Die Krupps interview (03/2006)

With: Jürgen Engler, Ralf Dörper, Rüdiger Esch, Marcel Zürcher, Oliver Röhl
Conducted by: Ivor (press-conference)
Published: 03.03.2006


Die Krupps, legendary industrial band for the first time in Estonia. And that on their 25th anniversary tour, playing again after 8 years break. I wasn't overjoyed about the fact that Die Krupps were going to headline Green Christmas festival. It's not that I don't like their music. I hadn't really heard Die Krupps before the festival. I was sceptical simply because electronic industrial music is not my cup. In my opinion it wasn't going to be a good move.

However, having seen these guys live, I must take my words back. Not only was it a good live performance by professionals of the genre. It turned out that the music that came from stage was interesting, it caught me and pulled along. They performed a slice of their past career bringing old reworked songs on stage. Without going into much detail, I must say they pulled of a great gig. Basically, Die Krupps reached people. And that's a sign of a good show.

Recorded during the Green Christmas Press Conference, 17 December 2005, 16:00

Kadri Ratt (organizer)
Mati Palmet (Kuma Raadio)
Ivor Lõõbas (Metal Storm)
Ivo Kiviorg (Rada 7)

Jürgen Engler (JE)
Ralf Dörper (RD)
Rüdiger Esch (RE)
Marcel Zürcher
Oliver Röhl

Mati: You showed several times that you are against fascism. Why is it so big problem for you? Is there any problem with fascism in the world now? To fight against it.
JE: I think there's always a problem with that. I think there is a problem here, I think there's a problem everywhere and there's always a reason to go against it. There's probably a thousand... You should know why, the past showed why you should go against it.

Ralf, Jürgen and Rüdiger

Mati: And you are going on with the same message that was when you chose the band name Die Krupps. And there were Metallica covers and you against fascism. And you are going on with it?
RD: Maybe you should see... Die Krupps started in the '80s. In the '80s we didn't have the problem with this topic fascism. In the '90s, when we did the song for example like "Germaniac" or "Fatherland," we had in Germany reason to comment on it. Because we had the German West-East reunification. And then it became obvious that fascism was suddenly a topic. And maybe it became a topic in other areas, in Eastern Europe when the Soviet Union broke down as well. But we commented on it when we saw there was a reason and at the moment I think we still can state that the reason or to say that we are against it. But it's not our headline we are working under.
JE: Basically, I mean there are many topics, many things that we comment on. It's not just against fascism. I mean, you are pointing out just one aspect of Die Krupps. This is not what we are about in general. This is one of our messages, one thing that we stand for but it's not what we are about and nothing else. There's a lot more.
RD: So, to avoid misunderstanding. We are not a political band. We have some opinions and sometimes it's important to make emphasis on this opinion because it could be misunderstood. But we are not a political band, we are not playing for political organizations on political festivals. We don't do that. We are, in a way, a pop band.
JE: We have strong opinions. To point that out. We have. But we don't project them onto people. We tell them what we think is wrong. That's basically what we are doing.

Mati: In Estonian Television was some days ago shown video "To The Hilt" and the people who were in the studio, no one understood what this song is about. They had the conversation about the music but not about what the story tells. Can you tell some words about this 10 years old hit.
JE: Basically the song is about you feeling alien in your own environment, in you own home, in your own country. You feel like you are a stranger in your own home. And basically wherever you go you may feel like it and it basically says that you are a stranger wherever you go. So, the only place you can feel at home is in your heart. This is what it's about. And live it to the fullest, to the hilt.

Mati: And this is the reason why the band was pressed into the narrow room there in the video.
JE: (Laughs.) You should ask the director.
Mati: Many people wonder why they are in such narrow room.
JE: Probably because, you know, the director had his thoughts, you know. And he directed the band into a narrow, kind of claustrophobic environment.
RD: It's a toilet. (Laughs.)
Mati: It was a toilet?
RD: Oh yeah, it was a toilet.
JE: In Houston, Texas. That was very important. So, you couldn't have filmed it anywhere else. It had to be in Houston, Texas.
Mati: You live there?
JE: I have a home in Austin, not in Houston, Austin, Texas, yes. Very nice place.

Mati: You like Texas more than Germany?
JE: I like things about every place. I like this place, I like America for another reason, I like Germany for another reason. And I dislike every place for another reason. So, there is no point to say this is the best, this is the worst. Like I said, you feel at home where your heart is. That's it, you know. And I can feel at home right here. I can. If it is where I'm feeling good about it.

Press: Are you going to do another album. It's been 8 years since the last one. You are on 25th anniversary tour. It's really a long time since the last album. So, are you going to do another album?
JE: We're working on it. First we're going to release a kind of best-of album. But it's all re-recorded versions of the old classic Die Krupps tracks. That's what we're working on right now. But there's also new songs in the work. Like, a new single is one of the plans that we have. And then also we're working on a new album. But that is going to be after this best-of release of the re-recorded versions. I have to point that out. The reason we got together again is because it's actually the 25th anniversary of Die Krupps. So, something has to point that out. And I think the best thing is to comment on the whole time, on the material that we put out. Basically the work that we put out over that period of that time. And the best way to do this and make it sound contemporary is by re-recording the old versions and giving them to the people that helped us to get where we were, where we are.

