KMFDM, an abbreviation of the German "Kein Mehreit Fur Die Mitleid," or,
roughly translated, "No Pity for the Majority," celebrates 25 years with their
2009 Kein Mitleid Tour.

They were one of the first to merge techno dance, heavy metal and industrial. To quote their longtime associate, commercial artist Aiden "Brute!" Hughes, "KMFDM have cornered the market in post-industrial angst." Brute!'s signature work has decorated almost all of the band's albums and singles to date.

"It doesn't sound like anyone, repeat, anyone out there today," frontman Sascha Konietzko told Bristol: The Observer in May. Konietzko founded the band in Germany in 1984 with painter/multi-media performer Udo Sturm, specifically for the opening of an exhibition of young European artists in Grand Palais. Sturm only had a passing interest in music and quickly moved on. Konietzko had a driving interest in studio work. He began recording with Hamburg Studio owner Raymond Watts and Klaus Schandelmeier, a drummer who later took the stage name En Esch. Watts still regularly contributes to KMFDM's albums, adding the macabre lyrics and heavy guitar riffs typical of his project, Pig.

"Back in the 80's" Konietzko said in the interview, "I was unhappy with the music I heard. I always thought there was something that could be improved upon, and, with my limited knowledge of musicianship and against a plethora of technically challenging aspects, I set out to make the kind of sound that I liked. I would have never dreamt that the endeavor would take me around the world and last 25 years."

Their early shows were performance art centered around visuals, using non-
musical devices like vacuum cleaners as instruments. Early KMFDM music used
a combination of sampling, studio effects, synthesizers and drum machines. Guitarist Gunter Schultz added the heavy metal-industrial riffs that were the final element of their classic sound when he joined the band. The music they are making today melds electronics and sampling with a traditional rock lineup of vocals, lead and rhythm guitar, bass and drums.

KMFDM signed with legendary Chicago label WaxTrax! Records after touring with Ministry on their Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste Tour in 1989. The tour also included Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy as a second vocalist with Ministry. KMFDM became a cornerstone of the WaxTrax! stable of incredible industrial bands and part of a teeming Chicago industrial scene including Ministry, Front 242 and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.

Since their start, KMFDM's highly political lyrics have centered on a call for the rejection of and resistance to war, terrorism, violence, oppression and censorship. They traditionally add some humor to their catalogue by lampooning themselves in one song on each album. Examples include "More & Faster," "Sucks," "Light," "Inane," and "Megalomaniac." In "Intro" on 2003's WWIII, Konietzko takes a shot at each band member in a full verse. Their fans have a tradition of chanting "KMFDM Sucks" before the band's encores.

One-time Swedish glam-rocker Tim Skold, formerly of Shotgun Messiah, joined KMFDM in 1997, contributing writing credits and vocals to "Anarchy" on the Symbols album, and contributing as vocalist, writer, bass player and co-producer with Konietzko on Adios.

KMFDM split temporarily in 1999. Their album, Adios, came out three months later. The title had initially been meant to address their departure from WaxTrax!, not the band's break up. Schulz and Esch formed Slick Idiot. Konietzko, Tim Skold and Lucia Cifarelli formed MDFMK, releasing one self-titled album in 2000. They added a trance and Europop element to the KMFDM sound. MDFMK reformed as KMFDM in 2002, Konietzko said in an interview with Chaos Control that he invited Schultz and Esch to reunite with the band, but they declined. Skold stayed through the release of Attak. He contributed to their latest album, Blitz, but there has been no announcement that he is back with the band.

In addition to Ministry, KMFDM has toured with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult (1990), The Genitorturers (1995) and Rammstein (1997). They have collaborated with Dutch Cynicist and Poet, Jr. Blackmail, vocalist Chris Conelly (Scotsmen, Finis Tribe, Ministry), Nina Hagen, Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy, The Lords of Acid, John DeSalvo of Chemlab and F.M. Eichert. Their music has been remixed for them by Chemlab, Die Warzau, Nine Inch Nails, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and
Giorgio Morodor.

Konietzko has cited Frank Zappa as one of his primary early influences. You can hear heavy Zappa references on KMFDM's albums, Don't Blow Your Top and UAIOE.

KMFDM is known for their devotion to their fans. Konietzko typically answers all of his own e-mail as do the other band members. They regularly sit in on internet chat rooms with their fans and usually spend time with them before and after their shows. Many times you can see them walking around in the crowd before they play.

Here's a cool story about how they look out for their fans from pinkisthenew blog.com: KMFDM almost cancelled their 1995 show in Deep Ellum, Texas. The band has a strict policy of not marking up their shirts at shows because they do not want to exploit their fans. They sold their shirts for $15, and the house at the Deep Ellum show wanted to charge $25. They played the show, but did not sell any merchandise there. Before they went offstage, they announced that they would sell their merchandise at a record store down the street. They hung out there, signed autographs and took pictures with everyone who showed up.

The band is always looking for new ways to build an even more personal relationship with their fans. In 2002 they started The Horde, an exclusive membership fan club. Members were invited to special meet and greets with the band before every show and also had access to special music and online footage. FanKam, launched in 2004, selected a member of the audience to record each show with a digital video camera. The FanKam Tradition has been revived for the Kein Mitleid Tour. The Official KMFDM You Tube page (www.youtube.com/user/officialkmfdm) shows FanKam footage from the tour's first 9/23/09 show in D.C. up to their 10/14/ show in Portland, OR and their 10/15/09 show in San Francisco. On their current tour, KMFDM have spent time with their fans at regular in store appearances and Official After Parties with a typical door price of only $5 or free with a KMFDM ticket stub.

KMFDM released Blitz, their 16th full length album, on March 24, 2009. The album has a more Euro-club beat than metal orientation. "Bitches" continues the band's tradition of taking a shot at themselves in one song on every album. Blitz also contains a cover of the Human League's "Being Boiled." "Though I was never a fan of The Human League," Konietzko told Bristol: The Observer, "that particular song is one of my all time favorites. I was working on a percussion loop that seemed to be speaking to me, 'use me as the bed upon which to do your cover of "Being Boiled,"' so I listened."

Konietzko has begun releasing product through his own online KMFDM store and his own label, KMFDM Records.

The band is currently on the 20th release of their KMFDM 24/7 Series, 24 seven-inch vinyl singles and classic album cuts being released on the first of every month, in the order of their original release, to celebrate the band's 24th Anniversary in 2008. The records are limited to 250 copies and are remastered specifically for vinyl. "Megalomaniac," is the series' October '09 release. The 21st single in the series, "Anarchy (Payola Mix)" backed with "Anarchy (God and State Mix)," comes out on Nov. 1 this year. The series will culminate in Feb. 2010 with a brand new exclusive single.

Tim Skold and Sascha Konietzko have released a new 22-track album Skold vs KMFDM only available through the online KMFDM store.

The band has also re-released its entire back catalogue from the WaxTrax! era. Their 10 classic albums have been released as Classics through their Metropolis/KMFDM label. Extra, released to accompany Classics, is a three-volume, double disc collection of all KMFDM tracks not included on their full-length WaxTrax! releases. The KMFDM side project, Excessive Force, has also re-released their entire catalogue.

"The genre description I gave KMFDM was "the ultra heavy beat," Sascha Konietzko said in the Bristol interview. "So over the years, as audiences and critics rambled on. always trying to comprehend what we were doing by simply attempting to categorize us, we soared on our own in our self-created realm."


By Frances Brennan

ISSUE III 2009

 

 

©2009 Dunedin Free Press/Brennan Ink