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Very few mainland European acts break into the American music market and even fewer heavy metal acts achieve chart success. Rammstein are the exception to the rule. Their 2010 concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden sold out in less than 15 minutes whilst tickets for their one-off show in Montreal at the end of the same year sold out within the hour. Not bad for a hard rock act that started life in Northern Germany 16 years earlier.
Rammstein are unusual in the rock industry in that the line-up of the band has not changed since their formation in Berlin in 1994. The group consists of six members: vocals are by Till Lindeman, lead guitar by Richard Z Kruspe; Paul H. Landers is on rhythm guitar with Oliver “Ollie” Riedel on bass guitar. Rounding off the group are Christoph “Doom” Schneider on drums and Christian “Flake” Lorenz on keyboards. They took their name from Ramstein-Miesenbach, a small town in southwest Germany and are known as being part of the Neue Deutsche Härte movement, which loosely translates as industrial metal.
The band released their first single – “Du Riechst So Gut”- in August 1995 and their debut album “Herzeleid” followed a month later. To promote the album, the band took to the road in their homeland, touring first in December 1995 and going back out on the road again in early 1996. A few months later, they made their debut in the UK, performing on the MTV show “Hanging Out” that was recorded in London but it was not until later that year that international success started to come their way. Two of their songs, “Heirate mich” and “Rammstein” appeared on the soundtrack for David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” film, which introduced the band to a larger audience both in their home country and abroad.
Their second album, “Sehnsucht” was released in August 1997 and went to number one on the German charts, cementing their popularity among heavy metal fans in the country. The first single from the album was “Engel” which reached gold status in terms of single sales in Germany in the spring of that year. Such was its success, that the band released a second version of the song, this time including two previously unreleased tracks.
The group toured extensively throughout the remainder of the year including their first tour of the USA where they headlined with KMFDM. In mid 1998, the group toured with Ice Cube and Limp Bizkit and then in August, they headlined a concert in Berlin to 17,000 fans that was released 12 months later as a DVD, “Live aus Berlin,” where it went to the top of the German video and DVD charts.
They were nominated for Best Rock Act at the MTV European Music Awards later that year. They topped this by winning nominations at the 1999 Grammy’s for Best Metal Performance, although they failed to win the award.
Their next studio album “Mutter” was released in April 2001, followed by another tour which took the band to Europe, North America and Mexico. The first song from the album, “Links 2 3 4” was initially released as an MP3 recording in December 2000 and only later released as a CD single.
The following year, the band recorded a song for the action movie xXx, “Feuer frei!” and took a small role in the opening sequence where they are seen performing the song in front of a crowd in Prague, where the film was shot.
Their next studio album was not released until September 2004. “Reise, Reise”, produced a number of hit singles for Rammstein including “Mein Teil” and “Amerika”. The album itself shot into the top ten album charts throughout Europe and the group were subsequently named the most successful German-speaking band by the influential Billboard magazine.
Rammstein began 2005 by touring Europe, a venture that saw them play to over 200,000 fans in ten countries over 21 concerts. They followed this up in the summer by hitting the European festival circuit, which was recorded and later released as the DVD, “Völkerball”.
“Rosenrot”, their fifth studio album, was released globally in October 2005 reaching the top ten in the album charts in 20 countries around the world. Several singles were released from the album including “Benzin” and “Mann gegen Mann”, released in March 2006.
Following the release of the last single from the album, the band took a break from recording and touring, not starting work on their next album. Their next album took a further 18 months to craft and refine. “Liebe is für alle da” featured more ballads than their previous outings. Prior to its release, the band’s manager was quoted in the music press as saying that “It is musically the best album, which until now Rammstein has recorded.”
The first single from the album was notable for two very different reasons. Firstly, it was the group’s first song to be released in English and secondly, the accompanying video was only released on a pornographic website. The video for their next single, “Ich tu dir weh” also didn’t make it into mainstream viewing and radio and TV stations throughout Germany censored the song. The media storm that followed the release of the videos did not do the band any harm and both singles performed well in their home market.
During the summer of 2010, Rammstein went back on tour again, appearing at festivals across Europe and performing their first UK outdoor performance at Knebworth Park in June 2010; tollowed by their sell out date in Montreal that was their first North American concert since 2001 and then the show at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The first volume of their greatest hits is due to be released in summer 2011. It has been reported that the album will also feature previously un-released Rammstein tracks, to the delight of their fans. The band also plans to return to North America to build on their popularity by doing an extensive tour of the States.