Mayhem cemented their place in metal history way before the drama, murder, and scandal. Known as one of the founders of Norwegian black metal they’ve been going strong for the past three decades. Proving they have no plans on becoming a legacy act, they returned last year with their new album, Daemon. The band was set to tour the US for the first time in three years, but unfortunately, were forced to cancel due to the coronavirus. But they’re not letting the pandemic keep them down and they’re already looking ahead to the next record.
Mayhem guitarist Teloch chats with GENRE IS DEAD! about the current state of the world, why it was time to experiment on the new album, and what keeps Mayhem going after 36 years.
GENRE IS DEAD!: Mayhem was supposed to be in the states touring at this time, but because of the coronavirus, it was canceled. So how are you all staying sane right now?
Teloch: Well, luckily touring is just one part of the business, so to say. We have lots of other stuff to take care of when we’re off the road. For us, it’s mostly office work and composing some new stuff and being creative. So, sitting at home is not a problem for us.
GID: It’s great to hear you’re staying productive while stuck at home and even working on some material.
T: Yeah, I mean why not use this time the best we can, you know? Be prepared for the next album instead of sitting on our asses and doing nothing. So, it’s good that everyone’s trying to do something right now.
GID: The current crisis has opened our eyes to what’s actually going on with health and hygiene on a wider scale. Some people think things are going to change once this is over. How do you think COVID is going to change things?
T: I haven’t thought about that at all, but I know there will be consequences, that’s for sure. Many businesses are going down now, and people are unemployed so the economic change will be very big. When it comes to people, I don’t think people will change. People never change.
GID: For your new album, Daemon, there was an emphasis on stripping things back and keeping things simple. Now that the album is out, how do you think this affected the record?
T: Before we started writing this album, we knew wanted to make it simple with simple riffs. That in itself was a challenge for us because it’s hard to write simple stuff that’s still interesting and good, you know? Anytime we had a sketch that was maybe too complicated, we just went back in and simplified everything – the drums, vocals, bass, guitars, everything. It was actually a very cool procedure. I think we’re going to try to do the same on the next one.
GID: Any reason why you guys wanted to keep it simple this time around?
T: Yeah, that comes from how we were pushing things technically all the time. Everything was always supposed to be faster and faster and we just got tired of it.
GID: It sounds like going in that direction really paid off. The album came out fantastic. Congrats on that!
T: Thank you.
GID: When it comes to Mayhem albums, no two are alike. When it’s time to record, how does the album’s direction and sound come about? Is it determined beforehand, or does it happen naturally?
T: It’s never planned that way. When I said that we planned from the get-go to make a simple album, that didn’t necessarily dictate the vibe of the record. All the albums have been different, but I think that’s just something that happens in the process. It’s not like [we say] now we have to make this kind of album or it has to sound like this and that. It just happens, especially when everyone has played their part in the studio. It really turns it into something different.
GID: Looking back at the album process, what would you say was the most challenging part when it came to writing or recording?
T: The most challenging part was finding some material we could all actually agree on. Writing and trying out different sketches was a very long process. I think we have maybe two hours of leftovers from this recording process that’ll probably be scrapped. So, it was indeed a very long and hard process. That was the most difficult part, I think.