Interview from zine Maelstrom - 2003

interveiw by: Roberto Martinelli

Of the new breed of black metal, Aborym is leading he charge. Melding electronica with the scathing sounds of black metal speed, this Italian band’s second album, Fire Walk with Us, took the Maelstrom camp by storm. Now Aborym has released an even more slick and sinister album, 2003's With no Human Intervention. The following are two separate dialogues with quintessential frontman Attila Csihar and guitarist Sethlans Teitan 131.

Maelstrom: Attila, I’d like to hear you talk about your performance with Sunn at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England.

Attila Csihar: It was a pretty interesting experiment. I like moving in all kinds of extreme scenes. We knew Stephen (O’Malley, of Sunn) since ‘95. I recorded a track for the upcoming album (White 2). The track is pretty long - about 25 minutes. I did some weird vox in Sanskrit about the Kali Yuga.

It was also interesting because we played alongside some electronic bands. It was not metal stuff. But the people liked it. (pictured below)

Maelstrom: But you’ve always been interested in electronic stuff.

Attila Csihar: Well, I feel it’s not far from some stuff I’ve done. Have you heard of Plasma Pool?

Maelstrom: Yes.

Attila Csihar: That happened around 1993. At the time I was really into the electronic stuff, but it was more in the occult, Pagan wing. We stopped the band when I joined Mayhem. So I like the electronic stuff and the ambient stuff, like old Current 93 and old Coil, the old Psychic TV stuff. So it was interesting to enter into the ambient doom thing with Sunn.

Maelstrom: Let’s talk about the vocals that you did on With No Human Intervention. They’re excellent as usual, but I have to tell you that it was disappointing that they don’t really sound like you. It sounds a bit more generic to me. What do you think about that?

Attila Csihar: Yes, you are right. I changed a little bit this time. I didn’t want to use again the low voice. When I played with Tormentor, my first band, I sang more like this; in a screamy way. But with Plasma Pool and Mayhem I started to do the low voice. So I wanted to refresh a bit and do the scream thing.

Maelstrom: You’ll have to tell me, but it seems that the screams would be more difficult to pull off. At any rate, they’re excellent.

Attila Csihar: Thank you.

Maelstrom: To this day, Fire Walk with Us is still my favorite Aborym record.

Attila Csihar: Ahh, cool, cool. Yeah, the screams are pretty difficult sometimes. It takes physical concentration to do it. It’s a breathing technique.

Maelstrom: What breathing technique? Does this have to do with your taking opera lessons?

Attila Csihar: YEAH! Yeah, I did some opera lessons before and again recently. I like when they talk about breathing technique. It’s a little bit like breathing for yoga meditation. You have to take the breath down and build it up and use it. It’s the same thing with the eastern fighting things, like the kung fu or wu shu. I practiced kung fu before.

I like opera vocals sometimes - not all. It’s interesting for me to think how they can do that. I like classical music. But the technique is hard to explain as you have to use muscles that you don’t use in everyday life. After a while your body becomes like an instrument and you can play it.

Maelstrom: When you go to these classes, do you tell them what you’re going to be using the technique for?

Attila Csihar: Hahahahaha! No, man, no. I was expecting this question. Last time my teacher said, "ah! You are pretty ok. You could sing some jazz and stuff like that. Why don’t we learn some songs?" I said, "well..." Also, when they ask me to sing something, they say, "ok, sing some folk songs." Like anyone knows. Sometimes it’s pretty uncomfortable. But they don’t know about [Aborym]. It would be pretty crazy to show the albums to this old woman.

I tell you the true thing about how I found this teacher. Someone asked me to be an extra in a “Jesus Christ Superstar" production here. I was really surprised, but these guys were young and cool. They were also bikers.

Maelstrom: Bikers doing “Jesus Christ Superstar"?

