I was eleven years old when the Family Values Tour ’98 was in full swing. The tour featured Orgy, Limp Bizkit, Ice Cube, Rammstein and was headlined by KoRn. Looking back, it was an awkward time for me musically. Most of my friends had a head start on getting into music one or two years earlier, with me staying solely focused on video games as my main driving entertainment force.
That year in sixth grade, something changed for me, something clicked that was just…too good for me pass up on. That something, was Kid Rock’s Bawitdaba.
The idea sounds ridiculous now, but back then as an eleven year old video game kid, it finally made me at least think of music as something viable to get into. I re-watched the video for ‘Bawitdaba’ before writing this and I still love how the song starts with that build up into “My name is Kid…” The chorus is still memorable and the video is a fun watch.
And you know, we all start our own musical journey somewhere. Listening to Kid Rock into his next album allowed me to hear him sample Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’ in his own song ‘American Bad Ass.’ Metallica released S&M shortly after, which turned into me buying their entire discography. Metallica led me to Dream Theater. Dream Theater led me to Opeth. Opeth led me to Between the Buried and Me and so on.
Anyway, this isn’t about Kid Rock. Around the same time Bawitdaba was hitting #1 on TRL, Limp Bizkit was touring, Orgy released their first album Candyass and KoRn had just released Follow the Leader.
At some point in this time period watching TRL almost every day, I saw ‘Du Hast’ by Rammstein. I’ve only been listening to music for a short period of time, so it’s not the last time I’d say the following, but I’d never heard anything like it before. It was metal with this insane crunch and tone, and it was in German, which to an eleven or twelve year old made it sound a few notches cooler.
Needless to say, I bought the VHS tape for The Family Values Tour ’98 at my local Strawberries after seeing the lineup, and brought it home to watch.
The second experience I had with Rammstein, was from that tape. It was their live performance of ‘Buck Dich.’ Their performance of the song features lead singer Till Lindemann wearing a dildo and having simulated anal sex with the band’s keyboardist Christian Lorenz, which resulted in a ton of liquid being shot out of the dildo when Till was finishing.
Being that young, I didn’t know what to think other than that I can’t tell my parents because they will take that tape away immediately. Even though the performance was memorable and questionable to me, the music was spot on. I grabbed Sehnsucht from the record store soon after and my journey into German industrial metal began.
If you want to see a live performance of ‘Buck Dich’ yourself, here you go. The action starts around three minutes in. This was from a show in Worcester, MA in 1998, which resulted in the arrests of Till and Christian after the show.
The thing that I really enjoy about Rammstein, and bands in general really, is that while their music has a variety of sounds and structures, you can always tell it’s Rammstein. The introductory chants of ‘Sehnsucht,’ the whistling in ‘Engel,’ the keys in ‘Du Hast’ all say Rammstein to me even though tonally they are very different.
Rammstein released Mutter in 2001, and it has since become one of my favorite albums of all time. ‘Mein Herz Brennt’ kicks things off in a powerful way with some added orchestral flares. ‘Links 2-3-4’ and ‘Zwitter’ are fast paced and frantic at times. ‘Feuer Frei!’ was even featured in the film XXX with Vin Diesel, another notch on the cool belt for a young teenager. I feel that the album really excelled with it’s slower songs, ‘Sonne’, ‘Mutter’ and ‘Nebel.’ For being a German industrial metal band, there’s a lot of feeling and emotion entwined throughout Mutter. I feel that they took every element introduced on their previous album, Sehnsucht, and kicked it up to the next level.
Rammstein’s influence bled into other areas of my life as well. Looking at the lyrics to their songs led me down rabbit holes I’d never have thought I’d find myself in. One example is the song ‘Mein Teil,’ a song referencing a real life case of a cannibal recruiting a volunteer to consume. I also had a general interest in learning German and memorized the lyrics to a lot of their songs. I even had World of Warcraft characters named after Rammstein songs.
My obsession with Rammstein continued into their next three studio releases Reise, Reise, Rosenrot, and Liebe ist für alle da, but overall interest waned the further I drifted from Mutter. The reason wasn’t due to declining quality, but more because It seemed I was naturally finding myself more intertwined with progressive music with more varied song structures and odd time signatures.
Even though I’ve wandered further away from Rammstein these past few years musically, they are still my #1 priority to see live at some point in my life. Till lights himself on fire, wears metal angel wings that have flamethrowers built in, wields a bow with fire shooting out of it and more. They’re entertainers on top of being musicians. Seeing them live means seeing Rammstein at their best. This year, they’ve announced a new album and stadium tour in Europe, but good luck getting tickets.
In December 2018, Rammstein said that they are releasing a new album in April 2019 with five new music videos. It’s mid-March and there unfortunately hasn’t been anymore news. Irregardless, I’m looking forward to it and if it continues to have that Rammstein feel, I know I’ll enjoy it.