station to station
splitting up, Rammstein suddenly returns with a new album. In
June, Johan Carlsson listened to it and hooked up with spiky haired
guitarist and founder Richard Z Kruspe as well as tall drummer
Christoph Schneider, in a small hotel room in Stockholm to learn
more about the new sound, internal issues, tape culture in East
Germany – and cannibalism.
Finally Johan sings The Sounds' "Living in America"
and Rammstein discover, for the first time, it can be heard in
their song "Amerika".
All six Rammstein members come from former East Germany. Behind
the iron curtain, and maybe not the best place to go record hunting.
Christoph Schneider reminisces:
– Yeah, back then we had more of a tape culture, and it
was a bit hard to get many records. Everything came pretty late
to the east, but if you were interested in something, you could
get it. It’s not like we were living behind the moon like
some people like to think.
Most of the members come from the metal side of things, but some
like Christoph listened to other styles as well.
– In the 80:s we had the Neue Deutsche Welle. Many German
bands came out and they used these new instruments like computers
and keyboards. It sounded very electronic, and they had German
lyrics. That was their entire concept, haha.
– For a couple of years it was very popular, and then it
disappeared. But this influenced me a lot, I liked that music,
and later also darkwave music like The Cult, The Cure and Einstürzende
Neubauten, he says.
The more or less organised sound and electronic parts are something
that sets Rammstein apart from many other guitar driven bands,
and has always been part of the band's strategy of melding the
aggression of metal with melodies. Richard Z Kruspe elaborates.
– Our keyboards were in the beginning more about making
some noises, but we started to fall in love with the computer
world. So we used it a lot more on the early albums, it was the
new thing. We felt excited.
– But in the end you come back to your instruments again,
you become more confident with them. You don’t need the
electronics, you just play it on your instrument instead, he explains.
Rammstein have of course never been better at playing than on
the new album. They are considering the title “Reise Reise”,
which roughly translated means “Travel Travel”.
– It’s about the whole life. This time, most songs
are about love. And we had this song called “Reise Reise”
and thought it might be the album title. I mean, we travel through
all kinds of stations throughout life, which is interesting.
You worked with Jacob Hellner once again. Did you record it here
– Yeah, and in France. Guitars and vocals: in the south
of Spain, says Christoph.
I have listened to "Reise Reise", and the album has
a more direct feel, with more acoustic guitars and drums. Even
some blues-like riffs can be heard on the track "Los".
Richard tells me more about the new musical direction:
– We really tried to play more live on this album. The machine
thing is not as strong, Kruspe says.
I heard some synths in the background.
– Yeah, but they are not as strong.
– We tried to use them less, Schneider chips in. This time
it wasn’t possible to re-invent this thing once again. We
tried to bring in more life. We tried new rhythms.
I mention that I heard shuffle beats on one song, and drummer
Christoph lights up.
– Yeah, this is the first time we have used shuffle rhythms,
he says, obviously thrilled that someone noticed.
one song on the album called “Amerika” that might
become the second single. It sounds a bit political, but Richard
tells me it’s not.
– No, it’s not political at all. You know, everyone
has a different opinion about America, but it’s more an
ironic way to describe a culture that's everywhere. Not only the
bad way, but also in a good way. Everywhere you go, you can’t
miss America. And we’re playing on those things.
The chorus sounds suspiciously similar to that of Swedish band
The Sounds' hit “Living in America”, and I bring it
up. Christoph looks at me with a surprised look on his face.
– Really, I don’t know the song!
Richard, who is on his way to the bathroom, laughs.
– To me it sounds more like The Beatles.
He starts to sing "We all living in a yellow submarine".
Christoph investigates further, so I sing the Swedish song for
him. "We're not living in America...".
– Really? It’s almost the same line!
I realize this was probably not a conscious move from them.
– No. Sometimes this happens… and they will think
we have copied them. There’s so much music out now, that
you’re bound to make something that has been done before,
No strangers to provocation, Rammstein’s new single “Mein
Teil” is about cannibalism. And cooked genitals. Christoph
tells the fascinating tale about the German cannibal Armin Meiwes
who was big news not long ago.
