The following interview with KMFDM was one of the worst experiences I have gone through in an interview. For one thing, they told the editor of the magazine I was using as a reference that the band was not doing any phone interviews during this leg of the tour, and that they were going to set up a full-scale “press conference” so the band wouldn’t have to answer repeat questions, and everyone could get a comfortably-homogenous view of the band.
Normally, this probably would not have been such a big deal, except that it was literally freezing outside (Minnesota winters are nothing to fuck with), and we were not allowed to go into the building while the band was prepping itself for the interview (?). To make matters worse, the press conference had to be pushed back an extra half-hour because “Sasha was busy finishing up a phone interview.”
Finally, after standing outside First Avenue/Seventh Street Entry for nearly a full hour in twenty-degree weather with about six other improperly dressed people from various college radio stations and local magazines, we were allowed inside. After a quick ID check to see if we were who we claimed to be, we were hustled through pretty much every side room of the club to see which would be the best place to conduct the interview. We eventually stopped at the VIP room, which was basically a large closet with a window looking out onto the dance floor. We sat in near-total darkness and waited for KMFDM to arrive.
Now here’s where the real tragedy of the day came about — minutes after the band filed in and took their seats across from us, brooding ominously at no one in particular and lighting their impressive-smelling imported cigarettes, the engineers below began their sound check. Now, from what I could tell, KMFDM’s sound check is basically done to test the tensile strength of the window glass in whatever club they play in. In order to catch any of the interview questions or answers, everyone had to shove their tape recorders and microphones right up under the nose of the person speaking, and even then, three-quarters of an hour-long interview came out as nothing but booming noise and static on my copy of the interview, and the interviewees voices are so muddled by noise that I could barely tell each person apart.
Hence, for the interview below, instead of giving band members credit for their individual answers, I have lumped the lot of them into one bitter, sarcastic, much-too-cool-to-make-time-for-you-ordinary-little-people personality: KMFDM.
A while ago, you ran a contest to see what the symbols on your last release meant to people. What do the symbols mean to each of you?
Well, the funny thing is, we didn’t run the contest — it was actually Wax Trax that ran the contest. Wax Trax is always fishing for little ideas to get people’s attention, marketing angles, whatnot. But, you know, what it means is like, it’s been one of our ideas for years and years to name an album like that, and even name a whole band, but we’d just never gone through with it before. So this time, we remembered the idea and brought it up, and everybody besides us, said, “You can’t do that!” So, of course, we had to do it. The contest itself was this miserable, promotional thing, where you’re supposed to come up with an answer that doesn’t exist. To us, the album is just the “album formerly known as the new album.”
What did you have in mind when you were recording the new album? Did you have any ideas of what you eventually wanted it to sound like?
No, we never have any ideas about what an album should sound like.
What would you say is the biggest difference between being popular in America as opposed to being popular back home (Germany)?
Back in, I guess ’89, Ministry invited us to come along with them on their US Tour — it was our first in the States and we just ended up being stuck here, we liked it so much more. It wasn’t very long after that that Wax Trax began successfully selling our records here. We’re actually quite unpopular in Germany — I could go so far as to say we’re hated as musicians over there. Back home, people would tell us that our shit was too loud, that no one wanted to listen to our kind of music.
How was your last European tour with Everclear?
We actually got a number one song on the European charts this year. Actually, Everclear told us that we were the only band that ever had toured with them that their audiences actually liked. The tour went really well. They’re really nice guys and were a lot of fun to tour with.
Are there any musical people that you haven’t met yet that you’d really like to meet?
If they’re already famous, it’s questionable whether we want to meet them or not. When we first started playing gigs with so-called famous people, we found out that they were really just ordinary people, just like us. I suppose it might be a heart-stopping thrill for someone to meet us for the first time, but it doesn’t take long for that person to realize we’re perfectly ordinary, we do really ordinary things. I guess I’d really like to meet Frank Zappa. Frank Zappa was a huge influence on us musically. But I guess it’s too late to talk to him.
What are your future plans for KMFDM?
The future of KMFDM is, basically, to finish it. We’re going to finish this tour, back to Europe, head on over to Japan, then Australia, maybe, and then sometime next years start on a new record. We’re just going to concentrate on the touring for a little while, though, and on conquering the Eastern hemisphere, because we’ve haven’t ever played there before.