Rammstein first came to be in 1994, finding its roots among six young friends living in eastern Germany, the former socialist German Democratic Republic.
Richard Kruspe, tired of the music scene he found in Western Berlin with his “cross-over” band, Orgasm Death Gimmick, decided once the Wall had fallen to move back to his hometown of Schwerin in the northeast corner of the country, hoping to find a group that could produce a unique sort of German music, “bringing machines and guitars together.” There he lived with Christoph Schneider and Olli Riedel, playing together with them in a band called Die Firma. Prior to this Olli had played in a relatively successful “folk-fiddle” band called The Inchtabokatables. Also in Schwerin, Till Lindemann worked as a basket-weaver and played drums in a band called First Arsch, which Richard and Paul Landers (who also played in the band Feeling with Schneider and Flake Lorenz) would go on tour with to help out and occasionally fill in.
Eventually Richard, who was impressed with Till’s voice from having listened to him sing as he wove baskets, convinced him to sing in a group consisting of him, Olli, and Schneider. The four of them recorded a demo to submit to a Berlin contest for young bands. They won the contest and got to spend a week in a professional studio. This then sparked Paul’s interest, and he decided to join. Once they convinced Flake to play the keyboard for them, the sextet was complete, and Rammstein was finally born.
The name Rammstein was inspired by the August 1988 disaster at the US Ramstein airbase in Germany, where during an airshow three Italian jets collided. The death toll reached almost 70, with several hundreds more badly wounded. The group had written a song about the disaster, and after a while the name sort of stuck with them. They added an extra "m" to the word to give the name the meaning of "ramming stone," which they thought would convey the image they wanted.
In September of 1995 Rammstein released their first album, Herzeleid. It had been recorded in Sweden and was produced by Jacob Hellner. The first single released form it was Du riechst so gut (August), followed later by Seemann (January 1996). Rammstein went on their first headlining tour throughout Germany in December of ’95, and the following month had the honor of supporting The Ramones on their last tour in Germany. Also that year Rammstein made their first appearance on MTV London, and then went abroad to Hong Kong for the showcase at the Polygram World Congress.
Their breakthrough onto the United States scene came in fall of 1996 when well-known American director (and Rammstein fan) David Lynch decided to put the songs Rammstein and Heirate mich on the soundtrack of his movie Lost Highway.
Herzeleid went on to reach Gold status in May of 1997, Double Gold in August of 1997, and then Platinum the following August.
*The original cover art for Herzeleid was changed to displace controversy—some people (wrongly) assumed that the six half-naked, muscular white men posing in front of a flower was trying to portray “the master race.”
After recording in Malta throughout November, Sehnsucht was released in August of 1997, again produced by Jacob Hellner, and entered the German charts at number one after two weeks. The first single was Engel (April), followed later by Du Hast (July). Du Hast was widely played in the United States, and at the end of the year Rammstein went on their first American tour as support for KMFDM—the next spring, they went as headliners. In October of 1998, they joined Korn, Limp Bizkit, Orgy, and Ice Cube on the large-scale Family Values tour. Sehnsucht went Platinum in August 1998, and went Gold in the US the same year. In 1999 the band was nominated for a Grammy in the category of “Best Metal Performance.” They were also nominated for “Best Rock Act” at the 1998 European MTV awards, and preformed Du Hast for the event.
Rammstein released a cover of Kraftwerk’s song Das Modell as a single in November of 1997. A video was made for the song, but never released because of its eerie similarity to Princess Diana’s death. Also in July of 1998 Rammstein released a cover of Depeche Mode’s Stripped as a single and an addition to some versions of Sehnsucht. Du riechst so gut was re-released in 1998 and a new video was made.
Live aus Berlin
On August 22nd and 23rd of 1998, Rammstein put on a huge show at Wuhlheide in Berlin for a crowd of over 17,000 fans. The footage from these shows was later used to make a live album, Live aus Berlin (August 1999), which reached number one in the German charts after two weeks. A video (September 1999) and DVD (November 1999) of the show were also released—the DVD was an edited version, and does not feature the controversial performance of the song Bück dich. The concert movie was screened in Switzerland, Austria, and Germany during the course of the year.
Rammstein’s next album, Mutter, was released in April of 2001, with recording having been done in Mirival, in the south of France. The first single was Sonne (February), followed by Links 234 (May), which was also released as a DVD containing the music video and the Making Of the music video. The next single was Ich will (September), followed by Mutter (March 2002), and then Feuer frei! (October.)
Also in 2002 Rammstein had another chance to become visible in the United States market when they were featured performing Feuer frei! in the opening scene of the American blockbuster xXx starring Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson. Filming took place in January, and the movie was released in August.
Rammstein also appeared again at the European MTV awards in December of 2001 to play Ich will. Also that year the appeared on the Big Day Out festival in Australia, as well as being an addition to the American Pledge of Allegiance Tour with System of a Down, Slipknot, and Mudvayne in the fall.
In December of 2003 Rammstein released another DVD, Lichtspielhaus, which featured some selections of live footage, various television clips, and all of their music videos, including “The Making Of” specials for Du riechst so gut ’98, Sonne, Links 234, and Ich will. Also in 2003, Torsten Rasch released the album Mein Herz Brennt, an award-winning classical rendition of nine Rammstein songs, preformed by the Dresden Symphony Orchestra.
However, the Mutter era did not go completely smoothly for the band. Tensions began to rise between members, and the threat of a break-up seemed very possible. Luckily, the band decided to stick it out during the rough times and take a much needed break from one another, and eventually reconvened in late 2003 to begin recording their next album…
Rammstein’s newest album, Reise, Reise, was released in September of 2004. So far the singles have been Mein Teil (July)—a song inspired by the recent Armin Meiwes case of “voluntary” cannibalism that occurred in Germany; this was next followed by Amerika (September), Ohne Dich (November), and Keine Lust (February).
Currently Rammstein are just completing their 2004-2005 European tour. As for future plans, we should hope to expect one more single from Reise, Reise before a rumored “Reise, Weiter” album comes at the end of this year. Rammstein are also scheduled to appear at a number of summer concerts, including four European festivals and then four dates in June at the Wuhlheide in Berlin. Another live DVD is being planned, but apparently will not be from the Wuhlheide shows.
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