Jürgen during the show

Press: So, the old recordings sound obsolete in your opinion? You wanted to make it better with new equipment?
RD: First of all, what we do is a selection of the songs that are still valid. And some sounds definitely were valid in the '80s because that what was around. But nowadays there are better opportunities. If you look at the studio, what we can do and when you hear that today. And we might also rework some old material releasing it as a remastering version because some sound pretty flat if you look at the album we recorded in 1982. It really sounds more simple than something you could do nowadays at a computer. And even his voice is quite funny on the very early recordings.
JE: Thing is, you know, we always wanted to sound, like you know, not dated. Basically we don't want to put out just a best-of album with the old versions. I mean, people have those songs. And it makes a lot more sense to put them in a contemporary context. That's why. Actually we're going to play most of the stuff tonight, most of the stuff is reworked versions of the old classic tracks.

Press: Do you have any release schedules for the best-of and the album?
JE: We're planning on a Spring release, late Spring release.
Press: For the best-of?
JE: Yeah. And before that we actually want to get a single out that is kind of pointing the direction, where it's going.

Ivor: Could you describe, please, who are the people who listen to your music?
JE: You, obviously! (Laughs.)
RD: No, that's the thing we don't know. We haven't been on stage for 8 years. And when we left the tour-bus 8 years ago, there were reasons to leave the tour-bus, at that time, forever. Because we had some people we didn't want to play for again. But now we think it's pretty exciting to see who is still listening to Die Krupps for whatever reasons. So, we are quite eager to find that out. In every city or every part of the world. Because we are absolutely not sure how many people will come and what kind of people. If there's people who know us from the past, from the '80s, from the '90s or new people. So, we have no idea at all.
JE: Yeah. And the good thing is, you know, that we actually get to go places like here, that we've never played before. I mean, seems like we were popular here years ago but we really didn't know what our audience would have been like here. So, funny thing is, you know, we come back 8 years and there's still a big audience for us and people are as eager to see us as we are to see them. Which is great, I think. Makes us feel good , definitely.

Jürgen and Rüdiger during the show

Mati: As you live in Germany and live in USA, it's good to ask about American industrial music and German industrial music. They are very different. What do you think, is it because of the place, USA and Germany, or is it because of the people, nationality?
JE: I think the music changes with the way you live. That's it. I mean, for example the music the bands play here. Obviously there's always idols, people, bands you idolize when you start. But I think depending on where you live it has a big influence on the way you write, the way you think, the way you live your life. And living what you do, is the most important factor here. To my opinion. Like I said, you grow up here, you grow up in the States or you grow up in Asia, your upbringing, your surroundins, this is what you are going to suck up and give. That's how it changes.

Mati: In Germany the industrial music is always Ordnung.
JE: That's the problem!
RD: I think for Die Krupps, why Die Krupps started was at that time the electronical music, industrial music was one side aspect. We were based in Düsseldorf and Düsseldorf has electronical music tradition. Bands like Neu!, Kraftwerk. And that's DEF (Deutsch Englische Freundschaft), and that's where we started. And at that time we started with electronics and different aspects coming from Punk and, at that time, nobody called that Industrial. So, in Germany there were certain cities only which had this electronic background. And Berlin electronic music was totally different, like Tangerine Dream and stuff like that. So, I think in the US it's similar, only a few cities like Chicago, mainly, where kind of music evolved. The tradition is based on electronical music in my opinion. But maybe the weather is one factor as well. (Laughs.)
JE: Absolutely! (Laughs.) It is!
RD: There are a lot of electronical bands in Scandinavia for example, more than, I think, rock bands nowadays. I'm not sure why.

Press: Why did you decide to add electric guitars, heavy stuff to the mix?
JE: That was basically something that didn't happen overnight. I mean, after I stopped working... or... Basically we took a break, let's put it like that. We took a break in 1986 - 1989. After 1985, the last album in the mid '80s, I started a recordlabel that was specialising in Metal: Thrash, Speed Metal. Because that kind reminded me of early Punk days. Before Die Krupps I was playing in a Punk band. And the early Metal crossover scene kind of reminded me of it. There was a lot of independent labels and the music was hard and fast and didn't really have much to do with traditional Heavy Metal thing which was to me never something that I liked. So, I started a recordlabel. I started producing bands like that, like Accuser, Rumble Militia. You know, crossover, kind of Punk related music. And then when we started with Die Krupps again it was just a matter of time when those influences would come into the music. And to me the time was just right, you know. To combine the elements that haven't been mixed before. Basically bring people together, bring from all sides. And it was funny, you know. Like in mid '90s when we played, we had people, like, short-haired, long-haired people, all mixed. Which is great. And it still looks like it. (Laughs.) Like in the '80s, you know, typical electro crowd, you know, short haired. It changed and I think that's good. Bringing people together, not separating them. That's good on a global base.

