Sheila René: Hello -- glad we could hook up today. I cannot
tell a lie. I'm a fairly new convert to the industrial side of
things, but I'm becoming another fanatic fan.
Sasha Konietzko: That's good.
I'm really hooked on "Dogma," "Power" and "Craze." Is it a
myth that this type music takes longer to construct than
normal rock and roll?
I think it's a myth.
Gravity Kills talked about working hundreds of hours on one
It sounds like they don't know what they're doing. (laughter)
Brute is back with some great cover art. How's the animated
video with him coming along?
It's beginning to look really good. He's working out of Seattle.
Where are you headquartered now?
Right now I'm in Seattle.
Will you be staying in the U.S.?
I think so, yeah.
It seems that along the way from '86 to now, you've had a core
of members bringing in lots of new things.
Always, it's just the way it is.
I really like the addition of several great female voices. I hope
you keep them around. Nicole is wonderful on "Dogma" with
all the speaking parts.
You've just been out on the racks for 20 days and you're
already in the top 10.
Really? Wow. That's cool.
I'm surprised that you're not out touring while the album rises
to the top.
That's where the myth starts. That's a record company belief that
bands should go on tour when the record comes out. I don't think
that's right and it doesn't make any difference whether we go out
now or in six months. I do see the point in touring with product if
you're a new band. Then it's important for fans to see if the band
holds up live. It's a way to catch new fans.
With KMFDM, we're established with 100,000 plus as a hard-core
following. They'll buy it without a tour. There's a very strong and
strict line between people who know us and like us and people who
don't know us and don't get into this kind of music. New converts
with each album are very easy to follow...just by watching the sales.
It's a very slow rise. We're doing it for us and the record label is
doing it for money.
You've been extremely loyal to Wax Trax/TVT over the
years. Are the bigger labels still trying to steal you away?
It's not that I'm extremely loyal, it's more or less that I own the damn
thing. Who else is on Wax Trax that has substantial sales? No one.
They represent some of my favorite bands today...Sister
Machine Gun and Young Gods.
Wax Trax is a small pond, but we're the biggest fish in it. It's a better
situation than being in a big pond and a small fish in it.
Are you still being courted by other labels?
No, it never really happened. The policy in the industry is that if you
know an artist is signed with another label, it means hands off. You
don't even talk to them. I guess a lot of people know when our
contract is going to be up and I'm sure by that time the phones won't
stop ringing. Until then, it's dead quiet.
You recorded guitar first on Angst and then you wrote around
that. You later said that it was too guitar-driven. Then on the
next album you wrote the whole thing yourself and then laid in
some trimmed-down guitars.
Yes, on both Nihil and Xtort that's the way I did it.
Xtort sounds like a lot of guitars to me.
It's never without guitar, that's for sure.
I will say you've got one of the best Web sites going today. I
poked around the site earlier today to see if I could learn
anything new about you.
Thanks. Did you check out the guest point? That's the most
interesting section of the whole Web site...the comments they drop
in. It's really amazing.
Are you still a compulsive sampler?
No, I'm not compulsive. I never have been. I've always been more of
a methodical sampler, if that's the opposite of compulsive. I usually
go about making a sound and then I record it. Most of this stuff is
very conceptual. The story about a snare drum that consisted of a
wad of $100 notes being slapped into the hand...like whack! It's just
conceptually nice to do stuff like that.
What comes first with you -- the writing of the songs, and then
you call in the brilliant guests, or do you write with them in
No, where it all starts is with the sound, the individual sounds. Let's
say I sit around and tweak a little vintage synthesizer or something.
The thing goes off and off in a bubbling fashion. I take pieces of what
the sound is and I finally get a loop that is rhythmically sound and can
repeat itself. That determines the basic rhythm.
Then there's the tonality. I instrumentate that thing a little more and
then I go to our guitarist, Schulz, and we work out the guitar stuff.
Once the song is done, by that time I've spoken to various people
who have committed or not committed. They have a pick. They can
take what they want. Bill Reiflin, the drummer, would advise what
tracks he wanted to work on. Chris Connelly picks out the tracks he
likes, the ones he wants to write lyrics for.
The criteria is not that they have to be brilliant, but that I respect
what they're doing and that they go through my filter as being good to
work with. They don't have to be famous or known or anything.
Many people who've worked with us in the past have become
known just at the same pace as KMFDM.
Jr. Blackmail does the narration on "Wrath." How long have
you known him?
He's been involved with us since the early days, and participated on
the very early stuff.
I love the tip of your hat to the numbers 666 in the time of
Right. It's really 10:09. There's all kinds of stuff all over the record.
The other day I got an e-mail from someone who noticed that some
of the times were really weird on Nihil. He was wondering if a certain
sequence of numbers had a significant meaning for us. (laughing). He
was totally smelling conspiracy all over the place.
Your music started out as a backlash against metal.
Metal was always like a swear word in a way. At some point a good
friend of mine gave me a cassette -- one side was the new Slayer
record and the new Metallica on the other side. He said "I know you
don't like this kind of music, but check it out anyway." I'm listening to
it and it was total crap, but with some elements that were really
interesting, namely the guitar playing. That's when I got really
interested in using sequencing, the machine-created rhythms, together
with manually-played metal slide guitars. It wasn't a backlash but
rather how hippies are looked upon today, the "what do they know"
attitude -- stuck in time, stuck in space.
