By Carl Begai
For non-German-speaking Rammstein fans that have wondered what frontman Till Lindemann has been singing about for the past 20 years, the Lindemann debut Skills In Pills will answer that question. May whatever deity you bow down to save your soul if you’re a prude.
It’s actually not as bad as all that provided your sense of humour is plugged in along with your earbuds. If you enter Skills In Pills expecting emotional depth and moral introspection you’re most certainly in the wrong place. There are a couple such moments, but you need to weed them out amongst done-for-fun tracks like “Praise Abort”, “Ladyboy”, “Golden Shower”, “Fish On”, “Skills In Pills” and “Fat” (which spawned the title of this story). Settling in to discuss the new record with Till Lindemann and Pain / Hypocrisy frontman Peter Tägtgren, it becomes clear within the first 30 seconds that the duo had a riot putting it together. The share a mutual respect as musicians and friends, and their chemistry is that of two high school punks up to no good and looking forward to the repercussions.
To be clear, Lindemann is not a solo project. Peter Tägtgren is an equal partner, but most folks outside of Scandinavia can’t pronounce his surname properly so the duo went with the next obvious choice.
BraveWords: For those that haven’t heard the Lindemann material yet, your sound is a mix between Rammstein and Pain, which should come as a surprise to exactly nobody.
Peter: “Oh yeah, it’s definitely a mix of the two.”
Till: “Call it PainStein-ish (laughs).”
Peter: “You’ll always hear Rammstein in there because of Till’s voice, and the keyboards and chugging guitars are definitely me. But, it was put together in a different way and I did things that I’ve never done before on this album. There are two ballads on the album, for example. At the beginning Till was talking about doing one and I was like, ‘No, I don’t want to do a fucking ballad…’ but somehow he convinced me (laughs). We were writing a piece and it turned into something else, so what we accomplished as the final album turned out to be very fresh.”
BraveWords: How did the two of you hook up for this project? It’s not a strange pairing given the similarities between Pain and Rammstein, but it seems unlikely given that the bands travel in different circles in terms of popularity and exposure.
Peter: “We’ve known each other for 13 years. Rammstein was in Sweden mixing their Mutter album (2001) and they were hanging out a lot at bars in Stockholm. I was there with Pain and we always ran into each other one way or another. At some point we ended up drunk as fuck together one night and said ‘We should do something…'”
BraveWords: So drunken wisdom led to forming Lindemann…
Peter: “Yeah, but it took 13 years to find the time to do it. Till invited me down for one of the final shows on the last Rammstein tour in Sweden, I took my family with me, and he mentioned the band were going to be taking a break, so now would be a good time to do one or two songs and just put them out on the internet, just to see what people think.”
Till: “It wasn’t planned. I promised Peter that I’d jam with him for Pain, maybe do one song or some choruses on an album, so we decided to do one song together. It was a lot of fun, it came out great, we decided to do another song, and at that point we’d tasted blood so it was on. It made sense to try and make a full album.”
BraveWords: Is it fair to say that it was outside the comfort zone for both of you, which is what made it fun? The obvious difference is Til singing English instead of German, which is odd if you’re a Rammstein fan.
Till: “Definitely. With this project I was involved in sone of the production of the songs, I did some arranging as well. With Rammstein I’m usually too busy writing lyrics for the music the other guys come up with. In that case I’m also working with five other people so I have to consider their moods, their feelings on certain things, which is different from this. And for Peter, this was the first time he had someone in his studio that opened his mouth and said to him ‘Maybe you can change this…’, which was a bit strange for him because he’s used to working by himself. So, it was a very different situation for both of us.”
Peter: “Yeah, but I learned a lot from working with Till because I brought ideas to the table and we’d work on them together. I think that experience helped to make me a better songwriter and producer.”
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Check out the official Lindemann video for ‘Praise Abort’ here.