The Father of Industrial Rock: KMFDMís SASCHA KONIETZKO
Sascha a.k.a. Kaptain K was intriguing. He hates things, and he loves things-just like the next guy. ĖI thought it was a little strange that the Father of Industrial Rock would make the Internet go away, but hell I remember when there were no remotes for TVís, and pretty soon the sound of a dial-up modem will be ancient fucking history now wonít it? He is quite the interesting fellow. Look at this:
MI-What is your birth date?
Sascha-June 21st, 1961 (A Cancer. Really a nostalgic sort of guy.)
MI-Describe the music of KMFDM.
Sascha-It is ultra heavy beats. It is mixed with all kinds of influences. It is something that very much develops with every new album that we put up.
MI-What is the most, strange, fucked up thing you have ever seen happen on tour?
Sascha-I see a lot of fucked up thing happening on tour (laughs). I donít think I should be talking about them because they would be compromising other people. I have really seen some fucked up stuff. Everybody who tours a lot has seen some fucked up stuff, but it always compromises other people so I guess that is why tour stories donít really make it big ever. (See Sascha can keep a secret, but he is going to respect that it is YOUR secret.)
MI-Tell me how WWIII came about.
Sascha-That was done totally different than any other KMFDM album. The machining comes in halfway through the album. With other KMFDM albums, the machining and synthesizers came in first, and then the human element became the icing on the cake. So that really determined a lot about the sound of this record-the rock band approach. This is also the first time that we have worked fully with a real drummer. In the past, we just had drum overdubs here and there and it was all programmed stuff. So this record has much more of an organic feel to it than previous records.
MI-When I hear the record, it is like KMFDM just told the future about the towers and everything.
Sascha-We are not profits at all. WWIII-the biggest mistake is to think that the invasion of Iraq would constitute WWIII. The title of the album was decided on long before the record was recorded. It was also long before the talk about invading Iraq really began. WWIII for us is something that has been going on for a long time. Itís Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Sudan. All of this-the globalization. WWIII is not necessarily about a war fought with bullets, grenades, and smart bombs. WWIII is the ongoing war over the exploitation of the so-called third world. All that kind of stuff is WWIII. It has very little to do with the events of recent history here. ĖIt is about the violence that men inflict on other men in all sizes, forms, and shapes. I think it was ex-CIA director Tenet that described-that said WWIII was the Cold War. Even if you take his definition of that into the meaning of WWIII it would still work. ĖI grew up in Germany, a divided country. One third of which was occupied by the Soviets. Going from Hamburg to Berlin-two cities which are two hundred miles apart was a day trip through barbed wire, machine guns and hand grenades. This was our reality as Europeans.
MI-What was your life like growing up in Germany?
Sascha-It was very cozy and nice as far as I can remember from the early years. Eventually, I realized I lived in a country that started a war-WWII, and it was divided by the powers that won the war and therefore some sort of polarization was going on. Later on I realized that there was an iron curtain. There were many people living behind that iron curtain, but many people outside of it donít really know what is going on on the inside. A little later the two Germanyís reunite. I am immigrating to the United States. I am living here for thirteen or fourteen years almost. One thing I can never say is that I have been victimized by circumstances-either political or other. I donít think anybody should feel victimized. It is definitely a good time to change things for the better. Any time and every time is.
MI-Who are the members of your band, what do they play, and tell me something you think everybody should know about every one of them?
Sascha-Well, the current line-up, which is very different from any other line up in the past-KMFDM line-ups, which you may or may not know, change with every incarnation. The current line-up is Joolz Hodgson on guitar, Andrew Selway on drums, Lucia Cifarelli-vocals, Raymond Watts-vocals, and myself-and I play synthesizers, bass, and I do vocals. For the live line-up, we always have some additional members-but everything that there is to be known about them can be heard on the song Intro, the last song on the album. On that song, I am saying a couple of lines about everyone. Lucia screams like a banshee, but she moves like a cat. For example-Steve White keeps his shorts on tight, but his morals are loose. Joolz Hodgson-he breeds new life forms inside his shoes. Andrew Selway is screwing things behind bins that you and I would rather not do. Like myself, I am the father of industrial rock and if you donít believe me you can suck my gloch. ĖOh Raymond, we forgot Raymond. He loves Manchenko and a bottle of wine.
MI-I have to ask, how did you come up with the band name?
