And now folks, one of our favorites... We catch up with Seattle's industrial power force KMFDM as we talk to founder and leader Sascha Konietzko (AKA the Kapt'n) about his past and present work, and the new album Tohuvabohu.
What inspired you to start making music?
I've always loved music and was curious to see what I could do. As a kid I watched TV shows with bands playing live, T.Rex, David Bowie, The Sweet, Alice Cooper etc, and always wondered how they had become 'rockstars'. With the punkrock thing it became clear to me, all it needed was "doing", no more wondering of "how to".
You were self taught. Any history of musicians in your family?
What was the scene like in Hamburg when you started? And what made you decide to relocate to Chicago in the early days?
The scene in Hamburg was pretty much one thing: dead. Terrible bands that took themselves way too serious and were utter shit.
So I began doing this thing, was utter crap too, but at least didn't take it serious... at all. Then an invitation came from Wax Trax records in Chicago, to open up for Ministry's "The Mind Is..." tour in late 1989 through early 1990. I jumped on the opportunity and took out a loan to buy some airline tickets.
Then I went to a record store and bought a Ministry album to see what they sounded like... It was "With Sympathy". So we toned down our set extrememly and prepared to play only the softer, poppier tunes on this tour. Then we arrived in Chicago and saw Ministry in their rehearsal space: 5 guitarists, 2 drummers.
I tossed the idea of the toned-down set right then and there and we shifted back into normal "KMFDM full-on" mode. After that tour I asked the guys at the label about KMFDM's sales figures and they said something like 75,000-80,000 copies. The decision to stay on was an easy one, after all, back in Germany our sales were around 1,500-2,000.
How has your method of making music changed over the years?
It all starts with an idea. Then I fiddle around for some time and then there's a track. Not much has changed. The one thing that really did change was the way things are recorded. In the old days there was a constant and egregious lack of funding. There was only so much I could do at home before it was necessary to go into some sort of studio where to fixate it as a recording. After that point, changing things, once recorded was a pain. With the advebt of affordable digital recording at home, all that changed. Now I can record, erase, re-record and tweak to my hearts' content.
KMFDM releases a new album nearly every year. How much time do you spend in the studio daily, weekly, or monthly, and how much time do you usually spend on each track?
Nowadays, a KMFDM album takes between 7-9 months typically. There are 11 tracks on an album, you do the math. I work everyday during a recording cycle, anywhere between 0-24 hours, according to daily form and inspiration.
Describe an average day for you?
Getting up early, making calls, doing chores, then switching on the studio and working. Dinner around 8pm, glass of wine or a martini... back to work. Read some... maybe a movie to wind down.
How many songs do you create that never really make it on an album?
Not many at all.
Where do you find your inspiration?
In what I am doing, it gives me all I need. I love what I do and that propels me.
Can you tell us a little about the descision to stop releasing music as KMFDM in 1999 with Adios, the start MDFMK, and then the reappearance as KMFDM again with the 2002 release Attak?
There was a lot of tug-of-war going on in the band at that time. I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to have some time away and make up their mind as to what it was they really wanted to do. Upon the re-emerging I initiated talks with all possible parties to see where things were at. Some re-joined, some didn't...
KMFDM has been a force to be reckond with for 23 years now. Looking back to the early days, did you ever imaging that it turn would out as successful as it has?
No, it was always an inside joke. I never took KMFDM or myself serious enough to attach any notion of longevity to it.
Since 2005 you have taken over, running your own record label, and handling all merchandising and propaganda... I imagine you're quite busy with all that not to mention production and tours. But what do you like to do in your free time?
In fact, I started my own mail-order in 1991. Since then, KMFDM has been more and more DIY. Since 1995 KMFDM has internet-presence. The label was just one of the logical next-steps. I work with people that I know initially as KMFDM-fans, gave them an opportunity to self-empowerment and they deliver, more and better than anyone I could find from a job-offer or discarded people from record labels.
You guys put on a killer live show, packed with energy. Do you prefer working in the studio, or performing live?
One wouldn't work for me without the other. After so much time in the studio I'm going stir-crazy and need some foul venue-air... after a while on the road it sounds nice when I think of the privacy and timelessness of my studio.
The new album Tohuvabohn is due out for release on August 21. What were the primary instruments used on this album?
The process of the making of this album was very multi-faceted. There are songs where I wrote all the music, some done by Jules, Steve and Andy.
All of us have different approaches. Steve and Andy work in a sketch-it-up sort of fashion, for instance in logic or reason. Jules writes based on guitar-riffage ideas. My way to work comes out on tracks like LookingForStrange, Tohuvabohu, SpitOrSwallow, LosNinos and Bumaye. Completely electronic foundation topped off with guitarwork.
All my initial sequencing is done with either the 777 or the Revolution, or both. Often I re-program sequences into the pro-one and record it freestyle.
The most used instrument are, besides the ones mentioned already, two Korg MS-20 and an SQ-10, VIRUS original and XBase 09.
Of course there are some real drums, loads of guitar-playing and some real basses.
Was there anything different about how this album was conceived, compared to past works?
It was different insofar as I asked all the members to contribute whatever they could come up with. For instance encouraging Andy our drummer, to sketch up a track in Reason. The idea was to get a multitude of sounds and ideas together and then building the tracks from them. In the end it turned out to be an album of song-by-song collaborations, e.g. There are Sascha-Lucia tracks, Jules-Sascha, Lucia-Jules, Andy-Lucia, Steve-Lucia, all possible combinations. I think it makes for the variety.
You have both the 777 and Revolution. How have they been used or abused in your past and current work?
I use them constantly.
Is there anything in particular you like about our products?
I love the intuitive aspect to them. They are versatile and lend themselves from the first attempt to sketch something to the final polishing.
Is it true, we need a revolution to "rip the system"?
Can you think of anything lacking in today's musical instruments, and how you would like to work?
I am looking forward to checking out your upcoming stuff, the XS is it?
When do you plan to start the next tour, and do you know what countries will be included?
It will be a world-tour again, sometime in 2008.
Your sound is always evolving, where do you see your music say in 10 years from now?
That is one of the great remaining mysteries in life :-)
Any words of wisdom for those just getting into music?
If you think your stuff is good and your friends do too, then it is. Continue doing it. If you have doubts yourself, and others criticize it, it's most likely crap.
Tohuvabohu - Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2007
Hau Ruck - Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2005
WWIII Live 2003 - Sanctuary Records 2004
WWIII - Sanctuary Records 2003
Sturm & Drang Live 2002 - Metropolis Records 2002
Attak - Metropolis Records 2002
Adios - Wax Trax! Records 1999 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2007
Symbols - Wax Trax! Records 1997 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2007
Xtort - Wax Trax! Records 1996 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2007
Nihil - Wax Trax! Records 1995 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2007
Angst - Wax Trax! Records 1993 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2006
Money - Wax Trax! Records 1992 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2006
Naïve - Wax Trax! Records 1990 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2006
UAIOE - Wax Trax! Records 1989 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2006
Don't Blow Your Top - Cash Beat Records 1988 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2006
What Do You Know Deutschland? - Z Records 1986 - re-released Metropolis Records/KMFDM Records 2006
84-86 - self release 1986 - re-released KMFDM Records 2004
Opium - self-release 1984 - re-released KMFDM Records 2002
20th Anniversary Tour 2004 - KMFDM Records 2005
WWIII Tour 2003 - Sanctuary Records 2004
Sturm & Drang Tour 2002 - Metropolis Records 2002
For more information or to listen to KMFDM tracks, please visit the following links.