Like a lot of Americans, I never heard of Rammstein until they were all over the news as one of the favorite bands of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, a.k.a. the kids who shot up Columbine High School in 1999. A yearbook photo even surfaced of Harris wearing a Rammstein T-shirt. Apparently, this German industrial band was the Embodiment of Pure Evil and had somehow influenced (along with Marilyn Manson and KMFDM) these impressionable Colorado kids to join the “Trenchcoat Mafia” and go on one of the most horrific shooting sprees in U.S. history. At least that was what the hyperbolic, ham-brained, frothing-at-the-mouth morons who pass for mainstream media in this country would have had you believe. (Sorry, Rest of the World. We’re not all as idiotic as Fox News, I swear.)
Since then, I’ve come to learn that while yes, Rammstein can be a little dark, they aren’t in the habit of encouraging their fans to go on shooting rampages. They’re pretty much just your average metal/industrial band, except they sing everything in German—which, to a certain conservative strain of Middle America, automatically makes everything they do terrifying. Not because they’re German, per se—in Middle America, all foreign languages are terrifying. We Americans aren’t so good with the whole foreign language thing. It’s why when we travel abroad, we yell at your waiters in slow, over-enunciated English.
I’ve also come to learn that, actually, there’s nothing “average” about Rammstein’s version of brutal, Teutonic hard rock. Their music and their stage shows tend to be bigger, louder and more bombastic than pretty much all of their peers, in Germany (where the term “Neue Deutsche Härte”—”New German Hardness”—was coined to describe bands like Rammstein and Oomph!) and elsewhere. The word “Wagnerian” gets used to describe them a lot. Their shows feature over-the-top props like giant, foam-shooting penises and pyro—lots of pyro. Lead singer Till Lindemann is actually a certified pyrotechnician, which must come in handy when the band does stuff like this.
But the coolest thing about Rammstein—and the thing that really earns them an entry here on TWBITW—is that they’re funny. This sometimes seems to get lost in translation, for obvious reasons—but then again, can anyone really watch their “Amerika” video and not get the joke? Judging from the YouTube comments, apparently the answer is “yes.” Oh, my fellow Americans. Y’all need to lighten up.
Fortunately, for the irony-challenged among us, Rammstein just released a new video to promote Made In Germany 1995-2011, their first greatest-hits album. (Yes, they have hits. They’ve sold over 15 million records worldwide, in fact. So color us clueless for having never heard of them prior to Columbine.) It’s for a new song called “Mein Land,” it was directed by Jonas Åkerlund (whose other credits include Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” and the Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up”) and it’s awesome. It’s a German industrial beach party! (Stay with it till the 3:33 mark; that’s when it takes a real turn for the, uh, Härte.)
- New Rammstein video collection coming soon, with two new videos for “Mein Herz brennt”
- Earth to American news media: Rammstein doesn’t kill people. Guns do.
- Weirdify Playlist 1: Happy New Year! We’re All Gonna Die.
- Rammstein official site
- Rammstein on MySpace
- Rammstein on YouTube
- Herzeleid.com (fan site)
- RammsteinNicCage.com (fan site)
- Affenknecht (fan site)
- Rammstein’s catalog on Amazon.com