Rammstein is a Insustrial metal / NDH-metal band. The band is widely accepted as part of the Neue Deutsche Härte-scene, alongside bands such as Oomph! and Die Krupps. Their sound has been dubbed as Tanz-Metall (lit. "Dance Metal"). Their songs are performed almost exclusively in German. Formed in 1994, they have sold over 12 million records worldwide. Rammstein's entire catalogue is published by Universal Music Group.
Although the majority of their songs are written in German, Rammstein has had massive success across the world, spanding to every nation. It has been confirmed that the band is reunited from their vacation and has begun writing their sixth studio album, which will be released sometime in 2008.
Richard Z. Kruspe-Bernstein, Oliver Riedel, and Christoph Schneider originally founded Rammstein after an attempt by Kruspe to compose American-influenced music with a West Berlin band called Orgasm Death Gimmicks. As Kruspe put it, "I realized it's really important to make music and make it fit with your language, which I didn't do in the past. I came back [to Germany] and said, 'It's time to make music that's really authentic'. I was starting a project called Rammstein to really try to make German music". He invited Till Lindemann, a former competitive swimmer and drummer for the garage-rock band First Arsch, to join the project as a vocalist. The four entered a contest for new bands and won, attracting the interest of Paul H. Landers, who knew them all and decided to join the band. Christian "Flake" Lorenz was the last member to join; he had played with Landers before in the punk-rock band Feeling B and was initially reluctant to come on board, but was eventually persuaded to join. Their first album was released a year later.
Rammstein was started by Richard Z. Kruspe. In 1989 he escaped from East Germany over the border between Austria and Hungary. He eventually ended up in West Berlin and started a band in 1993 (Orgasm Death Gimmicks). At that time, he was very influenced by American music, especially that of KISS. After the Berlin wall came down, he moved back home to Schwerin where Till Lindemann worked as a basket weaver and played drums in the band First Arsch.
At this time, Richard lived with Oliver Riedel (of the band The Inchtabokatables) and Christoph "Doom" Schneider (of Die Firma). Richard realized that the music he had previously created did not properly suit him. He envisioned something that would combine machines as well as the sound of hard guitars. The three started working together on a new project.
Richard soon found it extremely difficult to write both music and lyrics at the same time, so he got Lindemann to join Rammstein. Richard first discovered Till when he overheard him singing while he would weave baskets. A contest was held in Berlin for amature bands in 1994, and the winner would recieve the oppurtunity to record a four track demo CD in a professional studio. Kruspe, Schneider, Riedel, and Lindemann won the contest, and sparked the attention of Paul Landers, who wanted in on the project as upon hearing their demo. At this point, all Rammstein needed to complete their machine-sound was a keyboarder. Rammstein then attempted to recruit Christian Lorenz, who had played with Landers in Feeling B. At first, Flake was not entirely thrilled with the idea; however, after much discussion, he eventually agreed.
Rammstein takes its name indirectly from the western German town of Ramstein-Miesenbach, site of an American Air Force flight show disaster on August 28, 1988. The band's signature song, the eponymous Rammstein, is a commemoration of the tragedy that took place at the Ramstein Air Base. At the show, three Italian air force jets collided and fell into the audiance. About 40 spectators died in the first minutes, and several hundred more were injured. In the next two months, the death toll rose to 72. The extra "m" in the band's name makes it translate literally as "ramming stone." In a short period before the band became well known, they performed using the name "Rammstein-Flugschau" (literally meaning Rammstein-Airshow.)
Rammstein also has a asteroid named in its honor, 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.
- Till Lindemann – vocals
- Richard Z. Kruspe – lead guitars, backing vocals
- Paul Landers – rhythm guitars, backing vocals
- Oliver Riedel – bass guitar
- Christoph Schneider – drums
- Christian Lorenz – keyboards
Although Rammstein is often generalized as Neue Deutsche Härte, its music spans a variety of related styles, including industrial hard rock, heavy metal and electronic music with influences of punk rock, pop music and gothic rock, due to their use of keyboards to emulate strings, choirs or pianos. The band was influenced by Laibach, a Slovenian neo-classical and industrial group. Other influences include, Oomph!, and Ministry, but the contrast between individual songs such as Du riechst so gut, Bestrafe mich, Ohne dich and Te quiero puta! makes the band difficult to classify, though most simply refer to them as industrial metal. The band's very, very diverse range of influence has, unsurprisingly, made them appealing to tastes of all kinds, but they are chiefly renowned in industrial, electronica, and heavy metal circles.
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", 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". Other critics have been more positive. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide 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."
Despite Rammstein's brutalist image, many of its songs lyrics demonstrate a certain sense of humour. Zwitter ("Hermaphrodite"), for example, is a bizarre take on bisexual narcissism through the eyes of a prideful intersex person:
- Wenn die anderen Mädchen suchten (When the others were searching for girls)
- Konnt ich mich schon selbst befruchten (I could already fertilize myself)
- So bin ich dann auch nicht verzagt (So I am even not despaired)
- Wenn einer zu mir "Fick Dich" sagt (when someone tells me "Fuck yourself")
Similarly, the song Amerika ("America") features a tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the normal chorus:
- We're all living in America
- Coca-Cola, Wonderbra! Usually "Amerika ist wunderbar" ("America is wonderful"), in one chorus is sung as "Coca-Cola, Sometimes War" or "Wonderbra" the latter being a reference to the popular Bra in America that enhances the size of breasts. Ironically, Wonderbra is a Canadian product
- We're all living in America
- America, America!
