Rammstein singer Till Lindemann: I can swear in Russian

In an exclusive AiF interview, Till Lindemann, the singer of the German band, Rammstein, talks about why he’s wary of reciting his own poetry, why he likes to use profanity and about the book he’s written for his young grandson.

The German band, Rammstein, has in its 22-year existence become one of the most famous metal acts in the world. Even if you’ve never seen one of Rammstein’s rather provocative live shows, surely you have heard some of their songs and know the name of the singer, Till Lindemann.

The German rocker arrived in Moscow to present a volume of his poems, called “On Quiet Nights. The Poems.” This is Till’s first book to be published in Russia, as well as his first translated into Russian, and featuring the provocative illustrations of his friend, the artist Matthias Matthies.

On the evening before the public presentation of the book, Till met with AiF’s correspondent to talk about his work.


Jelena Yakovleva, AiF.ru: This is the first time you visit Russia as a poet. How do you think your book will be received by the Russian audience?
Till Lindemann: Perhaps the Russian culture can be compared to that of Bulgaria – I visited Sofia not long ago, shooting a video for the Lindemann project. There were a lot of small book shops there, and people were reading everywhere: in banks, in parks and on the streets. I think the situation may be similar in Russia. As far as I know, people here love to read and therefore, they’ll read my book too.

I only know swearwords in Russian, much to the amusement of my friends. – Till Lindemann

Books and literature have a different status here than in Germany, and young people in Russia still read and know the authors of the veritable treasure chest of national literature: Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Tolstoy. In all honesty, people aren’t all that interested in them in Germany.

-Have you read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky in the original language? We do know you speak a little Russian.
-Unfortunately, no, I haven’t read anything in Russian. Basically, I only know swearwords in Russian, much to the amusement of my friends (laughs).


-And speaking of swearing: the Russian publishers caution that your volume contains a lot of profanity and not suitable for readers under the age of 18. Is your creativity staunched without the use of foul language? Why don’t you avoid such expressions, and replace them with a more literally expression?
-I would not change anything, because it’s hardly possible to express such strong emotions in any other way. Strong words exist to convey strong emotion.Additionally, it could be that I’m a bit childish by nature. Like in school, when the teacher tells you not to do something, and you do just that and enjoy the high that comes out of it.

I have written a children’s book, and I even made the illustrations, but I don’t know when it will be published. – Till Lindemann

-Your father was a much loved children’s books author. Have you ever wanted to write for children?

-Actually, I have written a children’s book, and I even made the illustrations, but I don’t know when it will be published. Sorry, but I have to think of my reputation(laughs).
And my children’s book also contains a little darkness. The main character is my grandson, Fritz, and each poem is dedicated to him. It starts like this, “Dear Fritz, take my hand”, and then we head to the zoo, we travel by train, and fly in an aeroplane…But, at the zoo, we see someone eaten by the lions, the aeroplane crashes, there’s a train collision and so on. But nothing ever happens to us, we come safe and sound out of every situation. And little Fritz becomes a big hero, and it helps him avoid bad consequences

-This is indeed an unusual children’s book…have you read it to your grandson yet?
– Yes, and he was a little shocked (laughs).


-So, you have written two volumes of poetry (the first one is called “Messer” and was never published in Russia –Ed), and a children’s book. Are you planning for something else?
-Yes, maybe a collection of short stories that could appear in 2018. But it’s still being discussed with the publisher.

Writing lyrics is a lot like tailoring clothes.
Till Lindemann

-Is there a difference for you when writing poetry as to writing song lyrics?
-Writing poems is writing without any restrictions. You have to consider a host of different factors when writing lyrics, you need to pay attention to structure, rhythm, ambiance and sound. Writing lyrics is a lot like tailoring clothes; all lyrics are written to fit the music. Poetry is freer, just put on some swimming trunks and off you go.

-You write lyrics for songs which you also perform on stage, but I know that you don’t like to recite your own poems. Why?
-It’s not always easy to sing a lyric, but then I have a support group behind me, we’re all in it together. But when you are standing there by yourself in front of a lot of people…that is to me a real nightmare.

We live in a strange time, when a real estate mogul can become the president of the United States…
Till Lindemann

I’m looking forward to this evening, when the actors at the Gogol center are going to perform my poems on stage. I’m very curious as how they are going to do it, because I cannot even imagine how I would do it! I saw a video on the Internet where one of the actors was reading my poem. He did a fantastic job. The clarity and passion, the way he used his hands…I could never do that.

-I am interested in your opinion about the Nobel Prize for Literature, which was recently awarded to Bob Dylan for the “creation of a new poetic expression in the great American song tradition”. Quite a lot of people were surprised by this decision, and not everyone in Russia consider it fair.
-I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t know the Russian for it, but in German, the word “Nobel” means that you are better than everyone else, nobler, etc. It’s evident that the life and work of Bob Dylan…is a very significant phenomenon in culture. But on the other hand, just this year, a writer called Umberto Eco died, and he’s on a different level entirely. Again, for me, personally. If I could have my say in who should have the Nobel prize, I’d say Eco. We live in a strange time, when a real estate mogul can become the president of the United States…

The best prize for me is that the entire edition of my new book is sold out.
Till Lindemann

-Would you like your own creative writing to be recognized?
-Generally, I don’t care about that. The best prize for me is that the entire edition of my new book is sold out. Anything more enjoyable when it comes to my writing is hard to achieve. As for prizes, they get put on the shelf and there they gather dust.

-By the way, do you think your father, a celebrated author, would like your book, “On Quiet Nights: the Poems”?
-I often think about that. I think he would be happy for me, but not without some envy (laughs).

-And, of course, the inevitable question: what’s happening now with Rammstein, what are your plans?
-We’re currently working in the studio, recording a new album. With any luck, we’ll be able to issue it in the autumn of 2017, or in the spring of 2018, at the latest. That spring we’ll also begin touring, and, of course, come back here to Russia.


Original source: AIF
Date: November 18, 2016
Author: Jelena Yakovleva
Translation by Murray

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