KMFDM is an industrial rock band and the brainchild of founding member Sascha Konietzko. KMFDM was founded in Paris, France on February 29, 1984 as a joint effort between Konietzko and German painter/multi-media performer Udo Sturm to perform for the opening of an exhibition of young European artists at the Grand Palais. Sturm had no lasting musical aspirations, and Konietzko was more interested in studio recordings than the occasional art performance, so he began collaborating with then-Hamburg-based studio owner Raymond Watts and drummer Klaus Schandelmaier, who adopted the stage name En Esch. After working the Hamburg underground music scene and releasing three albums on European labels, the band began its long-standing relationship with Wax Trax! Records when their 1988 album Don't Blow Your Top was licensed to the label for US distribution. After touring with Ministry in 1989–1990, they signed directly to Wax Trax! and quickly became a part of the industrial music scene in Chicago that included Ministry, Front 242 and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. Konietzko then moved to Chicago in early 1991, and Esch followed a year later. After close friend and president of Wax Trax! Records Jim Nash died of an illness complicated by AIDS, KMFDM relocated to Seattle, Washington.
The current line-up of KMFDM consists of Sascha Konietzko and his wife Lucia Cifarelli (vocals), Andy Selway (drums), Steve White (guitars), and Jules Hodgson (guitar). En Esch, Raymond Watts, and guitarist Günter Schulz are notable key members in the band's history.
Other notable musicians that have contributed to KMFDM projects include Bill Rieflin of Ministry/R.E.M., Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy and ohGr, John DeSalvo of Chemlab, Tim Skold of Shotgun Messiah/Marilyn Manson, F.M. Einheit of Einstürzende Neubauten, Nina Hagen, and spoken word artist Nicole Blackman. Additionally, Chemlab, Die Warzau, Nine Inch Nails, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, and Giorgio Moroder have remixed music for KMFDM.
While recognized within the ranks of Nitzer Ebb, Ministry, and Skinny Puppy as pioneers in introducing industrial music to mainstream audiences, KMFDM describes their sound as "the Ultra-Heavy Beat". KMFDM's earliest output is more accurately described as performance art, as Konietzko incorporated not only visuals but non-musical devices (e.g. vacuum cleaners) as instruments. Their albums from the 1980s featured heavy sampling and studio manipulations, and the primary instruments used were synthesizers and drum machines. With the addition of guitarist Günter Schulz, KMFDM shifted to a more "industrial metal" style, with heavy guitar riffs driving their sound. With the release of Angst in 1993, KMFDM were discovered by the mainstream with their hit single "A Drug Against War". Despite the band's "anti-MTV", "anti-mainstream" attitude, the video of "A Drug Against War" was circulated in heavy rotation on MTV and was even featured on the MTV cartoon Beavis & Butt-head.
Since the release of 1989's UAIOE, KMFDM's music has been a fusion of electronic and heavy metal, with occasional elements of reggae, ska, and even rap. Many songs feature prominent backing vocals by female singers, notably Dorona Alberti, Cheryl Wilson, Christine Siewart, Sigrid Meyer, Jennifer Ginsberg, Abby Travis, and Lucia Cifarelli. Frequent KMFDM contributor Raymond Watts incorporates the style of his own musical project PIG, which features macabre lyrics, guttural vocals, and heavy, guitar-laden arrangements.
After the band's three-year hiatus which ended in 2002, KMFDM adopted a more "traditional" rock sound, that is, recording and performing with a typical band lineup — lead vocalist, lead and rhythm guitarists, bassist, and drummer — while continuing to incorporate electronics and sampling.
From KMFDM's inception, the band has been highly political. Their lyrics typically call for the rejection of and resistance to incompetent rule in capitalist society, as well as outrage over terrorism, violence, oppression, censorship, and, most explicitly, war. Their songs often feature samples of news broadcasts and speeches by political leaders, usually in an expression of irony.
KMFDM are not without a sense of humor, however. Nearly every album features a song in which they lampoon themselves, particularly evident in the lyrics to "More & Faster", "Sucks", "Light", "Inane", and "Megalomaniac". Their knack for self-parody came to a head in 2003 with the song "Intro" from the album WWIII, in which Konietzko takes a jab at each band member — including himself — with a tongue-in-cheek and slightly irreverent verse. Often the band performs the encore after the crowd repeatedly chants "KMFDM SUCKS!".
Konietzko has cited T. Rex, David Bowie, and Frank Zappa as inspiration in the early stages of KMFDM. Zappa is heavily referenced on the albums Don't Blow Your Top and UAIOE.
