For decades, Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann has been singing about all the places he’d like to put his penis. The thing is, unless his fans spoke fluent German, his innuendos were often lost in translation. Now he is taking pity on the poor, unfortunate souls who have only a basic understanding of a decent “put my bratwurst in your sauerkraut” joke. (Note: Link NSFW.)
On Skills in Pills – the debut LP by his side project Lindemann – the vocalist’s newfound interest in English has enabled more people than ever to wallow in the filthiness of his mind. Song titles on the record include “Golden Shower,” “Ladyboy,” “Fat” and the first single, “Praise Abort.” Lindemann says it all came together innocently because he wanted to collaborate with Hypocrisy and Pain frontman Peter Tägtgren. “I planned to work with Peter on a song for a Pain record, and it turned into a record because we didn’t stop working,” he says. “It was big-time fun and a big-time challenge to sing in English.”
“It’s basically two idiots clunking their heads together, and all this stupid things comes out of it,” Tägtgren offers.
Now the duo have fully committed to those “stupid things,” so much so that they made an unsettling video for “Praise Abort,” full of man-pigs humping and Lindemann’s lyrics about how his kids have ruined his life. They’re even working on ideas for a follow-up Lindemann record (“Next week,” jokes Tägtgren), though they’re not currently planning on touring. The singer will return to Rammstein to begin preproduction on a new record in September, while Tägtgren will refocus on his other bands. Then maybe in two years, they say, they’ll make a follow-up. But before that can happen, Lindemann spoke to Rolling Stone about Skills in Pills – mostly just to explain himself.
What was the song that got this project started?
“Ladyboy.” I wrote it in English because I just wanted Peter to know what’s all about. He doesn’t speak German.
And what inspired “Ladyboy”?
Everybody expects me to say, “I went to Thailand.” It’s just a strange little fantasy. It’s really funny when you let people think for themselves and open up their minds.
But it is a strange little fantasy for you?
No, it’s a wish. And, in a way, I’m jealous of these people because they have both. Like, when it comes to food, if you have lobster and meat, you have surf and turf [laughs]. And it’s the best. So you have both sides. You know what I mean?
So you’re jealous?
Oh, God, yeah.
Are you afraid your lyrics might inhibit your love life?
Let’s talk about the song “Fat.” You seem ashamed but also happy to be attracted to heavier women. Why the duality?
Did you ever saw these documentaries of these “feeders”? These tiny guys feeding a really fat lady? And having this fetish, and this inspired me because it’s so unreal and so weird but on the other hand it’s so awesome because the guy, he doesn’t care. He likes it, and I think that’s great. It’s a totally different kind of love, because it’s not about aesthetics, beauty and a good-shaped body. It’s just pure love.
Maybe some different kinds of groupies will approach you now, too.
I was about to say that I’m ready for that [laughs].
So maybe there’s a little truth in those lyrics.
Oh yeah, of course. All the time we’re gonna have lots of turkeys.
I don‘t get what you mean.
You have like the white meat, the healthy meat, and you can fuck it as well, so it’s like two in one [laughs].
Got it, everyone‘s welcome.
Exactly, there you go.
What‘s the craziest proposition you‘ve gotten from a groupie?
[Sighs] Choose a letter, A through F [laughs]. There was once this girl who wished to shit on my belly.
And how did she proposition you?
She offered me a “praline,” one of those little chocolate pieces that they make in France, with truffles and stuff, the delicacies. She prepped in words more poetic and more romantic. Not like, “Can I shit on your forehead?” [Laughs] She said it really politely. “Can I offer you a praline?”
People are going to think your life is just drugs and sex, based on this record.
Let them think. What else is there? [Laughs] If you should see me now [laughs]. No, I have a normal life. But it’s necessary to have the second life back home with the family and kids and then the tour life. I know a couple of guys who don’t have that. They live the crazy life all the time.
Since you mentioned your kids and family, what do your children think of “Praise Abort”?
They know it’s fiction, like playing a role. It’s just, um, in the corner of my mind sometimes it’s pretty easy to crawl into different people’s minds.
You don’t think they’re asking, “How long has dad been regretting my existence”?
Oh, my kids know me, and they know the Rammstein’s history. It’s hard to shock them. I got punished, in the sense that they’re really big Coldplay fans.
“I sing really darkly and then all of a sudden, ‘I want to fuuuuck!’ [Laughs] It gave my mom a hard time.”
