The most famous German popstar of them all, Till Lindemann, even without his band, Rammstein, and singing in English, is the perpetual ‘enfant terrible’. Attitude or a role play?
Of course, he’s really a sweet guy. He most pleasantly greets with “How do you do?” and bids farewell in a singsong voice: “Bye-bye”. He speaks softly. He gives pause for afterthought before he says anything. And he certainly doesn’t say stupid things like, “If you set good music to provocation it amplifies the effect.” As is so often the case with on-stage berserks: in real life, Till Lindemann turns out to be an amicable paper tiger.
Till Lindemann, 52, was born in Leipzig and raised in Schwerin by his mother, the culture journalist and his father, the children’s books author, and made his first, wobbly attempts on poetry at the age of nine, and he is the only current, internationally relevant, German popstar. In the United States, the frontman is as well-known as Heidi Klum. Perhaps even more well-known. And some say he looks better.
Certainly, there are also people who think Lindemann’s work is as equally detestable as the cynical show Klum is hosting on television. But that might be a misunderstanding. When the general public looks at Till Lindemann, they see a naked, heavily muscled swimmer’s upper body, formed in his athletic youth, marching across the stage while a furious pyrotechnical spectacle goes off around him. They see a nearly 6’6” tall, sweat soaked berserk who the philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, once described as “sabotaging the fascist utopia in the most obscene way.” When Peter Tägtgren looks at Till Lindemann, he undeniably sees a “sensitive guy, who despite that wants to have fun” and a “marvelous poet, who is able to nail down emotions second to none.”
Is it all self-experienced?
When in doubt, take Peter Tägtgren’s words for it. He’s more than just a fellow musician, drinking buddy, friend and now collaborative partner on “Skills in Pills”. Lindemann’s first album outside Rammstein combines the metal riffs of the main band with a dose of morose Goth, and is released under his own last name. That’s not the only reason it counts as an attempt to add nuances to the well cemented image of the 200 lbs. man. The Swedish Tägtgren feels the necessity to clarify to Germany their equally controversial and successful cultural ambassador: “The way I see it, Till is able to effortlessly hatch ten different songs in ten different characters. Some people don’t get that.”
That being said, Tägtgren is closing in on the root of the problem. That the piece and the author aren’t inherently the same, but many are still doubting this concept. That Lindemann and Rammstein perform on-stage role plays, that the poet not necessarily tells stories about himself but instead sheds light into the darkest pits of the human psyche, keeps puzzling people.
And those who are puzzled add to the confusion between the creation and the creator, no matter how amicable he may be. “I should always analyze my lyrics,” says Lindemann in an interview on his home turf in Berlin, his massive chest heaving violently before the large man slumps down on his chair, softly sighing, “but in reality, I don’t think a lot about that.”
Singing in English
But others do that for him, in vivid detail. Since Rammstein came into the spotlight in the middle of the ‘90s, they founded their tremendous worldwide success on, above all, repeatedly destroying the stereotype of the evil Germans with irony. Now when Lindemann, together with his friend, Tägtgren, sings and writes lyrics in English, he mentions that he wants to “break away from all the Rammstein expectations”. If nothing else, he has a unique selling point that is in large part thanks to Rammstein’s success. Now the Americans understand what it is they have hollered along to while they’ve stared at the fiery glow up on the exploding stage.
On “Skills in Pills“, Lindemann sings in a for him foreign language, although about familiar subjects: the pain, the beasts that crawl out of their holes and continually about sex, which is, says Lindemann, “the only true human desire” above any other, even in its more depraved variations. This time, he tributes – and this will not, and should not, please everyone – the joys of precision peeing in “Golden Shower” and sings a praise to the eroticism of obesity in “Fat”.
Obviously, and perhaps because Lindemann doesn’t rely on any old fashioned German which he usually uses to distort the Rammstein lyrics, the English language clarifies the humanist humor so inherent in his lyrics. Lindemann is a philanthropist who does not shy away from anything the human being is capable of. But the humanity is not always very keen on being reminded of its most human traits. On the other hand, they do like to horrified stare down into their own abysses.
And the friendly Mr. Lindemann most courteously offers to hold your hand.
Original Source: CICERO.DE
By Thomas Winkler, Cicero. October 6th, 2015
Translation: Lee Murray
Photo: Axel Heimken