Remaining one of the industrial music scene’s most active and prolific entities, KMFDM founder Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko speaks with ReGen on just what fans can expect from the Ultra Heavy Beat in 2017 and beyond!
An InterView with Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko of KMFDM
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
After 34 years, the Ultra Heavy Beat sensation known as KMFDM is going strong. Never a band to conform to any trends or mainstream perceptions, and constantly churning out a barrage of sociopolitical commentary, satire, and humor that is both self effacing and celebratory, Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko and his rotating regiment of musical misfits remain one of the industrial scene’s most revered and most prolific entities. Now in 2017, KMFDM embarks on a new chapter with the new YEAH! EP, the full-length HELL YEAH album, and another hard-hitting tour of the U.K. and the U.S. that will see the band performing at some of the scene’s most prestigious festivals, including M’era Luna, Brutal Assault, and headlining the sixth annual Chicago ColdWaves event. With fellow German upstarts Lord of the Lost and the renowned ohGr joining the band on tour, the Ultra Heavy Beat shows no signs of losing steam. Konietzko now speaks with ReGen Magazine about just what audiences can expect from KMFDM in 2017 and beyond!
KMFDM has a new album coming out in 2017, titled HELL YEAH. What sorts of changes have gone on with KMFDM since Our Time Will Come?
I have to thank you for introducing me to Lord of the Lost; I’ve been really enjoying that band, having checked out the videos and hearing more of the music. It’s really exciting that they’ll be playing ColdWaves and touring the U.K. and the U.S. with you.
Konietzko: I was introduced to them a couple of years back, and my initial reaction was like, ‘Wow, this is pretty corny stuff.’ (Laughter)
I think I had the same reaction, because the first video I watched was ‘La Bomba.’ It was hard not to laugh.
Konietzko: Yeah, but they’ve definitely found their rhythm, and I’ve seen a couple of live shows, and they blew me away. They’re fucking awesome – really nice, sweet guys, but they rock pretty fucking hard! Some of those tracks, I think, are just sins of the past and the audience wants to hear them, so they play them, but we chuckled about it and I think they’re going to focus more on the serious kind of stuff. It’s pretty kitschy stuff, but hey, KMFDM has some tracks like that. I think a bit of self deprecation is always in order. (Laughter)
MINISTRY’s Sin Quirin appears on the album as well.
Konietzko: Yeah, I’d sent him a track and he sent me some guitars back. I did build a track with it, so basically he totally helped to create it.
So, in what ways do you think that the live sound of KMFDM will be reflective of the newer sounds?
Konietzko: Basically, the situation has already dictated a couple of things going on. We’re playing at the M’era Luna festival here in Germany, and then we’re playing in the Czech Republic. Andy’s got a baby who’s about seven months old now, so he’s got to be home all the time, so the timeframe tells us that we have to do one big block of rehearsals before the first set of shows, and then a few weeks later, we’re doing the U.K. tour, and then about two or three weeks after that, we’re doing the U.S. tour. I see this as a really good opportunity to go back and look at the live stuff and do things differently – play songs we’ve never played, play things that we are playing differently for a change, because everything goes. I really want to make sure that this doesn’t come across like anybody’s been replaced, because they’ve not been. It’s just the way things are going on, and we don’t know if it’s a permanent thing, but I’m not trying to oust anybody and there are no hard feelings.
KMFDM also appeared as the first track on the latest Electronic Saviors compilation with the song ‘Make Love,’ which sounds like a classic KMFDM track; I don’t want to use the word retro, but it does have the vibe of something that could’ve been on NAÏVE.
Konietzko: That song was made in the summer of ’94; it just never made it on NIHIL. At the time, I thought that it might have been too corny, and it didn’t really fit the flow of the album, so it got left behind and just sat around for years. Jim Semonik had asked me, and I said, ‘Yeah, I have a track that’s never been used,’ and… well, you know, there are some people who always want to hear that and go on about the ‘classic’ KMFDM. So I gave him that song.
Obviously, touring is an expensive endeavor. You’ve never been a stranger to making fun of politics in your music and you’ve always been very upfront with your opinions; given the current political climate, do you foresee any problems with regards to touring, or has it affected your approach?
Konietzko: I have two agents, and they put this tour in no time at all, and I’m looking at the layout and it seems to have happened really easily for them to put this together. A lot of people seem to be quite enthusiastic, and I’ve not encountered any strangeness or anything like that so far. But then again, I haven’t played a show since late 2015, and the last time I was in the U.S. was last summer – obviously, things were totally different then. I don’t really foresee that I will encounter anything unusual, because KMFDM has a fan base that comes to see the show, buy the shirt, and go home happy. I mean, getting a visa sucks, but I get one every year and… yeah, you go there, get humiliated for a couple of hours, leave your cellphone under some bushes because you can’t bring it in, so it is a pain in the ass. I’ve never had any sort of problem with it.
After several years with Metropolis, KMFDM is now with earMusic, and you released the ROCKS collection with that label. The YEAH! EP and HELL YEAH will also be with earMusic. What is the working relationship with this label like?
