Rammstein



Rammstein is a German band that incorporates elements of hard rock, industrial metal, and electronic music. The band is also widely accepted as part of the Neue Deutsche Härte-scene, alongside bands such as Oomph! and Die Krupps. Some critics have also dubbed their sound as Tanz-Metall (lit. "Dance metal"). Their songs are performed almost exclusively in German. Formed in 1994, they have sold over 12 million records worldwide. Rammstein's entire catalogue is published by Universal Music Group.

Despite lyrics that are in German, the band has enjoyed great success outside of German-speaking nations in Europe as well as the US, Canada, Latin America, Japan, India, Israel, Australia. With the album Reise, Reise (2004), they became the most internationally successful German-language band of all time. They have had several top ten singles in Europe.

The Band members are all from Germany. They are:

* Till Lindemann – lead vocals
* Richard Zven "Scholle" Kruspe – lead-guitar
* Paul H. Landers – rhythm-guitar
* Oliver "Ollie" Riedel – bass-guitar
* Christoph "Doom" Schneider – drums
* Christian "Flake" Lorenz – keyboards

Riedel, Schneider and Kruspe were the original founders of Rammstein, following an attempt by the latter to compose American-influenced music with a West Berlin band called Orgasm Death Gimmick. As Kruspe put it, "I realized it's really important to make music and make it fit with your language, which I didn't do in the past. I came back [to Germany] and said, 'It's time to make music that's really authentic.' I was starting a project called Rammstein to really try to make German music." He invited Till Lindemann, a former Olympic swimmer and drummer for the band First Arsch, to join the project as a vocalist. The four entered a contest for new bands and won, attracting the interest of Paul H. Landers, who knew them all and decided to join the band. Christian "Flake" Lorenz was the last member to join; he had played with Landers before in the band Feeling B and was initially reluctant to come on board, but was eventually persuaded to join. Their first album was released a year later. They have been nominated for two Best Metal Performance Grammy Awards: in 1998 with the song "Du hast" and in 2005 with the song "Mein Teil".

Rammstein takes its name indirectly from the western German town of Ramstein-Miesenbach, site of an airshow disaster in 1988. The band's signature song, the eponymous "Rammstein", is a commemoration of the tragedy that took place at the Ramstein Air Base. At the show, three Italian air force jets collided on August 28, 1988 at an air show at the US airbase. About 40 spectators died in the first minutes and several hundred were injured. In the next two months, the death toll rose to 69. The extra "m" in the band's name allows the word to mean "battering ram" (literally "ramming stone"), reinforcing the image of the band's music as fierce and relentless. Also, the verb "rammen" in German, means to hit something.

The minor planet 110393 Rammstein is named in the band's honour.

Rammstein audio samples Rammstein audio samples

* "Bestrafe mich" (info)
* "Ohne dich" (info)
* "Zwitter" (info)

Although Rammstein is often generalized as industrial metal, its music spans a variety of related styles, including hard rock, electronic, heavy metal and gothic due to their use of keyboards to emulate strings, choirs or pianos. The band was strongly influenced by Laibach, a Slovenian neo-classical and industrial group. Other influences include DAF (Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft), Oomph! and Ministry, but the contrast between individual songs such as "Bestrafe mich", "Ohne dich" , "Te quiero puta!" and "Du riechst so gut" makes the band difficult to classify.

Rammstein's style has tended to divide critics, some of whom have responded with memorable comments. Jam Showbiz (April 2001) described Mutter as "music to invade Poland to." New Zealand's Southland Times (Dec. 17, 1999) suggested that Till Lindemann's "booming, sub-sonic voice" would send "the peasants fleeing into their barns and bolting their doors." The New York Times (Jan. 9, 2005) commented that on the stage, "Mr. Lindemann gave off an air of such brute masculinity and barely contained violence that it seemed that he could have reached into the crowd, snatched up a fan, and bitten off his head." Other critics have been more positive. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide commented that "their blend of industrial noise, grinding metal guitars, and operatic vocals is staggeringly powerful". "We just push boundaries," said Till Lindemann in an interview with rock magazine Kerrang!. "We can't help it if people don't like those boundaries being pushed."

Despite Rammstein's brutalist image, many of its songs lyrics demonstrate a certain sense of humour. "Zwitter", for example, is a bizarre take on narcissism (and bisexuality) through the eyes of a hermaphrodite:

Wenn die anderen Mädchen suchten (When the others were looking out for girls)
Konnt ich mich schon selbst befruchten (I could already fertilize myself)

Similarly, the song "Amerika" features a tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the normal chorus:

We're all living in Amerika
Coca-Cola, Wonderbra! Usually "Amerika ist wunderbar" ("America is wonderful"), in one chorus is sung as "Coca-Cola, Sometimes War"
We're all living in Amerika
Amerika, Amerika!