Recording, performance, and fanbase
Since the beginning, KMFDM has been one of the hardest working industrial bands in the business. They have released at least one album or EP every year since 1986 and toured extensively for nearly every release. Even during their brief hiatus (1999–2002), Konietzko and other band members engaged in a number of side projects (see below).
The early albums were recorded in Hamburg, Germany. In 1988, KMFDM began working with the famous (yet now defunct) industrial label Wax Trax! Records and relocated to Chicago the following year. After reforming in 2002, KMFDM worked with the Metropolis and Sanctuary record labels. In 2004, Konietzko started his own record label, aptly titled KMFDM Records.
Previously confined to touring the United States and only portions of Europe and Japan, KMFDM embarked on a 2004 world tour in which they performed in Australia, Russia, Canada, and much of Europe in addition to the US.
KMFDM has had a longstanding commitment to their fans, striving to present themselves as personable and approachable entertainers. Konietzko and most KMFDM members both past and present often converse with fans via e-mail and chat rooms. The band tours seemingly non-stop, pausing briefly to record an album. At most concert venues, KMFDM typically mingles with the fans before and after the show to sign autographs, pose for photos, and answer questions. Konietzko and the band's representatives have experimented with ways for fans to interact directly with the band. In 2002, KMFDM launched the "Horde", an exclusive fan club in which members had the opportunity to attend a private meet-and-greet with the band before every show, as well as gaining access to members-only music and footage online. In 2004, they experimented with "FanKam", a project in which a member of the audience was selected to record that night's show, as well as some back-stage antics, with a hand-held digital video camera. The resulting footage was incorporated into the 20th Anniversary World Tour DVD the following year, which also included fan photos submitted to the KMFDM official website. In March 2007, KMFDM encouraged fans to call a special "FanPhone" and leave a voice message. The song "Superpower" from 2007's Tohuvabohu includes sound-clips from these messages; likewise, a video for the song features footage shot and submitted by fans.
During the summer of 2006, Metropolis Records announced that it would reissue KMFDM's entire Wax Trax!-era studio album back catalog, which had been out of print since the early 2000s. The albums were released in chronological order in groups of two or three every couple months from September 2006 to May 2007, and are now all back in print.
In 2007, KMFDM released their sixteenth studio album, titled Tohuvabohu, a word derived from the biblical Hebrew phrase "tohu va bohu" meaning "without form and void" or "chaos and utter confusion"
KMFDM is an initialism for the nonsensical and grammatically incorrect German phrase "Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid", which literally translates as "no majority for the pity" or "no majority for the empathy" but is typically given the loose translation of "no pity for the majority" or "no mercy for the masses". The most common account of the origin of the name involves Konietzko cutting headlines from German newspapers and shuffling around the words to produce the now infamous expression. The name was shortened to "KMFDM" in 1985 in order to simplify the long phrase, with one popular account having Raymond Watts originating the initialism to avoid the difficulties he had in pronouncing the German.
Confusion often arises regarding the correct German expansion of the acronym, primarily stemming from the aforementioned language issues. In German, nouns possess genders that require proper declension of any preceding articles or adjectives. In the true phrase, the articles preceding the nouns "Mehrheit" and "Mitleid" are inflected for the wrong gender. However, swapping the two nouns yields the grammatically correct "Kein Mitleid Für Die Mehrheit", which additionally translates directly as "no pity for the majority". Adding to the confusion is the fact that this "correct" phrase appears within the lyrics to the song "Megalomaniac", which Konietzko revealed was done in order to confuse people who were always telling the band their name was wrong.
When the band first toured the US in 1989–1990, band members and their associates began using alternate English meanings for their name to tease journalists who did not understand German. The most prominent and most widely repeated was "Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode", which is attributed to Shawn Joyce. After the release of Angst, TVT/Wax Trax! Records launched a promotion (without consent of the band) in which fans were encouraged to come up with at least 1,001 different meanings for KMFDM. College radio DJs Kinslow and Smith of WKGC Florida won the contest with an entry of more than 1,200 potential meanings.
The lyrics to the song "Moron" feature a slight variant of the traditional translation: "no pity for the masses". Likewise, the song "Light" reveals another possible alternate meaning: "Keiner Macht für dich mehr", which translates as "no power for you anymore".
