Till Lindemann’s art is not the subtle kind. “Skills in Pills” is the Rammstein-singer’s first solo project, and the album, sung entirely in the English language, is a humorous, cartoonish journey into the world of wet fetish sex.
According to the old physician and scientist, Galen, disease was a consequence of an imbalance in the body’s so-called cardinal fluids (blood, phlegm and black and yellow bile). The ratio between the fluids also determined the temperament of the human being. On Till Lindemann’s first album outside of Rammstein, “Skills in Pills”, the bodily fluids are also at the center of people’s lives and lusts. Only, it’s completely different fluids with which Lindemann is preoccupied.
”Sex fascinates me. I mean, you start out with the missionary position, and suddenly, you’re experimenting with golden showers. It’s really a small step.”
Till Lindemann isn’t afraid to use his own words for his and other peoples’ desires, and that serves as a perceptive comment to the song “Golden Shower”.
GAFFA meets Till Lindemann and his musical brother in arms, the Swede, Peter Tägtgren, in Stockholm to talk about the duo’s current project, Lindemann, and the debut album, ”Skills in Pills”. The album was born out of an equal collaboration between the two musicians, even if the project bears only the German’s name. Lindemann has written the lyrics and Tägtgren has built the music around them, as well as playing all the instruments.
Tägtgren is a very experienced and established musician and producer on the Swedish Heavy Metal scene (PAIN, Hypocrisy, to name a few). The two have been friends since 2000, when Rammstein was in Stockholm to finish the mixing of their third album, “Mutter”. Lindemann is dressed in a loosely fitting suit, suspenders and sneakers, and the graying hair is combed and slicked with gel. At first glance, he looks more like a guest at a gallery opening than kraut rock’s uncontested agent provocateur.
”It’s not our intention to provoke for the sake of provocation. Absolutely not. But, undoubtedly, some people are going to be provoked by “Skills in Pills”. I’m only singing what everyone else is thinking about. But the American radio stations are going to use the ”beep” quite a lot,” says Lindemann, smiling innocently.
The title song, with its AC/DC –esque chorus, is about the massive consumption of pills in the Western world. And the hypocrisy of the condemnation, for example, of cannabis while simultaneously keeping a stocked medicine cabinet.
But if you think that Till Lindemann is on an ideological mission, you’re wrong. The topics on “Skills in Pills” are, for the most part, about sex.
Wet and Stormy
The 52-year-old German calls them love songs. But it is love stained by bodily fluids. In the song “Fat”, Lindemann sings about the pleasure of swimming in his fat mistress’ armpit sweat and searching her folds for secretions.
”It is a love song. I think that it’s limiting to say that fat women can’t be sexy or desired. The world has a very narrow view of what an attractive woman should look like. It’s a notion that this song challenges. Especially sweat. Sweat and sex are connected. Sweat emphasizes the skin contact.”
Lindemann gestures as if to indicate that the answer is self-evident.
He’s equally clear in his observations in the song, ”Ladyboy”, which is an homage to gay and bisexual men’s easy-going approach to sex. An approach that Lindemann apparently envies.
”I can very well imagine that gay men have far less complicated sex lives than heterosexual men do. Only dicks and holes, no big emotions, no melodrama. It has to be a lot easier.”
Porno-rock auf Englisch
Before the interview, we’re given the opportunity to listen to the new album, and it doesn’t take many seconds of listening to the title track before we get associations to Rammstein. Musically, “Skills in Pills” sounds surprisingly a lot like Rammstein.
Surprising because Peter Tägtgren has such a broad musical range, but still somehow ended up making it sound like Rammstein. The arrangements, the keyboard sounds, the production and the whole concept make “Skills in Pills” the English album the band never made.
Maybe that’s part of the explanation. The majority of Rammstein’s fans – at least in the band’s huge market in North America – don’t understand German and have to resort to Google Translate to even get an idea of what the songs are about.
That won’t be necessary with ”Skills in Pills”. Almost everyone, regardless of native tongue, can understand the lyrics. The listener doesn’t need to have surfed for much Internet porn to understand Lindemann’s vivid English.
