Previous Rammstein Interviews
The Gauntlet: What have you been up to lately?
Richard: Actually a lot. I am actually right now working on a side project.
The Gauntlet: So what is the project?
Richard: What does it sound like? I am working on different songs. I don't want to call it a solo. It's a new project and I do everything myself. I spent some time in Sweden producing. I am definitely busy. I am doing this as Rammstein is on a break this year. After all the years, we thought we needed a break. The other guys are off on a holiday.
The Gauntlet: That's cool. I think after 13 years it's time for a break. When you guys are working and touring you are so intense and focused on creating what Rammstein has become.
Richard: It is, it is. It is a good time to have a little distance from each other. The last 13 years, we have been together almost non-stop. Especially in this band, things can be really difficult. We work in a democracy thing which has a lot of talking involved. So it's really good to have a break right now. With 'Reise Reise' coming out the year before, 'Rosenrot' last year and a Live - DVD coming out soon, it is time to take a break. It's good to have a little rest.
The Gauntlet: What is your new bands name and what is it about?
Richard: The project is called Emigrate. With me living in New York, it's definitely inspired me. It's a mix, but sounds more American than German. You can hear the German side, but I'm singing in English. I would say it's more melodic. I don't know what it sounds like though, who to compare it to. I like it. It was my first time to organize a project from the beginning. I am really interested in doing this. No one can believe how much time and effort it takes to make a record. People don't really appreciate it in a way. But I don't want to complain, I'm happy.
The Gauntlet: Is that why you are in New York? Just get a break from everyone, everything and have a change of scenery?
Richard: I actually moved to New York a couple years ago. The thing about me is I feel I am putting too much stuff out. The thing with Rammstein is there is always competition within the band which is a good thing. At the time we recorded 'Mutter', there was a lot of tension going on in the band. I had to let go. That was one of the reasons I had to move away. If this band was to survive I had to leave, to let it breathe. At this time I had been married a couple of years and things were working out. I have been living the married life. It has turned out good.
The Gauntlet: Wasn't it difficult to let go a little of Rammstein?
Richard: Yeah, it's definitely hard for a guy that is always in control. Honestly it was really important to let it go for my health and for the sake of the other guys. I am the kind of guy that if I have a vision, I just go for it heedless. If you are living in a band-democracy, you have to discuss everything with everybody involved. It comes out people have their own ideas and that they want to change things and try something different. It was important to let go and I feel much better right now. I don't have to be there all the time. I put in the equal amount of work in the recent albums that everyone else did and that's a good thing. You were right, it was difficult to let go of, but it's life.
The Gauntlet: Rammstein is finally releasing 'Rosenrot' on the 28th of March in the US.
Richard: I don't know, you tell me. This time I don't know why we have a different release date in Europe and in America.
The Gauntlet: That was my next question…why? Rammstein is big enough in the US to release an album in the US without immediate tour support.
Richard: Thank you. The problem is that we made a decision to not go on tour for this record 'Rosenrot'. Secondly, we are taking a break. As a German band, we have different roles than American bands. The US market is much bigger than the European market. In America, you have to tour a lot plus we have to tour Europe extensively as well. As a German band, it takes so much energy to tour America. We have done it a couple times and it's not that easy. That's why we have concentrated more on the European market recently. If you don't get on the radio, you have to tour. But we don't have enough time because there is so many markets to serve. It's not that we aren't get out to market, but we are just concentrating the strength we have.
The Gauntlet: A lot of 'Rosenrot' was recorded at the time of 'Reise Reise'.
Richard: Yes, but we don't like long records. What we did this time was we had a lot of songs recorded. We first brought the songs together who fit best dramaturgically into the 'Reise, Reise' concept. It doesn't mean it was the best songs out of all, but it was the best songs for 'Reise Reise'. We then had 6 songs left that were really cool as well. They were too good to be B-Sides. So we went back in to see what we came up with additionally. We went in the studio again for 3 months and came up with 6 more songs that were really good. At first we were going to call the new album 'Reise Reise 2'. But then we figured we had a different record with a different mood. In the end we called it 'Rosenrot'.
The Gauntlet: So this is an actual album on its own, not a B-sides of leftover material?
Richard: I really don't see it like that. To me it is just a record that stands by itself.
The Gauntlet: Is there any truth to Rammstein rushing this album to fulfill the contract with the label in order to renegotiate a better deal for the band?
Richard: [laughs] Actually we don't need to re-negotiate as we are free right now. We didn't rush this. That is one thing about Rammstein I really like. We don't really care so much about that. We only want to deliver something that is great. If you listen to our music, watch our videos or see the live shows, you'll know we only deliver quality and not quantity. I must say when I listen to 'Rosenrot' , it is different, but it's still great on its own. To answer your question though, that wouldn't be right. We are free, that was the last record within the contract. We have a DVD coming out. After playing for 12 years, there is no pressure anymore.
The Gauntlet: You almost make it sound like this is the last we'll hear of Rammstein.