– The song is about two people who met via the Internet.
To eat each other! A man was looking for a victim he could murder,
and the victim did this by his own free will. It was a very weird
story, and Till (Lindemann, vocalist) wrote a lyric about it.
– After these two people had sex, they cut off the victim's
“tool”, and thereby the title “Mein Teil”
(“My Part”). In a magazine they described it: they
tried to cut it off, but it didn’t work. But they finally
managed. And then they both ate it! He ate his own tool! After
that, the cannibal did the rest of his job, slaughtered him and
put everything in a deep freezer. The whole case was hidden for
a long time, and each weekend he made a meal for himself, with
potatoes and vegetables. He had the feeling that for the first
time in his life, he had a friend. He was otherwise very alone,
but he had a feeling of friendship for the victim.
Richard steps in.
– It’s very interesting to get into the psyche of
him. His mother was so strong, and he was afraid of her. And she
turned everyone away from him, so he couldn’t reach out
to anyone. I think that, if you look at other murderers like Jeffrey
Dahmer and Ted Bundy for example, when they killed, it was because
they were afraid that their victims would leave them. And a reason
for eating them was to keep them. Very interesting.
– The law didn’t know how to handle it, because the
victim wanted to do it, Christoph continues. But they decided
to give him a couple of years for lust murder.
The single is getting the remix treatment by Arthur Baker and
British synthpop legends Pet Shop Boys. The duo has made two different
versions, wittingly titled “PSB You Are What You Eat Mix”
and “PSB There Are No Guitars on This Mix”.
– I liked it, Christoph says. Yeah. It’s dancey. And,
for them, it’s kind of hardfloor. I expected a more soft
mix. The problem with remixes is that you have to be very careful
with the lyrics. Use them in the right way. And the Pet Shop Boys
have made them a bit faster, to fit the dance beat.
With six members in the band, I guess there is a possibility for
a lot of conflict. When I bring up the subject, they first laugh
before Richard diplomatically gives an answer.
– Well, there are always good things and bad things. The
good thing is that there are so many combinations of people in
the band that you’ll learn a lot about yourself. It’s
almost like a self-therapy group, and we’ve been through
different stages of life, you know, both loving and the “can’t
stand anymore” phases. In the end we always managed to come
back, cause we feel that the band requires all its members.
When I ask if the rumours about the band splitting up after the
last album “Mutter” are true, Richard silently moves
the question over to Christoph.
– After the last album we had a crisis. We didn’t
say we’d split up, but we had problems. We had to find new
ways to continue.
– The band has been together for ten years, and we’ve
never got to a breaking point, which is a good thing, Richard
– Yeah, but sometimes it can be very tiring, Schneider continues.
You never reach any results, and then you have to find some common
ground that everybody can agree with. Once we were talking about
stage clothes, and we couldn’t find a direction, and in
the end we came on stage with black jeans. The black side of democracy…
Richard goes on:
– Democracy… there is not one member in the band who
is a leader that decides “that’s never gonna happen”.
Of course, a lot of people try to be, but that one is immediately
pulled back. All are part of the Rammstein process. It would be
good if everyone found their specialties, but they all want to
Now my time with these two German, down to earth rockstars are
almost over, but I quickly ask if I can get some more information
about their life, as I know most of them have families, and presumably
also other interests than music and pyrotechnics. Christoph snaps:
– I’m always in the band…
But Richard tells me that unfortunately he has no hobbies outside
of the group.
– I’ve been searching for one! I think I could be
interested in sailing. I think it’s something that would
be good for my soul. I’m always happy when I’m on
It's pretty obvious that they really don't want to talk about
their private lives, so I give up and we say goodbye. Then I walk
through Stockholm and I can't help humming the chorus to "Amerika".
interview is one of the first published online with Rammstein
for the promotion of Reise Reise, the group's new album. (Due
in stores November 16th) Onto the interview...
for first single ‘Mein Teil’ was directed by Zoran
Bihac, who also worked with you on the ‘Links 2 3 4’
clip; where did the idea for the treatment come from?
