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Necrobutcher: "Mayhem are the Rolling Stones of metal"

Mayhem bassist Necrobutcher
(Image credit: Stefan Raduta)

Mayhem bassist Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud is an extreme metal lifer. Aside from a three-year period in the early 90s, the 53-year-old bassist has steered the Norwegian black metal icons since founding the band in 1984. Today, he’s the band’s longest-serving member, weathering the deaths of both former singer Per ‘Dead’ Ohlin and guitarist Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth, as well as numerous controversies over the years. This is what life has taught him.

Metal Hammer line break

I had to grow up quickly

“I’m not the kind of guy who goes, ‘I had this traumatic childhood’, but some things forced me to grow up years before I should have and take a bit more responsibility for my life. Growing up without a dad, I ended up in the wrong kind of crowd. I grew up around thugs and criminals, guys who were doing the wrong things – breaking into places, stealing cars, doing amphetamines. When you grow up with these people, you need to be street smart otherwise you’ll be killed. So I got street smart quickly.”

Patience is a virtue – up to a point

“On the outside, I’m a calm, polite guy. Maybe a little bit too polite, because sometimes I think to myself, ‘I should have to told that guy to fuck off instead of chatting along.’”

Invest wisely

“Other musicians spend all their money on drugs and women. Some people would say that’s a wise investment. Me, I was smart – I invested in real estate in the early 90s. I only bought a simple house – more like a cabin. We weren’t bringing in Iron Maiden or Metallica money, so I couldn’t afford more. But I still live in it. Of course I have upgraded it – now it’s worth millions in Norwegian money. Real estate is the only thing that grows in value.” 

Don’t let people rewrite your history

“People say I left Mayhem. That’s wrong. I started the band, I drew the logo and I brought in Øystein [aka Euronymous]. He was a fucking asshole, he took pictures of a dead friend’s corpse [singer Dead, who died by suicide in 1991]. I said, ‘Burn those fucking pictures before even calling me.’ He didn’t. Then guess what? He turned everything around and called this murderer to replace me [Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnackh]. Everybody knows that story. I left Mayhem? I never fucking left Mayhem. I’m tired of this misunderstanding all the fucking time.”

Never forget the fallen

“I think about Dead and Euronymous a lot, ’cos I get reminded every day by people asking questions about them. I like it that people are still talking about these guys who only got to be 22 and 25 years old. But they were just two of the people I know who died. I grew up in a rough neighbourhood where shitloads of people died – drug overdoses, car accidents, suicides. I remember all of those guys well, but no one else apart from their families know who they were. They were my friends too.”


Mayhem 2021

(Image credit: Ester Segarra)

Technology sucks

“Everybody knows you should stay the fuck away from all that social media. I was the last guy with a cellphone. I was the last guy on the internet. All the guys in the band were, like, ‘You’ve got to go on fucking Facebook!’ No, I don’t! But in the end, they persuaded me to communicate with Messenger. What did it bring me in the end? Just a bunch of fucking loonies out there who now have a chance to reach me.” 

Mayhem are the Rolling Stones of metal

“I realised that I have the same strategy as Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. He understands it’s important to be the first Western band in any country. When you get there, you are the gods even if the people who come after you are better than you. I love to be the first metal band in any country. We want to play Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Pakistan. Afghanistan? Maybe not. They jailed a metal band for 10 years for blasphemy. I’m not ready to go all that way and risk ending up in an Afghan jail.”

Get a manager

“I was the manager of Mayhem until three years ago. I had to give it up because there was no appreciation – people just took things for granted after a while, and it drove me crazy. So we hired a manager for the band. Now people are complaining that thousands of pounds are disappearing in management fees. I think, ‘That’s money I could have taken to do the job before.’”

Family first

“I enjoy being a dad. I enjoy being a grandad even more. I had a daughter when I was 23. That changes you. I had to look at myself and think, ‘I need to provide for her, I need to have a house and I need a better car so I can pick her up in the kindergarten without calling the child protection service.’ Now I have a grandson – he’s named Jørn after me, so I must have done something right. We call him Junior. It’s like having a kid, but less responsibility and more fun. He’s not a fan of Mayhem, though. Not yet.”

Mayhem make blue-collar music that’s for working-class people

“I went to a junkyard years ago, and I’m trying to pay the guy and he goes, ‘Your money’s no good. Mayhem doesn’t need to pay here.’ Another time a guy came to unblock the sewer. He parks his truck and walks out in a Satyricon shirt. I think, ‘That’s the wrong shirt’, so I go in and get him a Mayhem shirt. He goes, ‘I knew you were living here, I was just trying to act cool.’ They’re my guys – the ones who work in the sewer plant and the fucking junkyard. I sometimes wish they worked at the local bank or on the airline desk at the airport! Ha ha!”

I don’t even know what fame is

“Do I feel famous? I don’t think so. My 10-year-old grandson doesn’t think I’m famous. He sees his grandad onstage and on TV and in the papers all the time, so he thinks it’s normal. But if his teachers see me when I go to pick him up at school, they get shaky knees. So maybe I am famous. Who knows?”


It’s OK to lose your shit sometimes

“Many people compare me to Lars Ulrich. That’s because I’m a small guy and I go ballistic all the time. Why? Because somebody has to go ballistic, but only when things go wrong – like when we are assured that the backline is supposed to be at the venue but it’s not. I’m not the kind of guy who goes ballistic because I asked for a bunch of M&Ms and the blue ones are still in there.”

A few pigs’ heads will go a long way

“We had a gig in 1985 and we ordered four pigs’ heads. But the gig was cancelled so we still had these pigs’ heads. So I put them in my grandmother’s freezer and they stayed there for a year. We took them out for a photo session. One of the pictures later ended up on a single called Ancient Skin [from 1997]. We always used pigs’ heads then as a shock effect. It had nothing to do with animal cruelty – those pigs were already dead. We don’t order pigs’ heads anymore. Sometimes promoters provide  us with pigs’ heads when we don’t even ask for them. They see the rider and go, ‘Where’s the pigs’ heads?’”

Where Mayhem lead, others follow

“After we used pigs’ heads, a lot of bands started to copy it. I saw that Gorgoroth had 100 sheep heads onstage. We used to have all these pyros and torches, then Rammstein came out and blew everything away. After that I started to think, ‘Every bomb that went off was £500 going up in flames.’”

Spread yourself wide

“Mayhem were the underdogs who made it against all the odds, and I’m an entrepreneur who made something out of nothing. You can transfer that to anything – the business world, the art world, anything. I’m a published author [Necrobutcher wrote 2018’s The Death Archives: 1984-1994]; that brings in extra revenue and it also brings in a lot of offers to do talk shows, debates, a lot of weird things. I know to expect the unexpected. When you have that kind of mind, you can deal with anything.”

Spiritual beliefs are for other people

“It’s not that I have a closed mind. I’m open for everything. If there was any sign of a messiah coming back, what a fucking event that would be! Or life after death – you wake up and all your dead friends and relatives are there. Let’s party! But no. You lose consciousness, you die and that’s it.” 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

“Just because you’ve been doing something for a long time, you don’t suddenly go off and think you’re great. I’m the most steady guy I know. I’ve been living in the same fucking house since 1993. The people I meet who I haven’t seen for a long time say, ‘Fuck, you haven’t changed at all.’ But why change a winning formula?”

 

Mayhem’s EP Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando is out now via Century Media