E.F. – Emanuel Fialik (Rammstein manager).
T.L. – Till Lindermann (Vocalism).
R.Z.K. – Richard Z. Kruspe (Solo-guitar).
P.H.L. – Paul Heiko Landers (Rhythm-guitar).
C.S. – Christoph Schneider (Drums).
C.F.L. – Christian Flake Lorenz (Keyboard).
O.R. – Oliver Riedel (Bass-guitar).
E.F.: I can remember the first autograph session in Mexico. It was in one of the big record stores. People showed up with all kinds of paraphernalia. They thought, "this stuff is German culture, Rammstein can sign it". People came with Strauss scores, books by Nietzsche and even Luther's translation of the Bible. In Guadalajara, one guy came all of a sudden with a swastika T-shirt. He probably thought it was a folkloric symbol in Germany. This guy was about 25, and couldn't have looked more Indian: Long black hair, a big hooked nose and he's wearing a black T-shirt with a swastika on it. He was immediately ready to take it off as soon as it was explained to him, that it's an unpopular symbol these days. He probably just wanted to honour the band. Later, someone explained to us that, following World War II, many German war criminals settled in Guadalajara. So we asked the local radio station to announce that swastika T-shirts were not welcome at the show. This was accepted and respected. But it wasn't some group of right-wingers who came to the show. It was just people far away from Germany and Europe who thought, that this had something todo with German history and that the band would appreciate it, as a mark of respect! We told them it wasn't like this, which they understood. Luckily, the guy showed up early for an autograph, so we had a chance to react.
R.Z.K.: We played the last show in Denmark or Finland. I came from New York, straight from the plane. It had rained all day. Normally the curtain drops and then you start playing. When the curtain fell, I suddenly saw this beautiful harbour that I'd never seen before. I thought "wow... ", and forgot to play. At some point I thought, "oh shit" ...and after about 20 seconds, I started playing too.
P.H.L.: In Stockholm there's this huge hall and while we were still playing small clubs we could see it glittering in the background! This time the bus goes directly to it and we actually got to play there. It's the biggest in Stockholm! "Bloody hell" you think, "What are we doing here?" We ask ourselves that a lot Why all of a sudden do 12,000 Swedes or Finns want to see us?
(PLAING "REISE, REISE").
O.R.: It was really nice to play in Nimes. The hysteria there was similar to Mexico or southern Spain. It's like that now in the rest of France. You drive into the city and see the throngs of people who want to go the concert and hear music. You sense that the city is simmering and the people are anticipating the evening.
C.S.: Nimes is a holiday region in southern France. Old buildings, picturesque Old Town, and a few tourists in between. Then there's all these thousands of Rammstein fans. With wild styles and all dressed in black. They totally jar with the idyllic surroundings. But it was one of the best concerts of the tour.
E.F.: Lots of young people came from all over France. There were Brazilian flags, Croatian flags, Greek and German flags. And had all made this pilgrimage to see Rammstein. The best conditions for a great concert.
T.L.: The venue was remarkable. It was an arena for bullfights or gladiators, an amphitheatre. It looked really old, like the Colosseum in Rome! Fantastic!
It gets you in a good mood. The acoustics are quite extreme, since the sound stays in this big cauldron. The audience was really enthusiastic. Especially the French. The atmosphere was incredible. Actually, I don't usually get to experience the audience much. But that was exceptional!
P.H.L.: Gosh! It was a highlight. You're used to people standing. But when they're sitting up high, you see how many they are! They feel much more packed in.
C.S.: Lately, we've almost only played in really big venues. 10,000 people an evening. A comparable amount of work goes into presenting a Rammstein show. There has to be a good view from everywhere within the venue. The pyrotechnics and lights have to be big enough, so it doesn't look small. It's important to have the three elements of light, pyrotechnics and music in harmony with each other and to do this with the right timing. Every element has its own place so that everything works together. That's the secret! In the meantime, we have about 100 people working on a big tour. Sometimes I watch them setting up and taking down. It's unbelievable how many jobs depend on a 2-hour show.
P.H.L.: It's a bit like a travelling circus. Or a small town, complete with mayor – the tour manager – secretaries and employees. Telephone lines are installed and a small office is set up. There are truck drivers who transport everything. Stagehands set up the stage. And then you've got riggers climbing to the top of the roof. They install motors at spots where the lights and loudspeakers hang. The riggers are first to arrive. Next, the light technicians who set up and operate the lights. The sound technicians, the stagehands, who set up the stage, and the band assistants, who do the costumes. That's more or less all of the people.