Paul came up with the concept in the first place, and his idea
was that each member of the band should deliver a performance
based on their original reaction to the song, their feeling about
had a good idea for the making of the video - he set up a big
black box in a huge auditorium, and each member of the band could
go into the box and do their own thing…”
also decided to have each band member work on their own video
independently of the others - they were all kept very much under
wraps; indeed, even today, we still don’t know what the
other band member’s videos are like…”
one collective scene in the video, where most of the band members
are on leashes, like dogs, and we’re all taken out for a
walk on a big avenue here in Berlin. We’re almost naked,
in broad daylight, during rush hour!”
Can you explain
a bit about the personas you adopt in the video? Flake?
I can only say what I did myself, because I just wasn’t
aware of the other concepts. For my part, I did my best to keep
an open mind about everything, I did my own thing, and moved in
my own way…”
compromise we reached with Zoran was that each band member could
bring their own ‘toys’ to the shoot, and they were
free to play with those ‘toys’, to explore their own
ideas, and that worked out well, but I don’t know what the
other guys got up to… everybody did it their way…”
interesting thing is that video was all done in one take from
beginning to end - there were no cuts & no breaks, so the
clip runs through from start to finish with no interruption to
was the recording of the video that was done all in one take,
and then later it was edited together into what you see now…”
Is it true
that one of the other treatments considered for the ‘Mein
Teil’ video had the band playing the part of cannibals?!
treatment would have been pretty funny! There would have been
a plane crash, leaving the band members stranded on an island,
and then the whole cannibal scenario would have kicked in. However,
the idea turned out to be quite problematic because of the cost
involved, so we had to go for a different option, and the video
we have now is what we came up with…”
would have been very funny, though - Till would have been the
chief cannibal, so to speak, and I would have been sitting in
the big pot as ‘dinner’, while the other band members
danced around! That was the plan…”
Was it hard
to find a suitable treatment for ‘Mein Teil’ because
the subject matter, although true, is just so gruesome & potentially
story in the song is so clear and it’s put forward in such
a straightforward way that we didn’t feel it necessary to
tell it again in the video, so we were at liberty to do something
reaction to ‘Mein Teil’ as a song has been very positive,
and yet it’s probably the heaviest, nastiest track on the
new album. Were you surprised when it was chosen as the lead single?
back after three years, releasing our first song as a single,
we could have opted for a ballad, but we didn’t want to
do that; we wanted our first new track to be musically tough,
so we could arrive back on the scene with a bang!”
talk briefly about a couple of other new tracks – ‘Amerika’,
for example; it’s a very catchy song with a lyric that will
definitely raise some smiles, but is there a serious point being
made here as well?
conceived ‘Amerika’ as a kind of Trojan horse, and
we suspect that it’s going to get a different reaction in
the States to the rest of the world…”
is the only track on the album containing English words &
phrases; did you record a version with all of the lyrics in English?
we were writing the song there was a chorus in there that was
in English; we didn’t set out to write the whole thing in
English, but we liked it when we heard it, so basically we just
we also made a German version and then we looked at the two and
decided to stick with the German one, because its more to the
point; that’s what we wanted, so we simply went with the
version that suited our needs the best…”
– what’s the story here?
don’t explain the lyrics to our songs - you hear them, you
feel them, and the more we would try to explain them, the more
the magic would be sucked out of the music.”
of the problems with our music, if you don’t understand
German, is that you read the lyrics as a translation, and so for
this album I’m going to try very hard to make sure that
when the words are translated into English, it’s done not
just to a good standard, but by someone who has experience with
literature. Also, I’m going to check through the translated
lyrics carefully before they go up on the internet; hopefully,
this will help people to get a better understanding of the music
do you come up with the lyrics? Do you like to hear the music
process I normally follow is that I take the instrumentals out
of the studio, check them out, and if I can’t come up with
anything straight away, then I turn up the volume, listen to the
music really loud, and just keep looking for the right lyrics
or jotting down new lyrics in place of the ones I already have.