Sascha-It was the morning of February 29th 1984 in a hotel room in Paris. A newspaper was shredded up into bits, and we rearranged until it read KEIN MEHRHEIT F‹R DIE MITLEID (This loosely translates into no pity for the majority.)-Which is grammatically incorrect German, but we liked what it implicated. Since nobody could really say it in the English-speaking world, we abbreviated it to KMFDM (at least I am not alone on this, but goddamn I have been trying).
MI-Who are your influences as a musician, and what inspires your lyrics?
Sascha-I think my strongest influence would be Frank Zappa. I think that his sense of humor and his integrity and credibility that he built up during his lifetime inspired me to do something that I would honor. What inspires us lyrically? It is pretty simple. We donít need much inspiration. Have your eyes and ears open, and inspiration is everywhere. It is to be found on the street.
MI-Other than KMFDM, who are your favorite current bands?
Sascha-I donít have any. There is nothing that I know of that is out there that is really interesting me all that much. I definitely have favorite bands and stuff, but none of them would be nearly new.
MI-Who would you say are some favorites?
Sascha-I am a big fan of T-Rex, Uriah Heep, Black SabbathÖI couldnít say wow, I just had to go out and buy the new Stinkiní Park album or something.
MI-Who is your favorite poet? Favorite author?
Sascha-Right now, it is James Fennimore Cooper. I recently started reading all of his works. I just canít get enough. I have to buy more and more. The guy seems to have written endless amounts of really good books.
MI-Have you ever inhaled?
MI-What is your opinion on legalizing pot, or any other drug for that matter?
Sascha-I think that pot and marijuana-those related kind of things. They should be freely available to everyone. There is no sense in criminalizing the majority of this country. Everybody smokes pot. ĖI think if anything it should be swapped. Alcohol should have the same status as marijuana and other drugs. ĖAs far as other drugs, I donít think that cocaine, heroin-opiates in general. Drugs like Oxycontin-should be freely available. I have seen and felt the negative effects of these types of things. I have had many friends die from them, and it is very bad kind of stuff. Obviously, morphine and drugs like that are very good if used for the right purpose, but I do not think that there should be any legalization of those type of things. I do not think that ecstasy and lsd are things that should be available to minors. I do not know if I would send people to jail for possession of a couple of ecstasy pills, but there are a lot of problems with the sort of legal ways that drugs are being dealt with in this country. Look at Holland, GermanyÖcountries that have a very liberal policy toward soft drugs like marijuana, and look at the fallout in terms of things there. They have none. ĖPeople that smoke pot are not the type of guys that and pick fights.
Sascha-What about you? Are you smoking one right now?
MI-No, I am smoking a Marlboro-hopefully one later!
Sascha-I smoke a lot too (cigarettes), but I think cigarettes are bad.
MI-Tell me about your history as a musician-how did you get into it?
Sascha-I donít really consider myself much of a musician. I consider myself more as a sort of catalyst. I come up with the ideas and this, that and the other-but often times I find I am able to execute and play it. I come up with a guitar riff-but I donít know how to play the guitar. I always bring people together. I surround myself with a team of people that are musical virtuosos. They can play and produce whatever it takes. I am also more of a record producer and studio guy than I am a real musician, I play a bit of bass and I can drum fairly well. I do that sort of stuff where we can do live shows. ĖIn the studio, I focus on mixing and producing and getting it to sound just right. I do play the synthesizer with passion-I guess that makes me a musician after all.
MI-How has the music industry treated KMFDM during its career?
Sascha-It hasnít. KMFDM has always stood really very deliberately to the side of all things music industry and music business. We donít like record company personnel very much. We donít believe the hype. We donít buy their stories. KMFDM is very much a DIY outfit-do it yourself. That encompasses all realms really. We do our own administration of publishing. We do our own management. We carefully pick and choose the things that we do and the things that we do not do. It has helped over the years to keep and build credibility and our independence.
MI-I know Chipster loves you.
MI-What is your favorite horror movie of all time and why?
Sascha-I think it is called Flower of Flesh and Blood. It is a Japanese horror movie, and it is so gruelingly realistic looking that you donít really know what you are watching. You donít really know if it is a snuff film or if it just a movie.
MI-Can you get it here in the States?
Sascha- I think it is banned because it is just so realistic. It just freaks me out to the point where I canít watch it. It is just really grueling. We put it in not to long ago, and none of us could see it all the way through.
MI-Who do you think the greatest rock star of all time is and why?
Sascha-Thatís a tough one, a lot of things come to mind like T-Rex, Frank Zappa for sure, I guess Freddy Mercury in a way. Why do I just pick dead people?
