Rammstein is a German industrial metal band, founded in Berlin, and consisting of Till Lindemann (lead vocals), Richard Z. Kruspe (lead guitar and backing vocals), Paul H. Landers (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Oliver "Ollie" Riedel (bass guitar), Christoph "Doom" Schneider (drums and Electronic percussion) and Christian "Flake" Lorenz (keyboards). The band is widely accepted as part of the NDH-scene, alongside bands such as Oomph! and Die Krupps. Their sound has been dubbed as Tanz-Metal (lit. "Dance Metal"). Their songs are performed almost exclusively in German. Formed in 1994, they have sold over 22 million records worldwide. Rammstein's entire catalogue is published by Universal Music Group. Since its formation, Rammstein has had no changes in lineup.
Although the majority of their songs are written in German, Rammstein has had success across the world. It has been confirmed that in 2007, the band has reunited from their vacation and has begun working on their sixth studio album, which will be released sometime in 2009.
On March 27, Rammstein performed on MTV's Hanging Out in London; their first performance in the UK. Rammstein's first major boost in popularity outside of Germany came when music director Trent Reznor chose two Rammstein songs, namely 'Heirate Mich' and 'Rammstein', for David Lynch's new film, Lost Highway. The soundtrack for the movie was released in the US in the fall of 1996 and later in Europe April 1997.
Rammstein then went on to tour through Germany, Austria and Switzerland from September to October 1996, doing an anniversary concert on 27th September called '100 years of Rammstein'. Guests to the concert included Moby, Bobo and The Berlin Session Orchestra, Berlin director Gert Hof was responsible for the light show.
Rammstein started recording Sehnsucht in November 1996 at the Temple Studios in Malta. The album was again produced by Jacob Hellner. The first single off the album, entitled Engel was released on April 1 1997 and later reached gold on May 23. This prompted the release of a fan edition of the single, appropriately named Engel Fan Edition. This contained two previously unreleased songs Feuerräder and Wilder Wein. Release of the 2nd single off the album "Sehnsucht" was Du Hast which hit the German single charts August 1997 at number 5.
Rammstein then continued touring in the summer whilst Sehnsucht was released on August 22nd 1997. The album reached number 1 after only two weeks in the charts. Simultaneously, Herzeleid and both the singles off Sehnsucht (Du Hast and Engel) were in the Top 20 of the German charts. Rammstein continued to headline sold out shows throughout Europe in September, October and November 1997 before releasing their cover of the Kraftwerk song, Das Modell. The single included another unreleased song entitled Kokain. On December 5th 1997, Rammstein embarked on their first tour of the United States, with support from KMFDM. On August 22nd and 23rd 1998, Rammstein played to over 17,000 fans at the Wuhlheide in Berlin; the biggest show the band have ever played there up to that date. Supporting acts were Danzig, Nina Hagen, Joachim Witt and Alaska. The show was professionally videotaped, intended to be released on their upcoming live DVD, Live aus Berlin. Rammstein embarked on a live tour with Korn, Ice Cube, Orgy and Limp Bizkit called the Family Values tour in September through to late October 1998. To further continue their success in the US, Sehnsucht received Gold record status on November 2nd. The Band was nominated at the MTV European Music Awards for Best Rock Act and performed Du Hast live on November 12th of that year.
Rammstein had further success in 1999, starting off the year in February with a nomination for Best Metal Performance at the 42nd-annual Grammy Awards. A year after it was filmed, the Live aus Berlin concert was released on CD on 30th August 1999, with a limited edition double CD also available. Two weeks after it was released, Live aus Berlin went to number one in the German Album Charts. On September 13th and November 26th 1999 the video and DVD versions of the concert were released respectively.
Rammstein's album Mutter recording took place in the south of France between May 2000 and June 2000, and was later mixed in Stockholm in October of that year. During the Christmas holidays 2000, Rammstein released an MP3 of Links 2 3 4 as a taster for their new album. 2001 was a busy year for Rammstein, starting out in January and February with the band playing the Big Day Out festival in Australia and New Zealand. January also heralded the shooting of the video for their upcoming single Sonne, recorded in Potsdam at Babelsberger Filmstudios from 13th to the 15th. The video was released on 29th January 2001. The single for Sonne was released on February 12th 2001 in Europe, featuring an Instrumental version of the song, two remixes by Clawfinger, and Adios off the upcoming album. Mutter was released on April 2nd 2001, sparking another Rammstein tour through Germany, Austria and Switzerland. On May 14th, the second single off the album Links 2 3 4 was released, along with a video of the single on May 18th. After a tour throughout Europe in June, the band then toured USA, Canada and Mexico from June 2001 to August 2001. Ich Will, the third single from the album was released on September 10th 2001 and a Tour edition of the Mutter album was released, featuring alternative artwork and live versions of "Ich Will", "Links 2-3-4", "Sonne", and "Spieluhr". Between January 8th and January 12th 2002, Rammstein travelled to Prague to participate in a minor scene from the movie 'xXx'. The band is seen in the opening scene of the action movie performing a concert with their song Feuer frei!. Feuer frei! was released across Europe as first single from the Triple X Soundtrack on 14th October 2002. Rammstein released two remixes of the song, Furthermore, the single's tracklisting included "Du Hast" and "Bück Dich" cover versions by Battery. The single cover was an artwork by New York artist Robert Longo. The video for the single was cut by Rob Cohen, which is partly the Rammstein performance at the beginning of the movie and partly snippets from the movie itself.
