The following 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…
The video 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?
Flake: “Well, 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 the music…”
Till: “Zoran 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…”
Flake: “Zoran 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…”
Till: “There’s 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?
Flake: “Well, 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…”
Till: “The 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…”
Flake: “The 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 the action…”
Till: “It 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?!
Till: “This 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…”
Flake: “It 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 controversial?
Flake: “The 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 different…”
The general 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?
Till: “Coming 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!”
Let’s 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?
Flake: “We 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…”
‘Amerika’ is the only track on the album containing English words & phrases; did you record a version with all of the lyrics in English? Till?
Till: “When 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 kept going…”
“However, 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…”
And ‘Morgenstern’ – what’s the story here?
Flake: “We 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.”
Till: “One 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 in general…”
Till, how do you come up with the lyrics? Do you like to hear the music first?
Till: “The 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!
“As 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 approval…”
So are you always writing down words & poems & phrases, keeping them in reserve until you need them in the studio?
Till: “About 80 percent 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 for’…”
Till, your vocal performance on the new album seems to have moved to a higher level still – were you aware of this at the time?
Till: “Aware 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 favor of it, but that’s how it came about…”
Flake: “As 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 his voice…”
When you’re laying down vocals, do you need a certain kind of atmosphere in the studio? Candlelight? Darkness? What works best for you?
Till: “The 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!”
Let’s 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…
Till: “We’ve 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…
“Now, 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…”
Flake: “We 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 way!”
Till, are you thinking of new ways to set yourself on fire during the live show?!
Till: “Well, 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?!
Till: “The 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…
“So 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 loved it!”
Flake: “Actually 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?
Till: “I’m 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…”
The title of the single, ‘Mein Teil’, can be translated into English in a number of different ways; which is your favorite
Till: “We like my tool.”
Flake: “We 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’…” [END]
Please note 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 costs.
Original source: Blistering.com
By: Dante Bonutto