Tequila with Rammstein

The first official translation of Till Lindemann’s book is – DUTCH and is done by the Lebowski Publishers publishing house. Congratulations!

The days of lead. A pretty bleak book from the nineties by Rob van Erklens, who, at the time, looked a little like Till Lindemann does today; only slightly less fit. But quite alike in terms of hair, and also in humor. I came to think of him as I woke up this Thursday morning.

Today’s the big day. I have left London behind me, and driven home via Brussels on Wednesday: to The Eurostar, which I discovered a few years back when the ash clouds made traveling to the Fair impossible. Coming straight from the heart of London, there’s no rush or paranoia in the atmosphere of this airport. A blessing.

Till Lindemann arrives at Schiphol, (Did I mention that he is the front man of Rammstein?) earlier than expected. I check where he is supposed to exit, and I hurry to Arrivals 1. After fifteen minutes, Birgit – the manager – calls and asks where I’m at, they are waiting at Arrivals 2. What idiot is operating the arrivals announcement’s board, anyway? Is that a real job? How hard can it be?

I have prepared myself for a flogging today, a flagellation of the best, German kind. But now I have to go meet Birgit, who is undoubtedly running around like mad on very high heels, irritably pulling at the strands of her bleach blonde hair, worn in a bun, with her red painted fingernails. I hear Till’s voice in my head:

Ich tu dir weh
Tut mir nicht leid
Das tut dir gut
Hört wie es schreit

Till is friendliness personified, and genuinely pleased with the first translations of his poetry book. The sun is shining as we walk to the taxi; ‘Helles Licht’, I tell him, and he looks at me in surprise, thinking I’m an expert. There is this line in ‘Mein Herz Brennt‘: “Ein helles Licht am Himmel“. I’m not completely sure, but the connection established.

I quickly send an email to Lebowski: a very relaxed guest! Everyone replies with relief. Phew!

At the hotel, Birgit and I first talk as we inspect the presidential suite, where all interviews are to be conducted. It looks gigantic, with a magnificent view over the Amstel to add to the impression.

Arnon Grunberg has safely landed at Schiphol at ten o’clock, just in time to make a lunch interview for the NRC and HUMO. He’s a big fan of Rammstein’s work, and ‘Bück Dich’ is a favorite. It’s a great song to do your vacuuming to, by the way. Punctually, Grunberg walks into the lobby. We have lunch and we order champagne because tomorrow is Till’s mother’s birthday, and we want to celebrate the Dutch translation. Till happily tells us about the origins of his texts, about Rammstein (a marriage, but without the sex), and about the controversies surrounding the band. The scallops are delicious.

My colleague Roel van Diepen also arrives in the meantime, she is here to assist me because of the tight schedule and the many trips up to the top floor. The makeup is taken care of by Romy Seep, and the jackals arrive – Erik is a fan of Rammstein and Lindemann’s ‘Messer’, so they get along great with one another. Beer is ordered. Later, we learn that the empty bottles ended up in the Amstel; well, why would they otherwise have mentioned the [Amstel] beer.

I discuss the situation with Roel, and we’re almost a little disappointed. After hundreds of emails from Birgit about all imaginable details regarding the visit, a visit where really everything could go wrong — because something always do go wrong – is now proceeding surprisingly smoothly. Even the rotations [of the other guests/reporters].

Now, the Volkskrant, nu.nl and Parool is in turn, and at half past four we, and Till, are halfway through a crate of Amstel beer and still working on it. Time for drinks with the poets.

Till insists on that we all have tequila shots, and Boomsma, Wigman, Starik, Tuinman and the Lebowski crowd don’t need telling twice. Harmens and I stay sober, so we don’t count. Expensive shots are knocked back, one after the other, and the PR lady of the L’Europe also joins in. And Stijn, of course, our brave intern, who became friends with his big hero, Dave Eggers, and is now getting pats on the shoulder by Till Lindemann.

The spirits keep getting higher, Till is having a great time and he wants to have a group photo taken. More tequila is sent for. Arie Boomsma has become drunk in the meantime, and is risking falling off his barstool, Starik/Tuinman has arranged for Till to marry them, Wigman is as cool as ever, Harmens’ son Juul is proud to be in the photo with Lindemann. Even his teacher has been to a Rammstein concert, so this is, of course, the coolest thing ever.

Till gives me his cell phone number so that we can make plans, all is well and the world domination of poetry begins in Holland.

I carefully prod the bartender about the damage.

Come evening, I call the always friendly Martijn Griffioen, to chat for a while. What I don’t tell him, is that half of the marketing budget now belongs to the hotel’s bar. But what does that matter – we need poetry.

11 April 2014
By Oscar van Gelderen
Picture by Arie Boomsma
Translated by Murray
Original Source: BOEK BLAD


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