Rammstein recorded Reise, Reise at the El Cortijo studio in southern Spain between November 2003 and December 2003, it was later mixed at Toytown studio in Stockholm, Sweden in April and May 2004. The first single off of the album was Mein Teil, released on 26th July 2004. The shooting for the video is shot in the Arena, in the Treptow district of Berlin. Outdoor shooting takes place at the Deutsche Oper (Opera House) U-Bahn station on Bismarckstrasse. The director is Zoran Bihac, who was also behind the "Links 2-3-4" video. The "Amerika" video is filmed on the 6th and 7th of August 2004 in the ruins of the former chemical factory in Rüdersdorf near Berlin, Germany under the direction of Jörn Heitmann (who also directed the "Ich will" video, among others). The spacesuits for the moon scenes were borrowed from Hollywood and 240 tons of ash was needed to create the moon landscape. The video premiered on 20th August 2004.
The second single from Reise, Reise was Amerika, released on September 13th 2004. With the album released on September 27th, it went straight to top 10 charts throughout Europe. According to the Billboard charts, Rammstein were now the most successful German-language band of all time. Rammstein then toured Germany through November and some of December 2004, releasing the single Ohne Dich on 22nd November.
In February 2005, Rammstein tour Europe again. Ending on February 28, 2005, Rammstein will have played 21 concerts in front of more than 200,000 spectators in 10 countries. Keine Lust was the fourth single released from Reise, Reise on 28th February 2005. From May 27th 2005 to July 30th 2005, Rammstein play festivals all around Europe and in Russia. Footage from these concerts eventually end up on Rammstein's live DVD Völkerball, released later in November 2006.
In August 2005, Rammstein revealed the name of their latest studio album, Rosenrot. Their first single from the new album, Benzin, was released on October 5th 2005, with its video premiere on 16th September 2005. The album Rosenrot was released worldwide on October 28th 2005. Directly following the release, the album continues the success-story of forerunner Reise, Reise and takes the top 10 charts in 20 different countries. December 16th 2005 spelled the release of the title track on the album Rosenrot. The video for Mann Gegen Mann was released on 6th February 2006, with the single being released on March 3rd. On February 19th 2006, Rammstein had the honour of having an asteroid named after them, 110393 Rammstein. Some believe their name was chosen because of the music video for "Amerika," which displayed the six members of the band floating above the moon sporting NASA's astronaut suits. On November 17th the first Rammstein Live DVD since Live aus Berlin from 1998 is released. Völkerball shows concert-performances by the band in England, France, Japan and Russia. The Special Edition is extended by a second DVD, which contains the documentaries “Anaconda in the net” by Mathilde Bonnefoy and the “Making of the album Reise, Reise” by Rammstein guitarist Paul Landers. The limited Edition is released as a large black/white photo-book with photos by Frederic Batier, who had accompanied the band through their recent tours. The Photo-book edition contains 2 DVDs and 2 Live albums.
The band has a flair for costumes of all sorts, both in live shows and in videos. In the "Keine Lust" video, all members of the band except Flake were dressed in fat suits. In the "Amerika" video, all members of the band wore space suits. Live, the band experiments even more with costumes. In the Volkerball concert, among others, Till would change constumes in between songs, dressed accordingly for each song. For example, in "Mein Teil", he was dressed as a butcher, in "Reise Reise", a sailor. The rest of the band each wears their own preferred costume, but none as outlandish or themed as Till's.
Rammstein's style has tended to divide critics, some of whom have responded with memorable comments. Jam Showbiz (April 2001) described Mutter as "music to invade Poland to." New Zealand's Southland Times (Dec. 17, 1999) suggested that Till Lindemann's "booming, sub-sonic voice" would send "the peasants fleeing into their barns and bolting their doors," while the New York Times (Jan. 9, 2005) commented that on the stage, "Mr. Lindemann gave off an air of such brute masculinity and barely contained violence that it seemed that he could have reached into the crowd, snatched up a fan, and bitten off his head." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic commented that "their blend of industrial noise, grinding metal guitars, and operatic vocals is staggeringly powerful." "We just push boundaries," said Till Lindemann in an interview with rock magazine Kerrang!. "We can't help it if people don't like those boundaries being pushed."
