Sep 2022 05

The Ultra Heavy Beat carries on through insurmountable odds and unwavering determination, as KMFDM stands poised to release the band’s 22nd studio album and embark on a new North American tour.


An InterView with Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko of KMFDM

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

One would think that a band with such a virulent and passionate outlook would start to lose steam after 38 years. But KMFDM has never been an ordinary band, consistently delivering socially conscious and politically charged anthems with no shortage of a sardonic sense of humor, all the while redefining the parameters of the Ultra Heavy Beat. The group’s 22nd studio album, HYËNA continues in this tradition, presenting what may be one of KMFDM’s most viciously straightforward aural assaults yet – infusions of rap/hip-hop (“Rock’n’Roll Monster”), drum & bass with slight shades of digital hardcore (“All Wrong – But Alright”), punk and speed metal (“Blindface”), blackgrass and heavy country (“Deluded Desperate Dangerous & Dumb”), and pure dub/reggae (“In Dub We Trust”) all find their way into the industrialized rock milieu that has defined the band’s sound for nearly four decades. As well, with an ever revolving door of guest musicians and returning family members, KMFDM remains a vibrant bridging of the familiar and fresh in a day and age when it seems that all has been said and done. With the album nearing its release date and KMFDM to finally return to our shores for the group’s first North American tour since 2017, Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko was gracious enough to take the time to speak with ReGen Magazine about the creation of HYËNA, touching on the introduction of new collaborators and musical styles, the role of the U.S. in global affairs, the lasting effects of the pandemic on touring, and even recounts a bit of history from the WaxTrax! era.


The pandemic seems to be tapering off, though it isn’t entirely over yet – people are still being afflicted, and restrictions seem to be coming and going with the tide. On top of that, you’ve had quite a number of personal tragedies over the past couple of years, losing family members and friends/past band members. So, my question is… how are you? How’s the family, how’s your health?

Konietzko: Yes, I lost two brothers, my mother, and (estranged) father kind of beat-by-beat in less than two years. The death of my younger brother was extremely challenging; we were close. My health is good, and I intend to keep it that way. We will be very cautious on our upcoming tour in that regard and as much as it pains us, we shall limit our interactions with people outside the tour crew to an absolute minimum in order to avoid COVID infections. The several past years have been hard financially, and seeing the tour go down would mean bankruptcy for me.

HYËNA moves at a rather brisk pace and while still 11 tracks, is shorter than the past several KMFDM albums; ‘Blindface’ might actually be KMFDM’s shortest track (outside of intros/outros/interludes). Was this intentional at all, or was there simply a sense of urgency to the songwriting and production that you and the band felt necessitated or at least resulted in the shorter runtime?

Konietzko: It’s quality over quantity, always. As a matter of fact, when I set out with each fledgling song-idea, I planned to make them all over five minutes at least. My initial idea was to make a ‘soundtrack’ album anyways. As things progressed, there was a lot of rearranging going on in some of the songs, choruses became verses and vice versa. Also, it didn’t make sense to have like seven verses in some of the songs – it felt too much too long. Anyhow, some stayed pretty long, namely ‘HYËNA,’ ‘All Wrong – But Alright,’ ‘Liquor Fish & Cigaettes,’ and ‘In Dub We Trust.’
Others need to be shortened, some drastically, and yes, ‘Blindface’ is definitely the shortest KMFDM song of all time… and it was actually conceived to be that way. 😉

Fans like to talk about what guests will be on a KMFDM album, and while HYËNA brings back some members of the family like Jules, Ocelot, and Bruce Breckenfeld, as well as Kumar Bent and Sissy Misfit. Tell us about how you first encountered and got Sissy Misfit to take part in the new album?

Konietzko: Sissy Misfit I became acquainted with when I was asked to do a remix for a project then-based out of Istanbul. I was heavily impressed by Sissy’s vocal performance in that song I remixed and asked to please collaborate with me on a KMFDM song. I then tailor-made a track and sent it off. Then I got the vocal files back, and I was like, ‘Nailed it!’ The three-or-so-minute guitar solo in that track always puts me in a sort of trance, like music by CAN or NEU.



KMFDM has always welcomed international voices and musical styles. I believe I’d asked this once before, so at the risk of repeating myself… are there any languages and/or styles yet you’d like to find a way to incorporate into KMFDM’s sonic or musical vocabulary?

Konietzko: I’ll deal with that when the time comes. I’m always open for influences, new directions, and experimentation.

We’d spoken in the past couple of InterViews about dub music and its influence on you and KMFDM, and now the new album ends with ‘In Dub We Trust,’ the lyrics of which are taken from ‘Trust’ off of NIHIL. What motivated you to revisit those lyrics in the new song? What are your thoughts behind them now vs. when you first wrote them?
Similarly, did Kumar Bent’s performance and the way he sang those words cause you to further reevaluate their meaning and power?

Konietzko: A dear friend of mine had introduced to the Jamaican band Raging Fyah, which I enjoyed very much, and the idea snuck into my head to contact their (now) former lead singer Kumar Bent. Simultaneously, another friend and I talked about the lyrics to ‘Trust’ and what an empowering and emboldening effect the song had on his life at the time that song was initially released in 1995. So, the idea to approach Kumar with the lyrics from ‘Trust’ formed. We hit it off right away and he did a recording of the words accompanied by very sparse instrumentation, just a few drums and piano.
Once I had his vocals in my studio, I began fleshing out the song in a few different directions, but decided on a rather traditional reggae style, which wasn’t necessarily my initial intention, but felt ultimately most fitting Kumar’s performance. What really surprised me in the end was that one and the same set of lyrics can turn into two completely different songs, each standing up on their own. Next, I’ll ask Andee (Blacksugar) to do a ‘campfire’ version with an acoustic guitar… yeah, right.

