Musically, Rammstein and the Kelly Family operate in different worlds entirely. Nevertheless, the frontman of Rammstein, Till Lindemann, and Joey Kelly, share a passion for breaking boundaries. Together, they went canoeing on the Yukon. “If something should happen, you’re in no-man’s land,” as they told the DLF.
Till Lindemann and Joey Kelly in conversation with Juliane Reil
Juliane Reil: Rammstein vs the Kelly Family: any more opposite musical poles are hard to imagine. On the one hand, dark heavy metal accompanied by menacing shows, and on the other, soft folk pop and hippies with sun shining through their hair. Nevertheless, Till Lindemann and Joey Kelly have teamed up for a mutual project: to paddle a canoe for hundreds of miles along the Yukon. How did you get to know each other?
Joey Kelly: We came together over sports. We have that in common, that we both are sports fans. That is quite some time ago now.
Reil: When was this?
Kelly: In the mid-nineties.
Reil: What was the occasion?
Till Lindemann: It was during an awards show, a nomination for a music prize, and we got together backstage and began talking about sports somehow. I really wanted an autograph for my daughter, but somehow, we started talking.
Reil: How did you get into the conversation, Mr Kelly?
Kelly: I grilled Till about Rammstein, because I really like the music of the band.
Lindemann: He wouldn’t let me into the dressing room at first, because he thought I’d take the piss or set something on fire. But eventually, we were warmly welcomed, and somehow – this is so long ago – well, we somehow got into talking about sports.
The Necessary Mindset of an Endurance Athlete
Reil: Mr Kelly, you’re famous for being an endurance athlete. You have trekked across Germany, 900 kilometers, and you have taken part in various triathlon events, such as the Iron Man. And Mr Lindemann, you were a competitive swimmer when you were young, but you gave that up relatively early.
Reil: Yes, but you’re still active?
Lindemann: Yes, but on a purely voluntary basis now. I like to stay active, although I don’t do as much swimming anymore, because counting the tiles and everything being somewhat damp all the time became very tiring at one point. I do a couple of other sports, though, but I can’t say that I love it. I find it necessary, you know, to stay healthy and what with this complete madness that is human nature, to persevere, if only for a stage show. It’s very important, conditionally.
Reil: So, you could say that you have transferred your sports career into your musical career?
Lindemann: No, not at all. What I did take with me from being an athlete is to persevere, even if you don’t like it. That is something that helps me quite often.
Reil: What do you make of the mindset of the endurance athlete?
Kelly: I think that it is transferrable into anything you’re passionate about. I do believe that life itself is a marathon run. And those who pull through, follow their dreams and passions, achieve higher goals.
“Should something happen, you’re in no-man’s land“
Reil: This all sounds like a lot of hard work. Was this voyage on the Yukon, or getting to the Yukon in the first place, hard work too?
Kelly: It’s all down to preparations, definitely. It takes a good three quarters of a year to even learn what you’re up against, so you just try to avoid danger and follow the path. While it may look wonderful in the pictures, should something happen, you’re in no-man’s land.
Reil: A lot of people speak of the Yukon as a dream, and I think that it has an astonishingly rich history, getting back to the time of the Goldrush when people regarded is as the promised land, but like any dream, it could turn into a nightmare. Did it shift from dream to nightmare for you in any way?
Lindemann: There was a brief moment, when it got a bit precarious. There was a riptide, with extreme waves, and soon the water sloshed into the canoe, sometimes even from above. It was very windy, stormy, and there were very strong currents. Should the canoe have capsized, there was no certainty that you would come out in one piece. It’s only natural that it gets to you, and when you’re paddling along and it suddenly turns a bit unpleasant, you have to deal a little with fear.
“I let Joey infect me“
Reil: Why do you do it?
Lindemann: I’ve described that thoroughly in the book’s preface, right at the beginning.
Reil: That’s right, and I have written it down. “Not much to say; I was on edge, my friend was sad, we had the time, there was the boat, and there was the river. We packed our hearts and provisions, and before long, we were damp.”
Lindemann: Yeah, why does one travel down a river? Because it’s there. It’s really very simple. There is no philosophy behind it, nor reason. I let myself get infected by Joey. Yes, I’m happy that he talked me into it.
Reil: The pictures show you two fishing together, riding the canoe, gathering fire wood and kindling a camp fire. These are images as if taken from a film, large panoramic views of two men in camo. It is quite the strong setting of the pictures in this book.
Kelly: We haven’t taken the photos in the book ourselves, but, in fact, it was someone who’s been following me around the world for some twenty years now.
Reil: Thomas Stachelhaus.
Kelly: Exactly. And Thomas is an artist, and he wants to be called that too. He always delivers, if I may say, simple products. Sure, the scenery has to be there, and he has to be able to come along. And it was….
Lindemann: You see, sometimes, he would sit all alone on a river bank for three, four days, just waiting for us. Of course, he staged things sometimes to get the pictures he wanted, like the front cover picture for example. But that was really just him asking us to turn around. I had Joey on my back so that he could drive a very long pole to secure the net trap we’d made to catch salmon. The panoramic views are all thanks to him and the time he spent there, as well as his love of nature and his own craft. So, all this has very little to do with us, it is a side effect for which we are very grateful to Mr Stachelhaus.
The Longing for Afar
Reil: I don’t think that is a bad thing, since there are also accompanying captions and poems. You discuss expansive issues, such as longing. What does this term mean to you?
Lindemann: Well, I grew up in the GDR, and I don’t have to make a big deal out of what longing means to me. It’s self-explanatory.
Reil: Not to me.
Lindemann: There was this border, and you weren’t allowed to travel. There really isn’t much more to say. Longing for distant places, other countries, other continents. Therefore, longing is quite a substantial story, for me, anyway.
Reil: And what about you?
Kelly: A large part of my motivation, I would say, is other countries, other cultures and other people. I love to travel, and combined with my senseless – if I may say – running around, and Yukon was a real dream.
Date: October 4 , 2017
By Juliane Reil
Translation by Murray/Schnitz