Laibach (German pronunciation: [ˈlaɪbax]) is a Slovenian avant-garde music group associated with the industrial, martial, and neo-classical genres. Formed in the mining town of Trbovlje (at the time in Yugoslavia) in 1980, Laibach represents the musical wing of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) collective, a group which Laibach helped found in 1984. "Laibach" is the German historical name for the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, itself an oblique reference to the Nazi occupation of Slovenia in World War II.
From the early days, the band was subject to controversies and bans due to their elaborate use of iconography with ambiguously repugnant parodies and pastiches of elements from totalitarianism, nationalism and militarism, a concept they have preserved throughout their career. Censored and banned in Socialist Yugoslavia and receiving a kind of dissident status, the band embarked on international tours and gradually acquired international fame. After Slovenia became independent in 1991, Laibach's status in the country has turned from rejection to promotion into a national cultural icon, which included performances with the Slovenian symphony orchestra.
Early Laibach albums were pure industrial, with heavy rhythms and roaring vocals. Later in the mid-80s, the sound became more richly layered, featuring samples from pop and classical music. The band's lyrics, variously written in German, Slovene and English, are usually delivered by the bass voice of the singer Milan Fras. Initially the lyrics handled war and military themes; later, the focus turned to any highly charged political issue of the moment, sending intentionally ambiguous messages. They recorded several cover versions of popular songs, often turning light melodies into sinister-sounding Gothic tunes.
The band has seen numerous line-up changes, with Dejan Knez, Milan Fras, Ervin Markošek and Ivan "Jani" Novak forming the best-known line-up. They have worked with a number of collaborators and guest musicians. Laibach has also recorded film soundtracks, theatre music, produced works of visual arts, and band members have embarked on a number of side projects.
Connection with Rammstein
Laibach is often cited as an influence for the popular German Neue Deutsche Härte band Rammstein. The parallel is regularly made between the bands regarding their aesthetics and deep male vocals both groups share and with their respective backgrounds of originating from former socialist countries. When asked about the topic in an interview, the guitar player of Rammstein, Richard Kruspe, claimed Rammstein to have a more emotional approach instead of the more "intellectual" style of Laibach. In the same interview the keyboard player of Rammstein Christian Lorenz drew a parallel between the deep voices of Till Lindemann and Milan Fras but considered this to be the only similarity between the two music groups. The film "Liberation day" ends with a notice stating that a member of a certain industrial metal band was supposed to be interviewed for the film about the influence Laibach had on their earlier work, but it had to be removed due to the prospect of arrest or a fine from the district court of Berlin towards the makers of the film. This, and the early promotional material for the film suggest that it was Paul Landers who was to appear in the film, thus to some extent confirming the connection between these two music groups. When members of Laibach were asked by an interviewer about Rammstein "stealing" from them, they responded: "Laibach does not believe in originality... Therefore, Rammstein could not 'steal' much from us. They simply let themselves get inspired by our work, which is absolutely a legitimate process. We are glad that they made it. In a way, they have proven once again that a good 'copy' can make more money on the market than the 'original'. Anyhow, today we share the territory: Rammstein seem to be a kind of Laibach for adolescents and Laibach are Rammstein for grown-ups."
Laibach remixed the song Ohne dich:
- Mina Harker's Version
- https://psychotroniccinema.com/2017/07/21/liberation-day-with-laibach-and-director-morten-traavik/ “Once the footage had made it out of North Korea, the real difficulties began, said Traavik. “it was no easy ride obtaining permissions from grumpy old directors to use snippets of their old Laibach videos, or negotiate royalty fees with Rodgers and Hammerstein,” he said. “Also, we had to re-edit after the final cut because the guitar player of Rammstein changed his mind about appearing in the film, their lawyers threatening us with a €250,000 fine and an extended stay in a German jail.” (Laibach and Rammstein have been friendly in the past but there is a long history of Laibach taking the piss out of their German copyists: “’They are Laibach for kids, we are Rammstein for adults”’ being a typical dismissal.)”
- https://www.vice.com/en/article/ry4356/laibach-cares-more-about-your-freedom-than-you-do “These poor Slovenian bastards sounded like Rammstein before anyone even thought that was a remotely marketable sound, all stentorian vocals barked in German, heavy industrial rhythms, and elaborate stage shows sporting fancy lights, animals, and lots of offended audiences. Unlike Rammstein, however, they didn't sell a bazillion records, though they did make an impact on American bands like Morbid Angel and Type O Negative in the 90s who spouted their name to everyone who'd listen.” "Rammstein: rip-off artists or legitimate musical entity that happened to tap a similar vein as yourselves?" "Rammstein are everything we never wanted to be and we know we could easily turn into them if we'd live in Germany or USA instead of Republic of Slovenia. They've openly admitted Laibach to be their initial source of inspiration and they only translated what we did into something that has a bigger appeal for the mass market. We can't blame them for that."
- Rammstein VIVA JAM Interview 1997. Flake and Richard talking about Laibach.
- http://www.liberationday.film/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/LIBERATION-DAY-PRESS-KIT-2016.pdf Promotial material for the Liberation day film. Paul Landers is credited in ”Cast and Crew” section. There is no source available for the Laibach quotation about Rammstein, however there was an interview, where members of Laibach mention Rammstein briefly. However it’s not available anymore.