Stories about Fetishes
At first, ”Skills in Pills” sounds like variations of the track ”Pussy” from Rammstein’s latest album, ”Liebe Ist Für Alle Da”. Most of the album sounds like the same, cartoonish porno-rock, sung in a broad German accent. But without the German language’s inherently acrobatic phonetics, “Skills in Pills” seems more humorous than brutal.
”You could say that ”Skills in Pills” is, among other things, about different kinds of fetishes. Sex with fat people, for example. Or golden showers. It’s a bit like the Marquis de Sade’s stories, as well as with the concept of “1001 Nights”: a new, erotic story every evening. And every evening about another subject. A new fetish, if you will. That’s one way to describe “Skills in Pills”. “
But Lindemann’s erotic collection is more cartoonish than the literary adaptation.
In the first official press photo, Lindemann and Tägtgren are posing in a grotesque, Tim Burton-esqe universe as the bride and groom from Hell, with the obscene constantly lurking underneath the surface.
The song, ”Yukon”, is the exception. Here, Lindemann tells the story about the experience of sailing through the beautiful but dangerous national park. Musically, “Yukon” is reminiscent of an Ozzy Osbourne ballad, with the German singing about the rage of the elements, and some of the Sturm und Drang, so instilled into the DNA of Rammstein, is present.
But, while the sea, the journey and the longing are recurring elements in Rammstein’s universe, Lindemann, the solo artist, mostly uses his dick as a compass needle.
Kinky Quantum Leaps
Lindemann says that all the lyrics are written in English from the beginning. He gets the inspiration from people he either meets or who catch his attention. A good example is the song, “Golden Shower”, where an innocent, fleeting thought takes a kinky quantum leap in Lindemann’s imagination.
”I saw a picture of a very pretty girl. She had this little throbbing vein by her collarbone.”
Lindemann taps his fingertips demonstratively on his collarbone and continues:
”An almost greenish vein, like a small, green river. I thought a lot about that girl and her green vein, and then the imagination took off, all by itself…”
The result flowed in the direction of a urine sex fantasy with the singer as the receiving party: ”Be my human Eiffel Tower/Give me, give me Golden Shower!” Lindemann chants pleadingly, accompanied by hard drums and sounds of peeing.
And it continues in the wet element. “Fish On” is a metaphor about the human meat-market, and the song “Cowboy” is about an old, withered Wild West pioneer who’s breaking down from exhaustion under his Stetson hat. In “Praise Abort(ion)”, Lindemann makes “sex is better” rhyme with “but no French letter.”
In the Front Seat
But what about Lindemann himself? Is there anything he gets provoked by?
”No. There are things that I don’t like, or cannot stand, but provoked in the traditional sense? No. Absolutely not.”
One of the things that Till Lindemann apparently does care about, is evident when it comes to the question of the Pegida-movement. Born and raised in Leipzig as he is, the Islam-critical movement, shortly before this interview, rallied about 50,000 participants in the village in which he was born. The question, quite literally, makes the home loving Lindemann straighten up on the couch.
”It’s sad. It’s really horrible. Especially in light of our [Germany’s] past. It’s as if the smallest issue makes these Neo-Nazis raise their ugly heads. But it’s not a German phenomenon, it’s a European problem. There are several strongholds for the extreme right wing all over Europe. Unfortunately.”
Both Lindemann and Tägtgren emphasize that this album is a hobby project that grew big in the process.
”It was never our intention that it would be a whole album. It was something we did for fun. Till recorded a few tracks to a click track, at home, in Berlin, and mailed them to me. Eventually, we had so much material that we got the idea to make an album,” Peter Tägtgren says.
According to Lindemann, Rammstein will reassemble in September or October for pre-production, and thus, they haven’t decided if there should be a solo tour.
”Honestly, we don’t have any idea how the album will be received, and thus, we have no expectations. We haven’t decided whether Lindemann will tour. This is a joint hobby project that we are now letting others hear, and it won’t be clashing with Rammstein.”
Original Source: GAFFA
Interview by Martin Robert Nielsen
Special thanks to Maria Andersen.