By Clare McCabe
Hands up who likes Rammstein? Well you are in for a treat because Till Lindemann, the lead singer, is about to release a new album and this time he sings in English. Yes that's right chums. In English. Till's new band, Lindemann, is a collaboration between Till and Peter Taegtgren(of Hypocrisy and Pain fame). Their debut album, Skills In Pills, will be released next month. And it is good. Also turns out Till is a huge fan of New Zealand and he was hanging out here earlier in the year.
I sat down for a phone call with the man himself while he was in Australia and his first words were "finally a girl to interview me". Hopefully he meant that in a good way...
Hi Till, how are you?
Very good. Finally a girl to interview me...
A good thing I hope. So how's Australia treating you?
It's amazing, yeah. The sun is shining, we are in Sydney... Are you from Auckland?
Yeah I am. I know you have been here previously for Big Day Out...
Yeah yeah and I was there in January for almost six weeks.
Really, you came for a holiday? And did you love it?
Of course. How could I not. To be honest it is one of the most beautiful countries on earth.
Cool. So are you just over in Australia doing promo for the new album - and if so, how's it going?
Ah so far pretty good. I mean we had to fight the jetlag a little bit but everything is fine. It's all good. We are enjoying it.
Excellent. So Peter and you have known each other for quite a long time - what made you decide to make an album together?
It was never meant to be doing an album. We just had this plan that I would jump on a Pain record or a Hypocrisy record with like a singer or vocal line or sing a whole song. It was never meant to be a whole record. And when we started in 2013, we had a break in Rammstein, and I called Peter to feature on one of the songs and so he sent over an instrumental and we finished the first song which was Lady Boy. Then we did a second and a third because it was so much fun to do this. For me it was the first time singing in English and...
Oh yes, was that hard for you to do, singing in English, did you enjoy it?
I wasn't sure about it. I went around fishing for options and opinions from people and they were telling me: it's silly, its stupid, leave it and go back in your cage. But everyone encouraged me to do it and then I taught myself more in English. I got more into like English poems and writing lyrics down so I improved and it was really fun and kind of a challenge so I did it over and over. And then we found ourselves with five or six songs and were thinking about doing an EP. But then four more songs showed up and within one and a half years we had almost eleven songs done.
And did you both write the lyrics together or was it just you?
We split it. Peter was composing all the stuff and I wrote the lyrics.
And when you did the recording, did you have to fight over who played the instruments or did you just sing?
The first couple of months we just sent files up and down and we were talking a lot on the phone and we had our own language, like a music language - what is the C part, what is the bridge, what is the after chord... we had totally different opinions. So we had to learn to speak the same music language which took awhile. We were working via internet and file messages and drop boxes and stuff like that. Then after four or five demo versions I recorded in my studio back home, I flew over to Peter's studio and we started recording sessions. So I flew all the time back and forward to Peter's office and we started recording.
And how long have you been working on this together?
We started September 2013. We worked almost until Christmas and then had a little break in between, Peter went on vacation and I had a poem book release. We had different projects going in between, Peter went on his South American tour and I went back to do some little Rammstein situations like an exhibition and then we got back together and started over. I guess it was another year before, yeah a week before Christmas, that we signed a record contract. And we had eleven songs done. And went shopping.
Well I have to say I've been listening to the album all morning, thanks very much for letting me have an early copy, and I do think That's My Heart, the bonus track, is one of my early favorites. Is that on all releases or just the deluxe version?
Well thank you. I wish it was on the standard record but there are like rules from the record company. But I have to say this song was the very last song we did, it's like totally fresh, there's still paint on it. Just out of the studio now, it's very, very fresh. But I'm really happy it's published anyway.
So are you guys proud of what you've done together?
Definitely. You know growing up in the East part of Germany we had to learn Russian in school. So I never had experience with the English language. And I had to learn it the hard way on the road when we started touring with Rammstein. Because in the East part of Germany it was not necessary - we couldn't travel at all so there was no need to speak English. It's cool to have it done after 20 years. A little thing, like a little product in another language you can be proud of.
Indeed. Now what do you think that the fans of Rammstein and Pain will think of the English lyrics and the fact you are singing in English?
