On November 25, 2011, a horse-drawn carriage carried the death masks, or plastered heads of the members of Rammstein, which appear on the cover of their latest album Made In Germany: 1995-2011, click-clacked toward a mausoleum to kick off their European tour. Many fans gathered outside the O2 World stadium in Berlin to watch Rammstein’s death march. Inside the mausoleum, with burning candles setting the mood, fans could tour through and sign a guest book.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the name, Rammstein is an industrial band with a horror romanticist blend of theatre and music. Formed in 1993 by six men raised in East Germany, their name (adding an “m”) is from the location of a German tragedy where 80 people were injured and killed as the result of a crash during an American Air Force flight show. “Ram stein” literally means a battering ram made of stone.
The band pushes boundaries not deliberately trying to cause controversy, a grassroots band in a mainstream media. They take issues that no one would ever touch, ie. the first real story of cannibalism in Germany- Mein Teil (Reise Reise), as inspiration for their songs. Their motto is “Do your own thing, and overdo it.” They sing in German, as a German band, and set themselves apart from any other music performance.
Their songs have been banned from being played on the radio, albums banned from being displayed in stores, and they have been banned from performing in cities across the globe. The most common reason is because authorities declare their music to be propaganda for “violence, masochism, homosexuality and other abnormalities.”
LIFAD Community(Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da) is a fan community on Facebook, the name and idea taken from the band’s web site fan community. Nicole McPherson, New Jersey, USA, is one of the administrators for the group. Her definition of a fan is simple, “a fan can be focused on just one person/group to a whole genre of that something.”
Other Rammstein fans in the group say that even though they do not own all of their albums nor like every song they still identify themselves of fans of the group. Sarah-Anne Lucke, Melbourne, Australia says, “you can have just one song or have seen them 100 times you still are a fan.” She adds, “apparently me writing fanfic(fictional stories written about a person/group/film etc by a fan), to a few people is too far. I think camping outside someone’s house is a little more extreme.”
Most members of the group agree they haven’t done anything too crazy “in the name of Rammstein,” but still share their experiences. Samantha Deniston, New York, USA, says the craziest thing she’s done recently is get a new tattoo on her right calf, “it’s inspired by the song “Reise Reise” and the band itself.”
Sarah-Anne says she, “drove across Europe to see them in Nuremberg in 2004 with my man and 11 months old kids in tow, leaving them at the hotel and emigrating to Australia the next day and getting “Ohne Dich Kann Ich Nicht Sein” tattooed on my back.
“Craziest thing I have done is having their names tattooed onto my right forearm~ to be precise, their signatures. I was lucky enough to briefly meet them, twice. The second time I had them sign my arm with sharpie marker, then after the show, went and had them tattooed over. Schneider[drummer] was not present either time, soI still have one signature to collect, says Margaret Angelo, California, USA.
“The true artists recognize that without their fans they would be nobody. I respect that in an artist, even if I don’t like their music,” says Steve Tavares,Rhode Island,USA.
Sarah-Anne believes that, “Rammstein are good to fans I think in general. They write songs about us and I think they genuinely care.” During a show in Gdansk, Poland, for their Made In Germany tour, rhythm guitarist, Paul Landers signed an autograph for a fan during the intro of the song “Mann Gegen Mann.”
Shannon Lang, Queensland, Australia, says, “`the fact that when you go to a show, it’s like it’s their last show. Each time I’ve seen them live, they put 110% into it and you feel so awesome after each one.”
Sandra Ivanov, Russia, gives some insight as to why she believes they care. “They were brought up in a time of turmoil[behind the Berlin Wall], making musical success harder to achieve and they are grateful to their fans for ongoing encouragement to break through the scene in a different genre and style of music, not largely heard before.”
“They always put everything they have into every performance, and humbly kneel to bow to the audience after every show. Till[frontman] also says “thank you” in the language of whatever country they are in,” says Margaret.
Being the administrator for a fan group, as well as being in a fan group, can have its perks. Nicole explains, “ In addition to the raffle of the rehearsal tickets, the management team specifically invited people running fan sites this time round,” referring to the rehearsal/test shows that the band held before going on tour. “My general impression is that they’re more willing to chat if a fan is not chasing them with a pen or a camera. The M&G(meet and greet) opportunities have significantly increased in 2011, which have not been necessarily been prioritized in the past. Some of the members are more fan oriented that others, but I think that is more of an expression of personality type than dislike of fans.”
Rammstein fans don’t just attend one show. Shannon shares his experiences,” I’ve only seem them 7 times(all this year too…3 in Australia and 4 in America) and have planned another 3 in April next year. Why? First of all, it’s arguably one of the best live concerts to experience ever. I’m mainly going to see them in America because they hardly ever come to Australia and gives me a reason to travel overseas and live a little. I must say, I wouldn’t be even THINKING about doing this if it wasn’t for the friends I’ve met through R+(Rammstein). All my Aussie, American, and British R+ friends I’ve travelled with mean THE WORLD to me and have had the best times of my life with them.”
“I first saw them 2 times after flying to Berlin from LA to see them in 2010. When they came to the US in 2011, I saw them 4 times in 4 days, driving from Oakland to Vegas. I was set to see them in Germany 4 times[for this tour], but had to cancel at the last-minute due to Immigration papers not arriving on time. In 2012 I have tickets for 7 of the 21 shows for the USA, and maybe will add more. Why? They put on the BEST LIVE SHOW WORLDWIDE!! Their music, lyrics, poetry, innuendoes, subtle and in your face, all add up to an incredible force of energy, ” says Margaret.
Nicole’s experience is similar,” 7 for MiG(Made in Germany). Two in Berlin, five in the US. I enjoy the spectacle. This stage set up, in particular, is definitely worth seeing from different angles. Money and time allows it, I can meet up with other friends around these shows, the performance itself is spectacular. I also have a great appreciation for the stagecraft that goes into this particular production –lighting, pyro, sound system, the engineering around the stage equipment…”
The main reason why fans see Rammstein multiple times is because of how each show is unique. For shows in Spanish-speaking countries, they may perform, “Te Quiero Puta,” in which the lyrics are a mix of Spanish and German.
For their “Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da” tour, during their song “Feuer Frei,” band members wore blowtorch masks for a recurring fire-breathing gimmick that some may remember from the Vin Diesel movie, xXx. Frankenstein mannerism front man, Till Lindemann wore a pair of shiny, robotic, demon wings that shot fire from the tips during final encore, “Engel.” For “Benzin,” roadies wheeled a fridge sized tank and Lindemann blowtorched what looked to be a ‘fan’ running around the stage in a Rammstein hoodie.
Some views on other fans, “I don’t like Noobies[new fans] much who think they know everything or those who think they are better or bigger fans. We are all fans and some are just luckier than others,” says Sarah-Anne. “If it weren’t for Rammstein I wouldn’t know my best friends,” says Andrea Ackerman, Scotia, New York.
Margaret says, “I would take issue with misguided or ill-informed fans relating Rammstein with Nazism. I have found an incredible fellowship amongst the Ramm Fans I have encountered at shows, and online. There seems to be a deep bond between the Ramm Fans regardless from the country we originate. I have met some extraordinary people, and have made some very close friends. As one fan put it, ‘Rammstein~ bringing people together, and setting stuff on fire!’”
Rammstein has made a legacy within their fans and it will only continue to grow and evolve along with their relationships.