RAFABASA.COM: Interview with Till Lindemann

We have had the pleasure of witnessing the birth of a very promising project, given that LINDEMANN is comprised of Till Lindemann (Rammstein) and Peter Tägtgren (HYPOCRISY, PAIN). Due to health reasons, Peter could not be present for the interview, but Till was willing to meet us for a relaxed chat about their debut album, “Skills In Pills”, due to be released at the end of June: a piece of work that gives us a lot to talk about and won’t leave anyone unaffected. In a downtown hotel in the capital, we met a living legend who was very approachable and friendly. And now, we present to you a part of this fun and entertaining conversation we had with Till Lindemann:

For starters, what is the purpose and intent of this new project, given that you are both involved in other important projects?

The purpose? I guess it began fifteen years ago in Stockholm. During my stay in Stockholm for several weeks, if not months, I went to our producer’s studio, and in that short time, I had the chance to meet a lot of musicians, since Stockholm is quite a small city. One day Peter and I met, we were drinking at the same place every day, and we said to each other, “Hey, I like your music, dude, let’s do something together some day” and the idea was born. What happened was that we could never reach an agreement and we kept saying, “next year, next year…” and so on, year after year, either because I was touring, or he was touring, or the two of us were touring at the same time and it wasn’t until last year, we were able to finally do something. After our performance at Wacken, in 2013, I called him and we started talking about doing something together, I told him to send me whatever ideas he had and I’d write the lyrics. And when we were working on it, do you know “Ladyboy”? Well, I called Peter and told him I already had a song, “Ladyboy”, and that he should save it and listen to it to see if we could make something out of it. “OK, OK, we’ll include it,” he said. “No, no, really listen to it to see if you like it.” But he decided that “people will decide whether they like it or not.” That was the process of this record, making a first song, then a second, third and so forth…

And then came the challenge of releasing an album where I’m singing in English, but it was fun to make a record in English after having sung so many in German, so I dedicated myself to write and write, while Peter kept on sending me new instrumentations. When we had 5 or 6 songs, I said, “Why not release an EP with this stuff?” And he said, “Sure, why not?” Anyway, at that time, we were still hard at work and when we had ten songs we said, “But it’s already done!” That was when we simply closed the record deal for the project and began working on mixes, production, promotion … all we could do so as not to make this debut a fucking piece of shit (laughs).

Why is the new album called “Skills in Pills”?

Simple, we do not consume any kind of drugs that are completely illegal, that is very different from drinking alcohol or smoking, and when taking something that is not legal, you have to be skilled with what you drink or take. For example, there are pills that could kill or cause nerve damage, but if you’re skilful, you can take legal substances that’ll lift you right up into heaven without being inherently illegal. Actually, we thought this was a funny, and realistic, name for the album.

The picture on the cover of this album is somewhat… disturbing. What are you intending to convey with it?

It is just for fun, and besides, we are two weird guys. When you buy a record, the first thing you see is the cover, then you flip it over and look at the back, and once you have bought it, you check out the booklet inside, and all of this is giving you a certain feeling. So, what we ask you is that you wait to see how it all comes together once the entire material is released.

The constant topics on this album are sex and humor, but there’re also other songs, like ‘Children of the Sun’ or ‘Home Sweet Home’, that are much deeper and about issues concerning the passage of time, disease and death. Was it a hard or an easy decision for you to include these songs on the album and send that message to the world?

We try to include a message in the songs, and sometimes it’s a more positive one than in others. As I mentioned, Peter sent me a bunch of songs and I tried to include different messages. I simply listened to the music, because the music inspires me, and then I tried to include that in the song and adapted the lyrics accordingly. Actually there is no message, I just let myself go with the music, and it’s what the music tells me that I’m reflecting in the lyrics. It is true that these issues cover aging, and disease, but after all, that’s part of life, one day you can be happy and the next day, you’ll be screaming out of despair. Life is a rollercoaster, one day you are up and the other down, there is no need to hide it.

Speaking of ‘Home Sweet Home’, this is a wonderful, and quite epic, ballad. Tell us how this song came to be…

Oh, “Home Sweet Home”, yes … it developed very quickly and easily. It all has to do with my father’s death from cancer, it’s a really sad and emotional story and that is why the song reflects that.

“Fat” is about the beauty of women’s curves. What message would you like to send to women everywhere who look in the mirror and do not like themselves?

(In Spanish) Fat, no? (laughs). The message of the song is, “Like yourself, love yourself”, no matter what people say about you. However, if you do not know how to love, or even like, yourself, you really have a problem, and of course, “I like fatties” (in Spanish). “Like yourself!” is the message I want to keep conveying. I do not like people who cannot appreciate themselves just because of a few extra pounds, or who cannot see who they really are. I like fat women who know what they want and play it straight. I really like seeing them washing their hair, showering, smelling them, to see them feeling good about themselves (laughs).

“Praise Abort” starts with beautiful poetry, and then, to an electronic beat, you proceed with telling a story that may be a bit familiar, right?

It is actually fiction, although there probably are such cases, but it’s really just a funny story, because imagine that you have a friend in that situation (laughs). In this story, you have to read between the lines since it’s sarcasm, preposterous and it’s black humor (laughs). It is important for people who think about weird things, even more so after seeing the video, which was pretty hard to shoot.

“That’s My Heart” is the bonus track, and it’s a perfect way to close the record with such an anthem. Is this subject intended to go straight into the hearts of your listeners?

Exactly! I totally agree. It’s like a nice dessert after a good meal, like cream puffs, because the truth is that I’m not denying the human aspect since women can be cold as ice; at first they’re approachable, but then they might as well tell you to “fuck off” (he says in Spanish and laughs).

This record contains a lot of orchestral arrangements, could the album have an instrumental bonus CD?