The lyrics of Rammstein and above all their talk by singer Till Lindemann are an essential element of music and shape the perception by fans and a wider public. This is, among other things that are often very controversial, and taboo subjects such as sadomasochism (Bück Dich, Rein Raus and Bestrafe Mich), homosexuality (Mann gegen Mann), incest (Spiel mit mir and Tier), pedophilia (Tier and Halleluja) , Necrophilia (Heirate mich), Pyromania (Benzin and Hilf mir), cannibalism (Mein Teil), the game with religious images (Asche zu Asche, Engel) having sex and violence (Wollt ihr das Bett in Flammen sehen).
Wordplay is a fundamental component of Rammstein's lyrics. In many instances, the lyrics are phrased such that they can be interpreted in several ways. The song Du hast, for example, is a play on German marriage vows (Willst Du, bis der Tod euch scheidet, treu ihr sein für alle Tage? - "Will you, until Death separates you, be faithful to her for the rest of your days?"). In the song, the traditional affirmative response, Ja ("Yes"), is replaced by its negation Nein ("No"). The final repetition of this line further perverts the meaning of the original vows through a minor change in the wording Willst Du, bis zum Tod der Scheide ... (Will you, until the Death of the vagina ...). The song starts, in fact, with a play on words: Du... Du hast... Du hast mich... meaning "You have me". This line is often mistaken for "You hate me", because in German, there is no clear distinction between the pronunciation of Du hasst which means "you hate" and Du hast which means "you have". The word game is later resolved as the line is completed; Du hast mich gefragt ("You [have] asked me"). Confusingly, the band did also make an English version of the song named You hate which was not translated directly from Du hast. While many arguments about 'Du Hast' are around, it is known that Rammstein used this wording to mislead and create humour in the song. It was a play with the pronunciation of words, causing many non-native speakers of German to be confused.
Rammstein has achieved particular fame (not to mention notoriety) for its hugely over-the-top stage show, using so many pyrotechnics that fans eventually coined the motto "Other bands play, Rammstein burns!" (a quip at Manowar's song "Kings of Metal", which states, "other bands play, Manowar kill"). After an accident in the Arena in Berlin where some burning decoration parts fell on the audience (September 27, 1996) the band took to employing professionals to handle the pyrotechnics; Lindemann himself is now a licensed pyrotechnician who spends entire songs engulfed head-to-toe in flames. He has suffered multiple burns on his ears, his hair and his arms.
The heat is so intense that on occasion, people have been carried out of Rammstein concerts suffering from heat exhaustion, and lighting gantries have been seen glowing red-hot from repeated fireball hits. The variety of the pyrotechnics can be seen in a recent concert playlist, which includes such items as "Lycopodium Masks", "Glitterburst Truss", "Pyrostrobes", "Comets", "Flash Trays" and "Mortar Hits".
The band's costumes are equally outlandish. During the Reise, Reise tour they were wearing Lederhosen, corsets and vague military uniforms with steel helmets, while during the Mutter tour the group kept to the themes of the album artwork and descended onto the stage from a giant uterus while wearing diapers.
According to Kruspe, the on-stage wackiness is entirely deliberate (Rammstein's motto according to Schneider is: "Do your own thing. And overdo it!"). The aim is to get people's attention and have fun at the same time: "You have to understand that 99 percent of the people don't understand the lyrics, so you have to come up with something to keep the drama in the show. We have to do something. We like to have a show; we like to play with fire. We do have a sense of humor. We do laugh about it; we have fun... but we're not Spinal Tap. We take the music and the lyrics seriously. It's a combination of humor, theater and our East German culture, you know?
Their onstage antics have led them to trouble as well. During their stint on the American Family Values Tour 1998, alongside acts such as rapper Ice Cube, Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Orgy, the band was arrested for indecency. In one of the more infamous moments, Rammstein's vocalist, Till Lindemann engaged in simulated sodomy with the keyboardist, Christian Lorenz, during their performance of "Bück dich" in Worcester, Massachusetts. They were subsequently arrested and fined $25 and spent the night in jail. The band attempted to appeal the fine, but spent more in legal fees and court fees than the $25 fine.
Rammstein has also done several covers themselves, including "Das Modell" ("The model") by Kraftwerk, "Stripped" by Depeche Mode and "Pet Sematary" by The Ramones (sung by keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz). Cover version of "Schtiel" ("Calm") by Aria was released by vocalist Till Lindemann and guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe as a side project, due to disagreement with Universal records label.
It was recently announced that the German pop singer Nena, author of "99 Luftballons" ("99 Air Balloons"), will be doing an album of covers named Cover Me in which it will feature a Rammstein cover of the song "Ein Lied". Till Lindemann appears as a guest singer along with Richard Kruspe on guitar on the Apocalyptica album Worlds Collide. They took on David Bowie's song "Heroes", which was also released in German as "Helden". Lindemann sings the German version, making his song the only German-language song on Worlds Collide.