Since Rammstein lyrics aren’t too different from Lindemann lyrics, what Rammstein stanzas have shocked your family the most?
In the very beginning, we went on tours with Rammstein in really small clubs. We didn’t even have a record out. We played in restaurants and pubs in the south of Germany. And my family went to a place close to my village. And there was one song, “Das Alte Leid,” where I would be onstage and sing, “I want to fuck,” “Ich will ficken.” And In those days it was, like, kind of obscene to sing that in front of 800 people so. . . . And I saw my mom, as she turned and left the venue [laughs]. My sister started laughing and cheering up [laughs]. Mixed feelings, mixed feelings mixed reactions. The song is really slow and really heavy and stomping and stuff. It’s a kind of poem. I sing really darkly and then all of a sudden, “I want to fuuuuck!” [Laughs] It gave my mom a hard time. She was working at a radio station then, and she brought all her colleagues on a trip to the, to concert, to Hamburg, and she’s like, “Come on, my son is playing! Let’s check it out.” And then she left.
I’m sure you family knows what to expect from this record then.
Yeah, this is a walk in the park [laughs]. I think when you pull down your pants once, people won’t be too surprised. But of course, you know with “Ladyboy” and “Golden Shower” and “Praise Abort.” I mean, those three are pretty brutal in a different way. But why sing about the blues when you can have fun?
Are you ready for pro-life groups to target you for “Praise Abort”?
Oh, yeah. We have lawyers in line waiting.
Have political or religious groups ever tried to stop Rammstein?
A couple of times in the States, in Denver and in the Mormon states, in Chicago, a couple of cities, there were like little demonstrations. Church people. A demonstration with big signs in the air and, “Go home, Nazis,” and stuff like this. It was Christian and religion groups, but they’re always there. For Slipknot and Manson, they’re always there. It’s like a weekend procedure for them. People go to picnic and they go to make a demonstration [laughs]. It’s like, “Some rude guy is playing here tonight.”
Have you ever taunted or teased them?
No, no. I’m polite. Everybody can do what they want to.
I saw you in Denver in 1999 and you put on quite the show during “Bück Dich,” which is German for “bend over,” and you were humping Rammstein’s keyboardist, Flake.
Yeah, yeah. I got arrested for that in Maine. So we went to jail for that.
How did people treat you in jail?
It was quite OK. It was a day and a night. But the problem is, I still have, when I’m traveling for customs, I still have do interviews and explain myself for why I got arrested and why I have probation. It never goes away. So for the rest of my life, as soon as I enter American ground, I have to go to the interview. I tried to get this thing out of my file with some lawyers but it’s impossible. “Indecent exposure.”
You named the album Skills in Pills. What are your experiences with pills?
This comes from the old days. In East Germany, we had no access to drugs at all. It was the socialist thing; it was totally forbidden. And even if you wanted some and you had the money, there was no access at all. So we made ourselves cocktails from pills and medications. You need skills to prepare the right cocktail. Otherwise, you can die or go stupid forever or become a Mongol [laughs]. Like never come back from the trip. So it’s from the old days in East Germany.
Did you ever have any bad experiences from pills cocktails made by people without skills?
Look at me [laughs].
Have you ever performed on pills?
No, no. I can’t do that. It’s about the insurance with the fire and stuff. I’m even not allowed to drink because if something happens, I go to jail forever. If something happens with the fire and stuff because I’m responsible for the people in the audience and for my colleagues onstage. But after? Yes, sir. Welcome to my nightmare.
“You blow probably €7,000 to €10,000 a night just for the fire marshal.”
On the subject of pyro, how easy is it dealing with U.S. fire marshals?
Everything is twice as expensive because you have to show them the whole fucking thing, the whole show in advance. You blow probably €7,000 to €10,000 a night just for the fire marshal. And then you have to explain about all the safety things. Madison Square Garden was a nightmare, but I have to say with 90 percent of these fire marshals, if you are polite and professional, they’re really cool and they try to help you out.
What effect bothers fire marshals most?
They’re scared of open fire, but it’s not a problem. The problem is explosions with sparks. The sparks fall down and they maybe cause flames, like glowing under a mixing board or on a cable, glowing and getting bigger. And then when you never expect it, an open fire starts.
So, before we go, do you have any ideas for new Lindemann songs?
Today we tried to come up with a new chorus: “I’m too drunk to lick your rim.”