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Rammstein Interview

A Conversation with Guitarist Paul Landers

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Rammstein

Rammstein

Vagrant Records
Updated November 12, 2009
Listening to Rammstein is easy despite the language gap; just press play and let the crazy Germans take you to their industrial metal wonderland. But interviewing Rammstein can be a bit of a task. First, the band is located in Germany, meaning that if you live in the United States you might have to juggle odd times to get a conversation on the calendar. Second, Rammstein might not merit huge headlines in the United States but they pack arenas in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Third, although guitarist Paul Landers understands English perfectly well it’s difficult for him to reply in kind. A translator is needed to handle the bulk of the conversation. So every time you ask a question the answer is supplied by a translator.

Nonetheless, there was plenty to discuss as Rammstein has been back in the news lately, particularly for their decision to shoot an explicit video to accompany the aptly titled single “Pu—y” off the new album Liebe Ist Für Alle Da (love is for everyone). The album has been banned from public display in German stores because of the artwork and lyrical content. About.com spoke with Landers, 44, about whether the pornographic video was a publicity stunt or an artistic statement; the difference between European and American audiences and if Rammstein can ever live up to the mainstream success of the hit single “Du Hast.”

Justin M. Norton: How do you feel about the reception of the new album? It’s been a few years since you’ve come out with new material.
Paul Landers: The feedback has been great. It’s our sixth record and something we can be really proud of.

What was the band’s mindset when you wrote this album? Was it written in the studio or was the material finished?
The writing process began after a one-year break. The plans were to go on a small tour and then go to the studio or to bring out a best-of record and tour on that. None of those ideas panned out. We ended up deciding to make a record without any touring in advance. It took a while for things to gel, but it wasn’t long before things got intense. It was a long, arduous process, but also really pleasant.

It was interesting the way the band jammed on ideas. Instead of taking huge amps and monster drums, we took small amps and an electric drum kit. It allowed us to work on ideas and whole new range of sound that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible recording at our normal volume.

When you wrote the song “Pu--sy” why did you decide to shoot an explicit video to accompany it?
The song was already done, and the video director proposed the idea of shooting a porno. We deliberated on it very shortly and said, “let’s do it” without worrying about the consequences.

We thought it was cool because there’s no need for MTV or video stations with the internet. Something we hadn’t planned was that YouTube cancelled it, so then it was a question of “what now?” We found a way of showing it that was more private and hidden. It turned out that the exclusivity of the video made it a bit more complex and interesting.

Were you ever worried about being branded about the band that had done a porno video and nothing else?
(Laughs) When the band gets together to work on a song, the last thing that occurs is what the general public will think or what the consequences will be. We’ve stirred up a lot of emotions over the years. But our starting point is Germany and German topics and ideas. We take that into the world, and that’s one of the most difficult places to start. We have such a bad reputation in Germany it can’t get any worse elsewhere.

Do you think the band will ever be able to replicate the mainstream success of the single “Du Hast?”
It’s something the band has been trying to do since that point, but it’s not something you can force.

Till’s vocal performance is particularly strong on this record.
It’s just a natural development. Till (Lindeman) isn’t a studied singer. It’s just the way his style has developed over the years.

The last time I saw you tour the States in 2001 you played a Ramones cover (this was shortly after Joey Ramone’s death) in addition to the usual pyro. Do you plan to add something different or special when you come back to promote this album?
Probably, although it looks like we’ll have to put on a show with less pyro because the audiences are smaller and there is less money. We won’t be able to put on shows on the scale with European audiences, which are 10,000 people strong.

Are the U.S. fans equally as fervent as the European fans?
In the States it’s more underground and people who are independent. In the States there seems to be a lot of young fans that come to the shows. In Europe, Rammstein is considered a large act and there are a broader range of people.

What do you want people to take away from the experience of seeing Rammstein live?
Live shows are our forte. That’s what made us famous. When we get to North America in 2010 we want the fans to come see us…beer bellies, wrinkles and all.

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