I don't know. You know Pain is obviously in English, I mean Peter is always singing in English all these years, but I hope Rammstein fans like the other side of Till. I know for sure they like, especially the German audience, the German fans, they really go for the German version because it's more harsh and they can understand what's going on in the lyrics. But I really hope they enjoy the other colour of my personality. Otherwise they just have to wait a couple of years more and then we will continue working with Rammstein.
So you'll be doing more Rammstein after this album/tour?
Yeah we'll go back together in September and will start pre-production with Rammstein and we're doing another record.
Excellent. Good news. Now I noticed on the Lindemann Facebook page that you are only giving out tiny little snippets of songs/details of the album rather than any tracks as yet. How have you managed to keep it secret for so long?
You don't want to know. It is a fuckin nightmare. These days it is so hard to avoid leaks and stuff like this and you always have to work with MP3 files. When we have listening sessions, we have the journalists right in front of us with headphones and MP3 players - we have them right in front of us so we can see them. It is really hard to keep secrecy these days.
Yes I would have thought almost impossible, so it is very interesting to see your page on Facebook and to see the fans reacting really enthusiastically because they can't wait to hear your new stuff.
Yeah yeah. But the management and the record company feed them, well its not feeding, it's more like teasing... they have a kind of strategy to make the whole thing happen and it starts on the 19th of June. The release is coming and it's going to be a great day for everybody. And a big relief of course.
Oh yes and it is worth the wait. Now will you be touring once the album is out do you think?
We really don't know yet. Of course we are talking about it. But we don't really have certain plans for it yet, but it's an option. We would love to play like at a big festival down under, like Big Day Out or Soundwave, a festival like that.
Have you played Soundwave before?
No we played the Big Day Out. It was my first contact with New Zealand, in 2006.
Oh yeah, great year for Big Day Out, I think it was raining heavily that day...
Exactly, you have a good memory...
One of the best years... Now why did you decide to call the band Lindemann, after you?
To be honest we couldn't come up with another name. We brought it up for a year but all the names we liked were taken. There was this one guy from Universal Records he came up with this idea: just call it Lindemann, it's cool. And we said no never, ever. But over time we got used to it and then of course we had to name it one day. So we gave up in the end.
And did you have anyone else playing on the tracks with you or just you two?
No just the two of us. Peter is playing all the instruments himself, he's producing, he's mixing, he's recording, he's doing everything himself. Which is a good thing when it comes to recording - no arguments, no trouble... when it comes to decisions, there is just a clear yes or no. And you continue working, you save time and everything, it's a very good way to work with just two people.
It must be very different to working with Rammstein when there are so many of you?
Oh yes. I can tell you.
Now hopefully you will be doing a video for the first single, yes?
Oh yeah we shot the video last week. We're still doing cuts and stuff but there is a teaser on the internet now and you can watch it.
Oh yes saw that, and have listened to the songs and seen some great publicity shots out there for the album. All the teasers are great, it just makes you want to hear it right now.
Yes hopefully. Only a couple more weeks now. It's like waiting for Christmas you know.
So I think what you should do is come down to NZ for a little trip to let us hear what this sounds like live. Has Peter ever been to NZ?
That would be awesome. No no, Peter had never even been to Australia before this trip, it's a first time for him. He's never made it. There was a plan for the Hypocrisy tour to come but it didn't work out with the promoter. H's really excited to be here, he's enjoying it big time.
And speaking of touring, are you planning on involving the pyrotechnics in any Lindemann tour or is that just a Rammstein thing?
No. if it comes to touring we're going to do something totally different. I don't want to combine things. So we have to go like a separate way with everything. Leave that to Rammstein.
Well that's about our time. Thank you SO MUCH for this interview.
You're very welcome - thank you for giving us the chance to talk. And say hello to New Zealand for me.
His words people. His words.
The new album by Lindemann, Skills In Pills, is out Friday June 19th in New Zealand in various formats including vinyl. If you like Rammstein even a little bit, grab it immediately. It will not disappoint. Oh and check out the snippets on Lindemann's Facebook page as a starter.