In fact, for one of the songs on the new album, I wrote 24 different
sets of lyrics before the band said it was OK!
you can see, they’re very critical! What they do with the
lyrics is pretty much what happens to a car when it goes for an
inspection; I present what I have to the guys then they give me
a list of things that don’t really fit, or don’t seem
to work – if we were dealing with a car, it would be a broken
exhaust or faulty lights… and then finally, once all of
the work has been done, they give the whole thing their seal of
So are you
always writing down words & poems & phrases, keeping them
in reserve until you need them in the studio?
80 per cent of the time, I have a pencil and paper with me, not
always, but most of the time, and I’m very forgetful too,
so I’m always taking down notes and ideas that I’ve
got, and saving them on a file on my computer; then, when it comes
time to start work on the next album, I open it up and I think
‘yeah, this fits, this works, this is what I’m looking
vocal performance on the new album seems to have moved to a higher
level still – were you aware of this at the time?
of it, no, but if it’s true then the impulse came from the
band, from the music, which was more intrinsically melodic this
time, and went to different places too; so I tried to adapt my
voice to that, but - as I said before - I wasn’t aware of
doing anything bigger or better, and I wasn’t always necessarily
in favour of it, but that’s how it came about…”
a band, we told Till that he should take time out to train up
his voice, to go to a monastery and take some singing lessons,
and it turned out to be a smart move; it gave us the opportunity
to focus fully on the music and allowed him to do the same with
laying down vocals, do you need a certain kind of atmosphere in
the studio? Candlelight? Darkness? What works best for you?
most important thing for me is to have a nice view of things,
and if I’ve got that then I can pretty much record anywhere.
Let’s see… I need a lot of light too, that’s
important, but if I have those things I could even record in the
bathroom - it would work!”
talk about non-studio stuff for a moment; presumably, you’re
now fully occupied with promo trips and sorting out the stage
show for your tour in November…
just been out on a promotion tour that is coming to an end today;
we’ve been all over Europe for the past couple of weeks…
we have two weeks off, and then we get into the really intensive
preparation phase - we have to get the stage show ready, to sort
out our costumes and the whole performance side of things…”
already have some ideas, though – for example, during ‘Amerika’
I would like to see bombs dropped on stage, and for ‘Meil
Teil’ we’ll definitely eat a lot - in a well-cultured
you thinking of new ways to set yourself on fire during the live
the question is ‘how far can you go?’ We’ve
already done so much in this area, done it all, so to speak; so
if there are new ideas, then we’ll certainly try them out,
but we don’t feel that we have to do anything…”
Is it true
that one special effect on the ‘Mutter’ tour was so
realistic that you had to drop it from the show because it was
too disturbing for the audience?!
effect you’re referring to is when Flake set me on fire
in a particularly dramatic way, because instead of putting the
flames out with an extinguisher, there was actually flammable
material in the extinguisher, which resulted in the fire enveloping
me even more…
everybody runs and tries to put out the fire – they cover
me in blankets, whilst around and about all hell is breaking loose…
everybody’s screaming because they think I’ve genuinely
hurt myself! But then I stand up, I’m not injured, and everything’s
OK. The band didn’t think it was such a good idea, but I
the band did like the idea, but the audience was so shocked by
it that they didn’t know what to do, they didn’t know
how to react, and girls were fainting two & three rows back.
The problem was that the rest of the show became something of
an anti-climax because the shock of that moment was just so extreme.”
Till, do you
enjoy the feel of the flames? Has it become a bit of an addiction?
not addicted as such, but when I’m performing onstage there’s
a different chemistry going on inside, and if you add fire to
that then it makes the whole experience even more intense. But
it’s a good feeling, it gets a lot of the emotions flowing…”
of the single, ‘Mein Teil’, can be translated into
English in a number of different ways; which is your favourite?
like my tool.”
also had an idea involving war weapons, some kind of World War
I scenario, with a battle going on and people dying and bombs
exploding; all that would be happening in the background, whilst
up close you’d see these generals bent over a map, dividing
up territory, saying ‘that’s my part’, ‘that’s
my part’, ‘that’s my part’…”
that this interview was translated from German into English. Also,
this interview was provided to Blistering.com by an agency representing
Rammstein. We have not paid for this interview nor have they paid
us to post it, we thought it was a unique opportunity to hear
from a band that would normally be out of reach due to high translator