2009-07-22 // 17:34

Provocation is the program


Without a doubt, Rammstein is the best known and most successful German band of all time. Their harsh guitars paired with German lyrics and their explosive live shows have made them popular around the world.

What government-sponsored pro jects tried to do and could not, the shock-rock band from Berlin was able to accomplish: They reached a young audience from Tokyo to Los Angeles, piquing their curiosity about Germany, the German language and culture. The hit single, “Du hast” (You have) from their second album “Sehnsucht” (Yearning) was in many charts around the world, even with German lyrics.

Rammstein was founded in 1994 by Richard Kruspe who envisioned a complex sound of industrial elements and hard guitars. Through an amateur band contest in Berlin, the six members found each other and decided to change the musical landscape. Critics described their sound as a mixture of “Die Krupps”, an industrial rock band formed in the 1980s, with the deep voice of Laibach’s Milan Fras.

Rammstein not only concentrated on their music but also on how to package their product. They never shied away from controversy; instead they were even looking for ways to provoke a hefty response to their music and style. The German public was divided over Rammstein as evidenced by some critics’ description of singer Till Lindemann’s pronunciation of the letter ‘r’, comparing it to the way Adolf Hitler spoke.

But in defiance of criticism and controversy, Rammstein has become the most successful German language band. Fans from Australia to Canada, from Oregon to Vermont sing along to their songs. Rammstein was introduced to the American music market through the movie “Lost Highway.” Trent Reznor, the frontman of Nine Inch Nails, was the musical director for this David Lynch movie and chose two songs by Rammstein: “Rammstein” and “Heirate Mich” (Marry me).

On top of that, in the mid to late 1990s the Internet became a powerful tool for music fans and bands alike. In the United States, many young music lovers were able to explore music markets from abroad from their own bedrooms and found in Rammstein exactly what they were looking for. A band that provoked, was cool and was totally different to anything American bands had to offer. Fan websites sprung up. The biggest was Everything was discussed on their forum – from the meaning of Rammstein lyrics to the haircuts of its band members. It became a podium to exchange news and opinions regarding the band.

It all quieted down a bit after their last studio album “Rosenrot,” released in the fall of 2005. The band took a well-deserved break after years on tour and in the recording studios, concentrating on recharging their batteries. For a long time, nothing was heard about Rammstein.

Then news surfaced that the members are working on new songs. In a November 2007 interview with Radio Goethe, guitarist Paul Landers acknowledged that the band was in the process of putting new material together and that the album should be released in late 2008. “The last albums were a bit greasy,” he said. “Now we want to be harsher again, put more steam and wind in it and really hit it hard.” Fans were enthusiastic: “The gears are in motion! Thanks for the news.”

From that moment on, the fan forums were abuzz. Rumors swirled about sound, song and album titles. And Rammstein still kept their fans waiting. Things apparently didn’t go as planned because in late 2008, the band announced that the members had relocated to California to work in Los Angeles and outside of San Francisco on their new songs. In early 2009, it was finally announced that Rammstein would release their new album in the fall.

By early summer, the tour dates were set – all were European dates with nothing set for the U.S., Canada or Mexico, which have a huge number of fans. “Although I think this is great news, in a sense it has no effect on me: It’s not like they are coming to the U.S.,” one Rammstein listener described online in response to the announcement.

Since it is not clear if the Berlin-based band will play across the Atlantic in 2010, some fans have decided not to pass up the chance to see the band live again. Through online ticket distributors, they have tickets for some shows abroad, including the in-demand Berlin concerts – Rammstein’s home base.

In the summer, the management snubbed some fans by demanding that several fan forums be taken offline. The reason: One new song and some new promo photos were leaked to the public and put out on YouTube. Although the online video platform erased the file immediately, the damage was done and the song was shared via some of the fan forums.

In a not so sensitive manner, Rammstein’s management went overboard by threatening legal action against webmasters who were not only innocent but also among the biggest fans and supporters of the band. This was in order to protect what manager Emanuel Fialik described in an interview with Metal Hammer magazine: “It is musically the best album Rammstein has ever recorded!”

This incident didn’t slow down the hype around Rammstein’s sixth studio album and the upcoming tour. Additional concert dates were set – and 2010 is still wide open for a possible world tour.

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