Interview with Hellhammer conducted by Dmitry Basik June 1998
“I don’t have a real education, I finished an ordinary secondary school. School life was pretty dull for me but I enjoyed it anyway. I never did my homework but still managed to get very good marks. It was quite natural for me, ha ha! Sitting at home and studying was the worthless thing to do as I was pretty much into football and - later on - into wrestling and sports. I didn’t do my homework but that wasn’t a problem anyway. I was twelve - thirteen years old when I told my parents that I liked to play drums. Of course, I couldn’t but I did want my mother to buy me a drum kit.
“I enjoyed looking at drum kits and people playing drums. When I looked at drum kits my blood pumped up. So, I wanted to play drums but I couldn’t. That’s why I asked my mother to buy me a drum kit. I didn’t know how to play drums so I just played with records. Later then I showed to some of my friends what I could do. Well, I could play something and they were like: “Wow!”
“When I was fourteen or fifteen years old I was mostly involved into heavy metal like IRON MAIDEN and that kind of stuff, but I was also into other types of music like DEPECHE MODE and DURAN DURAN. Later I was influenced by the harder bands: CELTIC FROST, VENOM. It was a quite different experience for me because that was the music I was hearing in my head, but none of the bands, that I had heard before, actually played it! So, when I first heard that row and very dark, very intensive sound I was really thrilled. It was the kind of music I wanted to play.
“Later on I got under the influence of jazz. My drums teacher was into that kind of stuff. I didn’t start playing double base at once, I played a simple four-piece kit, jazz kit. I think that was very good for me, because then I learned the foundations of playing. After that I got involved into tom drums, and later - into a second base drum.
“My parents have always been very supportive. I played for seven hours a day sitting in my room without even stopping for drinking or eating. I never heard anything against it! My whole family was very supportive. My grandmother bought me my second drum kit, and so she bought me the third one, ha ha! They were into the music I played, actually. I guess my parents really wanted me to find a job and earn some money, but they never said anything to me. They just encouraged me. And actually I didn’t have to work back then as my parents had money and thus I had everything I wanted. So, the relations in my family were very good. And my parents still support me one hundred percent. They don’t like MAYHEM and the satanic stuff because my family are Christians. But they do appreciate the music and they appreciate the things I am doing. But I am not a Satanist either. All the satanic things don’t have any meaning for me. For me it’s just the music.
“I joined MAYHEM in 1988 but before that I played in some local bands. I lived in some hour drive from the capital of Norway, Oslo. So, once I drove to Oslo and heard that MAYHEM needed a drummer. Well, I just listened to their record “Death Crush” and I liked it... Friends of mine arranged our meeting. I took my demo tape with me. So, they listened to my demo tape and the other day they called me and told me that I was in...
“One of the first bands I played in was BLOODY MARY. I don’t actually tell a lot about that time. Well, there isn’t much to say. We used to play heavy metal but our songs were never recorded. We played a couple of ordinary small gigs, that’s all. I remember I was a bit nervous, but just a little. I didn’t worry about the state my drums were in back then. Today I do care about it. The major problem for me was the broken plastics and splashes; I bought the thickest drum sticks at a shop and hammered with them like hell. I don’t have such problems nowadays: I bought the thinnest drum sticks...and learned how to play, ha ha!
“Thus I had played in several school bands when one day I saw an advertisement saying that MAYHEM needed a drummer...”
Everything Here Is So Cold
Everything Here Is So Dark
I Remember It As From A Dream
In The Corner Of This Time
Diabolic Shapes Float By
Out From The Dark
I Remember It Was Here I Died
By Following The Freezing Moon
MAYHEM “Freezing Moon”
“My friends introduced me to the musicians of MAYHEM. Their names were Euronymous and Dead. I met them and gave them the tape with my recordings. The next day they called me up to tell that I was in. Euronymous looked like a very pleasant guy. Of course, he was a bit strange. I came to his house: he was all dressed in black and there was a knife hanging on his belt. I remember I thought: “What the hell does it mean?” Dead joined the band a few months earlier than me. He was a Swede and didn’t understand a lot what we were talking about. Well, he was a strange guy. A very reserved person. It was impossible to discuss personal things with him. Soon after we got into everything that was connected with death, the dark side of life and Satanism. I would always like those things in spite of the fact that I was born in a Christian family. Only years after I realized how weird and how harmful it was for us. But I was too young to resist my temptation for Darkness. I found some books where different rituals were described. Later on we realized our knowledge into the real life... Euronymous was involved most of all. He was our teacher. Now I know he got too far, too far. And Dead followed his steps. Soon Euronymous and Dead became even grimmer and more reserved. On the contrary, I have never been a grim person. But those two... Frankly speaking, I didn’t manage to perceive all that Satanic thing. I was attracted by a dark, sinister image, but I didn’t feel any anger for Christianity. Euronymous and Dead hated it. “Christianity is evil,” they used to say. But I asked them: “Ain’t it evil what we are doing?” I never got an answer to this question.