The song "Liebeslied" from KMFDM's 1990 album Naïve contains an unlicensed sample of "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. The band was threatened with legal action by Orff's publisher (Orff himself died in 1982), and the album was withdrawn from production in 1993. The following year, a new version of the album was released entitled Naïve/Hell to Go, containing remixes of several songs, including the offending track (with the sample removed) which was renamed "Leibesleid (Infringement Mix)" (the modified name is a play of words in German: Liebeslied = "love song", Leibesleid = "physical pain"). Consequently, the original release of Naïve has become highly collectible among KMFDM fans. KMFDM still occasionally performs the original version of "Liebeslied" in concert. Live versions, complete with the controversial sample, can be accessed on both the Beat by Beat by Beat and 20th Anniversary World Tour 2004 DVDs.
Columbine High School shootings
In wake of the Columbine High School massacre it was revealed that lyrics to KMFDM songs ("Anarchy", "Power", "Son of a Gun", "Stray Bullet", "Waste") were posted on the website of shooter Eric Harris, and that the massacre coincided with the release date of the album Adios and the birthday of Adolf Hitler. The media was quick to jump on the apparent connection of the massacre to violent entertainment and Nazism. In response, Konietzko issued a statement the following day:
First and foremost, KMFDM would like to express their deep and heartfelt sympathy for the parents, families and friends of the murdered and injured children in Littleton. We are sick and appalled, as is the rest of the nation, by what took place in Colorado yesterday.
KMFDM are an art form — not a political party. From the beginning, our music has been a statement against war, oppression, fascism and violence against others. While some of the former band members are German as reported in the media, none of us condone any Nazi beliefs whatsoever.
Jokela school shootings
On November 7, 2007, nine individuals (six pupils, the school principal, school nurse, and the gunman) died at the Jokela school shooting in Tuusula, Finland. Prior to the rampage, shooter Pekka-Eric Auvinen posted a video on YouTube titled "Jokela High School Massacre 11/7/2007", which used KMFDM's song "Stray Bullet" from the 1997 album Symbols as background music.
KMFDM has a long-standing relationship with commercial artist Aidan "Brute!" Hughes, who creates the iconic artwork adorning almost all of the band's albums and singles. Brute!'s artwork is also featured in KMFDM's music videos for "A Drug Against War" and "Son of a Gun", and on the band's promotional t-shirts.
Prior to the 2006-2007 remastering and rerelease of KMFDM's back catalog, the design and packaging of the albums were inconsistent. Upon their release on KMFDM Records, they were repackaged by designer Justin Gammon to be visually similar. These changes included standard organization of the liner notes, lyrics, photos, and songwriting/guest musician credits.
Around the time the album Naïve was released, a member of the press assumed that KMFDM followed a pattern of naming their albums and certain songs with a single five-letter word. Konietzko adopted the idea and every studio album thereafter was named in this manner, even the compilation albums (Agogo, Retro). In typical KMFDM fashion, the band began mocking their self-imposed conformity by intentionally misspelling words so they would meet the five-letter criteria (Xtort, Attak).
In 1997, they took the concept a step further by adopting five unpronounceable symbols as the album's official title (see image), imitating similar stunts previously done by Led Zeppelin (see Led Zeppelin IV) and Prince (see Love Symbol). The band, fans, and record executives alike simply referred to the album as Symbols out of convenience, although some listeners — in an attempt to keep the title within the five letter "mold" — referred to the album as either Icons or Curse, alluding to the symbols used in comics to indicate profanity. This five-symbol word is also apparently used in the song "Down and Out" according to the printed lyrics included with the album; however, it is bleeped out of the recording.
Often, the five-letter album and song titles are portrayed in a distinct color, possibly to convey apparent importance to those particular words.
The tradition of five-letter-word album titles was broken in 2005 with the release of their fifteenth studio album, Hau Ruck, which translates to "Heave Ho". Likewise, none of the album's song titles are five letter words. However, the title of their 2007 release, Tohuvabohu, while not a five letter word, is composed of five syllables.