Some of their songs show unexpected influences, usually from poems and German folk tales. Dalai Lama is an adaptation of the famous poem Der Erlkönig by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Hilf mir ("Help me") was inspired by the short story Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug (from Der Struwwelpeter) by Heinrich Hoffmann. Spieluhr ("Music-box") borrows the line Hoppe, hoppe, Reiter from a nursery rhyme of the same name. Rosenrot ("Rose-red") is inspired by the poem Heidenröslein by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the story Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot by the Brothers Grimm.
Nearly all of Rammstein's songs are in German. However, the band did record English versions of Engel ("Angel"), Du hast ("You have", or "You hate", as "hasst" is phonetically identical, giving the title a double meaning), and Amerika, as well as covers of the songs Stripped (Depeche Mode) and Pet Sematary (The Ramones). In addition, the songs Amerika, Stirb nicht vor mir//Don't die before I do and Moskau ("Moscow") contain not only German verses, but also English and Russian choruses, respectively; Te quiero puta! ("I want you, whore!") is entirely in Spanish. Oliver Riedel commented that, "German language suits heavy metal music. French might be the language of love, but German is the language of anger".
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 ...) (where 'vagina' can also refer to the woman), but it could also be interpreted as Willst Du bis zum Tod, der scheide ..., which would have the meaning of "Will you, until Death will separate, ...". 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 (double S) which means "you hate" and Du hast (single S) which means "you have". The verbs are hassen ("to hate") and haben ("to have"). The wordgame is later resolved as the line is completed; Du hast mich gefragt ("You [have] asked me"). But confusingly, the band did also make an English version of the song named You hate.
Rammstein often uses rhyming to create similar effects. For example, from the song Los ("-less" or "[Let's] go!"):
- Es ist hoffnungslos (It is hopeless)
- Sinnlos (Senseless)
- Hilflos (Helpless)
- Sie sind gottlos (They are godless)
The last two lines above can be interpreted in three ways. Sie sind Gott. / Los! can mean "They are God. / Go!"; Sie sind Gott los can be translated as "They got rid of God;" while Sie sind gottlos means "They are godless, profane or wicked". However, in the context of the rest of the lyrics, the most likely meaning is the third one, godless.
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").
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 on-stage antics have included:
- Band members using head-mounted flame-throwers ("Lycopodium Masks", also called "Dragon Masks") while singing/playing. In the Feuer frei! ("Open fire!" or "Fire at will!", lit. "Fire freely!") video for example.
- Till Lindemann singing an entire song while on fire (example: "Rammstein" video); he now uses twin flame-throwers strapped to his arms.
- Till Lindemann singing into a prop telephone that bursts into confetti (during the song Du hast, but only during the Sehnsucht and Mutter tours).
- Christian "Flake" Lorenz in full bondage gear being led by Till Lindemann during stage performances of Bück dich ("Bend down" or "Bend over").
- Exploding drumsticks, drums, microphones and boots.
- Till Lindemann removing a large fire-cracker from his pants - which explodes, emitting sparks during the song Das alte Leid ("The old sorrow" or "The old pain").
- Richard having flamethrowers attached to his guitar during the solo in Adios ("Good-bye").
- Rockets fired along cables strung above the audience.
- Spark-shooting longbows, drumsticks, boots and guns.
- Christian "Flake" Lorenz destroying a keyboard in the style of Nine Inch Nails and The Who.
- Microphones, guitars and keyboards on fire.
- Band members surfing the crowd in a rubber boat.
- Christian "Flake" Lorenz driving around on a Segway HT during "Amerika".
- Till Lindemann doing a jig with fireworks in the front of his shoes, shooting sparks in front of him in Weißes Fleisch ("White flesh").
- Till Lindemann unzipping his pants and pulling out a dildo with a hidden connected hose, which in turn sprays water onto the crowd and band members during Bück dich, can be viewed in footage of the 1998 Family Values Tour.
- Christian "Flake" Lorenz sitting in a large cooking pot, which Till Lindemann blasts with a flame-thrower when Lorenz ducks in Mein Teil ("My part"). In the same sequence Lindemann chases Lorenz around the stage with a microphone built into a carving knife.
- Till Lindeman shooting a firework shaped into an arrow up above the stage with a bow to light a fuse, which in turn, sets off the fireworks rigged on wires above the crowd. (Reise, Reise Tour).
Rammstein's shows have become increasingly elaborate since the first ones over ten years ago, when their effects were confined to pouring kerosene around the stage and setting it alight. 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. Since the band frequently incorporates fake accidents into their shows, it’s unclear how often Lindemann actually gets burned. Of Lindemann, bandmate Christoph "Doom" Schneider says "Till gets burned all the time, but he likes the pain".
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?"
At the Metaltown Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden on July 30, 2005, Till suffered a knee injury when Flake accidentally ran into him with the Segway. Rammstein subsequently had no choice but to cancel their unfinished tour. Their remaining tour was to take place in Korea and Japan.
Rammstein have not toured the United States (and for that fact North America) since their 'Mutter' (Mother) tour in 2001. There is however speculation that they might tour North America on their next tour after their next and sixth album comes out. It has already been confirmed that Rammstein is already recording songs for their next album in Los Angeles county, California in the United States as per an interview with Richard Kruspe (guitarist of Rammstein) by thegauntlet.
Their onstage antics have also led them to trouble as well. During their stint on the American Family Values Tour 1998, alongside acts such as rapper Ice Cube, Korn, and others, 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 spent the night in jail.
- Herzeleid (1995)
- Sehnsucht (1997)
- Mutter (2001)
- Reise, Reise (2004)
- Rosenrot (2005)
- TBA (2008)
- Live aus Berlin (1999)
- Völkerball (2006)