Die letzten Tabus (interview)
This article was published in the April 2015 issue of the German Metal Hammer magazine.
Thanks for the translation to Rammstein.us.
It sounds like the most unlikely collaboration in recent memory, but they have indeed paired up: Rammstein's Till Lindemann and the legendary producer, Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain), is the new dream couple shining in the Metal heavens and with Lindemann, they're releasing every moral champion's nightmare.
Till Lindemann and Peter Tägtgren are busy people. One is the singer of Rammstein, who writes profound and shocking lyrics and searches for his own self in his very personal poems. The other is a key figure on the Metal scene, a multi-instrumentalist who has created Hypocrisy and Pain and has produced albums of a lot of Metal bands in his Abyss Studio, such as Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir and Sabaton. Now, these two heavy weights have a hobby together: Lindemann.
What started out as just something fun soon took on alarming dimensions – but the joy is still there. This is the impression METAL HAMMER got when meeting the two artists in Berlin. Tägtgren wears a loose, black outfit with a vest and a tanned painter's hat on his head, Lindemann is casually elegant in black-and-gold sneakers. They are sitting opposite one another, drinking coffee and musing about their first encounter in 2000 in Stockholm. "Rammstein was working on "MUTTER" then and I was working on Pain," Tägtgren remembers. "We met in bars on occasion, but we hadn't really introduced ourselves properly. One night, things came to blows and Till and Flake were involved. I intervened and tried to save the situation. A chaotic evening followed, with a lot of Jägermeister and puke, and we were chucked out from a few bars. Till and I meet up two times a year after that, and repeat all these things, the way wayward men do."
But a collaboration had to be postponed due to busy schedules. The time was right first in 2013, and 'Ladyboy' was born. After a lot of discussions about the project's name, they finally agreed on Lindemann. "We wanted a short, sweet name – such as 'Fuck', or 'Cunt'," Tägtgren grins.
"You could have had a lot of fun with that," Lindemann elaborates and muses about the change from "Hinz und Kunz" into "Hints and Cunts". "Unfortunately, we found out that a lot of names weren't available anymore," he concludes with irritation. "Today, people obtain domains with the intention of selling them if someone's interested. It was very difficult to find an appropriate name."
Tägtgren nods, and in the meantime, he has reconciled with the band name, "Lindemann". They are both emphasising their equality this day and their unity is apparent in their first, rather disturbing press shot.
"The picture shows that we are a couple – musically, of course!" the Swede explains, to which the German winks and lets "Exactly, my Ladyboy" fall from his lips. They are behaving like friends, teasing but respectful, and so attuned that Tägtgren occasionally answers questions meant for Till Lindemann. But not without making sure it's OK, of course.
This relationship is also fertile musically, as is apparent on the debut album. Stylistically, the Tägtgren-composed and mutually arranged pieces are a blend of Pain's electronic riffs and Rammstein's industrial staccato charm. Lindemann's texts offer the listener topics ranging from love to obesity, an homage to abortion and explicit renderings of diverse sexual practices – breaking taboos one after another. But how personal are these texts about drugs, sex and self-hate really? Lindemann laughs and warbles in Dr. Alban-style: "It's my life..."
"There's always something personal behind everything. When I come across any extreme stories, I immediately pounce on them and write something down. That is a must! My topics haven't changed, but now the whole world will understand them. I wanted to avoid any confusion, that is why Rammstein is in German and Lindemann is in English; those are two entirely different areas."
The change of language opened up a whole new world for the lyricist, one that besides opportunities also provides some challenges. "I have worked myself deeper and deeper into the English language," the wordsmith enthuses. "I discovered new aspects, devoured dictionaries and immersed myself into English rhyme schemes. That was a lot of fun. Of course, it helps when you know how to write songs."
Despite the predictable reactions, the art comes first for Lindemann. Just as with Rammstein, he's playing with drastic, vivid language and emotions. He explains his method of working with the example of 'Golden Shower'. "The heavy chorus needed something that offended – the word 'cunt'. Peter wanted 'dirty cunt'. But we wanted to be polite, thus 'pretty cunt'. In poetry, everything revolves around the sonority of the words. There is an inherent effect in 'cunt', 'fat' or 'ash'; the reverb provokes. I follow this guideline, the poet explains and continues: "I only reflect later on what I might have accomplished. Some things need to be compensated or, as with 'Fat', cushioned by a love story."
