Rammstein Biography

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The beginning

The history of the band starts with Richard, who accidentally walked into a riot in Berlin on October 10, 1989. He was arrested by the police and put into a truck, which drove him for hours to Weißensee. There he had to stand in front of a wall for six hours. If he would move, he got hit. After three days he was released.[1] This experience made him want to leave the GDR. He took the "green route" over Hungary and Austria to West Berlin. After the wall came down, he moved to Schwerin to join Till. By that time, Till was working as a basket weaver. Every once in a while he would sing during his work. Richard stood there, listened and liked his voice. He recorded Till's singing just for fun. This was when Richard was already living in a flat with Olli and Schneider.[2] He created the plan to start a new band. That was in 1993.[1] After Olli left his previous band, The Inchtabokatables, Richard asked him to join his new project, to which he agreed. After that, he would also ask Schneider, who also joined the band.[3] This three-piece started jamming and build up early versions of songs.[2] Remembering the recordings of Till's singing, that he made two or three weeks earlier, he also asked Till, if he would be part of the band.[1] Till came to Berlin and did not get a single note out until he drank a bottle of liqueur.[1] He then went away with a tape full of music, to which he started singing English lyrics.[4] The band heard about the Metrobeat competition, to which a tape of demos had to be sent in. They recorded four songs, one of them being an early and English version of Weißes Fleisch, called White Flesh back then,[5] and sent in the tape under the name Tempelprayers.[6] They immediately won the competition. The prize was a week in a professional recording studio.[1]

The first ever band photo, 1994
©Rammstein Archive

Noticing that success, Paul heard of the band.[1] At first Schneider did not want to play with him in a band. He was in different bands with him before, like Feeling B and Die Firma. Schneider even took it so far, that he said he would leave the band if Paul would join. This was due to Schneider leaving Feeling B after a disastrous concert, promising to himself, to never want to see any of them again.[7] But he still liked Paul and stayed in the band. But the band also wanted Flake to join the band, because they wanted his instrument and he was different from other keyboarders.[3] After a while the band wanted to take band photos, to which Flake agreed to be on.[7] Later the band told Flake, that they would really like him to be in the band. But if he doesn't want to be a band member, then there is no way back.[7] The only demand Flake had, was that the band wouldn't sing English, but German.[8]

The band name

To that point, the band was called Tempelprayers. But the name Rammstein comes from an early idea of Schneider, Flake and Paul.[1] They wanted to have a band and call it Rammstein-Flugschau. They had that name already written inside their Robur Lo during their time in Feeling B. Accidentally they wrote Rammstein, with two M instead of one.[8] Before agreeing on Rammstein, the band also had other names in mind: Milch (milk), Erde (earth) or Mutter (mother).[9]

First concerts

The real first ever concert must've been in February '94, while the band was called Tempelprayers. The band must've been playing as a four or five-piece (it is not known if Paul was already a band-member at that point), in front of a group of people from the music industry and journalists. It is also not known if this performance was also part of the prize for winning the competition, or if it was part of the competition. One visitor in the audience was Tatjana Besson, who played in the band Die Firma together with Schneider.[9]

The first real Rammstein concert was held on March 24, 1994.[10] Their first show was as the unannounced support for the band Acker Selection (sometimes also referred to as Golden Acker Rhythm Kings), which was the band of Flake's brother.[11] The people were shocked by the band, who were a complete contrast to Acker Selection, which was more fun and comedy-driven.[11] After the show, Flake also played with the band of his brother.[11]

During the first concerts Till wore two sunglasses over another to hide his anxiety and for the audience to not directly recognize him.[9]

Record label and Manager

Emanuel Fialik
©Thorsten Zahn

One of the first record labels to approach the band and offer them the possibility to record a demo tape was the label K&P-Musik. The band went to their offices and was listening to their first demo together with employees of the record label. But the songs were not hard enough, so the band got a CD of Tass, and left.[12]

Their soon-to-be manager Emu already knew members of the band from the GDR. He knew Richard from Orgasm Death Gimmick and Paul and Flake from Feeling B. In 1993 the band approached him and asked him to be their manager. They played four songs for him (known songs were Schwarzes Glas, Feuerräder and Rammstein). He declined. But he took the demo-tape home and listened to the songs over and over again. He only agreed to be the manager of the band, after he saw them during a concert at the Knaack club in Berlin. The band was still interested in working with him, so he became their manager.[13]