There does seem to be a current trend of retro music, especially with the ’80s ‘synthwave’ thing, and there are younger industrial bands going back to the earlier stuff like Skinny Puppy and Throbbing Gristle for inspiration. What’s old seems to be new again, and it does seem like the old attitudes of ‘record labels are dead’ are changing yet again as newer acts are realizing just what labels did do for the artists. What are your thoughts on this?
Konietzko: Well, earMusic is definitely an odd kind of situation because it is part of a really large operation, but it is run by someone who is totally a music lover and a good businessman. I think the good thing is that it’s very commercial on one hand in that they have surefire moneymakers like Deep Purple and Status Quo and all of those kinds of bands from the ’70s and ’80s, but that gives them a free hand to invest in projects that are interesting to them, and they have enough money to play with to say, ‘Okay, let’s develop something here, and see how this flies.’ For instance, ROCKS was a whimsical project like that; I said before we get full on headlong into an album release with them, I think we should really figure out how each of us works, and that’s how we came up with the idea of doing this compilation of fun remixed, rereleased kind of things. There were some little glitches and stuff, but now we know. What I find really interesting is the resurgence of vinyl – we’re selling out vinyl, like 500 copies overnight, and it’s like, ‘What?!’ We used to sit on 500 copies for years, and that has definitely come back big time!
It’s interesting also that there is an event like ColdWaves, which you are headlining this year, that seems to not only champion younger bands but also features more than a few reunions, and I’ve noticed that while at least a good percentage of the audience is people who may have had the opportunity to see these bands the first time around but didn’t for one reason or another. It’s as if most bands need to be around for 20 years in order for the audience to find and appreciate them.
Konietzko: Oh, absolutely.
KMFDM doesn’t seem to have this problem, thankfully.
Konietzko: Well, we’ve stayed active all the time, and we were in a fortunate position to be able to afford ourselves to live from making music. Of course, I take jobs when it comes to producing or mixing, but honestly, for the most part I want to help people that I like. This last CHANT album, I spent four months working with Bradley on it
Your U.S. tour begins in September with your headlining appearance at ColdWaves in Chicago. How did KMFDM come to be part of this year’s ColdWaves?
Konietzko: Yes, we are headlining the Sunday night. It was kind of out of the blue; we were already planning and booking the U.S. tour, and the idea was to start… have the first show sometime on the first Thursday of October. I don’t know how it got around, but all of a sudden, I’d gotten an e-mail from Jason Novak asking if we couldn’t start the tour a couple of days earlier and play ColdWaves. I said, ‘No, I can’t really do that because my daughter goes to school, and I have to take her out of school for the tour dates,’ and that’s really difficult, you know? He said, ‘Okay,’ and then after a couple of days, for me, the topic was done. And then, my agency got back to me and they said, ‘They’ve made an offer that we think you should really think about because it’s more money than we’ve ever got.’ I said, ‘Okay, tell me how much it is,’ and they told me, so I thought about it and it would be good for financing and getting the tour off the ground. I wrote a letter to my daughter’s school and they said, ‘No problem.’ So… yeah, we’d be happy to do it, and I am totally honored to be headlining ColdWaves, and we’re looking forward to touring with ohGr and Lord of the Lost.
Also, because we have had to move the beginning of the tour forward, I decided to basically start and end in Chicago this time instead of Seattle. We have a really tight-knit routing that’s maybe not as extensive as on other tours, but Texas is going to see a lot of us this time around. I haven’t really started thinking about touring that much because I was caught up in the making of this record – by the way, it’s the record that has taken the longest to make so far. Our Time Will Come was in the Fall of 2014, so we’re coming up on three years.
Well, things will be done when they are done.
Konietzko: Exactly, and you know, sometimes it’s good to not tour every year.
I personally think that we’re all getting spoiled by the fact that a lot of bands have a new release every year or every few months. ‘Hey, have you heard our new album?’ Are you kidding? I haven’t even gotten to listen to the last one; give me a break!
Konietzko: (Laughter) It’s good for me because I’m so far away from all of that stuff. I don’t even look at Facebook anymore. It seems like everyone gets on mostly just to yell at people, and then I was like, ‘Fuck that, man!’ I’ve got someone on there posting when we need to, and our numbers are continually rising, so that’s good.
You’ve also put out a teaser for ‘HOLY CRAP’ from OK•ZTEIN•OK; so there will be another album for that project as well?
Konietzko: As I mentioned before, after our summer tour in 2015, I really started working on this album. I’ve done a couple of remixes in the meantime, and all of the stuff that I’ve developed, but there are obviously a few tracks that came out a little odd and don’t feel really KMFDM-like, but feel good enough to warrant definitely an OK•ZTEIN•OK release. I’ve got that pretty much done and dusted off now; I just need to beef it up a bit and put it out. So, I’ll be killing two birds with one stone.
Website, Webstore, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube
Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
Website, Facebook, Twitter
Lord of the Lost
Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, YouTube
Photography provided courtesy of KMFDM