Richard: No, no, no. We will definitely be back. But there is no pressure that we have to do something. We definitely will meet in 2007 and start recording a new album. We will discuss things like going on tour etc...
The Gauntlet: 'Rosenrot' seems to me to have simpler guitar riffs and softer than 'Reise Reise', but at the same time it's much more brutal and memorable.
Richard: That's a good thing. There are things that are really interesting on this record. For the first time we sing in a different language in Spanish. Then there is this little duet 'Don't die before I do' which is something I think we crossed the line with. I like the song, it's a nice song so don't get me wrong. I think this is a good place to stop. When we pick up we will have a new brutality in a way.
The Gauntlet: Why wasn't Bobo used in the duet?
Richard: The Song was written a long time ago. It was so different from Rammstein. Till loved the song and he asked if we could try it with Rammstein. We didn't have any particular woman in mind for the duet, then Jacob, our producer, mentioned that he would like to work with Sharleen Spiteri of TEXAS. She came in and it worked out well.
The Gauntlet: Rammstein is still getting nominations and awards for 'Reise Reise'. Which award means the most?
Richard: Honestly, the one thing I want in my life is a Grammy. I might be a little vain, but I would love a Grammy. As a German band, we are definitely honored just to be nominated. I always think that we have been nominated enough times and next time we will win one. This time I was recording my record so I didn't bother attending the ceremonies. The other guys are enjoying their holidays. The funny thing is we were nominated for a song we are apparently being sued over.
The Gauntlet: Yeah, it's a very interesting story.
Richard: There have been rumours the guy who 'Mein Teil' is about will be suing us. The funny thing is in Germany there is a movie about him. And he went to court and was able to stop the movie. It will be interesting what he may do about us. I don't really get how this is possible. All movies and songs are written about real stories or whatever. How can you sue someone? Just the inspiration came from him. It's weird. I thought in the beginning he couldn't block the movie, but I was reading a couple weeks ago that he did.
The Gauntlet: Songs are just another form of journalism. You are writing about a something you read basically.
Richard: Exactly! Exactly. Many people have songs about Charles Manson and depict his crimes. I don't know if the lawsuit has actually been filed yet, but he wants to. His claim I have heard is we are being successful off his story. It all comes back to money.
The Gauntlet: The video for 'Mein Teil' doesn't portray him.
Richard: No, that was really on purpose actually. We thought we wanted to do something different. What we did was everyone had 30 minutes to do whatever they wanted, what they felt at that moment. Everyone did something else. Everyone did something different. We didn't know what the other did.
The Gauntlet: Does the band purposely try to start controversy with it's videos?
Richard: I don't think we do that in general. In Europe we can be provocative as part of our job. I think you always have to have a theme and go over the lines sometimes. You can't think if this will sell, or if this is correct. I don't think like this. I just want it to be cool. I think that the dynamic we have in the band is really great. When we come together we come up with a lot of different things. I think that's part of the chemistry we have in the band. It's provocative.
The Gauntlet: In Europe, there is more openness towards sexuality than in the US. Do you ever feel pressure to get airplay in the US?
Richard: Yes, definitely there are things we have to change. There are certain rules for MTV. They don't allow guns. We had trouble after 9/11 with the video for 'Ich Will' which was a bank robbery. They didn't like the explosions and stuff. I know we have had a lot of trouble this time and they were trying to change stuff and we didn't. Sometimes I don't really care as it doesn't hurt the way the video is. But other times we say "you know, I don't really think we should do this."
The Gauntlet: Three videos are out already for 'Rosenrot'. Will any more videos be coming out?
Richard: We will do one more for the duet with Sharleen.
The Gauntlet: The video for 'Mann Gegen Mann' was quite gay looking.
Richard: That's a really cool one. We look really fucking gay. The video director Jonas Akerlund did Prodigy's "Smack my Bitch up". He does really great work. One thing that is different about him is he knows exactly what to do. He does everything by himself. He has a great rhythm with everything. It was all really interesting. I really like the video.
The Gauntlet: Who came up with the videos concept?
Richard: That was Jonas actually. He wanted to have a lot of fun and have everyone naked. Most of the time it's the band coming up with the idea, but this time it was his idea.
The Gauntlet: What was it like being greased up and bodysurfing naked over 20 naked men?
Richard: [laughs] That sounds so gay. [laughs] In the beginning it was kinda weird because there were so many people on the set. But after a while you get used to it. We grew up naked. I remember running around in my apartment naked.
The Gauntlet: I recently read you will be in a movie called 'Madness is Catching'?
Richard: It's not true. I haven't decided to do anything with that yet.
The Gauntlet: Do you ever wish you never introduced the pyrotechnics to the live shows?
Richard: In the beginning, I definitely had a lot of problems with it taken away from our performance. As a musician, you have to be as pure as possible. We really tried to balance the line. After a while, I realized what we do is pyrotechnics. People realize it's Rammstein. I don't want to change it anymore. It's part of Rammstein. It's fun to do and definiteley a bitch to do. It's hard to move all of the machinery. It is also really expensive but is a an integral part of Rammstein. We love to setup big shows to entertain.