completely forget myself and the worst moments are when I'm completely aware of myself. I usually block it when I perform, but there were one or two shows, I don't know, maybe I was tired because of a long tour, it felt very strange. And I recently started meditating, I mean I was doing it for many years, but not regularly. And I can recommend it, you can find many techniques online, but it's something worth trying. The latest method I was trying is "do nothing" meditation, you just have to sit straight, keep your eyes open, obviously try to find a good position to relax, and just let your brain get unleashed. The only thing you do is that when you feel something that has to do with something you control, you have to drop that intention of controlling it. And just do it for 20 minutes. And obviously it is difficult to think about nothing, the way I do it is just watch my thoughts. Let them flow and if you do it long enough you start to notice who is watching who. It's kind of a personal thing, so I do not like to talk a lot about it, but everyone should try it for themselves and figure it out. We learn a lot of shit at school, but not enough of it is about the brain and these things. Many of your decisions are made by your subconscious, so if you work on it and make it work "on your side", then it will make all of those decisions according to your plan. The subconscious has no plans, it's more about survival, all the information about our body, it's in us. It's all locked out, and if you were "aware" of all of these things you would go crazy, it would be too much to register everything at the same time. But active meditations are a way to get more control over it, to get into an "alpha" level, you can try to "program" your subconscious with all your senses and if you keep on repeating it, your subconscious will automatically be set to make the right decisions for you. Human nature is much more than we know or at least more than we are taught, there's much more potential.

Do you think that we can expect some new material from Mayhem to arrive in the near future?

It's quite difficult to say right now, it requires a lot of dedication and at the moment we have quite limited time to do that. And I have other projects on my mind at the moment, so making a new Mayhem release always comes with some sacrifices that I have to make with my other projects. And when we do Mayhem material I want to do it right.

Yes, I also wanted to ask about your project with Flo from Cryptopsy and the symphonic orchestra.

It was great, obviously Covid kind of fucked it up, with the symphonic orchestra it was very challenging. I had to work on my voice and actually I've recently started a new thing. I was always into amplifiers and hi-fi, almost for 30 years now, I just noticed that, you know, after the shows I like to go out somewhere. And I noticed that the sound in bars, pubs and clubs is fucked. It's not clean. It's very distorted and it's stupid, you know. That's my new thing.

And it's also in line with your education, you have a masters in sound engineering.

I don't want to say much, it's a thing that knowing of all of that distortion I want to find a solution to that. Generally the sound was developing for a while now, but it seems like since the 60s it's been deteriorating. You can still find some good sound systems from the 60s, they mostly sound similar, but to find a good, working one is very expensive.

You also worked with Sinsaneum, I've noticed that the band's status is still "active". Do you plan on contributing to future releases under this name?

Maybe, maybe I will just jump in, but now without Joey, who invited me into that band, I'm not sure if it's going to continue.

In one of the interviews you mentioned the specific Hungarian word, which was used as a title for a Sunn 0))) track, "Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért". Some other bands also sometimes mention words or lyrics that can't be translated into English. Have you been thinking about recording a track with Mayhem with only Hungarian lyrics?

I actually thought about that, we already used some Hungarian lines with Mayhem, on 'The Dying False King', not a lot. It's a good question, I don't know. With Tormentor, maybe, we will do some Hungarian stuff, but with Mayhem? It could be interesting. We talked about it, actually, it just didn't happen. Maybe, one day. Hungarian is an interesting language. Like that word that you mentioned (Sunn 0))) track), it's one word and I can't accurately translate it.

You have also been experimenting with the variety of vocals you use on the albums. Are you still adding new techniques when you're on stage?

Always, every time and every night. I'm always following the instinct. I have when I had my first show, when I was 15 and it was shit (laugh). From my perspective it's like martial art, you start and you practice. You learn about your body at some point because it's your body that is the instrument. So that's a certain level at which I can give it instructions and get the sound that I want. I also like to listen and it's quite interesting on tours. You know, when I do the sound check even, I notice that my body works differently every fucking day. So some days I have to push it more here, some days I'm more open here. If you do it the right way, you just have to focus on your breathing. And keep good maintenance. On this tour I also realized that when I got sick, even my daughter noticed that right before the show, 15-20 minutes it was gone. You know, adrenaline kicking in. But after the show it was going back. But it's nothing serious, just feeling hot and feeling cold, no need for any strong medication. So generally this tour was great, I really enjoyed that.

Any last words for the readers?

Metal is fucking great and it's great to be here, we all have that passion for music. For me music is my life. If I have a religion then it's "sound" (laughs), you know? Actually, it's a stupid word, "religion", that's wrong. The sound is great and the sound is spiritual. Sound is the highest chakra in ancient Indian stuff, it's the connection between our mind and the body. Music and sound to me is kind of a solution that's why I am so passionate about it. I'm crazy about music, but in a positive way. I respect everybody and it's great to see so many people who enjoy extreme music here and it's great to see some great bands, like Judas Priest. Thanks!

Entered: 7/8/2022 12:02:21 PM

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