You’d recently released the 1991 APART album as it was originally intended before it eventually turned into MONEY. You’ve played some of those songs on tour over the years, and some of those versions had found their way onto singles/compilations/rarity releases, but as an album, did you find that your perceptions of it had changed since it was first submitted to WaxTrax!?

Konietzko: APART essentially came about in three incarnations. It originated with the decision that En Esch and I would stop working together. As an initial step, the song ‘Split’ was recorded in early 1991. I proposed to make one last album as KMFDM together since I had already signed myself into a deal with WaxTrax! Records, and on top of that, KMFDM’s first headlining tour of the U.S. was in the process of being booked at that time. I began recording in the spring of 1991, wrote the songs ‘Sex on the Flag’ and ‘Vogue.’ At the time, I lived on the second floor of the WaxTrax! building on Damen and Wabansia in Wicker Park/Bucktown, the offices being on the first and Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher living on the third floor. After completing that tour in the summer of 1991, we recorded the ‘Vogue’ video in Chicago. Both parties proceeded with their recordings separately, we didn’t know what each other was doing, how the material was panning out. Once Jim and Dannie were presented with the final results, my side A and En Esch’s side B, I received a phone call at M.O.B. recording studio here in Hamburg Germany.
Jim was very agitated and said that apparently something had gone awry in the mastering process, that side A sounded like it would be new KMFDM material, but that side B must’ve been by a completely different artist, accidentally making it onto the test pressing.
When I explained that what they heard was indeed what was intended, WaxTrax! decided not to release the album, but offered more funding in order to ‘fix’ it, to make all of it sound like side A.
Round #2 began at that point with me writing the songs ‘Bargeld,’ ‘Help Us…,’ ‘Blood,’ and a few more, remixed and made new versions of ‘Vogue,’ ‘Split,’ and ‘Sex on the Flag,’ and re-submitted the album to WaxTrax!. They still felt it was lacking a real single-worthy track, and hence, round #3 got started.

I wrote the song ‘Money,’ further remixed a bunch of the tracks over and over again in order to improve their overall sound quality, and re-re-submitted the album for the third time. It was subsequently released as MONEY. Now, you’ll probably ask why we didn’t break up but rather continued to work together as KMFDM?
First of all, we shot the video for the ‘Money’ single in early 1992. At the time, both En Esch and I lived in Chicago. MONEY enjoyed quite some success in the WaxTrax! Records scene, and we embarked on a short promotional tour in the spring of ’92. The L.A. riots had just subsided, Chris Vrenna joined as a drummer, and we even played a few shows in Hawaii! I had written and recorded the ‘Sucks’ single that summer, which took off nicely and a big tour was being booked for the fall of 1992, which was (by our standards) massively successful.
And so on… in the winter/spring of ’93, we wrote more stuff in a relatively bandlike setting and recorded ANGST in the spring/summer of ’93. Well, I am not meant to write a book here, am I?

I’d recently watched an interview with John Lodge (bassist for The Moody Blues), and he’d said something interesting about the U.K., that it tends to follow the U.S. (referring to the COVID restrictions and such, but also in the broader sense), which seems a telling statement regarding the power that this country has held over the world.
On top of that, you and I had talked a bit about hope for the current administration to make some positive strides, but the pushback seems really strong (I hate to say that even I fell into that Kafka-esque ‘this can’t happen here’ disbelief when Roe vs. Wade got overturned).
In your observations, do you feel there is now an imperative for the world to stop following the example of the U.S.?

Konietzko: I think most of the world has stopped ‘following’ the U.S. a while ago, if they ever did so. What’s there to follow really? The Brits may have some cultural and lingual affinity with North America, the rest of U.S. citizens are from all over the ‘old world’ anyways. There is so much absurdity going on in the States these days, it’s hard to even follow some of those developments.
I mean, seriously? A former president who hides top secret documents endangering national security in a beach bar and continuing to obstruct justice? People have been hanged for that in the past.

You’d said in our last InterView that you foresaw no touring until ’22, and that’s come to pass. As well, the European dates with Jesus on Extasy had to get pushed back to next year. While this question might be better for after the tour, planning a tour is still no easy prospect. What sorts of difficulties did you anticipate occurring in the wake of the pandemic when you planned for the North American tour? Did any arise that you weren’t expecting?

Konietzko: Yes, pretty much all of them. Chaos with the airlines, rising fuel costs making road travel nearly unaffordable, where shipping items from A to B used to comparatively cheap, it’s now a major expense, lax or no COVID regulations at all, I’ve heard from many tours that stalled because people, bandmembers, and crew got too sick to continue and needed to be left behind. It’s a fucking hour scenario. Let’s hope we make it all the way through!


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Live photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby), courtesy of KMFDM and ReGen Magazine


  1. No Los Angeles stop (or anything west)? Dang.

  2. kevs says:

    I would like them to give a concert based in Ankara-Istanbul in Turkey.KMFDM forever sucks!!<3

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