A Conversation with Guitarist Paul Landers
Listening to Rammstein is easy despite the language gap; just press play and let the crazy Germans take you to their industrial metal wonderland. But interviewing Rammstein can be a bit of a task. First, the band is located in Germany, meaning that if you live in the United States you might have to juggle odd times to get a conversation on the calendar. Second, Rammstein might not merit huge headlines in the United States but they pack arenas in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Third, although guitarist Paul Landers understands English perfectly well it’s difficult for him to reply in kind. A translator is needed to handle the bulk of the conversation. So every time you ask a question the answer is supplied by a translator.
Nonetheless, there was plenty to discuss as Rammstein has been back in the news lately, particularly for their decision to shoot an explicit video to accompany the aptly titled
single “Pu – y” off the new album Liebe Ist Für Alle Da (love is for everyone). The album has been banned from public display in German stores because of the artwork and lyrical content. About. com spoke with Landers, 44, about whether the pornographic video was a publicity stunt or an artistic statement; the difference between European and American audiences and if Rammstein can ever live up to the mainstream success of the hit single “Du Hast.”
Justin M. Norton: How do you feel about the reception of the new album? It’s been a few years since you’ve come out with new material.
Paul Landers: The feedback has been great. It’s our sixth record and something we can be really proud of.
What was the band’s mindset when you wrote this album? Was it written in the studio or was the material finished?
The writing process began after a one-year break. The plans were to go on a small tour and then go to the studio or to bring out a best-of record and tour on that. None of those ideas panned out. We ended up deciding to make a record without any touring in advance. It took a while for things to gel, but it wasn’t long before things got intense. It was a long, arduous process, but also really pleasant.
It was interesting the way the band jammed on ideas. Instead of taking huge amps and monster drums, we took small amps and an electric drum kit. It allowed us to work on ideas and whole new range of sound that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible recording at our normal volume.
When you wrote the song “Pu – sy” why did you decide to shoot an explicit video to accompany it?
The song was already done, and the video director proposed the idea of shooting a porno. We deliberated on it very shortly and said, “let’s do it” without worrying about the consequences.
We thought it was cool because there’s no need for MTV or video stations with the internet. Something we hadn’t planned was that YouTube cancelled it, so then it was a question of “what now?” We found a way of showing it that was more private and hidden. It turned out that the exclusivity of the video made it a bit more complex and interesting.
Were you ever worried about being branded about the band that had done a porno video and nothing else?
(Laughs) When the band gets together to work on a song, the last thing that occurs is what the general public will think or what the consequences will be. We’ve stirred up a lot of emotions over the years. But our starting point is Germany and German topics and ideas.