Internet
1 novembre 2001
Playboy
(Polish version)
Rammstein
Interview
We really like Helnwein's attitude towards art and the way he showed us.
Q:How can you explain the artistic cruelty of your cover art works? Why is there so much pain and suffering on them? Where is the border between art and cruelty? . A:We like to arise controversies and that is why already on the second album we decided to choose the photographs of Helnwein for our cover artwork. We really like his attitude towards art and the way he showed us. It turned out that a band picture can be something different, a real art, and not just another common, boring shot of a few people.
Interviewed: Rammstein
Date: November 2001
Source: Playboy (Polish version)
Sehnsucht 2
photograph, 1997
One of the few rock bands that became really successful around the world singing in their mother-tongue, and not in English. "Why would we do it?" they ask. "We want to play as we like, and our music has a lot in common with where we come from. We are Germans." They come from former DDR, their heavy, sometimes gothic sounds and really hard lyrics are the thing they can be recognized for. Being accused of nazi connotations they pat their foreheads, even if for us Poles, it can seem only a pose. Their gigs, full of pyrotechnics, are really a memorable event. They have been playing for ten years now and they still consider themselves friends, hey speak with one voice. Roman Rogowiecki met in Berlin, before the concert planned for the 13th of November in Poland, with six quite serious, down to Earth, and looking at the world in the sober way guys, who don't try to be witty while speaking about their music.
Q:You come from DDR. What are your memories of the times when playing rock music wasn't supported by the socialistic government. Did you feel discriminated because of that? Remember that in Poland it was different, playing rock music itself wasn't forbidden... there was just a hard censorship.
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A:You could play without problems in Poland? We didn't know about it. You were lucky then. As far as rock is concerned in the former DDR you are right, the government didn't support this type of art, and playing that music in any form was equal to opposing the power ruling the country. Rammstein is created by 6 musicians - 3 from Berlin, 3 from Schwerin. Half of the present line-up was playing in the punk band Feeling B before they joined Rammstein, because then that music was the one dearest to us. Feeling B was playing the kind of music more or less on the edge of what was permitted. In this case you can find some similarities to Rammstein's music, as the one is also on the edge of what is thought of as appropriate.
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Q:You speak English but you prefer to give interviews in German. Why?
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A:There is one very important reason: then we can say exactly what we want. In English we sometimes lack words to express ourselves and we have some not really nice experiences with that - we were really often misunderstood in English. I suggest that you ask your questions in English and we will reply in German.
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Q:How did it happen that Rammstein was formed?
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A:The people from Schwerin were friends with people from Berlin and we kept visiting one another all the time. Generally all the musicians knew one another very well then. Actually our friendship was from the beginning more important to us, and only after a few years we thought about forming a band together, when it turned out that we were interested in playing similar music.
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Q:You know one another for more than ten years now, very often even marriages don't survive such a trial of time. What is the secret of your long friendship?
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A:We think it is the fact we come from the Eastern Europe. In our opinion material things are not so important as for other people. It is exactly the friendship that is important to us.
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Q:Why did you call your band with a name of a city Ramstein, where there was that memorable plane disaster during the show of flying?
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A:Bands playing metal music quite often use names like Megadeth or Napalm Death, that cause fear in people. In this respect we are not any exception here.
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Q:What do the people living in Ramstein and families of the victims of that disaster think about it? Don't they feel offended? Or maybe your name is a tribute to them....
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A:We had contact with the families of the victims and generally we met with good reactions from the people from Ramstein. Indeed this name is a tribute to the victims, and not some show business trick or some gloomy joke. In our song "Rammstein" we try to put together the hysterical reaction of media to that event with the reality that could be seen there. It is generally known that media prey on this type of events, they just earn their living from them. They like tragedy. Media con do it easily, but the bands like ours cannot. As then it is not well received, and received by the same media actually. We don't have such intentions as they do. Our attitude is very serious and for, not against. We didn't use the tragedy for our own advertising purposes.
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Q:How did it happen that your vocalist Till Lindemann joined the band? some time ago he was a really good swimmer after all....
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A:First of all Till is a really good vocalist and that is why he joined the band. He was studying in sport school, where he trained swimming. He had to swim literally whole days. It was a typical policy of the former DDR youth educational system. Luckily Till decided to quit in the right moment.
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Q:How did you get the idea for so much pyrotechnics supporting your music at concerts?
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A:We started of course without any pyro stuff at all, we just stood on the stage and played. But Till got bored with it very soon. He started to play a pyrotech himself and with time it grow to the present extent. Even earlier one of us poured some gasoline on the stage, as the audience was too calm. This turned out to really impress people, but when more people started to come to our concerts we couldn't do it anymore.
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Q:Did you have any dangerous accidents?