C.F.L.: The first concerts on a new tour are my favourites. Because nobody really knows what's going to happen. The movements aren't quite rehearsed: Do I go to the right? Do I meet somebody there? Do we go back together...? Nobody is totally certain for the first few concerts. So many humorous and embarrassing moments occur. You end up in a dark corner and get forgotten. In the beginning, I used to just go back and forth with the Segway But then the band said, "Stop, it looks like you're mowing the lawn". I thought I was doing something good: Drive back and forth! I stood there and said, "Well what should I do?" They said, "Try something else, drive backwards instead!" I found that silly. That's why I turned around. Those are the most exciting concerts! Later on, everything becomes a bit more routine.
(PLAING "ASCHE ZU ASCHE").
T. L.: I have an overall plan in my head beforehand. And during rehearsals, I see how everything is working out. During the first five concerts, I see what works or not and that gets rehearsed.
That's how I get a sense of continuity. Although, there are always many uncertainties. Should I stay put or will it interfere with my singing if I move around so that I can't inhale enough air
to sing the vowels? After around 5 to 10 concerts, you know the moves and choreography and you do it every evening.
C.F.L.: As a keyboarder, I'm not tied to the stage. When I'm not playing, I can just walk away and do something. Guitarists always have their guitar. They have to take it off before they can move around. During this time, I can step into the boat or fool around. I can just get up and go. In our heavy metal music, the keyboard isn't that important. In many sections I don't play but don't have to just stand around.
(PLAYING "MEIN TELL").
C.F.L.: Many of the things you do are actually not that pleasant. It's like a cold shower: First, you don't want to do it, but afterwards when it's over, you feel better!
It gets extremely hot on the stage. If I don't watch out, I can burn my fingertips. Or Till shoots me in the head, my hair catches fire or I slip. All kinds of things can happen: I'll climb out of the pot, loose my grip and fall. If the rockets are ignited too early, I'll get one in the face. It's all happened!
R.Z.K.: Of course, Rammstein shows use unbelievably many effects. And we'd all like to be involved with them. But it's hard to play an instrument while still handling all of these effects. We've tried a lot though. For a while I had a burning guitar. Then I had a guitar that I destroyed. Or these flaming microphone stands. You think these little tricks look good or that you're cool. When probably you look ridiculous (laugh).
(PLAYING "DU RIECHST SO GUT").
R.Z.K.: Our manager, Emu, is always around when we're working out new ideas. He's very interested in light and works closely with the light designers. He tells them what's important for Rammstein. A certain rhythm or a certain mood. For me, he's a big part of our success and image, many things. He's not a band member but still belongs to the band.
E.F.: I'm extremely fascinated by light. "How Rammstein appears on stage;" The effect of the interaction between music, performance and light on the audience. Light conveys everything in Rammstein's music that we want to accentuate so that it is perceived better. A poor lightshow that's out of sync with the rhythm of the music, would make Rammstein's music more difficult to grasp.
(PLAYING "STEIN UM STEIN").
E.F.: It's similar with pyrotechnics. I've come to the understanding that pyrotechnics are not always pyrotechnics. They can be applied much differently with Rammstein's music. They add rhythm to Rammstein's music where it isn't possible with other music. With other bands, pyrotechnics are often just for show. I would even say that it's just for 'decoration'. For us, the sounds made by pyrotechnics are a part of the overall sonic effect.
(PLAYING "FEUER FREI").
O.R.: Some things are very dangerous. Flamepots under the stage, for example. If they go off at the wrong moment, you can be burned badly. Other things can be set off by sparks. Such as by Till's fire bow. The best bet is to stay away from the flamepots.
R.Z.K.: Sometimes it gets really hot. But I really like that sort of thing. I have absolutely no fear of fire. In fact, I love it. The closer I am, the bigger the kick. These fire fountains are so hot... ...sometimes you get burned. But that's kind of cool too. I totally like it!
(PLAYING "ICH WILL").
R.Z.K.: Of course you're seeking attention. You simply crave it. Otherwise, you wouldn't go on stage or even make music. If I was satisfied with my whole life, just simply satisfied, then I wouldn't need to perform my music in front of people. I suck it all up and feel better but naturally this is self-deception. Intellectually, I understand this. But still, I've found a way that I can live. It won't become a problem until it slackens or stops entirely. I'll have to find something else or be cured by then. It is really important to understand, that you're just playing a role. It's basically just an 'idea'. Of course the fans out there want their star, the way they see him. You have to understand that they don't really want you. You have to fulfil this role. You play this role. It doesn't have much to do with how you really are. It shouldn't either!