|Date of Release||Title||Label||Notes|
|1984||Opium||Initially released on 200 cassette tapes to be sold at live venues. Reissued in 2002 on KMFDM Records.|
|1986||What Do You Know, Deutschland?||Z Records, Skysaw Records||Reissued in 2006 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|1988||Don't Blow Your Top||Skysaw Records, Wax Trax! Records||Reissued in 2006 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|1989||UAIOE||Wax Trax! Records||Reissued in 2006 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|1990||Naïve||Wax Trax! Records||Naïve was removed from distribution in 1993 due to an unlicensed sample of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna" on the track "Liebeslied". It was reissued as Naïve/Hell to Go in 1994 with several tracks remixed, and reissued again in 2006 with tracks from both releases on Metropolis/KMFDM Records. Only the original release of Naïve contains the original version of "Liebeslied" and has become a collector's item.|
|September 17, 1992||Money||Wax Trax! Records||Reissued in 2006 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|October 12, 1993||Angst||Wax Trax!/TVT||Reissued in 2006 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|March 1, 1994||Naïve/Hell to Go||Wax Trax!/TVT||Reissue of Naïve with several tracks remixed and the unlicensed sample removed. Unique tracks included on the 2006 reissue of Naïve.|
|April 4, 1995||Nihil||Wax Trax!/TVT||Nihil is one of only a handful of KMFDM releases that do not feature cover artwork by Brute!. The cover features a painting by Francesca Sundsten, wife of drummer Bill Rieflin. Reissued in 2007 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|June 25, 1996||Xtort||Wax Trax!/TVT||Reissued in 2007 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|September 23, 1997||Symbols||Wax Trax!/TVT||Reissued in 2007 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|April 20, 1999||Adios||Wax Trax!/TVT||Adios was intended to be KMFDM's final album due to an escalating rift among the core members of the band. It marks the last appearance of core members En Esch and Günter Schulz on a KMFDM record. Reissued in 2007 on Metropolis/KMFDM Records.|
|March 5, 2002||Attak||Metropolis Records||Attak marked the return of KMFDM after a three-year hiatus, with founder Sascha Konietzko as the sole original member. See also MDFMK.|
|September 23, 2003||WWIII||Sanctuary Records|
|September 13, 2005||Hau Ruck||Metropolis/KMFDM Records||While it was initially promoted with a working title of FUBAR, Hau Ruck broke a long-standing KMFDM tradition of five-letter album titles.|
|August 21, 2007||Tohuvabohu||Metropolis/KMFDM Records||In biblical Hebrew, the phrase "tohu va bohu" means "without form and void" or "chaos and utter confusion".|
|Date of Release||Title||Label||Notes|
|1995||Year of the Pig||Wax Trax!/TVT||Collection of seven previously released songs included as a bonus disc with the Canadian release of Juke Joint Jezebel.|
|November 17, 1998||Agogo||Wax Trax!/TVT||Collection of rare and unreleased tracks. Contains a cover of U2's "Mysterious Ways".|
|November 17, 1998||Retro||Wax Trax!/TVT||Retro was originally a promotional disc released to radio stations as a playlist. It was reissued as a "greatest hits" compilation in 1998. All tracks are taken from earlier KMFDM albums.|
|October 11, 2004||84-86||KMFDM Records||84-86 is a two-disc collection of previously unreleased material from KMFDM's early career. It contains cover versions of "Get It On/Bang a Gong" by T. Rex and "Too Much Monkey Business" by Chuck Berry.|
|Date of Release||Title||Label||Notes|
|2003||Sturm & Drang Tour 2002||Metropolis Records||Includes highlights from KMFDM's comeback world tour in support of their album Attak.|
|2004||WWIII Live 2003||Sanctuary Records||Chronicles KMFDM's world tour in support of their album WWIII.|
Singles and EPs
|Date of Release||Title||Label||Notes|
|1987||Kickin' Ass||Z Records||Out of print.|
|November 1988||Don't Blow Your Top||Wax Trax! Records||Out of print.|
|June 1989||More & Faster||Wax Trax! Records||Out of print.|
|August 1989||Virus||Wax Trax! Records||Out of print.|
|August 1990||Godlike||Wax Trax! Records||Out of print. Includes a cover of The Osmonds' "Crazy Horses".|
|June 1991||Naïve/The Days of Swine & Roses||Wax Trax! Records||Collaborative single with My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult; out of print.|
|June 25, 1991||Split||Wax Trax! Records||Out of print.|