Some of their songs show unexpected influences, usually from poems and German folk tales. "Dalai Lama" is an adaptation of the famous poem "Der Erlkönig" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. "Hilf mir" was inspired by the short story "Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug" (from "Der Struwwelpeter") by Heinrich Hoffmann. "Spieluhr" borrows the line "Hoppe hoppe Reiter" from a Kinderreim of the same name. "Rosenrot" is inspired by the poem "Heidenröslein" by Goethe and the story Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot by the Brothers Grimm.

Nearly all of Rammstein's lyrics are in German. However, the band did record English versions of "Engel" , "Du Hast" and "Amerika", as well as covers of the songs "Stripped" (Depeche Mode) and "Pet Sematary" (The Ramones). In addition, the songs "Amerika" (German version), "Stirb nicht vor mir//Don't die before I do" and "Moskau" contain not only German verses, but also English and Russian choruses, respectively; "Te quiero puta!" is entirely in Spanish and "Schtiel" is entirely in Russian. "Ollie" Riedel commented that "German language suits heavy metal music. French might be the language of love, but German is the language of anger."

Wordplay is a fundamental component of Rammstein's lyrics. In many instances, the lyrics are phrased such that they can be interpreted in several ways. The song "Du hast", for example, is a play on German marriage vows (Willst du, bis der Tod euch scheidet, treu ihr sein für alle Tage? - Will you, until death separates you, be faithful to her for the rest of your days?). In the song, the traditional affirmative response, ja (yes), is replaced by its negation nein (no). The final repetition of this line further perverts the meaning of the original vows through a minor change in the wording: Willst du, bis zum Tod der Scheide,(...) (Will you, until the death of the vagina...) (where 'vagina' can also refer to the woman), but it could also be interpreted as: Willst du bis zum Tod, der scheide, (...), which would have the meaning of: "Will you, until death separates, ...". The song starts, in fact, with a play on words: Du... Du hast... Du hast mich... meaning, "You have me". This line is often mistaken for "You hate me", because in German, there is no clear distinction between the pronunciation of du hasst (double s) which means "you hate" and du hast (single s) which means you have. The verbs are hassen (hate) and haben (have). The wordgame is later resolved as the line is completed: Du hast mich gefragt (You have asked me).

Rammstein often uses rhyming to create similar effects. For example, from the song "Los":

Es ist hoffnungslos (It is hopeless)
Sinnlos (Senseless)
Hilflos (Helpless)
Sie sind Gottlos (They are Godless)

The last two lines above can be interpreted in three ways. "Sie sind Gott. / Los!" can mean "They are God. / Go!"; "Sie sind Gott los" can be translated as "They got rid of God;" while "Sie sind gottlos" means "they are godless". However, in the context of the rest of the lyrics, the most likely meaning is the third one.

Rammstein has achieved particular fame (not to mention notoriety) for its hugely over-the-top stage show, using so many pyrotechnics that fans eventually coined the motto "Other bands play, Rammstein burns!" (a quip at Manowar's song "Kings of Metal", which states, "other bands play, Manowar kill").

The heat is so intense that on occasion, people have been carried out of Rammstein concerts suffering from heat exhaustion, and lighting gantries have been seen glowing red-hot from repeated fireball hits. The variety of the pyrotechnics can be seen in a recent concert playlist, which includes such items as "Lycopodium Masks", "Glitterburst Truss", "Pyrostrobes", "Comets", "Flash Trays" and "Mortar Hits". The band's on-stage antics have included:

* Band members using head-mounted flamethrowers ("Lycopodium Masks", also called "Dragon Masks") while singing/playing (example: "Feuer frei!" video);
* Till Lindemann singing an entire song while on fire (example: "Rammstein" video); he now uses twin flamethrowers strapped to his arms;
* Till Lindemann singing into a prop telephone that bursts into confetti (during the song "Du Hast", but only during the Sehnsucht and Mutter tours)
* Christian "Flake" Lorenz in full bondage gear being led by Till Lindemann during stage performances of "Bück dich".
* Exploding drumsticks, drums, microphones and boots;
* Till Lindemann removing a large firecracker from his pants - which explodes, emitting sparks (during the song "Das alte Leid")
* Rockets fired along cables strung above the audience;
* Spark-shooting longbows, drumsticks, boots and guns;
* Christian "Flake" Lorenz destroying a keyboard in the style of Nine Inch Nails and The Who;
* Microphones, guitars and keyboards on fire;
* Band members surfing the crowd in a rubber boat
* Christian "Flake" Lorenz driving around on a Segway HT during "Amerika".
* Till Lindemann doing a jig with fireworks in the front of his shoes, shooting sparks in front of him (Weißes Fleisch).
* Christian "Flake" Lorenz sitting in a large cooking pot, which Till Lindemann blasts with a flamethrower when Lorenz ducks. In the same sequence Lindemann chases Lorenz around the stage with a microphone built into a carving knife.

