The following is an interview with Paul H. Landers, guitarist for German metal/industrial band Rammstein. The group recently released their 6th album, “Liebe Ist Fuer Alle Da,” with the track “Pussy” as the lead off single/video. Though it doesn’t break much new ground musically, “Liebe Ist Fuer Alle Da” is from start to finish a very strong album. It does have a few interesting/suprising touches, like the synth pop edge to “Haifisch” and the humorous English-languge lyrics of “Pussy.” An initial limited edition version of “Liebe Ist Fuer Alle Da” adds 5 additional tracks.
Though most Rammstein lyrics are in German, occasionally other languages are used. What determines what languages will be used in a song?
Paul: “Till travels, and all the band members travel a lot so every now and then they will pick up a phrase or certain ideas in a different language and those will find themselves into songs.”
When you’re performing outside of Germany, does the fact that not everyone in the audience understands the lyrics have any impact on you?
Paul: “The audience interaction thing has never really been one of the core strengths and we’re not the type of band who says ‘Hello Moscow, how are you?’ or whatever. Instead, our way of communicating has been to light some fires, set off some rockets, and in a way that has the same effect. So that is our preferred modus operandi.”
Was ‘Pussy’ the obvious choice for the first single off of Liebe Ist Fuer Alle Da?
Paul: “Choosing which song to use as the lead-off single is always difficult and often musicians don’t have enough distance at that point to make an objective choice. So in this case, we asked the record label for their opinion, knowing that they know at least the German market and the way things worked there. That’s where the idea came from, and the band thought ‘Ok, this is sort of a funny way to start off the record.'”
Where did the bonus tracks included on the limited edition come from?
Paul: “We had a lot of songs to choose from, and basically the ones that didn’t make it, we thought it would be a shame just to let these out as b-sides. So we thought it would be a cool idea to have a whole set of bonus tracks. A lot of these sounds you could say are classic Rammstein but don’t necessarily bring anything new to the table. They are in the classic, older style of Rammstein.”
Would you say that you’re influenced much by audience reaction, and what people are saying about Rammstein?
Paul: “We have tried to think in advance of what will people like, or what would be a good idea. But that’s never worked. We’ve found our best success with crazy and insane ideas, or at least ideas that may seem outlandish at first impression. Those have turned out to be the best ideas. We just trust our own taste, that is the best way. Not to worry about if something is a clever idea or a really stupid one. We don’t do it that way. It’s also the most comfortable and relaxed way of working, because there’s no attempt to be clever. You just be the way you are.”
You’ve managed to keep a consistent lineup over the years – what can you attribute this to?
Paul: “An analogy would be a big old Mercedes that keeps on running over the years. That’s the way we’ve treated the band. We’ve never tried to drive too fast, just keep everything smooth. No attempts to speed down the highway out of control. Check the oil. Take a break in the winter. Avoid accidents and care for things. That’s the way we see the band.”
Sometimes there will be certain forces from within the band saying ‘let’s do things faster, faster, stop taking it easy’. But on the other hand, there will be other forces in the band saying ‘no, come on, let’s just take a break here and go on vacation for a while’. So those two sort of work together.”
Your sound combines electronics with standard rock instrumentation; what is the motivation behind balancing the two?
Paul: “Well back when the band started, we were definitely fascinated by sequencers and electronic beats. Everyone really had a great time messing around with that sort of stuff. In the early days, we would often fire off the sequencers and then spend an hour just jamming with the sequencers. It used to be something that was really exciting, but after a while it became boring because it seemed like there were no real new ideas to discover with electronics. We gradually returned more to the natural band sound, each guy and his instrument. Now, you could say there’s a bit of a pendulum going back and forth between a natural band sound and electronics. We try to get the best out of both words.”
What can we expect from the upcoming tour?
Paul: “Well it depends I guess where you get to see the show. In Europe, where we get to play the full show, there will be 7-8 songs from the new album, a bunch of songs that everyone in the band just likes playing and some that people just want to hear. But in North and South America, due to technical reasons we might have to thin out the show a bit.”
What about in terms of the visuals? Rammstein has always been known for putting on intensely theatrical performances.
Paul: “Back during the summer, we were talking about whether we thought it was possible to actually put on another of these Rammstein shows again. And the consensus at that time was that none of us were certain whether it was actually possible to do it again. But the huge stage that they’ve got set up at the rehearsal space is expensive and crazy and looks better than anything we’ve done before. It’s got huge lights and everything. It’s like a fairy tale. Everyone is just doing what they’ve always been doing, but all of a sudden the momentum gathers and this huge show is there. There’s a certain amount of trepidation that we have before doing a show, but it’s just the way that it works.”
What impact would you say the growth of the internet has had on Rammstein?
Paul: “In a positive sense, Rammstein bows to the fact they they are part of the older generation of bands who still gets together in expensive studios and puts all the work into getting CDs manufactured, and that is something we’re proud of. But over the years, we’ve found that we have no need for MTV or other TV media outlets for the videos, for example. So that has given us the freedom to make the videos that we want to do, and exaggerate and go over the top and not have to worry about censorship from TV. The last videos prove this. So that is definitely something that is thanks to the internet.”