Now having Emu as their manager, the band had a contract with his company Pilgrim Management. Pilgrim sent out demo tapes to many different record labels in 1994. Only after Motor Music showed interest in the band, some other labels responded, too. But the band went with the first because the contract was only about three albums.[14]

Herzeleid

Now with a management and a record label behind them, the band was ready to record their first album. But they had no producer. To find someone for the job, they looked at who produced their favourite bands. Their first choice was Greg Hunter, who had worked with Killing Joke. The band invited him to Berlin to watch them rehearse. After the first few songs, he did not say anything. After a few more the band saw him asleep on the couch. But after they listened to the album Deaf Dumb Blind by Clawfinger and liking the sound, they decided on getting Jacob Hellner to produce the album, who happily agreed. But he would only work in Sweden. The band recorded the album in the Swedish Polar Studios, built by the band ABBA. They were in the studio for about a week, where they did the drum tracks, before moving to Jacob's own studio. The band took about three months to record the album. After the recording was done, the first decision was to let Jacob also mix the album. After Richard, who was the only band member left there, listened to the mix, he called every other band member, their manager Emu and people of their record company to have a meeting about the mix, because he thought it was too bad. They decided to get it mixed by Ronald Prent instead. Richard thinks, that Ronald saved the album.[15]

Album cover

For the cover, the band decided on a group photo and a flower in the back. The band really doesn't like the cover anymore. In 2005 Till said: "Oh, the broilerphoto (Broiler is a Berlin slang-word for fried chicken). That's the worst cover we could imagine today."[16] The band also faced a lot of criticism for the cover. In a 1997 interview with a German TV station, Flake said: "It was the best of a bad lot. Later you could read in the papers that we were portraying ourselves as members of the master race."[17]

The following Herzeleid tour started with a show on August 8, 1995. Which led the band through all of Germany and to their first-ever concert in Switzerland. The tour went on from August to December 1995. But it was interrupted by Rammstein playing as a support for KMFDM on their αΩ tour for a total of 15 concerts in August, and by playing as a support for Clawfinger for two shows in November, which were both shows in countries, they never played before: Poland and Czech Republic. One notable concert took place on September 8, 1995. The band was playing at a fashion show, during which the models were walking past them, showing off different clothes. During that tour, the band started already playing the songs Sehnsucht and Alter Mann in early versions. Also, during a concert in December, the band played two unknown songs: Sonne and Tiefer gelegt[5].

The following year took off with Rammstein once again being the support for Clawfinger. The band supported them for three shows, the first two being their first performances in Austria. Following that, Rammstein supported the Ramones on their farewell tour in Germany, after playing two shows of their own headlining tour, which was continued after being the Ramones support. During that tour, the band made their first official TV appearance. On March 27, 1996, the band played their first songs on English MTV. During Du riechst so gut, Till hit his head with the microphone, to let a small blood capsule explode, which sent down blood-red water down his face. After that, the show was interrupted. Another notable concert took place on May 2, 1996 in Hong Kong. The show was a showcase to represent the label, Motor Music. And while Hong Kong is a territory in South China, it was under British Crown rule from 1842 to 1997, which means, that Rammstein played in the UK, not in China.[18] That show was also the reason for Rammstein to cancel a month of planned shows in Germany in May. During this tour the band started playing new songs, like Spiel mit mir and Bestrafe mich. Also on October 11, 1996 the band played the song Sadist, which is still unknown. In 1996 also the first official Rammstein live video was recorded. The show took place on September 27, 1996 and was called 100 Jahre Rammstein (100 years of Rammstein), which led to many people believe for years, that this would be their 100th show. The video was released to fanclub members on Christmas 1996.

During the months June to October the band played a few festivals in Germany and the Netherlands. One notable concert took place on July 19, 1996, during a Harley Davidson Motorcycle Jamboree the band performed 12 songs (at least 12 are known for a fact). 2 and a half songs were later released on a video tape.

Sehnsucht

In November 1996, the band began recording their second album Sehnsucht. The album was recorded in the Temple Studios in Malta. Again produced by Jacob Hellner and Ronald Prent.

1997 started with concerts for the remaining dates of the Herzeleid tour, during which the band played the live debuts of Engel and Tier on May 6, 1997, and they played Du hast for the first time a month earlier on April 9, 1997. Technically Engel was also already played in April, but it was during a TV show on the German TV station RTL2 and played as a full playback performance. In May 1997 another TV show followed, during which playback songs of Engel and Rammstein were played.