Sascha-David Bowie, I have to disagree. I am a HUGE Bowie fan, but up only up until about the eighties or so. Everything that he has done afterwards just doesnít do it for me at all. The best Bowie record of all time is Ziggy Stardust.
MI-If I could wave a magic wand and make three things happen for KMFDM RIGHT NOW, what would you want those three things to be?
Sascha-I would have a gigantic blackberry bush grow over the entire studio compound, and we would have to hack our way outside if we ever wanted to leave it. With that magic wand, I would make a synthesizer that wasnít computer based but still did everything I wanted it to do so I could throw out all my computers, and I would probably make the internet go away.
MI-Do you believe in psychics and the paranormal? If so, have you ever had a psychic or paranormal experience? If you have, tell me about it.
Sascha-I believe that it happens, but I donít believe that I am an open sort of a subject for that kind of thing. I donít really walk around much at night. I usually work or sleep, so I donít get in touch with things that would corrupt the borders between regular, every day sort of people and paranormal stuff. But I believe that it should be there. Even if it isnít there, I hope that it is there.
MI-What do you think about UFOís?
Sascha-I think that UFOís exist. I hope so. I have never seen one, and I have never met anyone that has told me that they have seen one, but I hope they do. It would be cool.
MI-I just read in the papers that Schwarzenegger, the great Terminator, said he admired Hitler.
Sascha-He said that? He should be publicly hung for that. That goes to tell you what these Austrians think for real. Hitler was an Austrian, he wasnít a German. Schwarzenegger is an Austrian. If he really said that, he deserves to be hung by the next lamp post.
MI-Tell me about KMFDM KOMICS.
Sascha-It came up in the context of-we received a lot of artwork from fans that felt that they wanted to contribute their own vision of KMFDM. There was this one artist in particular from Chicago-Henna, that had the idea that she wanted to draw a comic. We provide an outlet, granted that we like it and it provides a certain criteria-it is not set in stone or anything, but we like to think it is tasteful.
MI-Who did the cover for this album, because it is fantastic?
Sascha-The album cover was done by the same guy who did all the other forty-nine or so other covers except for one. His name is Aidan Hughes, and he is from Liverpool England. He goes under the moniker of Brute.
MI-What do you think of George W. Bush and the state of the United States today?
Sascha-I think George W. Bush is a really inadequate placeholder for a politick that is absolutely infamous and is defying all sense of order and humanity. He is a figurehead for an administration that works behind the scenes, an administration that seven years ago came up with a plan called Plan For A New American Century which is fascist, manifesto kind of material. I donít know if you are familiar with it.
MI-No, I am not.
Sascha-Well, when we are done talking go to Google and type in PNAC and read what you find.
MI-WOW. I need to read a little more. Check out http://abcnews.go.com/sections/nightline/DailyNews/pnac_030310.html and http://www.newamericancentury.org , in 1998 these guys were all for getting rid of Saddam. He is making a HUGE point here.)
Sascha- It is a paper that was undersigned by Rumsfeld, Wofowitz, Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney in 1994Öin basically they lay out just what it is called. They lay out a plan for a new American century. They figure out how to gain world dominance in terms of dependence from oil. It is all written out. The invasion of Iraq follows that piece of paper that was written in 1994. If you are not familiar with that, then you are part of a majority of Americans. (Hey, here are some names off of that website: Elliott Abrams Gary Bauer William J. Bennett Jeb Bush Dick Cheney Eliot A. Cohen Midge Decter Paula Dobriansky Steve Forbes Aaron Friedberg Francis Fukuyama Frank Gaffney Fred C. Ikle Donald Kagan Zalmay Khalilzad I. Lewis Libby Norman Podhoretz Dan Quayle Peter W. Rodman Stephen P. Rosen Henry S. Rowen Donald Rumsfeld Vin Weber George Weigel Paul Wolfowitz Ėnow, I am seeing a Vice President and a certain governor of Florida here and this is REALLY pissing me off.)
MI-My kid believes Bush did it, that he was behind the towers coming down.
Sascha-There is certainly evidence that would point in that direction. One interesting thing, remember right after the towers got hit? There was a ban of any and all flying all over the United States. Not a plane could take off-but that very day 140 members of the Bin Laden Family flew out of this country. How did that happen, and who authorized them to leave the country? It was the Bush family. It was Papa Bush.
MI-I didnít know that.
Sascha-There is a bit of reading for you to do then.
MI-What do you think of the book New World Order?
