by Daniel Hinds

Eighteen years and eleven albums since their inception, the multi-national KMFDM has managed to not only stay relevant but to also evolve their 'heavy beat' sound over time without losing their ever-devoted fans.  After a three-year break, 2001 saw founding member Sascha Konietzko (re)relocate to Seattle and set up shop under the KMFDM banner once again.  Many of the usual suspects are again involved - Tim Skold, Lucia Cifarelli, Bill Rieflin, and Raymond Watts, among others.  I recently had a lengthy chat with the man, part of which is transcribed below (the remainder can be found in issue #18 of Outburn Magazine)…

Did you do all the remixes on the new Boots single?
It's all in the family, if you want.  I did the 'Bombs' mix and Paul DeCarli, who we've been working with and who Tim is good friends with, did the 'Candy' mix.  He's a guy from L.A. who is a total gearhead.  He works ProTools rigs for a lot of known artists, sweetening vocals - he's a tech guy.

So is Tim in L.A. permanently now?
He's been in L.A. ever since he came to the States fifteen or so years ago, with just about two years in the middle that he spent with me here in Seattle.

What prompted you to move back to Seattle?
I've been moving back and forth ever since I set foot here in Seattle, which I moved out here for the first time in '93.  Then moved back to Chicago just about a year later, then back here, then to New York, then back to Seattle.  I'm kind of between New York and here.  I like Seattle.  I think of it as some people would think of their workroom - it's a place where I can actually get my work done.  In other cities, it is usually work as well, but more like the kind of work where you meet people and go to places and do things, whereas in Seattle, I go to my studio, I close the door and you don't see me for a few months.  I don't need to go out or party or anything.  I'm quite happy just working, having a barbecue, continue to work, sleep, work, barbecue, work, sleep… (laughs)

I really liked the MDFMK album.  Is that project history?
No, to say MDFMK is history would be to say Sascha Konietzko is history.  Whatever I do, I do 100%.  KMFDM, MDFMK - what's the difference really?  The only difference is MDFMK was approached as a real band, a duo strictly which became a trio right before it was finished with the addition of Lucia Cifarelli.  Whereas KMFDM always approaches the making of an album in a conceptual way.  It's not like KMFDM sits down and thinks, 'what is the next album going to be like,' but only 'how is the next album going to be tackled.'  That really is the hugest difference.  In MDFMK, Tim and I were tweaking things as much as we wanted.  We had so much time and such a huge budget at our fingertips, we could afford to do whatever.  Let's go back into the studio for four weeks?  Sure, let's do it.  It was a totally tweaked and totally produced album, where KMFDM always plays with the uncertainty factor of many collaborators who, once they are admitted into the current project, anything goes basically.  That creates a larger variety, less control, more coincidence, more genius and shortcomings at the same time.

How was it working with a major label for MDFMK?
It was basically everything I knew all the time about major labels, but I still had to try it.  Obviously the stuff I'm dong is not going to break overnight into commercial rock radio format or get heavy rotation on MTV - it's just not that kind of stuff.  Somehow, both sides were fooling themselves a little bit into thinking we could make it work together.  But I'm not bitter about it.  It was a really valuable experience and I met some very cool and excellent people on that little excursion and I think a lot of experience was gained and fun was had by all.

Can't ask for more than that.
No because to me that's always the most important thing, to work diligently and be let alone in the creative process.  There is no point in making records with a market or an audience in mind already.

I'm assuming Metropolis has been pretty good about leaving you guys alone?
They're pretty good about it.

Is Metropolis also doing the re-release of Opium
No, that's going to come out on Firstworld [Bill Rieflin's label].

What was it like going back to that album at this point?
I'd hardly call it an album.  It was like 50 cassettes with homemade, photocopied slips.

So it was more like a demo.
It was totally like a demo, made under the most horrid conditions with absolutely no money at all.  The original 8-track tapes were found.  They had been sitting in damp boxes for years in a basement that had had a fire, so they were pretty much rotten and crappy.  So I got to lift all the stuff that was still good onto a digital workstation.  What you'll be hearing is basically a combination of remixes, remasters and recreation of material that was lost due to tape rot.  So it is very interesting.  In some instances I could lift off a vocal track and a guitar and bass track, but the drums were on part of the tape that just wouldn't do it anymore.  But I knew how the drums went of course, so I would just reprogram the drums with the original sounds, if at all possible, or similar sounds, and doing it all in the same headspace as 1984, as far as that is possible.  I think it is going to provide the missing link to 'where did KMFDM even come from in the first place?'  If you begin with What Do You Know, Deutschland?, you kind of skip the first part.

Is there any thought to remastering any of the early KMFDM albums?
I don't know…  That's what I call capitalizing on the past and I'm not quite ready to do that yet.  The stuff is so scattered because we never had the chance to really work in a totally professional environment with storage media, be it tape or whatever, that was meant to be eternal.  Often, we would record something on a piece of Fostex 8-track tape and then master it down onto a cassette and then we would use the same bit of tape and record something over it. (laughs)  So some of the old masters are just gone for good.  Yeah, we could sit down and tweak it and remaster it and stuff, but it's not that old and it is kind of charming to hear it untampered with.

Do you ever hear the songs in your head ahead of actually sitting down with your gear?
Oh yeah, very often.  There's two types of songs for me.  One is where you start with the lyrical idea and the other is where you start with the track.  Most of them start with the track.  The ones where I get an idea, 'This song should be about this or that,' those are the rare ones, like "Witch Hunt," "DIY" and "KMFDM Sucks."  Those are good examples of songs that start with a lyrical idea.

Do you usually write by yourself?
It depends.  Some of the stuff just happens.  We'll be going through folders on the hard drive, listening to this or that odd sound and Tim hears it and maybe gets an idea or vice versa.  But for the most part, I like it best when I'm just by myself, to lay the foundations for something.  It just goes faster that way, you don't have to double-check and compromise or whatever.  You just do it and the next day will tell you if it was worth it or not.

Do you have any tour plans lined up yet?
We've got the live line-up confirmed now.  The thing now is we have to decide if we should start the tour in the US or in Europe.  There are a couple of different prospects that both look very good.  There is definitely going to be a tour and it will start in the end of Spring, go through the Summer and into the Fall.

Who will be in the line-up?
The complete band from Pig, so Andy the drummer, Steve and Joolz the guitarists and Raymond, and then Bill Rieflin, Tim Skold, Lucia Cifarelli and myself.  So eight on stage, probably the best line-up KMFDM has ever had.

Have you come up with a setlist yet?
We've talked about it and I think the idea is to have a bit of a retrospective, where we can perform some of the very, very old songs, but of course be pretty heavy on the new stuff as well.  With eight people on stage, you can actually do it so you can play pretty long.  Not everyone has to be full force all the time, so maybe the usual 1-hour-and-15-minute high-energy set can be extended by a little bit and we can actually fit in a lot of stuff.


Sascha Konietzko - vocals, programming, guitar
Tim Skold - vocals, programming, guitar
Lucia Cifarelli - vocals
Bill Rieflin - drums
Joolz - guitar
Raymond Watts - vocals

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