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Press: Exclusive Interview with Richard

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Part one - All the small things
Copenhagen, Denmark
March 20, 2001

Contents

"Hello, my name is Richard!"
Very happy, self-confident and outgoing Richard Z. Kruspe-Bernstein, lead guitarist and co-composer in Rammstein, greets Herzeleid.com in the middle of the afternoon. Outside it's freezing but we meet at the Phoenix Hotel in Copenhagen - a four star hotel suitable for a rendezvous like this. That very hotel, by the way, was seized by the Germans during world war two and used as Gestapo (Hitler's feared secret police) headquarters in Denmark. Did anybody say fuel?

"I notice you are married," Richard says. "For how long? I've been married a year and a half now. Have you ever been to a marriage counsellor? I have."
It's impossible to tell whether he is joking or not. He smiles but seems serious too. Then he goes on…

"…I left her yesterday. Well, not for good. We live together in an apartment in New York and I left to talk to you guys today. Tomorrow I join the others in Berlin to prepare the German leg of the tour. Actually it feels good to leave her, because the apartment is so small, and I really enjoy finally having some space around me. It's a one-room apartment and bigger apartments are so expensive in New York."

The scepticism written all over my face when Richard strikes a note about money problems immediately makes him respond to the unasked question.
"Yeah, you would think so, wouldn't you? That I am rich. Well, I'm really not. I won't go further into this but I lost a lot of money in the stock market. A lot."
It doesn't seem to bother him, though. Money problems and being away from his wife ("the day after tomorrow I'll miss her like crazy. We're never apart more that five or six weeks in a row") appear to be effectively put away when the new album 'Mutter' and the upcoming tour enter the conversation. Very vividly he is eager to explain in details that only the people in this forum are able to cope with.

"Tomorrow I will join the others in Berlin, except for Ollie who is doing promotion in Iceland, can you believe it? We will start preparations for the new stage show. First step will be to talk things through with the stage designer. His name is Roy Bennett and he has been designing shows for Prince during the last ten years, Nine Inch Nails during the last eight years and Kiss too. He lives in New York."
Revealing the new live show is not the favourite dish of Rammstein at the moment, but Richard's mouth just keeps on going.

"Right now we're talking about it all the time. At this time all the new ideas are on the table, so to speak, and we just have to fit them together. I can assure you that several popular elements from the old show will still be there, but there will definitely be changes too. Obviously we want to incorporate the theme of Motherhood and Birth into the show, and we will try to bring the crowd and the band and the stage as close together as possible. Hopefully we will be one. One of our highest wishes is to use video projection throughout important parts of the show. We think it would add yet another dimension to the shows."

In the days after the successful shows at Wuhlheide, Rammstein talked about using water and neon, but that idea seems to be abandoned.
"We really wanted to," Richard explains. "Personally I was very much into the idea. Water is a wonderful media. Just wonderful. Did I mention that I was born under a water sign? Well, after all we came to the conclusion that water was much too hazardous to use. The danger of being electrocuted was just too real. Some people might think that we have already crossed the line and gone too far with the fire thing, but water is another story. You see, with fire you always have a way out. You can run like hell in the opposite direction if something goes wrong. If something goes wrong with water you haven't got a chance.
People have called us irresponsible when it comes to the stage show. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are probably the most responsible band out there. Should something happen to the band members, well that's ok, but we would never jeopardize our fans.
We have all been burned occasionally, but always little injuries. I've been burned in the face several times. Little things."

Little things will definitely not affect Richard. He actually proved his point earlier in the day when he arrived in Copenhagen from New York and discovered that he had lost his baggage with clothes for the next six weeks. That fact, and the clear view to a couple of days with jet lag de luxe, has changed neither his professionalism nor his mood.

He moves on to the battle between 'Sonne' and 'Links 234'. Why two singles at all? And which one is the hardest?
"I believe 'Links' is," he answers after thinking for a while, tasting the songs. "As you may know, we chose 'Sonne' for Europe and 'Links 234' for release in the US, but things are not working out the way they are supposed to. We thought that 'Links' would be the best choice for the US because of the hardness of the song. That song is a statement from us. An attempt to end all the misunderstandings about Rammstein, and we have added the military elements by purpose to prevent the message from being too obvious. But now something strange has happened.
MTV in the States has put the video for 'Sonne' in rotation, and that is very strange behaviour because the single is not for sale there. It makes no sense. Maybe they are just screaming for some Rammstein and couldn't wait for the 'Links' video. I don't know. Now we really don't know what to do, and to put it over the top the Australians also want to release 'Sonne'. They were also set for 'Links'."

It's complicated and Richard does not hide the fact that he's relieved to leave such decisions to other people. Still he explains…
"Actually I understand why 'Sonne' is more popular. It's an obvious choice for a first single, isn't it? It's got the whole Rammstein feel to it. It's got the hardness, it's got the melody, it's got the epic feel to it - it's got all the ingredients for a good, hard pop song. It is certainly our favourite choice for a first single, and the whole 'Links 234'-thing was an all American preference. They chose to continue down the safe road with the song that reminded the most about 'Du Hast', and that's what they've got. Not an admirably courageous picking, but an understandable one," Richard says, and quickly adds:
"I would like to emphasize that the band has total confidence in the people at Def Jam Island (Rammstein's record company in the US). We have told them that and we support every move they make. Personally I believe that they could have chosen any song from 'Mutter' and made it a single. The album consists of 11 singles. It's very, very strong.
Maybe things change very soon and fall into place. The video for 'Links 234' was finished yesterday, and I haven't even seen it yet. It is an animated video with lots of ants watching Rammstein perform in a movie theatre. As I understand it, it's almost only Till appearing on live footage in the video. It will be released in the US in a couple of weeks."

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