"Inane" is a great song. It sounds as if you're writing from a
That is just KMFDM Sucks Part 2. It was an old idea of making a
song out of older song titles but it didn't come about until now. We
definitely had enough song titles to make a whole song. It could have
gone on forever. It's probably the song with the most lyrics I ever
What turns you on musically today?
I'm actually going through a little flashback retro thing. I'm listening
a lot of German stuff from the early '70s such as Kraftwerk and
Tangerine Dream, just to refresh my memory. That music was really
hip when I was 11 or 12 years old. I did see some of those bands
live, but never listened to their music. I'm just doing a little catching
I tried to get into those particular bands, but I didn't like them.
Tangerine Dream was three guys sitting in front of big banks
I see it two different ways. One is the performance aspect, which is
extremely boring, but the compository aspect I think is very
interesting. If you think back to what was around then,
equipment-wise, it was very rudimentary stuff compared to now.
You can go into a music store and spend just under $2000 and you
get a super-sampling work station with built-in techno sounds. You
could do your own record right there.
Technology has progressed so much since then that the effort in
terms of composition can be very minimal and yet you can achieve
something that sounds very contemporary. You don't have to think
very much. You can use a certain avenue or scheme to become
immediately stigmatized as this or that.
Speaking of equipment, are you still working on a Mac?
We're using the Mac as a centerpiece for synchronization. Writing
doesn't happen on sequencers at first, but on vintage keyboards.
Once the material is coming together and it's being sampled or
digitized, then the Mac comes into play with sequencing the bits and
What's the best sequencer on the market today?
It's really hard to say. It depends largely on what you intend to do.
Personally, I'm working with Studio Vision Pro, which is a sequencer
and audio recorder. Some people swear by other makes and other
brands. The IBM-compatible computers have different lines of
sequencing. There's a broad variety of machines out there. If you just
happen to start learning what you're doing on this or that system, you
probably stay with it or totally hate it and switch to something else.
It's not so much that you can say it's "the best," but for me it's more
like, "This is the best for me now."
Your live shows are infamous. Maybe it's your goal to spice up
the live shows.
Not really. The thing is we had times where what we played live was
quite different than what we played on records. Just because it was
difficult to recreate some of that material. We have perfected
ourselves to a certain extent in actually creating the kind of sound that
we have on record in a live situation. The shows are infamous for
other reasons such as the visuals, and certain rigidity in the
presentation and a certain non-compromising attitude.
Do you have any side projects going on?
No, I'm actually getting geared up for doing a production for a
French band named Treponem Pal.
What kind of music are they into?
It's different. "French" pretty much describes it. It's a very good
mixture of various styles. It's not very radical, but it's definitely
interesting. They're signed with Mercury Records and I'm going to
produce their album.
Didn't you work with Sister Machine Gun? I know you have
I did some production on their first album, yeah.
They've just come onto my horizon of late with this new album,
It's a nice album. Have you seen the pictures of Chris in Playgirl?
You should definitely check those out.
No, I haven't. I'll try to find one.
You should probably hurry up. He'll be so embarrassed if you tell
him that I suggested you pick one up. That'll be cool.
As far as touring goes in '97, will you be taking all these folks
on the album out with you?
I don't know yet. We'll see who's available and what they're doing in
their own little world first. Whatever happens, happens.
Have the past 12 years gone by quickly?
Yes and no. I mean it's surprisingly yes, but event-wise,
development-wise, it's been a very long 12 years. We've come a
This is the most mainstream album you've done.
You really think so? I think it's a step back from Nihil and Angst,
which are more mainstream-sounding for me.
Are you into Casper Brotsman? He's one of the most
underrated talents in my mind. Just a master guitarist with all
the incredible sounds he gets.
Absolutely. I see him every once in a while. He's mostly in Berlin.
Unfortunately, he's one of those guys that don't really sell themselves
so good. Maybe fortunately, I don't know.
Are you going to stick with the plan of no re-mixes on this
I think so. Actually, not really, but for the most part yes. I think the
reaction to my no re-mix statement was very overrated. All I was
saying or intending to say was that I think that the re-mix thing is
becoming a bit old. It's probably time to move on, to maybe make
songs that are fine just the way they are.
Your work on the movie screen, the soundtracks. Is that
something you'd like to do more of?
It's not really so much that I'm doing any work in that direction, it's
more like that movie companies constantly need more music for their
films. I've never written any scores out for movies, they just use
music that is existing. It's a nice way to make some extra money.
I think if you got into that you'd pick up some more fans.
That's always a good thing, I guess.
When is the video going to be ready?
It should be ready in about a month, maybe a little less.
Now that MTV is coming out with M2 maybe we can get back
to playing videos only. So many of us have complained about
the crap they program and taking our "Headbanger's Ball"
That sounds interesting.
Anything you want to say to your fans in the U.S.?
Just come visit our Web site.
Thanks for my time with you.
—Interview conducted by Austin-based Sheila René