I look for someone with whom I can make eye contact. Usually a girl! The eye contact helps me to put on a good show. Sometimes we have someone who hands out backstage passes. It has happened, that I've met this person after the show. But that's not what it's about. It's only about the moment. I have no real need to get closer. It's a kind of 'tool', like with my sound. I need someone that I can connect to. And when the contact is there, everything works.
T.L.: I don't like being stared at. I try to ignore it. I avoid it! Sometimes it suits the song
to act out an exchange with many gestures. Otherwise I don't look for it... I look for a spot at the back. Usually the man at the mixing desk.
O.R.: My first boat trip was really exciting. At first I didn't realise that I had floated out on top of the crowd. But back on the stage, I felt weak in the knees and knew that it was something special. I've tried many different ways to navigate the boat. But it's a head thing. I imagine I can steer the crowd with my thoughts - and with this also the boat. Once I'm out far enough, I think,
"Okay, you have to go back now". It's hard to describe how it works. You can try to shift your weight, but the chaos principle is paramount, that everyone knows what they have to do
and return you automatically. Even though it has happened a few times, I'm not afraid of tipping. I'm not afraid of the crowd.
T.L.: I think the boat is a great effect. When it doesn't come, I get annoyed. Then Olli suffers, because I piss him off so much. It's a way of relaxing for us. People stop looking at the stage. Olli is the focal point and moves as if on a sea of hands. Sometimes we're afraid he'll fall
or not come back. It's great to watch. It's one of the best effects that I know. Flake used to be the captain. And he sometimes went way to the back rows... where nobody was (laugh), and fell down to the ground (laugh). He came back with a few bruises and he was absolutely furious (laugh). He was spitting like a goose but he had really hurt himself.
C.F.L.: Yeah, it's pretty unpleasant to travel around in the boat. I thought to myself,
"This effect will be old some day". Olli's much better at it then I am. He's also got a better boat (laugh). Mine didn't have a proper floor, just a rubber base. People always punched or pierced something through it. His boat has a solid base and is larger. It doesn't tip so easily. 4 out of 10 times, I tipped over. You go to the hospital and they stitch you together (laugh). The next day, you're back again. You fall from two metres, above the crowd but you're still on top... But when you tip over... You have a concussion, bruises, spinal injuries, broken elbows, the usual stuff. At some stage you say, "hmm...". Sometimes they rip your clothes off. You come back naked and wrap yourself in a towel. The next day you've got nothing to wear for the show. First to go are the shoes. But as I said, it's like a cold shower. When it ends safely, you're happy.
C.S.: The best thing about a concert is you come out of yourself. Playing puts you in a kind of 'in-the-moment' state. You don't think about what's coming, there's just the moment!
P.L.: The ones who really work are Schneider and Till. Schneider has to play really hard.
He has to be exact and can't fool around much. Till has to be totally concentrated and full of energy since most eyes are on him. The others can take it easy occasionally without it becoming a problem.
P.H.L.: Till has these two arms for "Rammstein". They really look impressive. When he strides on to the stage and pushes the buttons... and nothing happens! This happened twice! That's when I know: There's going to be trouble! Till stands there and thinks, "Okay, what now?" "Rip them off? Go home?" Then he takes a deep breath and thinks: "Can't smash them, they cost 10,000. I can't destroy them right now. Ooh!". So he goes backstage. Everyone scatters, because they know what just happened (laugh). You hear banging, some pummeling. Then he calms down again. He comes back out. The audience doesn't suspect a thing. But things do get broken back there! After a concert like that, he goes to the dressing room alone. There's some noise (laugh). Something gets "atomised". That puts him in a better mood.
C.F.L.: Then Till's in real mean mood. And I'm just glad to be in the band and not in charge of pyrotechnics. Those guys are up the creek and will have to explain themselves later on. Something always gets broken or I play poorly. I lay down the song sequence. If I'm lost in thought, I might leave out a song. The others don't realize and pick up the wrong guitars. They're all tuned differently. It won't work with the wrong guitar. Then nobody plays, because they don't recognise the song. I play on happily, look around and think, "oh-oh!" I have to think quickly what to do. Should I stop? Continue? Start another song? Whatever I do, there's going to be a hassle! But I don't care.
