Nov 2013 26

The Ultra-Heavy Beat marches on as Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko reminisces with ReGen on the highs and lows of nearly three decades of conceptual continuity.
KMFDM - Live in Baltimore, 2013


An InterView with Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photographs by Jessica Jastrzebski (JJastrz)

KMFDM needs no introduction. For nearly three decades, the multinational Ultra-Heavy Beat collective has been the cornerstone for industrial rock, evolving from an ever changing roster of the underground music world’s most eclectic musicians to what is now a tightly knit lineup that has for the past decade been delivering powerhouse performances throughout the world. The band’s latest album, KUNST bore all the hallmarks of the KMFDM sound, from the aggressive mixture of blazing guitars and innovative programming, topped off by lyrics that touch on every aspect of current world affairs, all the while presenting elements of the band’s history to maintain a reputation of conceptual continuity. Having toured in the spring of 2013 for the album, KMFDM once again hit the road in the autumn months for the We Are KMFDM tour, bringing along the percussive assault of CHANT from Texas for a double header that bridges the best of the old and the new. Founder and front man Sascha Konietzko – better known to many as “Käpt’n K” – took the time to speak with ReGen on the highs and lows of touring over the years, letting us know just how he and his cohorts maintain such a rapid fire momentum and a little insight into what the band’s 30th anniversary holds in store for fans of the Ultra-Heavy Beat.


KMFDM has toured twice in 2013; first in spring just after the release of KUNST and now again in autumn. As well, it’s the second time you’ve taken CHANT out with you. How did these two tours come together?

Konietzko: After the first tour in the spring, a lot of people were saying, ‘Well, you didn’t make it to our neck of the woods,’ or ‘How come you never come here or there?’ Granted, it was a relatively short tour, so I called up my agents and asked them to figure out if there was a possibility to do a second tour and if it would be financially feasible. They came back and said it was. And CHANT is among the easiest, nicest, and one of the best opening acts that we’ve had in a long time. Maybe I shouldn’t say that in case Legion Within would be mad. (Laughter)

After 29 years, how do you manage to keep up such momentum and drive?

Konietzko: It’s just that there are so many more bands out. Someone told someone else that the money’s not in CD sales anymore, but in touring, which is kind of bullshit, but it basically has flooded the market. It pushes the ticket prices down, and obviously, the economy’s not doing so well. You’re looking at dwindling returns really. As much as I love doing it, I wouldn’t want to pay out of my pocket for it. If it doesn’t finance itself, it becomes unfeasible.

What would you say has become easier over the years?

Konietzko: There are no easy aspects to it, really. Touring is hard work. We used to do it in such a way that… well, Mondays and Tuesdays are not the best days of the week, so we take those off. Now, every day costs the same, so we have to play seven shows a week, and that’s hard. It’s hard on the voice and it’s hard on the body.

Which brings us to Forever Living, which you announced supporting prior to the beginning of the tour. What can you tell us about that; how have those products been of benefit to you on the road?

Konietzko: It’s basically just a series of products that are mostly based on high quality Aloe Vera, like juices and jelly. It just keeps you a little more balanced in this very abusive lifestyle. When you start thinking about it, you don’t want to beat yourself up all the time and you start taking supplements to help with that. And then, you start thinking about it every time you crack open a beer and ask yourself, ‘Do I really need a beer,’ or ‘Do I really need another beer?’ That in itself changes the outlook. It’s not really for health nuts as much as it’s for high energy sports, and what we do for two hours each night resembles a little bit a small bike race.

As KUNST was released in February, and KMFDM has now hit the road twice in support of the album, how pleased are you with the response it has received?

Konietzko: I haven’t seen any numbers yet, but I’m hearing that it’s doing well in terms of distribution, so we’ll see. It’s seemed to be being received very well, and again, that seems to be the case with every album. There are always going to be people who will say it sounds the same. But I would say that fans are not the ones that talk shit. People still come to the shows, and there are people like you who continue to support us. In the end, we are who we are and we do what we do; it’s the same old shit, and it’s polarizing, but that’s good.

What do you listen to when you’re not working on KMFDM? For instance, being on the road, what do you listen to?

Konietzko: MINISTRY and CHANT; those are the only records allowed in the car, and that’s dictated by my small daughter. (Laughter) If I pop something in, she’ll say, ‘Take that out! I want CHANT!’

She loves CHANT and MINISTRY?

Konietzko: Oh yeah! He’s Uncle Al, man. I loved the new album; sometime in March, we spent a day in El Paso, and he played me the whole album and I played him KUNST, and we drank a lot of beer.

You’ve had no shortage of material, maintaining a steady flow of a new album every one or two years, as well as side projects, soundtrack work, and remixes. So with KUNST and the two 2013 tours done, what’s next for you and KMFDM?

Konietzko: Right now, it’s all about a new album, which we are hoping to wrap up in the winter months. Then, we have a 30th anniversary coming up, and there is a bunch of collector’s items – rare vinyl, a bunch of items that were never released on vinyl – that will be put out in small numbers and some other small things to celebrate the 30th anniversary. We are shooting for being finished with the new album by March 1, but I have no real plans at this point. There are a couple of festivals that we’ve been asked to play, but they’re not really festivals that I’m much into. We’ll see. I would like to do a European tour, but those things are so fucking hard to put together, and the money is so hard to put together.

It’s interesting that you say that because there does seem to be a perception – on the part of American audiences at least – that things in the music scene are much better in Europe.

Konietzko: No way! It’s much better here. The venues are venues and the people at least know what they are doing. In Germany, the venues are okay for the most part, but the clubs are horrible, and the fans… forget it! England is okay. Sweden is okay. Norway is okay. As soon as you get into the Romance speaking parts of Italy and Spain… you know, there are of course exceptions to the rule, but you’re about to go onstage, and they say, ‘We work in five minutes! Don’t make noise!’ No catering – ‘You want to eat? What do you want to eat?’ Fuck off! (Laughter)

The grass is always greener, eh? There is also always this perception – again, mainly on the part of fans and audiences – that the scene in general was in a much better state ‘back in the day.’ Having been making music for three decades, what is your response to this line of thinking?

Konietzko: Well, you know… people get older, their lives change, and all they have to reminisce about is ‘the golden age,’ or ‘the good old days.’ Did we have a good time back then? Yes, we did. But even then, people were offing themselves and shit would happen. At the time, it was the same as it is now – we go from day to day and we do what we do, sometimes you have fun and sometimes you eat some bad food and catch a cold. Truthfully, I’m not part of any scene and I’ve never been part of any scene. Even when I was living in the city of Chicago, and they did all these shenanigans in the clubs and such, I was in the studio at C.R.C. (Chicago Recording Company) working with Chris Shepard making KMFDM shit and doing remixes for White Zombie and Megadeth. Even when I was there, I wasn’t really a part of it.

Is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion?

Konietzko: Thanks so much for the enduring support!


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