Two of the biggest bands in black metal, Mayhem and Marduk, are touring the U.S. together throughout May and June, starting at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza. Mayhem, fronted by frequent Sunn O))) collaborator Attila Csihar, has been around pretty consistently since rebuilding after the infamous 1993 murder of guitarist Euronymous by Burzum’s Varg Vikernes. Marduk, on the other hand, hasn’t been permitted to enter the U.S. since 2001, despite having released 10 studio albums to Mayhem’s four. We got founding guitarist and sole remaining original member Morgan Hakansson on the phone to see how he feels about being back.
Why hasn’t Marduk toured the U.S. since 2001?
I don’t know, after the 11th of September everything got a bit problematic. I think when we were there in 2001 we didn’t have the right papers to be there and work, therefore we got into a lot of hassles and problems.
So it wasn’t about you being considered dangerous.
No, it had nothing to do with how we were seen, at least I don’t think so. I never had any problems otherwise; we’ve been touring all over the world, I don’t know all the countries I’ve been in, everywhere from Turkey to Venezuela to Belarus, we never had any problems entering any country. So it was a bit strange. I can’t explain it.
Have you missed America?
Yeah, of course. I remember the last tour we did; it was a good opportunity and we got a lot of offers during the [intervening] years, but we always got them like a month before the tour started, and it was impossible to get the paperwork done in one month. We’ve been missing out on a lot of things.
Some black metal bands give very bloody, theatrical performances; what can fans expect from Marduk live?
We use certain elements of that, but we’re more focusing on standing up and delivering the music itself. And also, when you tour the States you cannot bring so many things around, so we just go up and hit it, you know? I’m just really looking forward to finally getting over there again.
Given that it’s been so long since you toured the U.S., will you be focusing on classic material or playing newer songs?
I would prefer to play a bit over an hour, but we can only play ten or eleven songs. So we’re gonna try to do something from more or less every album. Since we’ve been there we’ve done three albums, so there’s a lot of songs to choose from.