T.L.: That's the pick-up just before we go on stage. It's a band ritual. Other bands pray. I believe "Slipknot" drop into a metaphysical trance and babble something. We drink a tequila. It's our 'wake-up shot'. Here we go!
C.F.L.: I try to think about the concert as little as possible. We chat about this and that. We start a conversation that we continue afterwards. Till and I listen to Latin-American folkloric music. We sing along and try to translate the lyrics.
O.R.: I like to be there two hours early. You can start to tap into the vibes. I think it's important that everyone is there an hour in advance. That way we can come down a bit, dull the senses and get ourselves into this coarser consciousness. You fool around a bit beforehand with things like playing football, stretching a bit or playing some bass. The important thing is that all six of us are there ahead of time and get the feeling happening. And of course, there's a ritual. Till puts on some mariachi music. He has to have the same song every evening. We start to get numb. You can handle it for thirty seconds. Either you become numbed or you let this feeling take over. You just have to throw the switch. And when you've got it, it can start.
(PLAYING "DU HAST").
C.F.L.: I'm amazed every time when the people sing along. I used to think, those are Germans
who've come with us. But there's too many for that.
T.L.: In Europe, they sing along to our choruses, hooks and our catchphrases. But the Mexicans could sing almost entire verses. Very impressive! When you write the lyrics, you don't think about these things. You let it flow and mull over it. Sometimes I still know where,
when and why I wrote the lyrics. How and under which circumstance, it's quite rare, but sometimes it happens. Then you stand up there and can't believe it. It's very moving... and well... bla bla! (laugh). But sometimes you get goosebumps.
E.F.: I'm extremely fascinated by the hymnal aspect of Rammstein's music. When this sparks something in 17,000 to 18,000 people I really enjoy these things. I also watch football matches, that's similar. But with Rammstein, it's more of a choral happening. It's a tremendous meshing of emotions. I can't put it any other way, since it fascinates me so much. It's great. It's a fantastic seduction.
C.S.: Usually you know in every country, those are the Rammstein fans. They like our music and they're coming to the concert. They have certain similarities. You notice it in the general vibe.
Some countries are more excited. Others are lower key or the people listen more. Spain is always really big. A wall of noise, the audience goes completely wild. In France too and many English cities, surprisingly enough. An amazing vibe!
T.L.: In Russia, you feel a kind of lost energy returning. You sense the lack of events, of concerts, of cultural highpoints. Good concerts are rare for them. They completely flip out! Something has built up there, even aggressively. But it's a good energy and it's fun to play there.
C.F.L.: They don't have a normal event culture. The concert is guarded by the Soviet army. Soldiers shut off the entire neighbourhood. Some people on our guest list never arrived. Only people with tickets were allowed off the subway. Anyone else was turned back. So they never got there.
C.S.: When we played a big hall in Moscow there were lots of rules and lots of security. Most people had seats and had to take them. The area in front of the stage, which is normally packed, was completely empty. The people pressed in from the left and right. In the middle, separated by fencing, certain VIPs stood around. That was very irritating. As we started playing, the place was full but the area where people normally stand who you interact with, was empty. So we tried to get the audience to climb over the barriers. But they were reluctant. It was very risky. Nobody really knew how the uniformed security staff would react. But some did cross into the middle area. And it turned out to be a good concert.
E.F.: I've never encountered an audience before that approached Rammstein this way. In Russia, the people stood at the concert with the German lyric sheets. It was as if the Goethe Institute had sent 7,000 people. That was my impression of Russia. 7,000 people sent to learn German together with music. There were age groups that I've never seen in other countries. Older people, who know Pushkin by heart, sat reading in the audience. They followed the lyrics and turned the pages! You don't forget those scenes easily. Very unusual for a Rammstein audience.
O.R.: The band travels separately these days. We used to always go together. After all this time each of us travels as he wants. While the others fly, I'll often go with the crew in the bus. They even hired a plane once. They really like it because they weren't constrained by flight times anymore. You just fly when you want to. I like having a home while I'm on tour. Once you've set yourself up in the bus, it's nice to sleep in the same bed. Everyone has their own little corner. Four or five people sit at the back, drink wine, watch a movie. If you get along with them, it's actually quite nice.
P.H.L.: Since I get to know countries by taste, Everywhere we go, I always know what I want to eat. That irritates some. In France, I like to eat 'merguez'. In Finland, we go fishing at a lake. We try to do the obvious things. In England, we eat fish & chips, drink tea... The classics are usually the best. And when you find them, you're pleased. In Japan, we eat sushi or some other Japanese food. Often, we try to take the initiative. We go to a good cafe for breakfast instead of at the hotel. We check out the cities and walk around.
