Lindemann: The Odd Couple
Rammstein's frontman Till Lindemann and Hypocrisy/PAIN's Peter Tägtgren team up for new project
“When you see the lyrics on paper, it's a poem, but sometimes we'd look at each other and go: 'Jesus Christ, we're going to Hell for this'...”
This is Till Lindemann, and he's discussing a song he's written called Golden Shower. It's definitely not about a Midas-themed bathroom range.
Having manned the über-masculine machine that is Rammstein for two decades, Till has teamed up with PAIN/Hypocrisy mastermind Peter Tägtgren and blessed us with a brand new project: Lindemann. Seeing that both men are respected figures within the scene and have known each other for years, one can only wonder: why has it taken this long?
“It started around 1999 or 2000, after we got to know each other.” Peter explains, detailing the excruciatingly long time it took for Lindemann's nucleus to gestate. “Till was helping me put vocals on one of my albums but it never happened because we were so busy all the time! But we kept in contact, and two summers ago, Rammstein were in Sweden and Till invited me over; we talked a bit before he went on stage, and he said that Rammstein were going to have a break for two years and we should do something.”
A saga of file-swapping emails ensued, with fully-formed tracks slowly beginning to ping-pong between inboxes. Finally, after around six months of tentatively mucking about online, Till took the plunge and found himself in Peter's studio.
“I was starting to think of doing another PAIN album,” Peter continues, “but as soon as Till came in, that's when I really started to work. I figured I'd just keep on writing. I started triggering his ideas and he started triggering mine. All of a sudden there was no PAIN album!”
Fear not, PAIN fans. Musically, Lindemann is a beast of an opus; leaning on the industrial metal crutches of acts like PAIN, Rammstein, Gothminister and even latter-day Ministry, Lindemann rocks like an absolute bastard. Choppy guitar riffs, primal drumbeats and synths that sound like Basshunter trapped in Mr Grey's Red Room all make for a stupendously uplifting – albeit punishing at times – listen.
“It's a baby between Rammstein and PAIN – at least, it's a mix of Rammstein vocals and PAIN music,” Till assures us. “Peter's a real metalhead and I'm into this gothic thing. I know a lot of hardcore Rammstein fans may not like it because they'll miss the German language and harsh sounds, but this is a side project and I bring a lot of personality into my half. There's a lot of different colours to this record.”
And wait until you wrap your ears around the lyrics. Bloody hell, mate. As Till mentioned, they're penned entirely in English; Lindemann finally exposes his perverse genius to listeners who can't be bothered to use Google Translate.
“I wanted Peter to know what I was writing about!” Till declares. “Sometimes you get inspired by the words – he's illustrating this immense chorus on Yukon because it makes sense with the words. If I write lyrics about cancer or something and he jumps in with a harmonica... he needs to know what I'm writing about.
“We didn't want to be really nasty or provocative or insulting,” he tells. “[This is] the first time English speakers can understand the lyrics, which is usually impossible in Rammstein. It's very sexual, but that's what I've done in Rammstein for twenty years, it's just that nobody's understood it! Now they're all going to investigate my German lyrics and be like: 'What the fuck is he doing?'”
While the gang vocals in Golden Shower aren't exactly the height of literacy (just imagine the one word you'll never hear on the radio), Till's lyricism is ridiculous nonetheless. Try Fish On; alluding to a fishing rod as, well, his penis, Till declares in no uncertain terms that: 'Moby's dick is out of sight, they find my Nemo every night.' If Disney knob jokes aren't your bag, Till's also packing the plus-size anthem of Fat: 'Call me freaky, call me sick. I like it sticky, I like it big. I hate it skinny, I hate it flat. I don't need mini, I like it fat.'
Devastatingly catchy music? Check. Messed up but undeniably brilliant lyrics? Check. Promo shoot in the woods with Peter dressed as a goat-lady, knickers round ankles and shamefaced? That too.
“Unfortunately, I have long hair so I became the bride!” Peter chuckles, as Till stands impervious in the photo looking very, well, manly.
Till and Peter, and right, part of the 'Skills In Pills' artwork
“If you're a band you can do the band pictures where you all sit around doing shit, but two guys? It's hard.” confesses Till. “We had to look for something really cool and this image springs in your eye. It leads into the whole artwork. The album comes with a big 27-page booklet with loads of pictures like that, which all relate to the songs. It's going be a big piece of art including a CD and lyrics; it's for the eyes, the ears and the brain.”
Lindemann is an experience. In an age of disposable music and utterly crap bands being hoisted onto pedestals, Till and Peter strive to be different and deserve to be heard. It's an enormous risk, as Peter admits.
“Maybe all the fans we have of our other bands will tell us to go back to our normal jobs!” he jokes. “Maybe some people will be jealous of me stealing Till... you never know! The photos inside are bananas too, and together with the lyrics... the sky is the limit for how people will react! If you think about the lyrics and then look at the photos – people are going to commit us or something! There could be a negative reaction from school or parents or something, but you need to read between the lines. Nothing is that simple.”
With notions of live shows and a second album already being formulated – Till says the album “was too much fun to just keep as a singular project” – Lindemann looks set to devour a hefty portion of its members' schedules. This brings us to the fire-breathing, dildo-wielding elephant snoozing in the corner of the room. We are, of course, talking about Rammstein.
“We have to figure out a rehearsal room situation, because we don't have one right now,” Till says, as he prepares to meet with his band-mates in the autumn of this year. “Normally we start with pre-production and go into small things coming up, like saying: 'How do we organise this? Are we going to play live this year or next year? Are we sending out our crew?' We have to keep our crew informed because those guys take time off for us, and we need support from them when we're recording or rehearsing. There's a lot of shit to do. It's a sleeping giant right now and we have to shake it up.”
So rumours of Rammstein's death are greatly exaggerated, then. The German giants will presumably rise from their slumber in the foreseeable future but, for now, Lindemann is going to give our Till a rest from setting his keyboard player on fire every night. And, as this interview has proven, Lindemann is not a solo venture – despite the name.
“It's so hard to find a name these days. They're all taken!” Till concludes, laughing as he recounts the year-long search for a band name. “People collect names, register them and sell them – it's all domains! There's nothing that doesn't exist. Jesus Christ. Even if you find some really fucked up shit, like Flies On Dicks or something like that... it's taken!”
Lindemann's debut album, Skills In Pills will be released in May.