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Emigrate: Rammstein guitarist goes it alone

From dodging special agents in East Berlin to selling over 40 million albums with Rammstein, it’s been a hell of a ride for Richard Z. Kruspe. But is his ‘day job’ finally coming to an end?

It’s 25 years since the Berlin Wall fell, and the history of Germany’s once-divided capital is fading into memory. In the former East Berlin, the creeping tendrils of western gentrification have dismantled all but the most tenacious vestiges of its communist past. Where once there was Soviet Bloc austerity, today the streets are lined with swanky boutiques, expensive cars and trendy cafés.

In one of these very cafés, in the formerly dilapidated borough of Prenzlauer Berg, sits a man who knew East Berlin well. Richard Z. Kruspe spent his formative musical years in this half of the city, juggling dreams of becoming a rock’n’roll musician with the realities of life under the boot- heel of the authorities .

“I moved here when there was such a great music underground,” he says in flawless English, a half-drunk pink smoothie on the table in front of him. “People were making music all the time. Even though it was hard because it was controlled by the government and the secret service, there was this energy that East Berlin had. And for some reason it was gone after the Wall came down. It was like somebody else took over.”

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