Press: I have a stupid question. Who's from Accuser at the moment in Die Krupps?
JE: No-no!
RD: Long time ago.
JE: That was long time ago.
Press: I just remembered that some...
JE: Yeah, that was in the early '90s but then we moved on and we had some other people in the band.

Ivo: The Question is inspired from a rumour. I'd like to know what do you think about the other artists in this festival?
JE: The other artists?
RD: We don't know them. (Laughs.)
JE: Never heard them before. I mean so far... we haven't really had a chance to watch them.
RD: And the other thing actually is we sometime in the past decided never to comment on other musicians, like, other bands. We often get asked what do you think of this band or that band. Especially we are very often asked in Germany what do we think about Rammstein. We don't comment on that.
Kadri: But why?
RD: Why?
JE: You could meet them and they could beat you up! (Laughs.)
RD: We as a band do not have one opinion on one subject. Everybody of us has opinions, and especially our music, different tastes. So, it would be unfair because that's something that's singled out and would be in the media represented as a band opinion. But there is no band opinion on that.

Ivor: But are you going to check out the bands today?
JE: Sure, when we get the chance. Like, in between, why not? Is there any band you would recommend to check out? I think this is the second band or the third band, right?
Ivor: Second.
Press: Well, Pedigree should...
JE: Pedigree? When are they playing?
Press: 6 o'clock.
JE: 6 o'clock? I think we're supposed to meet your mayor at 6 o'clock. (Laughs.) What do you think about that? We never met a mayor before! I mean this is, like, an honour! Is he a cool guy? I mean, what would you say?
Press: I don't know, I'm from Finland.
JE: Hey, anybody from Estonia here? (Laughs.)
Press: Have you heard Godflesh? From Earache Records?
JE: Ahah.
Press: They are like Estonian Godflesh.
JE: Oh, ok.
Press: Very good.
JE: Maybe we will find the time to see them.

Press: You have done some collaborations over the years, like Crazy World of Arthur Brown and also "Bloodsuckers"...
JE: Biohazard.
Press: ... how have those collaborations been? Do you like doing them?
JE: We just did two new collaborations, that's basically for the new single. There's one with with Douglas McCarthy from Nitzer Ebb. We did a new version of "Machineries Of Joy" and he's singing, this time German. And also a collaboration with Client on another track called "Der Amboss." I mean, it's fun to work with other people, you know. It's always in a way challenging, on the other hand it's more the fun factor too. Definitely it's fun. Fun to work with Douglas. And maybe there's a chance to present it on stage sometime, you know, when we play the same festivals for example. There's talk about a festival in Sweden, maybe. We'll see.

"Metalmorphosis" on stage

Press: Have you ever done "Bloodsuckers" with Biohazard on stage?
JE: So far no. Unfortunately there was never a chance. I mean the thing is the people we collaborated with were busy, just like we were. And it's really hard to get them all together in one spot. You know, it's hard enough to get them to collaborate with you. (Laughs.) Or actually have them come to our studio when they are on tour. They have a tight schedule.

Kadri: OK, I'm sorry to say but our time is almost up.
RD: Last question.
Kadri: So, if anybody wants to ask the last question then the floor is yours.

Press: You've been in the run for 25 years. If you compare yourselves 25 years ago and yourselves now what is the biggest difference?
JE: The age? (Laughs.)
Press: Grey hair?
JE: (Laughs.) Yeah, a little bit.
RD: 25 years ago Die Krupps hardly played concerts. We were very much a studio band and we did few things that were very chaotic. I hope we are not as chaotic anymore.
JE: The thing is, you learn over time and you try to do things better and you become more professional. And on the other hand, I have to say I enjoy playing live more for some reason. Good workout, you know, keeps me busy. I enjoy it.
RE: 25 years ago we were like really something brand new, I mean more chaotic. 25 years ago I was like... Nowadays it seems like Die Krupps and we come to Estonia and it's more like a brandname. People know what we are doing, people know the songs, they come to the shows. That's totally different 25 years ago. Nobody liked us, nobody would go.
JE: The thing is it was really hard when we first started playing with "Stahlwerksinfonie." You know, we were basically going against the rest. We were doing something that hadn't been done before and people were kind of not very friendly towards us. (Laughs.) It was the same when I played Punk-Rock. You know, I started my Punk band in 1976 and that was like, you know, somebody from Mars had just landed and presented something that was, like, so aggressive. Especially at that point, at that period of time, it was never heard before. And it really created a lot of anger and violence towards us.
RD: And also on the equipment side... for example 25 years ago only millionaires could get a polyphonic synthesizer and that's lot of job.
JE: And now you download them! (Laughs.)

Unfortunately I ran out of recording space. So, a bit at the very end is missing.


Posted on 03.03.2006 by I shoot people.

Sometimes, I also write about it.

And one day I'm going to start a band. We're going to be playing pun-rock.

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