Rammstein's shows have become increasingly elaborate since the first ones over ten years ago, when their effects were confined to pouring kerosene around the stage and setting it alight. After some unfortunate early accidents (a memorable accident occurred at the Treptow Arena, in which a burning stage prop fell onto the audience link) the band took to employing professionals to handle the pyrotechnics; Lindemann himself is now a licensed pyrotechnician who spends entire songs engulfed head-to-toe in flames. He has suffered multiple burns on his ears, his hair and his arms. Since the band frequently incorporates fake accidents into their shows, it’s unclear how often Lindemann actually gets burned. Of Lindemann, bandmate Christoph Schneider says, “Till gets burned all the time, but he likes the pain.”

The band's costumes are equally outlandish. During the Reise, Reise tour they were wearing Lederhosen, corsets and vague military uniforms with steel helmets, while during the Mutter tour the group kept to the themes of the album artwork and descended onto the stage from a giant uterus while wearing nappies.

According to Kruspe, the on-stage wackiness is entirely deliberate (Rammstein's motto according to Schneider is: "Do your own thing. And overdo it!"). The aim is to get people's attention and have fun at the same time: "You have to understand that 99 percent of the people don't understand the lyrics, so you have to come up with something to keep the drama in the show. We have to do something. We like to have a show; we like to play with fire. We do have a sense of humor. We do laugh about it; we have fun... but we're not Spinal Tap. We take the music and the lyrics seriously. It's a combination of humor, theater and our East German culture, you know?".

At the Metaltown Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden on July 30, 2005, Till suffered a knee injury when Flake accidentally ran into him with the Segway.

Rammstein has released five full-length studio albums: Herzeleid (1995), Sehnsucht (1997), Mutter (2001), Reise, Reise (2004), Rosenrot (2005), two live albums Live aus Berlin (1999) and Völkerball (2006) and one compilation DVD Lichtspielhaus (2003). While Herzeleid was well-received, Sehnsucht is widely regarded as Rammstein's breakthrough album. In 1999, between their second and third album, they published a live album called "Live Aus Berlin". The production of the follow-up album Mutter was an experience fraught with difficulty for the band.

The band's album Rosenrot, released on October 28, 2005, consists mostly of songs that were left out of the album Reise, Reise for dramaturgical reasons. The band performed "Benzin", the first single from the album, at four shows in Wuhlheide Park on June 23-26, 2005, and four shows in the United Kingdom (Newcastle, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cardiff) in July 2005.

The band took a time out in 2006, and are going to begin work again this year. In an interview with German rapper Bushido, who contributed to the Electro Ghetto Remix of Amerika, on January 21, 2007, Bushido reported recording a song with Rammstein called "Vergiss uns Nicht" (Don't Forget Us). In this interview Bushido also mentioned that he was unsure of whether it would be on their "Best Of" album or not. This was the first mention of a "Best Of" album, or the new album all together. In addition, keyboardist Flake confirmed this in an interview with Metal Hammer Germany in November, stating that they would most likely release the new album in 2008. He also said they had plans to tour South America in 2007, play some festivals and plan a European tour.

A new live Rammstein DVD, named Völkerball, was released on November 17th 2006 in Germany (and other parts of Europe), with concert footage from France, England, Japan, and Russia, alongside a CD as well. There are three versions of the set, one, including a 190 page tour book. Due to unforeseen popularity of the package, the limited edition sold out - forcing a second pressing run.

Rammstein's songs have been covered by a number of other artists, including the group Gregorian who reworked "Engel" as a Gregorian chant for their album The Dark Side. The same song has been covered by Belgian girls choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers, resulting in a very quiet, brooding version, contrary to the original. Also, the German composer Torsten Rasch has produced a classical symphonic song-cycle entitled "Mein Herz brennt", based on the music of Rammstein. The cover of "Seemann" by Nina Hagen and Apocalyptica impressed Rammstein so much, that they took Apocalyptica as co-headliner on tour with them in Spring 2005, and invited the band on stage to perform "Ohne dich" and "Mein Herz Brennt" together. The "Benzin" single also featured a remix of the song, called "Kerosinii" by Apocalyptica.

More recently, the industrial band Laibach covered the song "Ohne dich".

Also, the German Death Metal band Debauchery, covered the song 'Weisses Fleisch' for their 'Back In Blood' album.

Rammstein has also done several covers themselves, including "Das Modell" by Kraftwerk, "Stripped" by Depeche Mode, "Pet Sematary" by The Ramones (sung by keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz) and "Schtiel" by Aria. However "Schtiel" isn't an official Rammstein track, since it was only played by vocalist Till Lindemann and guitarist Richard Kruspe.

