P.S. – Philipp Stolzl (Director).
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).
T.L.: Our demands were high, as it was now in English, was about to be released internationally and meant to be something that clicks. Then, he comes along with this young lady and we were enthralled.
P.S.: Black & white. The heroic aesthetics; nature, body, spear-throwing, etc, etc. I thought, that this is possibly a really good world for Rammstein. These guys are all pretty much men's men.
That all adds up well, actually.
T.L.: Record companies, the close circle of our staff, all of them were enthralled. Friends, those who saw it, were all simply thrilled by it and loved the images. The riff fitted well. All the cuts on the rhythm. And then came the punch in the guts!
I wasn't really familiar with all of the old Leni Riefenstahl stuff. All I got to see was the video, first as a rough cut and then in the end, edited and ready and thought: wow! Even today, I still think it's great.
P.H.L.: Depeche Mode is one of those bands, where you just say the name and everyone starts nodding. There are bands who have a kind of carte blanche whatever they do, which goes through all classes and tastes.
C.S.: For me and my band colleagues, Depeche Mode was always an important band. I was a big Depeche Mode fan back in the 1980's, as they began as a boy band.
R.Z.K.: I was around 14 and liked hard music, heavy metal stuff. On the other hand, I always liked pop too. I always had to keep something secret, as Depeche Mode were too much pop. But I liked the melodies and Martin Gore's songwriting talent.
C.S.: Then, when we received this offer, to cover one of their songs, we were able to choose which one ourselves, which was our contribution to this tribute album and a totally special challenge. We put a lot of effort into doing it and were absolutely meticulous.
R.Z.K.: It took time until we had a version, and could say: that's cool! It was really difficult in the studio, as Till had to keep singing: Let me see you strip down to the bone and he couldn't sing "down to the bone". We couldn't do this "down to the bone". It didn't work, so we just left it out. This is why it ended up as Let me see you stripped.
C.S.: We didn't want to cover the song one-to-one, we wanted to make a Rammstein version of it. We succeeeded in that with "Stripped".
P.H.L.: We thought, if we have to sing in English, then we'll do something very different, to open up another level with it.
C.S.: The video director made a suggestion of sorts, just how the video could look by using some footage from Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia film. He said: "I can imagine the video working with these aesthetics". When we saw it for the first time, we all said unanimously: Why don't you just use it as it is? That would be cool. Of course, that was naive and we didn't consider the possible consequences.
P.H.L.; I endorse that video to this day. It's so interesting and I believe, you can't say, how far you can separate art and politics from each other. Some say: if someone who pushes a child from a bridge, I don't want to see his pictures. Another says: He shoved a kid off of a bridge, but the picture is great so who cares? It's just a picture and you can argue, whether it's ok to like it or not.
P.S.: The reception of heroically filmed sportspeople in black and white is only tasteless, when you know the context and you say: Ah, that's the Olympia film, the 1936 Olympics, prior to which was the Nuremberg Rally film. If you know about that, the images are more or less contaminated.
They struggled for years with this, to my mind, ambiguous accusation, of having right-wing tendencies, due to the claim: "it's so teutonic, they must have been Nazis".
R.Z.K.: Sure, questions arose regarding right-wing radicalism. We could explain this well, but suddenly, we had no more explanations, other than it is an aesthetic and not a political statement.
C.S.: It fit well in discussions regarding our times too. It was during a time in which people in Germany discussed profusely. Who are we anyway? How much longer must we continue to discuss this?
P.S.: Everything is subject to irony in pop and eventually finds itself reborn. I always used to think, it must be allowed, to attempt the craziest experiments.
T.L.: That is what is most paradox, that when you... When comparing footage from the German Spartakiade sport festival, as it was known in the GDR, and footage directed by Leni Riefenstahl, there are hardly any differences. These mulitudes of people, that perform the exact same movements uniformly and form a hammer, sickle and wreath and do the wave whilst creating different figures out of clubs and presenting the workers and farmers state, there was no big difference!
P.S.: The Riefenstahl stuff is so monolithic in its crazy editing ideas, there's a lot of film aethetics in it, which is quite similar to modern music videos. The way the singer is made to look somehow heroic, the non-linear editing techniques, the emphasis on rhythm and collage and backwards and forwards. You interact freely and Bauhaus-like with the material. She did all of this, invented it and inevitably went too far.
T.L.: That was the ultimate outcry in feature films. Everyone went crazy. These were commentaries and articles. Then, foreign musicians came along, I won't mention any names, but they felt aggrevated by it and wanted to have us shot, including Tim Renner, our label boss. That was a bad situation. As I said though, we were really happy and thought: what a great video. It was on MTV for a whole week until the trouble began. But I think it's a great video. Whether we would do it again is another thing.
R.Z.K.: I've said it before, but I do think it's a shame, that probably no one would make a video anything like that again today. I still think it's beautiful. It was a really beutiful video. The paradox of the video is, that world's join forces in it. There's the pop world of Depeche Mode, this dark Rammstein world and the Olympia film from Riefenstahl. That's a fine synergy.
P.S.: The horror stuff is part of the Rammstein feeling. This sexual crossing of frontiers, blood, fire, piss, SM, drugs etc., etc. These six guys up there on stage, that's always sinister and has a certain darkness, a threatening gloom, which belongs to us. And I think, that "Stripped", somehow also... blends in well with it.
C.S.: The guys from Depeche Mode also saw it positively. They had never been confronted with, a cover of one of their songs quite like this one. One so hard, but nevertheless tangible and danceable. They were definitely somewhat impressed.
P.H.L: David Gahan was apparently pretty overwhelmed by the video, because it was different to all of the other Depeche Mode cover versions that he knew. But I don't know exactly, if this is correct.