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German Music

Press: Motor Music To Drop Live Rammstein Set Worldwide

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By Wolfgang Spahr

Taken from Billboard
August 7, 1999
v111 i32 p11

Contents

HAMBURG--Few German bands can count on a simultaneous album release in Europe, the U.S., Canada, South America, and Australia.

But anticipation for the upcoming double live set from German-language industrial rock act Rammstein, "Live Aus Berlin," is strong enough to justify the move, according to the band's label, Germany's Motor Music.

Rammstein's track record certainly suggests a market for the new set, which bows Aug. 30: The band has sold a total of 4 million units of its two albums--"Herzeleid" (Suffering) and "Sehnsucht" (Longing)--with singles sales exceeding 1.5 million units, according to Motor Music. The act, from East Berlin, also holds the distinction of being the only German-speaking rock band to have cracked the U.S. market (Billboard, Aug. 1, 1998).

Motor managing director Petra Husemann is projecting shipments of 800,000 units worldwide for the double-CD and 200,000 for the video (also titled "Live Aus Berlin"). The album features two concerts, held Aug. 22 and 23, 1998, at Berlin's Wuhlheide open-air festival.

Demand is already building. In Germany, advance orders have reached 500,000 units, Husemann says.

"People are always asking for Rammstein, even though there aren't any new releases at the moment," says Stefanie Troger, purchaser at retailer Hotmarkt in Hanover. "We are very satisfied with back-catalog sales. It's a different kind of music. The lyrics are thought-provoking. Rammstein have a cool stage show, which many people like."

Adds purchaser Hans-Joachim Schmidt of Promarkt in Berlin, "Rammstein are selling very well and are very successful, particularly in the new German states [the former East Germany]. The blend of aggressive music with electronic elements and German lyrics seems to capture listeners' imaginations."

The two Rammstein albums have been released in more than 40 countries. For Motor's Husemann, who discovered and established the group in 1995, Rammstein's worldwide success is no surprise. "It was never a question whether Rammstein would have foreign success," says Husemann. "The question was whether a label could be found which would recognize Rammstein's potential and be willing to handle a band which doesn't get so much radio or TV exposure."

It took a long time for Motor to convince anyone. Inclusion in various U.S. indie compilations, as well as on the soundtrack to the David Lynch film "Lost Highway," was very helpful in launching Rammstein in rock clubs all around the world, arousing preliminary underground attention.

But press attention in the U.S., where Slash/London worked the record, was a key factor. Says Husemann, "London Records U.S. were very good at marketing the second album and slowly built up Rammstein with fan-oriented street marketing."

This also explains why the album "Sehnsucht" has since gone platinum in the U.S., even though it barely made it into the top 40 of The Billboard 200.

LIVE SHOW IS KEY

In European countries outside Germany, it was easier to establish Rammstein. The band has played at large festivals, achieving a breakthrough in most countries thanks to its strong show.

Says Husemann, "Rammstein has been built up as an album act over an extended period of time with a solid worldwide fan base. The only limitation is that Rammstein cannot perform everywhere in the world for time and organizational reasons."

In the U.S., the video will be co-released with the CD two weeks earlier, while Asian markets will hold off release as they continue to work "Sehnsucht." Album launch parties in all countries will be backed by radio ads and street postering. Impetus is also expected to come from a recent Kiss tour of South America, during which Rammstein was a guest.

Discovered in 1993 by music manager Fialik, Rammstein has been a best seller since 1995 with its hard industrial-metal lyrics. The sextet comprises Till Lindemann (vocals), Richard Kruspe (guitar), Paul Landers (guitar), Christoph Schneider (drums), Oliver Riedel (bass), and Flake Lorenz (keyboards).

The act's stage show--complete with pyrotechnics--has unleashed heated debate on the aggressiveness of the songs. During the show, Lindemann--covered with combustible paste--is set afire.

Commenting on Rammstein's success, Tim Renner, president, music, at Universal Music Group Germany (who helmed Motor until last year), says, "Rammstein is a gigantic stage show. They're theater for the millennium generation, with everything that goes with it: metallic-techno posing, bizarre sadomasochistic elements, and not least of all marvelous and innovative rock music."

The tightrope walk between provoking and enthralling the audience will be clearly in evidence in the eagerly awaited "Live Aus Berlin" video, which will be released in two versions--censored and complete.

Part of the stage show has already been censored in the U.S. When Rammstein's Lindemann appeared on stage with a plastic phallus strapped on, the police in some U.S. cities said, "Good show--no penetration."

Yet, on June 5, police took action in Worcester, Mass., on account of alleged obscene stage acting during the song "Bück Dich" (Bend Over). As a result, Lindemann and key-boardist Lorenz were arrested and spent several hours in prison.

After three rounds of negotiations, the sentence was reduced to $100 and six months' probation.

The German Voluntary Self-Control Assn. also restricted "Bück Dich" to viewers over 18. This means that the censored version of the live video (excluding "Bück Dich") will be released in September, while the uncensored version will be available simultaneous with the album release but only for adults.

Commenting on the enthusiasm and criticism that Rammstein's shows attract, Lindemann says, "We offer music for the ears and pyrotechnics for the eyes. To me, that tops it off."

The band denies that it endorses extreme right-wing ideas, although the public outside its fan base views it with some suspicion. Says Lindemann, "Our tour manager is required to come up onstage as soon as fascists start using the Hitler greeting. I would immediately stop the concert and wait until these people are removed."

Adds Lorenz, "All we want to do is entertain and give the audience a good night out with flamethrowers and other funny ideas."

Music programmer Adilya Scharma from Radio Fritz in Berlin says that Rammstein is frequently played during the daytime and gets an above-average number of requests.

"The band was lucky enough to be playing hard music at the right time. There is a type of longing for this sort of music," Scharma says.

Yet Andreas Loffler, music programmer at national WDR Eins Live, says opinions are polarized.

"Listener reactions vary from extreme enthusiasm to less-favorable opinions. There's no 'golden middle.'"

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