In a profile of Norwegian black metal pioneers Mayhem I wrote for this week's issue, I relayed the tale of 42-year-old local radio producer and metalhead Anthony "Spanky" Pranke. Pranke and a few of his chums endeared themselves to Mayhem bassist Necrobutcher and a Norwegian TV crew while they were in town to shoot the bassist's infamous exorcism in Scottsdale. Here's the full story behind how Spanky and his crew of dedicated heshers got on Norwegian TV, rode motorcycles with black metal royalty, and found themselves on a Viking beach.
The Mayhem show has been moved to 910 Live in Tempe, and is scheduled to start tonight at 6 p.m.
Up on the Sun: So how did you hear about the exorcism?
Spanky: My friend basically did some investigative journalism. He used to work as a local TV cameraman here, he found the Metal Hammer interview online where Necrobutcher said in August that Norwegian TV was gonna fly him to Arizona for an exorcism by this famous preacher. It was basically just this off-hand remark.
The exorcism information was already online. He looked up Bob Larsen's website and it mentioned something about a 'special exorcism this weekend' or something. That's all we knew, and we didn't know what time it was, but he said, "Let's just show up and see what happens."
Who was with you?
There's four of us in that scene walking with Necrobutcher. Those are all friends of mine. Basically, the four of us have a lot of metal street cred in this town.
We pull into the parking lot of what we think is the right hotel, and we see this short guy wearing all black, smoking a cigarette. I'm in the passenger seat and I say, "Dude, it's Necrobutcher!" But my friend says, "No way dude, he's like six feet tall." But I know that it's him.
We had all been smoking a joint in the car. One of my friends gets out and walks right up to him and says, "Excuse me, Necrobutcher?" and we see them shaking hands. We come walking by and introduce ourselves. Necrobutcher smells something, and my friend asks him if he wants to smoke. He says, "Sure," so we break out some more joints. It was sheer luck that we pulled up to the right hotel just as he was stepping outside for a cigarette.
Suddenly we see four other guys walking out of the hotel with TV camera equipment, and my friend jokingly goes, "Shit, busted on camera!" It turns out they're the Norwegian TV crew. They're all cool, and they ask us, "We're trying to shoot some scenes, do you guys wanna be in the video?" and of course we say yes.
They tell us, "Alex [Rosen, the host of Folk i Farta] is gonna pull up in the rental car, the Camaro, and you guys are gonna walk with [Necrobutcher] like the Old West, like the OK Corral." And we say, "Got it, we know what you're looking for." So we shot it a few times just as the sun was going down, at the magic hour.
After that, they're all standing around asking us, "Who are you guys?" And we tell them we came for the exorcism that we heard about on Metal Hammer. They all laugh and say, "Metal Hammer! That's where it started."
We told them we were just as excited to meet Bob Larsen. I've known about Bob Larsen since I was I high school, before he did exorcisms, back when he was the evangelist writing books about the dangers of rock 'n' roll. He toured with Slayer back in the late '80s and did an article about it for Spin Magazine.
The Norwegian TV guys thought we knew what we were talking about, so they let us hang out with them. They told us the exorcism wasn't until the next day and wasn't open to the public, but that we were welcome to hang out. So we went back to the pool area, smoked out and ordered pizzas. So we're drinking and jumping in the pool, and my friend joked, "Dude, we're at a Viking's beach."
The next day I get call from one of the camera guys and the subject of motorcycles came up. He said, "We're here for one more day, we wanna drive around." I ride bikes, and I told them I knew some areas. Necrobutcher and one of the camera guys rented Harleys, and in the video you can see us riding on the Bush Highway. We went out to Saguaro Lake and they crew followed us in their SUV with cameras. We hit the Beeline Highway and then went back to Scottsdale. Necrobutcher said it was the first time he rode a motorcycle in America and the first time he rode a Harley. It was pretty fucking cool, man.
So did you get to talk to him about some of the rumors surrounding Mayhem, like the skull jewelry?
We basically got the 20-year history of the Norwegian black metal scene in three days. But he didn't say it was true. It's just part of the legend, part of the myth. He was actually surprised by our questions, surprised that we knew about it. He started asking us, "How did you guys hear about this stuff?" We're knowledgeable. I told him I've got all their CDs. I know the history of it, I've read about the legend in books and magazines, and it just seemed insane. They were so outrageous, these stories of church burnings, murder, suicide, skull fragments, going to jail, impaled animal heads. It just did not sound real.
But did he deny anything specifically? Did he say, "Oh, that thing, that's ridiculous."
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No. I was asking specific questions about Dead's suicide. Necrobutcher ended up leaving the band a few years after that. He was very distraught. And then Euronymous' murder happened. When you think of Mayhem, you think of murder and suicide.
Would you say another reason Necrobutcher didn't want to comment on this stuff because he also figured this weird mystique would always be a part of the band?
He told us when the band started out as kids, they wanted to give the sense of death. The corpse paint, the dead animal heads. They wanted the room to smell like death. Now they're playing big festivals where people who want to see something. One of the band's old singers back in the '90s would cut himself onstage. The theatrics become very real. And that's what people want to see.