KMFDM is my favorite band and has remained my favorite band for about 18 years now. KMFDM has always been exactly what I love about music… they manage to combine everything sonically that I love about music into one sound.
I seriously cannot express with words how much I love their music…
Basically everytime I hear KMFDM… I fall in love with them all over again.
I will spare my obsession with KMFDM collectibles (just look at any photo of me taken since the early 90s and you have a good chance to see me in a KMFDM shirt.. fuck, my SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL PICTURES were taken in a KMFDM shirt!) but the band means a lot to me.
When I was 17 I decided to get a KMFDM tattoo. I contacted their agent for the high-res “Symbols” artwork and he told me he would try and get it. I still remember my heart dropping when I got an email not addressed from the manager, but addressed from “Kapt’n K.” I remember it sinking even further when the file he sent wouldn’t open on my computer… I panicked. Do I ask again? What’s protocol here?! AM I ALLOWED TO TALK TO KAPTAIN K!?! AM I WORTHY!?!?!?!!
I managed to reply and he was incredibly polite and helped me out… thanks again, Kapt’n…
Fast forward a few years… when I first got some exposure from my art I was interviewed and I was asked my idols… I listed 3 names: David Bowie, John Lydon and Sascha Konietzko.
I’m not sure why I asked him. I don’t know what I was thinking… but the other day I emailed him again but this time asking if he was open to an interview. He responded quite simply… “Bring it!”
This is my interview with one of my idols and inspirations… the man, the father of industrial rock, the founder and leader of KMFDM, the man known as “Kaptain K,” Sascha Konietzko!
Brandon: What is art?
Kapt’n K: It’s the secret ingredient that elevates all kinds of stuff we consume, from basic to special.
Brandon: What is an artist?
Kapt’n K: Somebody that is able to frequently produce said ingredient.
Brandon: What do you think of “digital” art?
Kapt’n K: Analog, digital… just different platforms on which art can be created.
Brandon: What is your definition of success?
Kapt’n K: A lot of stuff comes to mind, of course. For me, success means that I can afford to live my life the way I want to, that I can live off of what I love to do the most.
Brandon: Have you recorded a song that you would call “perfect?”
Kapt’n K: D.I.Y., KRANK, WWIII, MEGALOMANIAC, LOOKING FOR STRANGE, TOHUVABOHU, REBELS IN KONTROL, HAU RUCK and some others. Sure, some of the older ones mentioned could benefit from a revisit in terms of sonic beefing-up nowadays, but that’s a different story.
Brandon: What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make regarding your music?
Kapt’n K: Turning down the promise of making a shit-load of money, because I didn’t believe in the BS. But really, the hardest part was defending my decision
Brandon: What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned in your life regarding your art/music?
Kapt’n K: If you want to be true to yourself, if you value your own integrity, it may be necessary from time to time to make decisions that others will call ‘stupid’, ‘counter-productive’ and ‘not-business-savvy’.
Brandon: Do you believe censorship is ever necessary?
Kapt’n K: Yes, for instance when it comes to child-pornography, or broadly speaking, the exploitation of the ones that can’t protect themselves.
Brandon: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Kapt’n K: I’d be more careful of who I let have a glimpse of how I really tick.
Brandon: Do you have any plans to work with Tim Skold in the near future?
Kapt’n K: No.
Brandon: Do you have any plans to work with En Esch or Raymond Watts in the near future?
Kapt’n K: Definitely no, whether near future or distant future… No.
Brandon: While we’re on that, what are your thoughts on Slick Idiot performing “A Drug Against War” but changing the chorus to “Slick Idiot is a drug against war”?
Kapt’n K: I heard about that a few times, WTF?!
Can’t they write good songs for themselves? Do they have to play cover-versions to shine?
I guess these guys have nothing going on in their lives anymore, that’s probably why they still refer to themselves as one-time members of KMFDM. Sad.
Brandon: Who would you say has been the most significant contributor to KMFDM (other than yourself)?
Kapt’n K: Lucia Cifarelli has really made a huge mark on the band, being the frontwoman since 2001. I always wanted a strong female bandmember but hadn’t found anyone fitting before I met Lucia.
Brandon: Would you consider KMFDM an anti-religious band?
Kapt’n K: Religion is the root of all ‘evil’, no pun intended. KMFDM is definitely outspoken against all kinds of fascism, including religious fascism.
Fascism: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.
Brandon: Do you believe in God?
Kapt’n K: No.
Brandon: What do you consider your religion?
Kapt’n K: None. I do not believe in supreme beings. I am a darwinist
Brandon: KMFDM has always had a lot of drug references in their songs (typically referring to KMFDM as a drug); do you do drugs? What do you think of the drug laws of the United States?