O.R.: Travel is part of the job. Sometimes it's a blessing, sometimes a curse. Of course, it's nice to go somewhere you've never been before. You wouldn't have gone there otherwise. You get an idea of where you might go with more time.
T.L.: Iceland was unique. A little island and half of the population comes to the concert. Not too many people live there. The reception alone! At the beginning, we were brought to a hot spring called "The Blue Lagoon". The people in front of the hotel... that was completely different. Iceland is fantastic. There's glaciers, hot springs, geysers, hardly any trees, lava formations, some mountains, a beautiful coast and lots of fish and shrimp to eat. I'm not actually a city person. I come from the country. Beautiful landscapes fill me with awe.
(PLAYING "OHNE DICH").
T.L.: I like to travel, but not in the services of Rammstein. That's work. It depends on what you like... but the Amazon is definitely worth a visit. That's adventurous... a real adventure! You can get a nasty disease very quickly. You can also see river dolphins, anacondas, sloths, or go fishing for piranhas. Our guide there was related to an Indian. When they started drinking, we went fishing. We netted an anaconda. Two actually, we released one... and the other one was dead. Then we skinned it. Now it hangs in my friend's room. It's 7 metres long.
T.L.: Why do people go on polar expeditions? There's nothing to see there. Something attracts you. It's hard to describe why you travel. You don't realise until you're back home again. Where you can profit from the memories for a long time. You've got a kind of inner store. When things aren't going well, you just go inside and get a glass of travel preserves for your soul, open it and fill up on it.
R.Z.K.: In the early days, this was a major difference for me. On tour, I could completely escape from the world at home. After 3 or 4, weeks I had left it behind. We toured longer back then, two months straight sometimes. It was like a new world for me and I often fell for the other countries. I thought that I had to live there and that it was better there. They were worlds apart for me. At home it was very difficult to find my footing again, to get back to my normal life. It took weeks to get used to everything again. Now where I've done that so often and am more familiar with it, I've become more professional. Now I know it's my work! I don't lose myself emotionally so much.
T.L.: My world view has become more flexible for certain things. You become cooler about a lot of things. You can sit around telling stories. Shooting videos often involves long waiting times.
Someone says suddenly, "Do you remember when?" And next thing you know, we're retelling old yarns. How we sat in the jungle in Australia, looking at the night sky.
P.H.L.: Earlier on, we always went wild after the concerts. We were always shouting and screaming! We had to get rid of the adrenalin. Something always got smashed. Now we know how charged we are. So we leave the quality discussions for later. Otherwise, things quickly get coarse and we lose all objectivity!
R.Z.K.: You have to find something to do after the show to dissipate all of this energy. You need a vent, some kind of meditation afterwards. You've absorbed the energy of 20,000 people and this is stuck inside. After, it's like being dropped suddenly. You've got to balance it out. I still haven't found the right way.
O.R.: I like to shower quickly, get rid of the make-up, then go to the bus or hotel. I don't like to hang around the venue.
C.F.L.: First you're happy to have done it. Then you take a shower, if there's water... Then you drink a beer, so you can sleep!
E.F.: (Show a photo) This is the exact reason why I do it. That's the moment of complete synchronicity, between intention and effect! Whatever you beam from stage is received. This is the greatest thing that can happen to you!
T.L.: I go away for a long time, when the role is over.
R.Z.K.: I like to do just nothing, the whole day long. Lie in bed, get up, walk around town, drink a coffee, and let the day be the day, which I rarely do. The things people do at the weekend are things I never get to do. But I'd like to.
C.F.L.: Coming home is pure luxury for me. I can cook my own food again, go to bed, I don't have to talk to anybody.
P.H.L.: With Rammstein, we've only ever had 2 weeks off in summer. Just stay put somewhere, that's something we haven't done in 10 years. And I'm going to enjoy it big-time! Just go somewhere and stay there.
C.S.: (Show a photo) Before, after? I don't know. A half-hour after the concert, the atmosphere is still there. You can feel the audience's energy, the warmth... then everything gets taken apart and everyone does their job. It's very strange. The concert magic was just there... After the last note rings out and the credits start to roll, the hall lights go on, the people leave, and everyone starts with their work, packing everything quickly away. You see that you're alive for just a moment. You're there briefly, it happens... and then it's history...
(PLAYING "CLOSE CREDITS").