Despite appearances, the two artists are drawing lines and determine which taboos could be broken (abortion) and which should remain untouched (hatred against women). "The crux is to draw the line properly," Tägtgren considers. "You cannot just bluntly insult people, you have to include some humour – a turn that makes clear that not everything should be taken 100 percent seriously." The 52-year-old Lindemann neither intended to shock nor to provoke. That's a result of the process, he says: "One word lead to the other and at the end of the day, we sat there and asked ourselves what we had done and if we would go to hell for it now. But then it hit us and we wrote more about it."
What was once just for fun, originally intended for the internet, is now a reality, and its creators have to think about the future and take into consideration a club tour or showcases – provided that there’s an interest in it. Both of them want to continue the hobby-approach. Lindemann: "The form of our collaboration just fits, quite simply. I can travel to Sweden whenever I want. There, we sit down together or go fishing. So more albums are plausible. It's an entirely different playground than with Rammstein."
"There's no pressure, no one tells us what to do, just as with a hobby," Tägtgren agrees and emphasises how much the two musicians have learned from each other during the production. "We have met out goal, to expand the wealth in our heads and to develop our art further. You keep thinking you know everything in this business – but to be honest, you don't know a thing."
Lindemann laughs and provides us with one last impression before we part: "Lindemann as a project is comparable to a heavy weight boxing champion who takes up kickboxing for fun. Superficially, he does his thing just as he always does, but if you look closer, he's acting differently, since it's fun and a challenge to do something he's never done before."
Skills in Pills
Already the intro hints hit-qualities – the drug-and-death wish topic supports the catchy chorus and the increasing rhythms, accompanying the Rammstein-reminiscent riffs into a psychotic Dubstep finale.
The very first Lindemann song, vaguely reminiscent of Pain’s “Shut Your Mouth“. The topic is unambiguous, and the distinctive “R”s are rolling. Vocally, it’s brilliant in the elongated passages, accompanied by the occasionally resounding, manically happy, “Jaaa”. In the end, a mad laughter echoes…
A church organ intro followed by a typical Rammstein riff with synthesizers supported by a violin. A majestic crusher follows, appropriate to the subject, with an opulent chorus. The German word, “Wunderbar”, is prominent, positively influencing the direction of the song.
High speed riffs hit towing metaphors and play on words such as, „Moby’s dick”. A driving, anthemic headbanger in the style of “Laichzeit”, only broken up by the yelled chorus, “Fish on!”.
Children of the Sun
The second Lindemann song, with a powerful opening riff and a lamenting, light vocal. Not an exceptionally explicit sex lyric, and rather pale, musically, too.
Home Sweet Home
A slow, ominous sounding ballad with orchestral arrangements and violins, the topic revolves around near-death experiences. Lindemann’s vocals are in focus and flow into a majestic chorus.
Horses meet Pain and the rhythmical emulation of the equestrian theme, referring to the cowboy who has all his ponies in the corral. A very catchy piece, that immediately invites to engage, but the refrain is also about the fear of failure.
At first, the focus is on the drums, then on the riffs. An engaging, industrial-based track with an explicit, vivid topic, revolving around the line, “Cunt – let it shower!”, even more clearly illustrated by the closing release of liquids…
Piano intro, then spoken vocals turn into singing, followed by an explosive chorus about the deadly dangers of seduction. A massive pop arrangement with an instrumental crescendo culminating into an appropriate headbanging style, almost choral in-between.
A hate declaration for life, family and children – the final breaking of taboos. Powerfully arranged with a furious chorus, contrasting “Lalalaa”-vocals and imposed children's singing.
One hell of an album – musically as well as thematically. Lindemann hits with a lot of catchiness, brilliant (if not very surprising) music and the sumptuous play with the illicit. The fronts remain tough – Rammstein fans are going to rejoice, the champions of morality will have a lot to curse.