Kapt’n K: I do not do drugs. I used to when I was much younger. It’s a waste of time. The US war against drugs is ridiculous. The fact that tens-of-thousands of US citizens are kept in prison for marijuana possession etc. is completely counter-productive. Legalize the stuff, tax it and do quality control in return. Take the big money out of the trade and make it flow into the states’ pockets!
Brandon: The porn star Sascha Grey has said she named herself after you. What are your thoughts on that?
Kapt’n K: She sure ain’t the only pet named after me
Brandon: What thoughts or memories do you have of recording the song, “Stray Bullet”? What do you think of it now? Did the Columbine shootings effect your opinion of the song in any way?
Kapt’n K: It’s not like it’s a very special or even ‘good’ song, in my book. It started out as great little idea, but then lacked in the instrumentation / production process.
During the Columbine mass-media witchhunt I realized that those so-called journalists which kept quoting the title of the song over and over, could’nt even get themselves to read the actual lyrics. The second line in the chorus, obviously, is: “From the barrel of love” !
Brandon: Has Stray Bullet ever been performed live?
Kapt’n K: I am not sure, but off the top of my head i want to say yes, it has. That would ‘ve been during the ’97 Symbols tour.
(Just checked, the answer is: yes)
Brandon: What are your thoughts on President Obama announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden? What do you feel the result of this will be?
Kapt’n K: Good for him, to be sure. He really needed a break. It is, however, a fragile one. Ten years too late; and those ten years of failed US politics will not ever come back to be “fixed”. The way I see it is, that Bin Laden was not really an operative force anymore, merely a figurehead, a mentor in spirit to the upcoming generations of would-be-djihadists. I wonder if not many Americans feel somehow “cheated” by the fact that they didn’t catch him alive, or that they dumped his supposed body into the sea.
On one hand, had he been put in front of an international court of law, or a US court for that matter, it would have taken ages to get him sentenced. On the other hand, (and I am no fan of US practices in regards to Guantanamo, kangaroo-courts, military tribunals, the whole clandestine operations mess, etc.), it could have been very effective to have him alive. Imagination could run wild…
But in closing I say: Bin Laden captured alive would have sparked, among his followers, a reaction along the lines of: let’s free him.
A dead Bin Laden let’s the myth fall apart.
Brandon: How important do you feel BRUTE’s artwork has been to KMFDM? Have you ever considered of going with different artists?
Kapt’n K: Even though I never actually came to a point where I “decided” to make BRUTE!’s art an ongoing thing, I did get in touch with him time and time again when it came to artwork. His art has become an important part of KMFDM’s brand identity.
At some point back in 1994 we lost sight for a while, so I asked Bill Rieflin’s wife, an accomplished Seattle-based artist, Francesca Sundsten, to do a piece, which then became the art for the NIHIL album, one of the few “real” breaks in the otherwise consistent timeline of KMFDM’s visual continuity. That created quite some uproar in the fan-kommunity at the time. The only other cover that wasn’t done by BRUTE! was the art for the RETRO release, and there were some purely graphic-based covers, for instance , EXTRA , Vol. 1-3.
Brandon: Where is Zyclor?!
Kapt’n K: Last I heard, he lives in a barn in Mill Valley, CA, just outside of San Fran. His ‘papa’, Michael Steffe, the guy who made him is living in Thailand, or at least, that was the last time I heard from him about a year or so ago. Apparently Zyclor learned how to walk a few years back, but right now he’s quite literally, just hanging out.
Brandon: Last question… what inspires you?
Kapt’n K: That’s difficult to answer, really.
Inspiration comes and goes, it’s hard to put a finger on it and say: this inspires me.
There are days when I don’t feel it at all, that’s when I do chores, clean up the studio, etc…
Then maybe I stumble upon something… an old box I haven’t opened for years. Inside it I may find something that makes me say ‘wow’, turn on the studio and get going. 2 hours later I may find myself reeling with urgency, working away on a new tiny spark.
On the other hand though, things like 9/11 aren’t very inspiring… quite the opposite. Traumatic experiences leave me in a catatonic state for a while, unable to filter thru my thoughts and emotions, barely able to get up in the mornings…
Overall, inspiration happens mostly in small doses, a line you read in a paper or a book, then, next day a conversation you have, then, next day a fleeting thought, all adds up, all trickles down to an idea that’s composed of many facets.
Brandon: Thank you for your time.
Kapt’n K: My pleasure.
Thanks again for your time, Kapt’n. It was an absolute pleasure and I hope we can talk again in the future.
Be sure to check out KMFDM’s new album “WTF?!” available from http://www.kmfdm.com. It’s a seriously great album and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a fuckin’ takeover! Come on and go off!
I have my copy. GO GET YOURS!
This is their newest single, “KRANK!” from the new album “WTF?!.” Be sure to give it a listen!
This is Brandon Pence and Sascha “Kapt’n K” Konietzko, signing off. Until next time…