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A:At the beginning we made all the pyros ourselves and we had a few serious accidents, one of them in... Ramstein. Luckily no one was killed but a few people got seriously hurt. Since that time we have been hiring professionals who take care of that. We don't have to worry that in case of any accident we will go to prison, as we have good insurance. Our show is sometimes raising real controversies, therefore we for example have some problems with showing it in England, where they have really rigorous regulations. (Already after our talk it turned out that one of the concerts in England was cancelled because of that - RR).
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Q:You have 6 people in the band. How are the decisions made - you vote or there is a leader?
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A:No, we won't try to convince you that there is a democracy in the band. Generally the shouting dominates, but still sometimes we vote. The one who is shouting the loudest wins. We are artists and it is obvious that we can have different opinions and views.
Q:Your lyrics are totally strange and do not really tell about life. Where do you get the ideas from - are your inspiration books, films or imagination?
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A:The lyrics are the work of Till, who is a really weird guy. We often have the impression that Till suffers from split personality. That is why those lyrics of his are so strange maybe. He is in them himself, he writes about his own experiences. Unfortunately when on the second album our lyrics were translated to English, they lost much of their mysteriousness. To understand them you have to know German well, otherwise you won't be able to get what we want to say. You have to learn German to see how good our lyrics are, and they are really good actually.
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Q:The interesting thing is that many of the lyrics written by Till have some sexual/erotic context but the word love never appears in your songs. Why?
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A:It is the most used topic in music. All other bands speak about love in their lyrics. We came to conclusion that we don't have to do it. But of course you never now what may happen in the future. Maybe we will record something on our new album. Moreover it is hard to sing about love in such a way that it shouldn't sound too funny.
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Q:Your new album "Mutter" is very sad in the lyrical layer, but still there are some almost dance songs as far s music is concerned, like Spieluhr. Where is that sadness coming from?
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A:When we are recording an album, we don't think about its mood or direction it will take. For us the good songs are what matters mainly. When you meet a woman that becomes your wife, you also don't know what it will result with, but you hope that it will be ok. IT is hard to say i I will be happy with that blonde, but I have to try. Similar with songs.
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Q:You have developed your own sound, but where can we look for the roots of your music - would it be Laibach and Metallica?
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A:We admit that we are influenced by the bands like Ministry, Laibach, Pantera, Metallica, and Prodigy. We don't see anything wrong in the fact that we are fans of such music.
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Q:Metal is metal, but the influence of classical music is really obvious in your songs as well. I think that makes you different somehow, even if metal musicians often fall to the typical monumentality of classical music. Anyway Wagner and who else?
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A:Sincerely we don't think our music has any relation to classical music at all. Maybe simply the fact that we are Germans makes our music somewhere "Wagnerian." In our opinion it is more a "Wagnerianism" connection with genes than with our fascination with this composer's music. In our music you can find a bit of folkish element, a bit of simplicity that really enables people to understand it.
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Q:How can you explain the artistic cruelty of your cover art works? Why is there so much pain and suffering on them? Where is the border between art and cruelty?
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A:We like to arise controversies and that is why already on the second album we decided to choose the photographs of Helnwein for our cover artwork. We really like his attitude towards art and the way he showed us. It turned out that a band picture can be something different, a real art, and not just another common, boring shot of a few people.
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Q:What do you think about the way David Lynch used your songs in his film "Lost Highway?"
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A:When we saw the movie we were shocked. Probably no one translated our lyrics to him, as those songs were used in completely inappropriate moment, in the weird context of the film. On the other hand it suited perfectly its mood and this typical intensity presented by Lynch. But we were really satisfied with the video to the songs "Links" that Zoran made. The idea with marching ants was great, even if there were some people who tried to fins some strange contexts there.
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Q:Speaking about contexts, how do you react to accusations of nazi connotations in your music and videos? As far as I know especially in the US you were heavily criticized for that....
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A:The problem was that in the US our lyrics were understood in a completely wrong way. That is where the false evaluation of what we represent with ourselves comes from. To avoid it once and for all we want to give a really good translations of our lyrics on the internet. So everyone can understand them in a more or less right way.
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Q:What do you think about uniting Europe, having in mind the events accompanying the reunion of Germany?
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A:We think that a matter of remaining cultural differences of all the countries is very important. We hope that the culture won't suffer from the unification. The positive thing is probably going to be the common money that is the "Euro." It will surely help in trade and accounts. But we would prefer to leave the names of the money of each country as they are.
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Q:You visited Poland twice before. What kind of memories do you have? And by the way, why did the whole band dye their hair red?
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A:Probably you won't believe us, but there is nothing in Poland that we don't like. Sincerely. As a band we have two favorite countries - Poland and Mexico. We think that there exists some similarities between Polish and Mexican people, as far as the spontaneous reaction of the audience at the gigs is concerned. It is just plainly incredible, so we are really happy that we will meet with Polish fans again. And our new hairstyles, it is just fun. When we are on tour our crew consists of more than 100 people and sometimes there are problems with identifying us, musicians. So to make things easier both for us and the others we decided to dye our hair.




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