This week sees the release of Rammstein’s documentary ‘In Amerika’.
Directed by Hannes Rossacher, this film tells the improbable tale of a German-speaking industrial band trying to crack the United States. Over two hours, the story charts their ascent overseas and features archive footage as well as exclusive interviews with the band and some familiar faces.
Here’s what we discovered…
THEY WERE INITIALLY A HARD SELL IN THE STATES
Bob Biggs of Slash Records believed in the band. Most others didn’t. Why would anyone be interested in a load of German blokes playing White Zombie riffs? The band’s now-US booking agent, Michael Arfin, wasn’t sold. While watching them for the first time in 1997, he saw keyboardist Flake Lorenz smashing a neon tube over singer Till Lindemann’s back; the tube snapped in half and impaled the band’s drummer, Christoph Schneider. Biggs was adamant about Rammstein’s appeal and badgered Arfin to see the band perform at their homeland’s Bizarre Festival. There was a lot of fire that day – and Arfin was in.
SCOTT IAN FIRST HEARD THEM ON THE LOST HIGHWAY SOUNDTRACK
EDM legend Moby described director David Lynch and Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor as “demigods” throughout the ‘90s – their influence was never-ending and their reputation untouchable. Both Lynch and Reznor were fans of the band, proceeding to include Heirate Mich and Rammstein in 1997’s cinematic masterpiece Lost Highway, thus exposing thousands of unsuspecting Americans to their unrelenting Teutonic crunch. Anthrax’s Scott Ian, who appears in the film, had never heard of the band, but now he’s a massive fan. Obviously.
EVERYONE HAS A RAMMSTEIN STORY
Till was on fire when he first met Marilyn Manson. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith received a lecture from Till about fire (there are three types: fire of the mind, fire of the heart and just fire). System Of A Down’s Daron Malakian played with the band and refused to move for the entire set, terrified of being turned into a well-done Armenian delicacy. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Iggy Pop, Limp Bizkit’s Wes Borland and, er, Hanzel und Gretyl all offer Rammstein-related anecdotes. This band breaks down the barriers of language and genre with ease. Everyone loves Rammstein.
EVEN RAMMSTEIN HAVE HAD BAD SHOWS
Supporting Kiss in São Paulo, Rammstein got a bit of a grilling. This was 1999 and people still hadn’t accepted the fact that Rammstein are, in fact, the best live act on the planet. Imagine booing them nowadays – Till would crush you like an empty beer can. Still, São Paulo’s Kiss Army wasn’t having any of it, hurling whatever they could towards the stage as the band valiantly finished their set. According to the gig’s promoter, it could have been much worse. “You should be glad they didn’t throw half a goat at you,” the band were told. They’d have probably turned it into the show’s centrepiece.
KISS INSPIRED RAMMSTEIN
Both Tommy Thayer and Paul Stanley sing the band’s praises during the film but can’t resist pointing out that Kiss inspired the German six-piece’s stage show. Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe even details his love affair with Kiss and reveals that he had a poster as a child; so to have Stanley and Thayer strut around like peacocks is, in comparison, a tad much.
THEY WERE A BIT NAIVE
It’s a staple of the Rammstein show nowadays, but back in 1998, the lads thought it was acceptable to go onstage and simulate sodomy. America didn’t take too kindly to that sort of behaviour and the police got involved several times; *Bück *dich’s sticky climax still causes Till and Flake problems and remains on their criminal records to this day. Having grown up in East Berlin before the collapse of the wall, Rammstein yearned to spread their artistic vision and visit the Land Of The Free. When they got there, it was quite the opposite.
ADIOS NEEDS TO GET BACK IN THE SETLIST RIGHT NOW
There’s a clip of Rammstein ripping through this Mutter classic back in 2001 and, seeing as it’s been over a decade since they last played it, we demand its reinstatement. While we’re at it, the resurrection of that entire tour would be much appreciated: Slipknot, System Of A Down and Rammstein at the same gig? Yes please.
MEXICO BLOODY LOVES RAMMSTEIN
Rammstein had a bit of a Beatles moment following the release of their second album Sehnsucht. Before a record shop signing, the building was surrounded by rabid fans – making 28 Weeks Later look like some children playing in a sandpit. Riot police were called in and the band had to take to the roof of the store, pleading with their fans to calm down. Would you be surprised if we told you the signing session was scrapped?
SUCCESS HASN’T CHANGED THEM
Sure, Till doesn’t need to take food from petrol stations anymore, nor do the band still get absolutely wankered every night, but Rammstein haven’t turned into narcissistic divas. They could have done so easily. They were the first German-speaking rock band to crack the US market, going on to achieve legendary status worldwide. But when they’re interviewed for the film, the band are relaxed, engaging and humble. They’re aware that, in a sane world, this should not have happened. 18,000 people should not be heading to Madison Square Garden in New York City to watch a middle-aged man sing about incest and shower the audience with a giant penis cannon, but that’s what Rammstein do. They’ve refused to compromise for 21 years – and it’s paid off. They starved the US of pyro-fuelled mayhem and the US waited, never doubting that Rammstein would abandon them. Tool, look up the UK on Google Maps and take note.
RAMMSTEIN ON DVD IS STILL BETTER THAN MOST CONCERTS YOU’LL ATTEND
Not only does Rammstein In Amerika feature a two-hour documentary, it’s bolstered with the legendary Madison Square Garden set from 2010. Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith describes it as a “rock opera”, but even that doesn’t even come close. The Rammstein live experience is the light and the dark. It is love and hate. It is life and death. It is everything you want a live show to be and then some. Even from the comfort of an armchair, the hairs on your arms will stand to attention, your sphincter will tighten and you’ll feel like you can punch new craters into the moon. Rammstein are a truly unique entity on and off stage, and you owe it to yourself to watch this thrilling document of their ascendency.
Rammstein In Amerika is available on DVD and Blu-Ray on 25 September.