Attila Csihar: Yeah. At first I thought I wasn’t interested, but they told me I would be Caiaphas, who crucifies Jesus in the end. A real negative hero. And he sings in a very low voice. I had the track "Jesus Must Die." So it said, "ok, let’s do." I went to practice and met classical musicians. They heard about my art but found it very strange. But it was cool, because the girls of the strings were very young and were interested in my stuff. It was a big crew: about 50 persons. A lot of young people.

I had some plans to one day do a black metal opera; to get together with other people from the scene and do a corpsepainted, big band with strings and trumpets.

Maelstrom: Do you know about Chaostar?

Attila Csihar: No.

Maelstrom: They’re from Greece. Do you know about Septic Flesh?

Attila Csihar: ....

Maelstrom: I’ll send you an email about it. There are some really cool metal opera bands, like Hammers of Misfortune (check out our review and interview). Of course it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your own.

I think it’s remarkable that you started all these bands so long ago, and you’re from Hungary. Hungary has a few bands I can think of off the top of my head, but the scene isn’t so strong like it is in the Czech Republic. How did you think to start doing vocals like this?

Attila Csihar: It started from my childhood when I would listen to Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. I was always practicing by myself at home, to be a vocalist.

Then, when I was in middle school, when I was 14, I played water polo. There was a guy on the team who told me about a guitarist. So we met and we formed Tormentor. Around that time came the black metal movement, in ‘86. We decided to play black metal because it was very new and we wanted to be very, very extreme. We were inspired by the old Bathory, Destruction... but that movement was different from today’s: the genres weren’t so seperated. There were just a few bands. Venom was different from Bathory or Celtic Frost, but it was still the same movement, and we wanted to join it.

We applied to a competition in Hungary. We had two songs and we went to play them among other bands. Some of them were really famous. We were really young. We went to the stage and made some chaos. It was our first show and we played in front of a lot of people. But at the end of the day when they said who was winner, the third one was Tormentor by audience vote. Not by the judges, of course. (Laugh) So! So, it was a fucking surprise. We were all like, "no...." So we went to the next round, which wasn’t only metal, but all kinds of musical bands. It was really strange for us to play. But we failed in the next round because some stupid pop band won.

But after, we were asked to play again. So we put together some tracks as fast as we could and we made some covers. It was a really a fast way up. We were underground, but people heard about us. There was always fighting at the show and the big chaos as more and more people started to come. We played that way continuously until '89.

Maelstrom: But now Tormentor is on hold?

Attila Csihar: I would like to start a label and re-release the old stuff. We had plans to do a new album. We will do it one day. I don’t want to stop. Tormentor is a very strange band. The last album came after a 10 year silence. I want to be a bit faster with the next one. The lineup isn’t fixed yet. It could be the original one, or a new one.

Maelstrom: If you can look back at yourself and look at the vocalist you’ve become, how many people you’ve influenced and how many bands use vocals that sound like Attila, what does that mean to you? You’re on what is maybe the most important black metal record ever.

Attila Csihar: In a way, it’s really strange for me to see, but in another way, I feel it in my veins. As you can see, it’s been like this for me from the beginning. It’s really coming from somewhere inside. Sometimes, when I’m rehearsing, I feel this strange energy. Sometimes even I am surprised by my voice.

I have some gift, or something. I can thank fate also. I can’t say it was always positive. I had some very negative turns.

Maelstrom: What was the most negative thing that happened to you?

Attila Csihar: When we came out with the first Tormentor album, in ‘88, it was never released. The guy who paid for the studio for Anno Domini, he lost money on another band and was not able to release our album. It was really one of the best in the world of the genre, really. We know that now.

And then came the Mayhem story, which ended up, well, you know how. At the same time, Plasma Pool had to stop when the keyboard player was robbed by the mafia. He went into some bad stuff, so one day some people came to his home with some guns and took his instruments. But I’m proud of my voice and I’m proud of my art. But I’m very happy that I could influence others.

Maelstrom: Even with your immediate peers: you sang on Mick Kenney’s new Anaal Nathrakh record. Kenney’s project Frost is like Mayhem, and the guy sounds like Attila. It’s a great band, and it’s in honor of you.