|April 24, 1992||Vogue||Wax Trax! Records||Out of print.|
|April 28, 1992||Money||Wax Trax! Records||Out of print.|
|September 15, 1992||Help Us/Save Us/Take Us Away||Wax Trax! Records||Out of print.|
|October 1992||Sucks||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|December 20, 1993||A Drug Against War||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|February 15, 1994||Light||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|October 31, 1994||Glory||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|December 1, 1994||Sin Sex & Salvation||Wax Trax!/TVT||Collaborative EP with PIG; out of print.|
|February 28, 1995||Juke Joint Jezebel||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|1995||Juke Joint Jezebel: The Giorgio Morodor Mixes||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|October 31, 1995||Brute||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|October 31, 1995||Trust/Juke Joint Jezebel||Wax Trax!/TVT||Import-only single from Germany; out of print.|
|October 12, 1996||Rules||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|January 20, 1998||MDFMK||Wax Trax!/TVT||Out of print.|
|February 5, 2002||Boots||Metropolis Records||First release following the reforming of KMFDM. Includes several cover versions of the Nancy Sinatra song "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'".|
|May 9, 2006||Ruck Zuck||Metropolis/KMFDM Records||Includes a cover of "Der Mussolini" by D.A.F..|
|February 19, 2008||Brimborium||Metropolis/KMFDM Records||Remixes of songs from 2007's Tahuvabohu.|
Videos and DVDs
|Date of Release||Title||Label||Notes|
|1997||Beat by Beat||Wax Trax!/TVT||VHS|
|2001||Beat by Beat by Beat||Wax Trax!/TVT||DVD release of Beat by Beat, includes additional concert footage, music videos, and interviews|
|2002||Sturm & Drang Tour 2002||Metropolis Records||DVD|
|2004||WWIII Tour 2003||Sanctuary Records||DVD|
|2005||20th Anniversary World Tour 2004||KMFDM Records||DVD|
|Date of Release||Title||Song||Notes|
|1992||Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth||"Ooh La La"|
|1995||Bad Boys||"Juke Joint Jezebel"|
|1995||Hideaway||"Go To Hell"|
|1995||Mortal Kombat||"Juke Joint Jezebel"|
|1995||Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie||"Ultra"|
|1997||Mortal Kombat: Annihilation||"Megalomaniac"|
|1997||Wing Commander: Prophecy (video game)||"Stray Bullet"|
|1998||Test Drive 5||"Anarchy", "Megalomaniac"|
|2004||Spider-Man 2 (video game)||Entire score|
|Band||Song||Release||Date of Release||Notes|
|A Flock of Seagulls||"Space Age Love Song"||Greatest Hits Remixed||1999|
|Bloodhound Gang||"The Bad Touch"||The Bad Touch (single) (import version)||1999|
|Braindead Sound Machine||"Walking After Midnight"|
|Combichrist||"Get Your Body Beat"||Get Your Body Beat||June 6, 2006|
|Die Krupps||"Iron Man"|
|Dink||"Get On It"|
|Evil Mothers||"I Like Fur"|
|Front 242||"Modern Angel"|
|Girls Under Glass||"Ten Million Dollars"|
|Good Courage||"Did I Deserve This"|
|Human Factors Lab||"Adam and Eve"|
|Legion Within||"Cover Me"|
|Phil Lewis (L.A. Guns)||"Hello There"|
|Phil Lewis (L.A. Guns)||"My Michelle"|
|Lords of Acid||"Lover"|
|Love and Rockets||"Resurrection Hex"|
|Lucia||"Monkey Puzzle Tree"||From the Land of Volcanos||May 3, 2003|
|Mindless Self Indulgence||"Straight To Video"|
|Missing Persons||"Walking in L.A."||Remixed Hits||1999|
|My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult||"The Days of Swine & Roses"||Naïve/The Days of Swine & Roses||June 1991|
|O.N.A.||"Nie Chcę Nigdy - Babcia"|
|PIG||"No One Gets Out of Her Alive"||No One Gets Out of Her Alive||January 21, 1998|
|PIG||"Blades"||Red Raw & Sore||1994|
|Rammstein||"Du Riechst So Gut (Remix by Günter Schulz & Hiwatt Marshall)";
"Du Riechst So Gut (Remix by Sascha Konietzko)";
"Du Riechst So Gut ("Migräne-"remix by Günter Schulz)"
|Du Riechst So Gut '98 single||1998|
|Rammstein||"Stripped (FKK Mix by Günter Schulz)"||Stripped single||1998|
|Jack Russell (Great White) & Dweezil Zappa||"Unchained"|
|Sabotage Q.C.Q.C.?||"To Be"|
|Sister Machine Gun||"Addiction"|
|Skinny Puppy||"Addiction"||Remix Dystemper||October 20, 1998|
|Mark Slaughter (Slaughter)||"Rock And Roll"|
|Swamp Terrorists||"Dive-Right Jab"|
|White Zombie||"Black Sunshine"||Nightcrawlers: The KMFDM Remixes||October 6, 1992|
|White Zombie||"Thunder Kiss '65"||Nightcrawlers: The KMFDM Remixes||October 6, 1992|
|The Young Gods||"Kissing The Sun"|
|Zombie Girl||"Creepy Crawler"|