It was in the spring of 2017 that we first got genuinely excited about the possibility of a new Rammstein album seeing the light of day. As the German metal titans presided over the release of their bonkers, Jonas Åkerlund-directed concert movie, Rammstein: Paris, they dropped a few tantalising hints about how the long-awaited follow-up to 2009’s Liebe Ist Für Alle Da was coming along. “What comes out in the end is always mysterious, even to us,” chuckles guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe on the general direction of his band’s seventh studio album, reportedly due in April.
Richard admits that he was a little wary of getting back into the writing process with his bandmates in the first place, while fellow six-stringer Paul Landers suggested that the sextet had reignited a vibe last felt when they were putting together their debut album, Herzeleid, more than two decades prior.
Rammstein signalled that their next chapter was officially underway, with two explosive Mexico shows either side of New Year, leading into a stacked summer of stadium shows. More recently, they teased a set of four stills from a brand new video directed once again by Jonas Akerlund. One of the shots shows frontman Till Lindemann holding a crucifix, while the clapperboard shows the title Black Dog, Big Fish.
The ball finally started rolling on Rammstein’s seventh album after a make-or-break meeting in drummer Christoph Schneider’s garden a few years ago. Utilising the services of Olsen Involtini, who worked on Richard’s Emigrate albums, helped kick work on the record up a gear, as well as offering a fresh take on Rammstein’s pounding, industrialised metal thunder.
“Olsen coming in was really interesting, because he changed the energy,” Richard notes. “Everyone was more focused and concentrated. It was a great experience, actually. I was really surprised that everyone was really respectful, and that everyone could say what they had to say – there was no holding back, no grudges, and no knives coming around.”
Anyone who’s paid attention to Rammstein for more than two seconds will know that they’re about as conservative musically as they are politically, and the new record has seen plenty of room for experimentation.
“We tried a lot of different things this time,” Richard notes, while still refusing to go too deep into specifics. “Sometimes we felt like, ‘This could be an interesting song, even though maybe it’s not a ‘typical Rammstein song’. In music, there are thousands of ways to go, and sometimes it’s hard to say [which ways are] the right ones or wrong ones. There’s much more out there than our own ego.”
“The first phase was getting back into the groove of making music again and getting the band chemistry together again, getting close to each other,” adds Paul. “Because the band are not under contractual obligations to bring out albums at any specific interval, this has been more of a voluntary process – following fate, and not trying to determine it. And things are looking good!”
After rehearsing songs at Christoph’s home studio, the band got to work proper and, aside from the aforementioned Mexico dates and the announcement of their 2019 European tour, had remained largely silent since. In November 2018, Richard finally confirmed that the album was going to be mixed in LA during. In January 2019, the band tweeted that they were “finalizing the mix in Santa Monica”.
Getting closer! Finalizing the mix for the new album in Santa Monica, CA.#Rammstein pic.twitter.com/A7m60BQ6f1January 22, 2019
And, judging by what Richard and Paul say, it looks like we could be getting some of the biggest Rammstein earworms yet. “We started on five or six years of ideas and took it from there,” Richard reveals. “[We were] talking about harmonies, how certain kinds of melodies can change things. Things we never really cared about in the beginning, but things that matter more now. It’s more interesting for me as a musician to see how the vocals fit into a song, and which melody fits in that.”
Once the album is finally done and dusted, it will be time to hit the road for that aforementioned European trek, taking in some of the most iconic stadiums and helping to bed in Milton Keynes’ Stadium MK – home of English football team MK Dons – as a new home for UK live music. Every new Rammstein touring cycle brings an increased expectation of the fantastical and the downright shocking. Can they still deliver on those kinds of terms a decade on from the debut of that penis cannon?
“We don’t think in terms like that,” replies Paul. “The way we think about it is: what would we like to see if we were watching a concert? How would we like the concert to begin, how would we like the middle section to be, and how would we want it to end? That’s the way we think about what we do.”
But surely it takes some serious brainstorming to improve on a show which continues to exceed expectations at every turn? How do you go about evolving it?
“That’s a good question,” Paul replies thoughtfully. “When we start a new show, we start with a blank slate, and before we know it, one and a half years later, we’re amazed! ‘How did all these ideas happen? Where did it all come from?’ It’s a magic process. We always end up amazed at what we’ve come up with.”
In a year that will see new albums from heavyweights like Slipknot, Tool and Babymetal, and a ton of metal’s next generation produce music that will doubtless take the scene in exciting new directions, there’s never been more pressure on Rammstein to deliver something that’ll be befitting of their legacy. Are they up to the task?
“The only pressure we have is from us,” replies Richard confidently. “That is way enough anyway. If it’s shit, we just don’t put it out!”
You can’t argue with that, can you?
Originally published in Metal Hammer 318
Rammstein 2019 European tour
Jun 28: Paris La Defense Arena, France
Jul 02: Hannover HDI Arena, Germany
Jul 06: Milton Keynes Stadium, UK
Jul 10: Brussels Stade Roi Baudoiun, Belgium
Jul 13: Frankfurst Commerzbank Arena, Germany
Jul 16: Prague Eden Arena, Czech Republic
Jul 17: Prague Eden Arena, Czech Republic
Jul 20: Luxembourg Roeser Festival Grounds, Luxembourg
Jul 24: Chorzow Stadion Slaski, Czech Republic
Jul 29: Moscow VTB Arena, Russia
Aug 02: St Petersburg Stadium, Russia
Aug 06: Riga Lucavsala, Latvia
Aug 10: Tampere Ratina Stadion, Finland
Aug 14: Stockholm Stadion, Sweden
Aug 18: Oslo Ullevaal Stadion, Norway
Aug 22: Vienna Ernst-Happel Stadion, Austria