Described by the New York Times as a "powerful strain of brutally intense rock" who "bring gale-force music and spectacular theatrics together", Rammstein has been a band with a highly controversy-prone nature. Rammstein have not been shy about courting this controversy and have periodically attracted condemnation from morality campaigners. Their stage act earned them a night in jail in June 1999 after a liquid-ejecting dildo was used in a concert in Worcester, Massachusetts. Back home in Germany, the band has faced repeated accusations of fascist sympathies due to the dark and sometimes militaristic imagery of their videos and concerts, including the use of excerpts from the film Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl in the video for Stripped. Their debut album Herzeleid, released in Germany in 1995, originally had a cover featuring the band members' upper bodies without clothing; critics accused the band of trying to sell themselves as "poster boys for the Master Race". Rammstein have vigorously denied this and said that they want nothing to do with politics or supremacy of any kind. Christian "Flake" Lorenz, annoyed by the claim, has remarked that it's just a photo, and should be understood as such. Herzeleid has since been given an alternate cover in the United States, depicting the band members' faces.
The song "Links 2, 3, 4" (Links being German for "left") was written as a riposte to these claims. According to Kruspe, it means, "'My heart beats on the left, two, three, four'. It's simple. If you want to put us in a political category, we're on the left side, and that's the reason we made the song". On the other hand, this is also an allusion to a military marching cadence since "Links, 2, 3, 4" is typically heard during marching practice in the German army with "links" referring to the left foot. The song is also a reference to the saying "the heart beats left", repeatedly used by Oskar Lafontaine, in 2001 a famous member of the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany), now leader of the Left Party (Die Linke), and almost the title of a book written by him (the title is Das Herz schlägt links instead of Mein Herz schlägt links – "The heart beats left" instead of "My Heart beats left")..
According to the German online music magazine Rammstein, through this song, positioned themselves on the side of Oskar Lafontaine. They write:
Rammstein binden den Lafontaine-Spruch "Mein Herz schlägt links" in ihren Text ein und zitieren eine Zeile aus einem alten Hannes Wader-Arbeitersong ("Links, zwo, drei, vier; links, zwo, drei, vier; wo dein Platz Genosse ist, reih Dich ein in die Arbeitereinheitsfront, wenn Du auch ein Arbeiter bist"). (Rammstein embed the Lafontaine saying My heart beats left into their lyric and cite a line of an old Hannes Wader workers' song ("Left, 2, 3, 4; left 2, 3, 4; where your place is comrade, line up into the Workers' United Front, if you are a worker").)
Christian "Flake" Lorenz recently stated on an on-line chat that the song was created in order to show that the band could write a harsh, "evil", military-sounding song that was not about Nazi ideals.
Coincidentally, on September 10, 2001 the single and video clip of Ich will ("I Want") was released which portrays the band as terrorists who want to get a message across and receiving a kind of terrorist award for their "actions". In the United States the video clip was broadcast only late at night after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York City although many media officials and politicians requested the video to be pulled from broadcast completely.
Following the tragic conclusion of the Beslan school hostage crisis in Russia in September 2004, the Russian authorities claimed that the terrorists had "listened to German hard rock group Rammstein on personal stereos during the siege to keep themselves edgy and fired up". The claim has not been independently confirmed.
Band members said this about the issue:
Pekka-Erik Auvinen, the perpetrator of the Jokela school shooting in November 2007 also included Rammstein in one of his favourite bands. He noted though that, the music among other things was not to blame for his decisions.
The band's own views of its image are sanguine: "We like being on the fringes of bad taste", according to Paul H. Landers, while Christian "Flake" Lorenz comments "The controversy is fun, like stealing forbidden fruit. But it serves a purpose. We like audiences to grapple with our music, and people have become more receptive".
Not all of Rammstein's videos feature excess and pushing the limits of conventional taste. The video of Ohne Dich ("Without You") from Reise, Reise can only be described as lushly filmed and touchingly melancholy.
The video for Mann gegen Mann ("Man against man") from their latest studio album Rosenrot may have caused some controversy, as most of the band members are naked in the video. The lead singer Till Lindemann is wearing what can best be described as a "latex panties" - most likely because he does not have an instrument with which to cover his genitalia. In addition, there are multiple naked men in the video, with clearly visible buttocks, though genitalia could be seen at 32 seconds into the video on Christian "Flake" Lorenz through the arm of the guitarist (Richard Z. Krupse) and below the keyboard. He is wearing a flesh-colored thong to prevent this. The video has been played uncensored on MTV in Europe. The video has been rated FSK 16 in Germany and therefore can be played on television only after 10pm.