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Sascha Konietzko

KMFDM: On the 'Attak'

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: June 26, 2002

w/ PIG, 16 Volt and Kidneythieves
The Ranch Bowl June 30
Tickets $22 adv,, $24 dos.
Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m.
18 & over

Rock interview lesson No. 1: Always make sure that you're on the same page as the band you're interviewing concerning their "sound." Speak in the third person as much as possible. Here's a good example:

What would you say to someone who said that you guys fall into that whole "Industrial" rock category?

"I wouldn't even talk to that person," replied KMFDM co-founder Sascha Konietzko (who simply goes by Sascha K these days) in his distinct German accent, sort of like an Americanized Hanz and Franz. Sascha spoke via cell phone from Rochester, N.Y., the night's stop on KMFDM's Sturm and Drang tour which comes to The Ranch Bowl June 30.

"Industrial was a really short-lived thing that culminated in the late '70s and disappeared after bands like Einsturzende Neubauten. They used tools and pounded them together."

Yeah, but what about people who say your music resembles Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, bands that also are considered Industrial? "People are really ignorant and stupid," replied a bored Sascha (How do I know he's bored? Because he said so). "Our music is a hybrid of techno and rock. We call the mix Ultra Heavy Beat, which describes it well."




Maybe so, but this proudly ignorant and stupid music critic feels compelled to argue with ol' Sascha about what his band sounds like. On Attak, the first CD in three years by the legendary late-'80s outfit, KMFDM sounds like a macho combination of early Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie and Ministry. There's little resembling techno in their "ultra-heavy-beat" mix, unless you count Sascha's electronic drum programming and the fact that they list the bpm count for each song on the liner notes.

The band, whose name is an acronym for Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid (No Pity for the Majority), was something of a pioneer when formed way back in 1984 in Hamburg. Their series of industrial-strength Wax Trax releases made them underground sensations for their intense dance-ability, not to mention their die-cut-style visions-of-despair CD artwork by graphic artist Brute!, which nicely complemented their hardcore-style lyrics. Now on Metropolis Records, Attak carries on the tradition, with song titles like "Urban Monkey Warfare," "Sturm&Drang" and "Preach/Pervert," that sport lyrics like "Mother Father / The battle I fight is for no one / No one but myself." German lyrics are often mixed in with the English. This time 'round, Brute!'s Proletariat-style CD artwork shows a man attacking riot police with a giant hammer, while mobs burn a storefront in the background. Nice.

Sascha says piecing together Attak was neither a team nor band effort. "I'm executive producer and the song starter," he said. "I cook something up and send it around to collaborators all over the world who leave their stains on it. We don't have to play out the band dynamics and watch a fight between the bass player and the drummer. Instead, the songs are something they can work with in their own environment at their leisure. They send it back to me and I add or eliminate elements, refine it. It's collaboration without supervision or pressure."




"It's like going to a skiffle or jazz night and listening to a rendition of a Louis Armstrong song. It doesn't matter if it sounds the same, as long as you enjoy yourself."


"I threw the guys from MuchMusic out of our dressing room just the other day. I told them we didn't need their racist, sexist station"


The collaborators on Attak include singer Lucia Cifarelli (ex-Drill), Raymond "Pig" Watts, Bill Rieflin (Ministry), Joolz Hodgson (Pig), and guitarist Tim Skold (Shotgun Messiah, Lords of Acid, Kidneythieves).

"The studio line-up is different from the live line-up," Sascha said. "The touring band got together for about a week before we started. We're a seven-piece line-up on stage and everyone is a full-fledged and capable musician. The set includes songs played 16 years ago by someone else."

Sascha said die-hard fans won't mind hearing classic KMFDM songs performed by different musicians. The original line-up, featuring co-founder En Esch, hasn't played together since '99. "It's like going to a skiffle or jazz night and listening to a rendition of a Louis Armstrong song," he said. "It doesn't matter if it sounds the same, as long as you enjoy yourself. It's a combination of legend, cult status and a bunch of hardworking guys doing this."

It also marks the first KMFDM tour in five years. Sascha says little has changed since he last took the stage. "It's the same vibe, but better," he said. "We practically doubled our crowd and the kids are just going ape over the new stuff as well as the old stuff. Our audience has rejuvenated once more, attracting a new generation."

A new generation that likely has Sascha and company to thank for most of the post-grunge heavy metal heard on today's hard rock stations. "Seven years ago we took Korn out on one of their very first tours," Sascha said. "We took out Rammstein when no one knew them outside of Germany. Bands that have been seen with us view our tour as some sort of launching pad. We're not striving to be the next big thing in the mainstream. We want to be under the radar."

Even if MTV came a-knocking? "Yes. I threw the guys from MuchMusic (a Canadian version of MTV) out of our dressing room just the other day. I told them we didn't need their racist, sexist station."

Still, KMFDM videos aired on MTV back in their glory days. Sascha admits that they were on that path once when they were "young, dumb and full of cum."

"I was once on 120 Minutes (a defunct MTV series) and hated it so bad that from that point on we never submitted anything to MTV anymore," Sascha said. "We're happy where we are and where we're headed."

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Copyright 2002 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved. Photos by Jacques H. Sehy.