In August the album Sehnsucht was released in a variety of different formats. As a CD and MC. A limited edition was a package of the standard CD and a t-shirt. Another limited edition was a cross-shaped digipack of the album. But in other territories of the world, many other versions were released with differing bonus tracks. Engel and Du hast were released in the English language in different countries, sometimes as hidden tracks, other times mentioned on the tracklist. Stripped was a bonus track in Australia, where also a limited edition was released with a second CD. France got a digipack with three bonus tracks, in 1998 another German edition followed with Du riechst so gut '98 as a bonus.

After that a few festivals followed in Europe, and the bands first ever concert in the USA. During that concert some things went totally wrong: for unknown reasons, Till had to wear a bandage around his head. Flake did not know that the neon lamps were a little different from the lamps he was used to in Germany, so he had to smack the lamp on Till's back over and over again, who immediately started bleeding. After breaking the lamp, Flake threw it across the room, hitting Schneider's arm, where it got stuck.[19] Also the concert was visited by Wayne Pighini, who worked for London Records at the time, who really did not want to sign the band after seeing the show.[19]

After the festival tour ended, the band began their headlining tour in Germany. The tour started on September 26, 1997 in Emden. During that concert, the roof of the venue burned down.[20] It was maybe also the only time, that the song Eifersucht has ever been played (but that information is from an article of the German teenager magazine BRAVO, who were also famous to deliver wrong information). A day later the band played in Hamburg, of which a few snippets of the performance were broadcasted in a TV show in Germany.[21]. A month later, on October 23, 1997, the band played their show in Düsseldorf. The band was supported by the industrial band KMFDM. During their performance, Richard and Till came on stage and threw something into the crowd.[22] Also the song Spiel mit mir was released on the DVD Lichtspielhaus.

Mid-November the band started their European tour, which sent them to Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Poland, France, UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. The show on November 29, 1997 was broadcasted in full on the Dutch radio station Kink FM. In December the band started their USA tour as a support for KMFDM. The show on December 14, 1997 was attended by Michael Arfin, who afterwards agreed on being their US agent.

Sehnsucht Tour

In 1998 the Sehnsucht tour led the band to the USA. For their show on May 4, 1998, the band was not allowed to use any pyrotechnics, which is their first and only concert ever, without any pyro. The songs Heirate mich and Du hast of the show on May 31, 1998 at Rock am Ring, were released on Lichtspielhaus. On August 9, 1998, the band played their first ever concert in Hungary. During the band's show at the Zillo-Festival, someone got married. In August 1998, exactly on August 22 and August 23, the band played two shows at the Berlin Wuhlheide. Both shows were recorded and released a year later as Live aus Berlin on VHS/DVD and CD. In September 1998, the band started to tour with the Family Values Tour, which was created and headlined by Korn. During that tour, Rammstein ended up in jail. On September 23, 1998, Till and Flake were arrested because of the performance for Bück dich. They had to stay in jail overnight and got out by paying their bail. After that the band always had to go to court, when they entered the US.[19] During their show on Halloween '98, the band members played almost naked and were dragged off stage one by one, which led to the concert ending after three songs.[19]

Mutter

During the recording of the third album Mutter, the band drove to a village, north of Stockholm. In a small pub, the band started drinking a lot of beer. The pub was full of bikers, and suddenly almost a pub-fight breaks loose with Till and Flake. But to their rescue came Peter Tägtgren, to calm the situation down. The night ended at Tägtgren's home, with a lot of liqueur.[23] This occasion would, 13 years later, lead to the forming of the band Lindemann.

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Rammstein book by Gert Hof
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mix mir einen Drink, page 372
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Mix mir einen Drink", pages 374–375
  4. Mix mir einen Drink, page 373
  5. 5.0 5.1 Heute hat die Welt Geburtstag, page 193
  6. Motor Music
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Mix mir einen Drink, page 374
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mix mir einen Drink, page 376
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Mix mir einen Drink, page 377
  10. mail conversation between Flake's brother and RammWiki staff
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 30 Jahre naTo, page 168
  12. Mix mir einen Drink, page 386
  13. Metal Hammer Germany, Rammstein special 2004, page 8
  14. Orkus Magazine Germany, 1997, page 136
  15. Loudersound.com - Rammstein: the story behind their debut album Herzeleid
  16. Metal Hammer Germany, 11/2005, page 37
  17. Rammstein - Who are they?, minute 27
  18. British Hong Kong, Wikipedia
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Documentary Rammstein in Amerika.
  20. Die Zusammenkunft Forum
  21. Stars Aktuell 1997
  22. KMFDM performance of Liebeslied
  23. Metal Hammer Germany, 04/2015