Mayhem’s Attila Csihar Talks “Dangerous” ’80s Metal and Punk Scenes in Communist Hungary
Mayhem frontman Attila Csihar was our guest on a recent episode of The MetalSucks Podcast to discuss the band’s new EP, Atavistic Black Disorder/Kommando, which consists of three new originals and four classic punk covers, as well as a range of other topics.
Looking back at the early punk and black metal scenes that inspired the covers on the new EP, MS Podcast host Petar Spajic asked Attila whether he feels that music has lost its danger in recent times. He answered by sharing some details of what it was like coming up in the metal scene in communist Hungary in the ’80s, including a couple of wild stories.
“In the ’80s everything was different. I’m not quite sure why it’s changed but I can tell you in Hungary, at the first Tormentor shows, there was no security. [laughs] That was dangerous as fuck and it happened all the time, this mess, ‘fuck cops,’ and fights and mosh pits. Especially the people that came from a different music scene could cause some misunderstandings here or there.
“But it was more this hardcore fanbase we had, so everybody was welcome. Who could fight. [laughs] All the rest of the people are behind.
“So the first Tormentor shows, man, for the first year, I could never see the fucking audience, it was always the first 3, 4, 5 meters from the stage… that was always the same 15 dudes. Just standing there and jumping around. But if you went there, that was the red zone. You had to fucking fight. So that was always the same 10 people in the front, and a couple of meters behind you could see the rest of the people standing, as if there were a fence or something in front of the stage. That’s how it was. I saw people burning vinyl; I was on the stage like, ‘fuck, what is this smoke?’ I almost choked, it was PVC burning. It was really fucking crazy.
“I think it’s the same in the punk scene. I think somehow it was very new, people were super wild and authorities didn’t give a fuck. I mean, here in Hungary we were in the old system, man. “
“If you called the cops, that was the worst idea you could do. ‘Cause they just came, and before they ask, they hit. That was the old times. You are happy if they don’t have questions, just got a punch and fuck off. If they ask a question, whatever you answer, that’s the next punch. That was the old times, the fuckin’ dictator, bro. I know it’s been tough everywhere — the U.S. has tough cops too — but here it was fucking crazy with the old system.
“The thing is, now, I think things have changed, and I think the culture has grown. Maybe in the beginning when people came to these shows it was for everybody. Nobody was coming for a fight. Nobody knew what to expect. Now it’s like a long, beautiful metal culture behind us with extreme metal and the people all respect each other. I think that’s what happens through the years.
“Also back in the day, man, most of the time, if there was a mosh pit, if someone fell down it was not like other people were trying to save him and get him back, get him up from the floor. Since I’ve been playing with Mayhem, I can’t ever recall that I’ve seen any serious aggression [more recently]. There was something… maybe in Norway? But that was another musician who mashed another musician’s face with a glass bottle. I was like, ‘wow.’ But they were not even fans! [laughs] You know, I don’t miss that. I’ve been there, I don’t miss that fucking chaos actually.
You can listen to our full chat with Csihar right here or in the embed below.