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Rammstein Guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe Reveals The Secrets Behind Emigrate’s A Million Degrees

Normally I don’t like talking about my songs. But I have a lot to say…”

German industrial metal heavyweights Rammstein are currently gearing up for a massive 2019, with the arrival of their seventh studio album reportedly on track for an April release just before the biggest European tour of their career, stopping off for one UK show at Milton Keynes’ Stadium MK in July. Even by their standards, it’s going to be one molten juggernaut of a year. 

In the meantime, however, guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe has been keeping busy promoting A Million Degrees – the third full-length from his other band, Emigrate. As well as featuring Rammstein bandmate Till Lindemann, it also has Ghosts Cardinal Copia, Billy Talents Ben Kowalewicz and Margaux Bossieux lending their voices to the electro-fuelled metallic heaviness. Here the Emigrate mastermind reveals the stories and meanings behind each of its 11 tracks… 

1. War
Normally I don’t really talk about my lyrics. I don’t like telling people what to think about certain songs, but with this one I have a lot to say. It goes back to when I was still living in New York and the idea came to me when America was invading Iraq. I watched a lot of TV over there and realised just how commercialised the news sources were when it came to things like war and invasion. I wanted to capture how I felt about that in music. This song felt like a real moment for me. When people ask me about what are the differences when writing for either of my bands… well, I think War is a strong example of something that could have been a good Rammstein song, actually.” 

2. 1234 (feat. Ben Kowalewicz)
There’s a rockabilly feel to 1234, it has that 50s/’60s rock’n’roll vibe to it. All of the guitar solos you hear came out of the demos. Those first takes always sounded better, even if I would try spending more time on them. I didn’t really have Billy Talent in mind for this song, it was actually my manager who asked me how I felt about doing the collaboration. I wasn’t so sure about it, but when I heard Ben singing over it, there was this punky fire that the song actually needed. That fire is actually why we ended up recording it as a live performance.” 

3. Million Degrees
There are two songwriters in the world that I admire. One is called Martin Gore, whose band Depeche Mode influenced this track, and the other is Trent Reznor. Whenever Martin writes music, I feel really close to it, almost as if I could have written it myself. I definitely wish I could have written those songs because I really feel them. I’ve met him a couple of times, he’s such an adorable person. We’re now talking about doing a song together, which is something that has been on my list for quite a while. It’s going to be really interesting to hear him and me on the same track…” 

4. Lead On You (feat. Margaux Bossieux)
This one has a bit of a Beauty And The Beast theme to it. At the beginning, I was thinking of using The Sisters Of Mercy’s singer, but I don’t think he’s doing any projects on the side at the moment. Margaux is from New York and is the mother of my child. So you could say on this song we decided to keep it in the family, and actually the same goes for the video for the next track…” 

5. You Are So Beautiful
Margaux was the lead character in the video for this song which is dedicated to my daughter. I was writing the story for the video by myself and we filmed in LA with [director] Bill Yukich. I’m really proud of her, she had never been in front of the camera before and the video came out great. Musically, maybe I’ve been hiding my pop side for quite some time and finally it broke through. When I was growing up in East Germany, there were only so many albums you could buy. All we had was mixtapes and radio stations playing chart music. That’s how I ended up being attached to the pop world, though it was hard for me to admit because I was hanging out with metalheads and punks. Over the years, I came to a realisation that I could take the catchiness from the pop world into punk and metal tracks. What does it mean, pop? What does it mean to be commercial? If lots of people feel connected to your music, it’s a great thing… that’s what you do it for.” 

6. Hide And Seek
If this has a cowboy vibe it’s because I’m a huge spaghetti western fan. It might sound strange, but I have really early childhood memories of my father watching these cowboy movies and falling asleep… that ended up being part of my upbringing somehow. I particularly love the work by Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone did together… it’s very inspiring.” 

7. We Are Together
This is actually a song I wrote in dedication to my band Rammstein. I’ve always felt that if we can stay together, than anything is possible. I’m proud that we’ve managed to do that for 25 years. It’s hard to be in a band. A lot of great bands take off and then break up thanks to personal problems and egos – which we definitely have too. The difference is we’ve managed to just go through that. There was a lot of work, a lot of talking, a lot of caring and love – so I was trying to write a song about that, to say I’m very proud that we’ve had the patience and managed to stay together for all these years. Everything we’ve achieved, singing in German, who would have bet on that (laughs)?!”

8. Let’s Go (feat. Till Lindemann)
The reason why Emigrate exists is because, a long time ago, we were trying to do things together and some of my bandmates were not so happy about it… which I understand, now. So I stopped and went at it alone. This song was from my very early time with Till. I kept it to one side because it was never finished. Eventually I rewrote the whole thing and was thinking about what I wanted to say about my relationship with Till. There was a certain time in my mind, after the Wall came down and before Rammstein existed. East Germany was like the Wild West back then. We had such an intense experience, living in Berlin and Schwerin, travelling around and doing all kinds of criminal activities… it was crazy. That’s what the song about – an old friendship during these unpredictable times.” 

9. I’m Not Afraid (feat. Cardinal Copia)
This was made with the help of Cardinal Copia himself… the holy spirit helped me (laughs)! There was a bit of a coincidence – we were looking for a producer for Rammstein and there were three guys on the list. I noticed all three had worked with Ghost. So I called him [leader Tobias Forge] up and he said he’d be in Berlin. He came over and we talked about his experience with producers and he gave me some advice. Then I asked if he would be interested in a collaboration and he told me he was not doing such things. I played him the song anyway, as he couldn’t really say no… I wouldn’t have let him (laughs). But he listened and it was really straightforward from there. He didn’t do it the nice American way, he just looked at me and said, I’m in!’ That worked out great. He’s a fantastic guy and really fun to work with.” 

10. Spitfire
This is another old song that had more of a punky vibe that I brought some electronics into. I originally thought of having Iggy Pop to sing, unfortunately he had a lot of water damage at his place at the exact time I was having the same problem in Berlin and couldn’t do it. But I was really thinking of him when I made this song. Anyways, it didn’t happen, so now everyone will just have to live with my voice (laughs).”

11. Eyes Fade Away
It’s always a hard thing in life when you decide you have to move on and leave someone behind. I’ve realised from experience that when you do that, it really hurts and you go through a lot of pain. But after some years, you look back and know exactly why you had to do that or life decide to split up a certain situation and you lost something. That’s what the song is all about – things going away, but in the end, for the greater good… because it just has to be like that.” 

Words: Amit Sharma

Emigrate’s A Million Degrees is out now on Spinefarm. Check it out on the stream below.

Posted on December 20th 2018, 4:00p.m.
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