Oh, that’s a good idea! In fact, now I’ll think about it (laughs). I have never thought about that possibility, or if the label releases a part of the record, or a new record, with only the classical arrangements, I mean, the instrumental parts for using in movies or TV-series… It’s undoubtedly a good idea, we’d have to tweak the arrangements a bit and probably go for it. Thank you!

Do you think you’ll play live? If so, when would it be possible? How do you imagine your stage?

We do not know yet, we’ll wait and see what people say about the album and the project. If people like it, no doubt we’ll do something, then we will surely tour. As for the stage, it would be pure rock and roll, a pure spectacle about the subjects on the album.

Is there a concert you remember with special fondness?

Whenever we’re on tour, we look forward to playing in Mexico. It is really impressive because Mexicans are totally crazy, and they lose their minds, every time. But a very, very special concert was a show we played in Russia, I do not remember the name of the festival now, but I know it was on the banks of the Volga River in a place called Samara. Believe it or not, we had in front us [close to] a million people watching our show, since it was a free concert. The festival was arranged by a millionaire who was committed to making the festival free, and inviting all the fans of the bands, which, among others, were Limp Bizkit, Garbage, and numerous other headliners. You could not even see the end [of the crowd], it was incredible, and they carried their flags with the names of their bands, it was a unique atmosphere. It was like an army, have you seen Braveheart? It was very similar, but crowded, and you couldn’t see the horizon. When we got on stage, we could not believe it, it was impossible to see the end of it, what a great experience!

If you do an extensive European tour, with which bands would you like to share the stage?

Ministry, undoubtedly, they are great guys too.

What do you like most about Spain?

Your language, I love Spanish, and I love food like “boquerones en vinagre” [anchovies in vinegar] (Till says in perfect Spanish, and laughs). Of course, “the girls” (in Spanish), too, they are very open-minded, very sexy, and sometimes very easy; quite different from German girls … Wine, is an endless story … Pata negra … It’s hard to say what’s better, because I like everything. I also love Héroes del Silencio, “Entre dos Tierras” is great, it’s one of my favorite songs, we should definitely make a cover of it.

Today, there are multiple platforms for downloading music, services such as Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc. How do you, as musicians, view the music industry since the launching of these platforms?

I’m not even going to give my opinion on this subject … It’s not good at all. See, it’s good for people, but actually destroys everything else. Everything costs money when it comes to recording, and this kills the industry; we have entered the era of the DJs. DJs create their material in their own homes, they do anything and are really determined to go on, but in the end, this really kills the bands.

Imagine that you’re in a band, and it becomes evident that a platform like Spotify cannot keep it alive, because you need money to buy instruments, to rent a studio and for touring. Without the bands, the industry does not exist, there would be no labels and no future. In my opinion, there’s too much shit out there, there are no more bands … can you mention a band that has really made it in recent years? I would say maybe Muse, Linkin’ Park, whose last record I quite like, bands that have signed a good record deal. As I said, unfortunately we are now in the era of DJs. I really loved the days of vinyl, I wish those times could come back.

Till, you’ve decided to sing in English in this project, instead of German. Was it difficult to sing in English or was it fun to make a change like this?

At first, it was quite difficult, I must admit, but over time I became more confident and surer of myself thanks to Peter, who encouraged me to keep working in this way. He told me it was a new experience and that I should continue, and so I did. For example, in the case of “Ladyboy”, it is a song with a simple wording, and, admittedly, I felt more confident doing those songs since it’s practically school English (laughs). Then we have other, much more sophisticated and, therefore, more complex lyrics, but in the end, everything came together as we wanted.

“Cowboy” is a song with a Wild-West sound, why did you dedicate a song on your album to cowboys? When did you decide to include that small banjo segment into the arrangement?

It’s a really great song, the way it kicks off sounds like gunshots. The banjo was the last detail we put into the song! There was a part of the song that had a small gap in it, and we thought it would sound great and this is the result. And as I said, the drums have a rhythm similar to gunshots. It is very funny, because of what I just mentioned and that the chorus sticks in your head, that’s why we included it.

What would you like to say to your fans in Spain to get them to buy the album?

It’s an album to listen to anywhere, either in your room, in the car, before partying … I could liken it to Billy Idol, with funny lyrics and no need to read between lines or take them seriously, and still be able to hear the messages implied in the songs, that make you think.

Wrapping up, when will we see Rammstein returning to Spain?

Well, we will enter the studio in 2016, so it will surely be 2017 when we release our record and then we’ll see you in Spain, but it is still too soon to confirm anything 100%.

Thank you for your time and kindness.

Likewise, until next time! ¡Muchas gracias! [Thank you very much] (in Spanish).

And until then we can read. These were very nice moments spent with a very human Till Lindemann, who at no time was upset, quite the contrary. He even invited us for a snack, and was articulate in our Spanish language that he seems to know quite well. The interview, due to contractual reasons, made us adhere to his new project as much as possible, and, even more understandably, the contract did not allow us to take any pictures for our website. We didn’t have any higher expectations after signing the contract, but when you spend time with him, you realize that he is a very good person with an enormous heart and sensitivity, and an ability for expressing himself, something very hard to find in many other artists.

We thank both Warner and the Management of this project for providing us with this half hour with the German artist, who besides being a musician, is also a poet, an actor and a composer, among many other virtues as many of you already know. It was a pleasure to learn more about this new project and about himself, and it was too bad that Peter couldn’t make it to the interview. As for the record, we’ll keep you posted with a review, but we anticipate that it won’t go unnoticed.

Original Source: RAFABASA.COM
By Óscar Gil Escobar
Based on translation by: Maya & Snake (Affenknecht / Rammstuga)
Editing: Murray

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