Orkus Magazin: Listening Lindemann

What was nothing more than a rumor only a couple of months ago, a first hint of a sensation, has since then manifested and materialized. It turned out to be true: Rammstein’s frontman, Till Lindemann, and metal’s own Jack of all trades, Peter Tägtgren, are in fact teaming up! The news spread like wildfire and a first, deliberately polarizing press photo by Stefan Heilemann, showed Till with a crazy stare and Peter as a hybrid between a human and a deer with its knickers around its ankles. How did this happen? The titan of the Neue Deutsche Härte and the metal freak? Not only does this pairing astonish at first, but it also gives rise to countless questions.

Now, both of them are sitting in a luxurious hotel in Berlin as if there was nothing more to it – without wild eyes and, above all, with their panties on. Their first mutual album, “Skills in Pills”, is complete, and today is the first day the impressive piece of work can be heard. They are giving interviews, chatting constantly with –and at the same time as — each other, and their chemistry is obvious. It’s not hard to believe when you’re told how the two became so close.

“It was during the recording of Mutter,” Lindemann recalls. “As with all the previous albums, we were recording in Stockholm. As you do, we visited the local metal bars in the evenings, places we had run across at times over the years.” Other than a polite nod of the head, there hadn’t been any further mutual recognition up to that point. At least not until one fateful evening. “One day, we met each other again in a bar further up north,” Peter continues, talkative as always. “My brother and I wanted to grab a couple of drinks when all of a sudden all hell broke loose and Till and Flake had gotten into a quarrel with some bad guys. I, and a couple of other guys, cut in between – and that’s really how it all started.”

What Peter so modestly dismisses as no big deal, Till is never going to forget. “Peter saved us from quite a serious punch-up that evening,“ he says with conviction. The rest is history: they became friends, stayed in touch…and sometimes, yes, sometimes they even made music together. And now, the first result of this very secretive project is here – “Skills in Pills”, an album whose visual and lyrical level is going to give some people a bad aftertaste.

But that wasn’t the point for the masterminds behind it. That may be true for “Golden Shower”, “Ladyboy”, lyrics about drugs and fetishism. But instead of shocking, what they want to accomplish with Lindemann is to simply and engagingly proclaim freedom as the highest good. Anything goes, so to speak.

To further underline this message, it’s hardly surprising that the visual aspect is also up to par. The Heilemania artist, Stefan Heilemann, is responsible for creating a spectacular image for each song on this sensational debut. “I’ve known Stefan for a long time and I’ve always been a huge fan of his work,” says Peter, who’s already worked with Heilemann. “As the collaboration with Till became more tangible, it was obvious that only he could create the imagery that we were seeking.”

A wise decision. The visual implementation of this project is something that’s hereto been unheard of in the world of professional music.

Even the music comes across as free from all convention, constraint, prejudice and fan-expectations. Of course, everyone should understand that with a project such as Lindemann, both of the trendsetting and iconic musicians behind it are going to be represented. The orchestral, bombastic hardness of PAIN and Till Lindemann’s archetypical vocals fit surprisingly well together, the poppy flair of many songs will make many a hardcore fan frown, but it befits the cynical, dark-humored, liberating “Fuck off!” attitude of this unique project.

“If it was up to us, we’d come up with another 15 songs. But we had to pull ourselves together,” Peter comments with a laugh about the boundless creativity with which the two went about it. It has benefited them both to take off the corset of their respective bands for a moment and quite simply get down to writing – even if both of them sometimes needed a bit of coaxing. “Peter is a typical metal-guy and I’m rather the Goth type,” admits Lindemann. “So Peter wanted loud guitars everywhere and all the time, while I was more into atmospheric parts and attention to detail. We came closer, step by step, since both of us were trying to make the other one see his visions. This made the album astonishingly better in the end.”

The two musicians as well. It was long ago that this much vigor and zest were to be seen in either of them, and the circumstance of the long-time commitment for Rammstein boss Lindemann, seems only to have inspired him. Even if he’s now singing in English, his lyrics are brimming with metaphors, plays on words and hidden double meanings. And what of the music, then? The music is a wild ride through metal, rock, industrial and pop. “Cowboy” features all the appropriate Western connotations, in “Yukon”, the listener is sent off on a spontaneous gold rush, “Home Sweet Home” strikes a solemn and sad note. But above all, it is the direct, naked and honest songs, like “Praise Abort”, that are going to cause blood to boil. Lindemann and Tägtgren are prepared for this. Even if it may seem to others as only crude provocation, it will prove just how thin our cloak of liberalism and openness still is. Therefore, a project like Lindemann and an album like “Skills in Pills”, are more important than ever. And it makes for a lot of fun as well.

Whether Lindemann is a one-off, or if the two artists are using it as a vehicle with which to turn the mirror on society and happily blow off some steam, is, among other things, the topic in our next issue. In the upcoming, in-depth interview with Till Lindemann and Peter Tägtgren, we’re digging deeper into the world of “Skills in Pills”, with first-hand reports from the work process in Sweden and Berlin and shedding some light on the origin of many a hair-raising song.

Original Source: Orkus Magazin
Translation: Murray
Special thanks to Nikki Wargo for providing magazine scans

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