Described by the New York Times as a "powerful strain of brutally intense rock" who "bring gale-force music and spectacular theatrics together," Rammstein has been a band with a highly controversy-prone nature. Rammstein have not been shy about courting this controversy and have periodically attracted condemnation from morality campaigners. Their stage act earned them a night in jail in June 1999 after a liquid-ejecting dildo was used in a concert in Worcester, Massachusetts. Back home in Germany, the band has faced repeated accusations of fascist sympathies due to the dark and sometimes militaristic imagery of their videos and concerts, including the use of excerpts from the film Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl in the video for "Stripped". Their debut album Herzeleid, released in Germany in 1995, originally had a cover featuring the bandmembers' upper bodies without clothing; critics accused the band of trying to sell themselves as "poster boys for the Master Race". Rammstein have vigorously denied this and said that they want nothing to do with politics or supremacy of any kind. Flake, the keyboardist, annoyed by the claim has remarked that its just a photo, and should be understood as such. Herzeleid has since been given an alternate cover in some countries, depicting the band members' faces.

The song "Links 2, 3, 4" was written as a riposte to these claims. According to Kruspe, it means, "'my heart beats on the left, two, three, four.' It's simple. If you want to put us in a political category, we're on the left side, and that's the reason we made the song.". On the other hand, this is also an allusion to a military marching cadence since "Links, 2, 3, 4" is typically heard during marching practice in the German army with "links" referring to the left foot (links is German for "left"). "Flake" recently stated on an on-line chat that the song was created in order to show that the band could write a harsh, "evil", military sounding song that was not about Nazi ideals.

In April 1999, it emerged that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two boys who perpetrated the Columbine High School massacre, were fans of Rammstein and had declared it to be one of their favorite bands. Rammstein came under heavy criticism from some conservative and Christian groups in the United States who claimed (among other things) that the members of the band were "demonically influenced" and by the German media that Till Lindemann's rolling Teutonic r's were an imitation of Adolf Hitler's diction. In response, the band issued a statement:

The members of Rammstein express their condolences and sympathy to all affected by the recent tragic events in Denver. They wish to make it clear that they have no lyrical content or political beliefs that could have possibly influenced such behavior. Additionally, members of Rammstein have children of their own, in whom they continually strive to instill healthy and non-violent values.

Coincidentally, on September 10th 2001 the single and video clip of Ich will was released which portrays the band as terrorists who want to get a message across and receiving a kind of terrorist award for their "actions". The video clip was broadcasted only late at night after the attacks of September 11th 2001 although many media officials and politicians requested the video to be removed from the program completely.

Following the tragic conclusion of the Beslan school hostage crisis in Russia in September 2004, the Russian authorities claimed that the hostage-takers had "listened to German hard rock group Rammstein on personal stereos during the siege to keep themselves edgy and fired up." The claim has not been independently confirmed.

Band members said about this issue:

There's been a lot of talk about that, but if there are radical feelings in people anything can wake them – a painting, a picture, whatever. It's just a coincidence that it happened to be our music. It's important to think about what caused them to make their decisions, how they became animals, not their taste in music. Whenever something like this happens it's like ‘Okay, let's blame the artist.’ Such bullshit.

Our music is made to release aggression, and people listening to it are also needed to do that, but it's not our fault. Should we stop making hard music because bad people might like it?

In October 2004, the video for "Mein Teil" caused considerable controversy in Germany when it was released. It takes a darkly comic view of the Armin Meiwes cannibalism case, showing a cross dressed Schneider holding the other 5 band members on a leash and rolling around in mud. The controversy did nothing to stop (and may even have helped) the single rising to No. 2 in the German charts. Meiwes (who was convicted of manslaughter in 2004, then retried in 2006 and found guilty of murder) brought suit in January 2006 against the band for infringement of rights to the story. The outcome of the civil case is not reported.

The band's own views of its image are sanguine: "We like being on the fringes of bad taste," according to Paul H. Landers, while Christian "Flake" Lorenz comments, "The controversy is fun, like stealing forbidden fruit. But it serves a purpose. We like audiences to grapple with our music, and people have become more receptive."

The video for "Mann gegen Mann" ("Man against man") from their latest album "Rosenrot" may have caused some controversy, as most of the bandmembers are naked in the video, apart from lead singer Till Lindemann, who is wearing what can best be described as a "latex diaper" - most likely because he does not have an instrument with which to cover his genitalia. In addition, there are multiple naked men in the video, with buttocks clearly visible, though no genitalia can be seen. The video has been played uncensored on MTV. The video has been rated FSK 16 in Germany and therefore can be played on television only after 10 PM.

* Rammstein rarely uses the 12K, 14K, and 16K equalizer channels in their music.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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