Where do your costumes come from?
Attila Csihar: Most of the costumes I wear are actually designed by me or are collaborations. A lot of my masks were made by Nader Sadek in New York, and most of my clothes by my friend Mate Benyovszky in Budapest. The last costume I wore with Mayhem was actually a real priest’s funeral outfit. It was like 70 years old and was handmade by nuns. The costume was worn at hundreds, maybe thousands of funerals through the years. I bought it in a Christian store - it was kind of expensive, but it was worth it since it's really beautiful. Of course, I didn’t say why I was buying it. I had to lie and say I was working on a film. But I think the church lies to us too, so it’s alright.
Over the years you’ve worn a lot of costumes. How many do you have?
I've never counted. Making the costumes happen is a crazy amount of work. My live concept for the latest Mayhem record, Ordo Ad Chao, was to use different costumes and outfits for each show. It was an almost impossible task. I had to think about it all in advance and make a lot of plans and preparations for the daily shows. I really do like challenges so it was worth it, but I’m not doing it anymore.
Of all your costumes, which is your favourite?
Well, there were so many favourites. There was Dr. Pig - a scalped pig’s face I wore over my own face. It was a huge scandal in Sweden. The Mummy - that went with an onstage time machine. The Pimp was good, and the Slavetrader, I had a black guy on a leash for that. He was a bit worried when I tried to sell him during the show, but he was cool really - he knew it wasn’t a racist thing. People in Tel Aviv and Moscow really loved The Dictator, and there were others too: De Gaulle and Alien. I rose from an onstage coffin for Satan Klaus, and there was also Quasimodo.
The Invisible Man.
Most expensive was maybe The Broken-Mirror Man, and the funeral priest costume.
I like to challenge the audience, so the worst thing for me is going on stage with something that has been seen a million times before, like corpse paint. Actually, the first time I wore corpse paint was in 1987 with my band Tormentor. Alien Sex Fiend were using white make-up, so I started to wear a white base and put black make-up on top, around the eyes and the mouth. When Dead did a similar thing in the early 90s, he was the first to label that make-up technique "corpse paint". It was cool then.
I read somewhere that as a vegetarian you were grossed out by the dead pig’s face.
No, we were supposed to be forcing the public to look death in the face.
When Sunn O))) saw my costumes they were really impressed. For their tour, the concepts behind the costumes had to have a totally different meaning. The tree was about transformation. During the show, I gradually transform from a human into a plant.
What's the most money you've ever spent on a costume?
I would like to keep that secret, but some costumes were expensive. However, I think the idea behind them is much more important than the money.
Is it all about costumes with you, or do you like mainstream fashion. Do you do casual?
I do like fashion. For normal everyday wear, I like some of the Cyberdog clothes, but not everything they do.
Is there a costume you’d like to wear but which is just too expensive, or made out of something too rare, or is one that somebody has worn already?
Yes, of course. I talked to Banks Violette about making something that would make me look like I was performing in another dimension. I wanted to levitate in a huge, on-stage aquarium filled with liquid, wearing deep-diving gear. We planned to have strange or weird sea animals swimming around, like ink fishes, octopuses and horseshoe crabs, for instance. I wanted a spacesuit but they are extremely expensive. Huge crystals could be good too for appearing as a fossil. The ideas are endless, but the costumes have to have meaning. Recently people started to expect the costumes and my main philosophy in music and art is freedom. When I feel any force or pressure to do something, I move on to the next thing. The music is the most important part for me.
INTERVIEW JULIAN MOREL