“Before the shows Dead used to bury his clothes into the ground so that it could start to rot and get that grave scent. He was a “corpse” on a stage. He was one of the first to use make-up that soon became so popular among black metal musicians. In fact, he was the first black metal musician to use corpse paint. Once he even asked us to bury him into the ground - he wanted his skin to become pale. He had used corpse paint before MAYHEM in his previous band MORBID. He acted the corpse and he called himself “dead”. He looked really great with all his make-up! When seeing us the public got really crazy. Some people, of course, didn’t understand us, but the most part thought we were just cool... I took my name from CELTIC FROST. Their previous project was called HELLHAMMER, and I thought it was a shame that such a good name had to disappear. And “hellhammer” sounded as a good name for a drummer, I thought.”
Visions of that no mornings
light ever will come. I'm to old now.
The dark is so near, will I ever reach the land beyond
This is where we go when we have to die.
I've been old since the birth of time.
Time buried me in earth centuries ago,
I tasted blood. Buried by time and dust.
MAYHEM “Buried by time and dust”.
“In the beginning of the ’90s we rented an old deserted house in the forest. We needed a place for rehearsals, so we ended up in that house. It would take twenty minutes to get to the nearest shop, and we had to go by train to the nearest town. People who walked by our house, fastened their steps. They were afraid of us. And teachers from the nearby schools told children: “Do not come up to this house. The house is haunted!” Everybody hated us, but we enjoyed it. Euronymous was busy with his label and spent all the days typing something. I played drums and Dead would lock in his room being permanently depressed. So that was the way we lived: each of us was in his own world. Euronymous and Dead didn’t get along well. Dead didn’t trust Euronymous. The verbal fights turned to real bloody beatings. I got tired of their quarrels and moved to my grandmother’s, coming back merely to rehears. One day I decided to go to Oslo with my friends. Before the departure I met Dead. He was grim and depressed: “Look, I bought a big knife. It’s very sharp.” Those were the last words I heard from him.”
How beautiful life is now when my time has come.
A human destiny but nothing human inside.
What'll be left of me when I'm dead, there was
nothing when I lived.
What you found was eternal death
no one will ever miss you.
MAYHEM “Life Eternal”
“Euronymous was leaving with me that day. He went to town on his label’s business. Some days later, when Euronymous came back, the house looked deserted. The front door was locked and there was no key in our secret place. Euronymous went round the house and noticed that the window to Dead’s room was opened. He got to the house and saw Dead lying on the floor: a part of his head was blown away by the gun’s shot. Euronymous hitchhiked a car to the nearest town to buy a film for camera. Then he returned and made a shot of Dead’s corpse. I was surprised at having noticed that the knife laid on the gun. It should lay under it... May be Euronymous never went to town that day... When Euronymous called me, he was not talkative. “Dead went back home,” he said. “Back to Sweden?” I wondered. “No, he’s blown his head.”
“Then I realized that Dead was dead. Police took the Dead’s body but we would live in the house for a few more weeks. Dead’s blood and pieces of scull were all over the room. Once I looked under his bed and found two big pieces of scull. I took one piece and Euronymous took the other. We made amulets out of them. Later on we lost them somehow. It’s strange... Well, Dead’s death didn’t stop us. We decided to find a new vocalist and bass player and continue MAYHEM. We would audit for a while and soon the line-up was gathered. That time Grishnackh played bass... I liked him from our first meeting: he was an intelligent guy. He stood out from other musicians, he was unique... He was modest and polite... Soon our band turned to “Inner Circle”. I was always against of church burning: that didn’t make any sense! But the others thought it did. Well, they shocked the whole Norway! They never pressed on me. I was not involved into the things they were doing. No one really knows why Grishnackh murdered Euronymous. I assume it was a personal conflict between them.
On the day of Euronymous’ death I called him at the office. Nobody picked up the phone. Then I called his parents hoping to reach him there. I was told that Euronymous was murdered the night before. I was shocked. I didn’t know who did that, but I was sure it could be the Swedes. There were constant conflicts among Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish clans. Dead bodies were found everywhere. My friends and I took knives and guns preparing to defend ourselves. We were waiting for the worst to happen. But soon we learned that Grishnackh was Euronymous’ murder. Yeah, that shy boy turned out to be a killer. I couldn’t even realize he could do that! My friends from “Inner Circle” and I were called to trial...
Not long before his death Euronymous became a member of the Communists party. He thought the events that took place in Russia were the real evil. Then he read Marx - he was disappointed. Marx wanted people to love each other. And Euronymous turned to Fascism. He always wanted to belong to the most extreme part of the society.
He was twenty four when he was murdered...”