Attila Csihar: Yes. Euronymous got in touch with me in ‘91. As I know now, it was because they liked Tormentor. It’s a bit strange, as my name in my band was Mayhem. So it was a weird sign for me. When I heard the music, I said, wow. I remember that at first I couldn’t believe the drums. It was like the double of the usual rhythms.

But I was very sad when I heard the news (about Euronymous’ death).

Maelstrom: There was a rumor about a year ago that you would rejoin Mayhem.

Attila Csihar: Yes... sometimes we are talking about this. Sometimes Maniac feels like quitting. If he quits the band, probably I will be the next vocalist. I’ll have to see what happens, but basically I’m interested.

Maelstrom: Would you still be Aborym’s vocalist?

Attila Csihar: I don’t think it would be any problem to play the old songs. For the new ones, I should learn something.

Maelstrom: What kind of guy is Sethlans Teitan? Give us a funny story about him.

Attila Csihar: (laugh) He is like my brother. We very much like and appreciate each other. He’s a very good guitarist too. He’s got fucking strong wrists. In Aborym, he does the more heavy riffs, and Nysrok does the more complicated stuff. They complement each other well.

Maelstrom: I read in the Gnosis Zine interview about how you recorded De Misteriis Dom Sathanas. You said you were behind a curtain in blackness, and candles all around.

Attila Csihar: Yeah. I had very little time. We had just a couple of days for the vocals. I was very nervous. It was strange that we only had one track to do. So if I made a mistake, it was not possible to do different versions and pick the best one.

Grieghallen is a cool studio. I remember we stole the big gong from the classical department.

Maelstrom: What has been the most important or best experience you’ve had so far in your musical career?

Attila Csihar: The last one was the show with Sunn. Here in Hungary, I was fucked by the police at the border. I missed my airplane. Because of the delay, they changed the schedule of the show. They put us before Aphex Twin. We were supposed to open the party. We replaced Earth. So instead of Earth, it was Sunn. It was like 3,000 people. I heard afterwards that BBC 1 broadcast the show. That was a pretty cool thing.

I also like the period when we recorded the Fire Walk with Us album. It was a great time in Rome. The Mayhem period was very nice. It was cool to play with Mayhem. I played with them once in Milan. Aborym had just recorded Kali Yuga Bizarre. Maybe you heard it on the live record.

Maelstrom: "Attila! Come on the stage! Attila!" That’s awesome.

Attila Csihar: Yeah! That was after a very hard period of drug use. I was coming out of the depths of that. I was pretty sick. But I turned it into my performance.

I loved also the Plasma Pool gigs that we did from ‘90-93. At the time, very few bands played electronic music. There were no computers like today. It was very hard to put together the stuff. It was a big challenge.

Maelstrom: You may be sick and tired of this, but I wanted to know if you’d care to comment on your arrest recently in Italy on drug possession charges.

Attila Csihar: Shit happens. I was in Naples and I had some stuff on me. It took a month to clean myself up, and they released me finally. I was fucked up with this. For me, drugs aren’t the first thing in life.

Maelstrom: But drugs are an important part of your creating things?

Attila Csihar: Sometimes, yes. When I was young, I liked to experiment. Taking drugs wasn’t only about going out and laughing at stupid things; sometimes I took drugs when I was alone and listened to music and meditated. It was really interesting. I won’t say that all people need drugs. For some people it would be really dangerous, while for others it could be necessary to cover up some parts of the brain. Now, for instance, I use very few drugs. It’s not worth it anymore.

Maelstrom: When was the first time you used drugs?

Attila Csihar: When I was in Plasma Pool. For a time, I had some problems, but that was five, six years ago. I know what it is when you go too far and can’t find your way back. But in a way, it can make you strong. You can lose your personality or make it stronger. What do you think? Do you use any drugs?

Maelstrom: No. But I don’t judge people if they use or not. I think it’s funny that people are making a big deal about your arrest. For me, it’s not such a big deal because artists have been using before Jesus Christ. So it’s nothing new.

Interview was taken with kind permission from Maelstrom Zine

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