Sascha-I donít know. I havenít read it. I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories. I like to pick and choose my sources of information carefully, and they are not too difficult to find, all you have to do is pick up some British Newspapers. I go to various countries news organizations and I get my news that way. So why doesnít CNN tell us things like that?
MI-Where were you when 9-11 happened, and how did it affect you?
Sascha-I was on Seattle on that day. However, we had an apartment three blocks away from it so it hit home in the purest sense of the word. -At the time, I was spending half of my time in New York and half of my time in Seattle. Whenever I was in New York, the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes in the morning was the twin towers just right there-three blocks away. So when I came back to New York after it happened, it was just very strange. Besides the destruction in the apartment-I had no idea how all this crap got into the apartment. It was just amazing. It was just completely beyond description. The first reaction-Lucia, our singer-her father lives right across the street from the towers. She was trying to call her dad-and he is okay. ĖEverything was going crazy. There was concern for the place. There was concern for the people-for everyone in the World Trade Center, for every New Yorker. I couldnít even say what was first and foremost on my mind at any time. It was just-whoa, what the fuck is going on.
MI-How would you design a memorial for the victims of 9-11?
Sascha-I would design it and put Osama Bin Ladenís turban right on top of it.
MI-What is your favorite track off of WORLD WAR III and why?
Sascha-It is WWIII, it is the title track. I think it is one of the best tracks we have written as KMFDM.
MI-What is your favorite KMFDM song to play live?
MI-What is the worst job you have ever had and why?
Sascha-Cleaning the inside of oil tankers. We were in these giant suits that were supposedly liquid proof, just to find out an hour into the work that you are wading up to your own belly button in oil. The oil burns your fucking legs and your skin.
MI-If you were stuck on a desert island, and could bring one book, one cd, one person, and one bottle of liquor-who and what would your bring?
Sascha-I would bring Lucia. I would bring a bottle of (sorry I didnít catch thisÖbut it was French and expensive) single malt scotch. I would bring The Egyptian-that would be the book that I bring, and the cd would probably be Mozart, symphonies 40 and 41.
MI-What three people, living or dead, would you like to have lunch with?
Sascha-I would like to have lunch with Frank Zappa, I would like to have lunch with Che Guevara and Budu.
MI-What is the most memorable KMFDM concert you have ever played-and why was it memorable?
Sascha-New Years 1989/90, at the Rivera in Chicago. It was the second show ever that we played in the United States. It was fucking great.
MI-Do you believe in reincarnation?
Sascha-I kind of do, in a technical way-but I donít believe in it in terms of I have lived before. I think that there is a certain amount of energy in the universe, physics and chemistry, that humans have extorted-and nothing ever gets lost. So if somebody dies the body has to release all of the energy that propelled it up until that point. It needs to go somewhere. I am not saying that it makes kittens or something, I am just saying that the energy doesnít get lost and many people that I knew that are dead now-I am not saying they visit me, but a more spiritual person than I am would probably say it that exact same way. ĖWhy all of the sudden working in the middle of the night in the studio do you start thinking of a particular person? Totally unrelated to what you are doing, completely out of nowhere-it just comes into your head.
MI-If you were god for a day, what would you change?
Sascha-I would do creation. I would start recreation.
MI-What comic book hero would you be?
Sascha-I would be Mickey Mouse.
MI-If a movie were made about your life, what would the theme song be-and who would you want to play you in the starring role?
Sascha-Nobody could play me. Nobody would know how to suffer that much. The theme song would be Fly Me To The Moon (singing).
MI-Where do you see the band and your music in five years?
Sascha-I think we will still be kicking it out strong and doing it.
MI-Tell me a dirty joke.
Sascha-Why does the blond have a tampon behind her ear?
Sascha-because she has lost her pencil.
MI-What is the band going to be doing once it gets off tour?
Sascha-On the 25th of November, one of the first things we will probably do is have a big Thanksgiving dinner. We will give thanks to if we make it that we made it.
MI-Do you have a message for your fans? If so, what is it?
Sascha-We wouldnít be doing it without you.
MI-What is your favorite quote of all time?
Sascha-My favorite quote is a German quote. It translates into nothing gets eaten as hot as it gets cooked.
MI-If you could pour a bucket of flesh eating ants over someone, who would it be?
Sascha-It would probably be George W.
It was truly a different interview. I liked talking to him. He has that certain something about him that just makes you go ahhhh, you must be right. You can catch Sascha and KMFDM LIVE at The Masquerade on Saturday November 8th. I know I will be there, with my camera in hand.
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