On Stage: KMFDM remains a pioneer of industrial rock
by Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times
When the dawn of industrial rock arrived more than three decades ago, KMFDM was there.
The industrial scene has gone through many changes over the years. Many bands in the genre have risen, fallen and ceased to exist. Fortunately, KMFDM is not one of them.
KMFDM is still here and is making music more powerful than ever.
Sascha Konietzko and the members of his band KMFDM are the forefathers of industrial rock â the progenitors of a whole breed of rockers who view noise as a valid foundation for songs.
KMFDM has been around longer than a lot of musicians in todayâs bands have been alive. But, Konietzko and his crew never grow old.
They donât rest on their laurels â content to tour playing songs from 20 or 30 years ago. KMFDM is still making music that is vital, vibrant and vicious. This year, KMFDM celebrated its 33rd birthday on March 1.
On August 18, KMFDM released its latest album âHELL YEAHâ via earMUSIC. Now, the German-American band is touring the states in support of its new LPO.
On October 6, KMFDM returns to Philadelphia for a show at Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, http://undergroundarts.org/).
On âHELL YEAH,â the legendary pioneers of industrial rock once again redefine themselves while at the same time staying true to their roots.
KMFDMâs signature sound â a crossover between techno/dance and heavy metal â is combined with sometimes political, sometimes ironic lyrics and an underlying humorous edge.
âWe started working on the album mid-summer 2015,â said Konietzko during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a gas station in Cleveland, Ohio.
âIt was done in two stages and we finished it in February and March this year. In between, we did the âRocksâ album which was all remixes and older material. After âRocks,â we went into the second round of âHELL YEAH.ââ
KMFDM actually began in Hamburg, Germany as âKein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleidâ (âNo compassion for the majorityâ) which eventually was shortened to the acronym KMFDM.
The band still features the nucleus of Konietzko (vocals, guitar, bass, programming, keyboards, synthesizer, percussion), his wife Lucia Cifarelli (vocals, keyboards), Jules Hodgson (guitar, bass, Keyboards) and Andy Selway (drums).
âWe recorded the new album in Hamburg (Germany) where Lucia and I live,â said Konietzko. âIt started with just me and Lucia doing music and lyrics. Then, we got Andy in.
âWith Lucia, we push each other â especially with vocal delivery. We bring out the best in each other. Itâs been a long time that weâve been doing this together.
âWe also worked with a great guitarist from Hamburg â Chris Harms from the band The Lord of the Lust. They were supposed to open for us on this tour but they had visa problems at the last minute and couldnât come.â
KMFDM has released 20 studio albums, 15 of which feature the bandâs trademark one-word titles â âOpium,â âUAIOE,â âNaĂŻve,â Money,â âAngst,â âNihil,â âXtort,â âSymbols,â âAdios,â âAttak,â âWWIII,â âTohuvabohu,â âBlitzâ, âWTFâ and âKunst.â
âAs soon as a album is finished, new ideas pop in my head,â said Konietzko. âIt was interesting to do this album in two rounds. After the first session, we had a four-month break.
âAfter going back and listening to the first round, it was obvious what songs would make it and which ones would get thrown out. We came back and revised some tracks.
âItâs a good way to do it. The song âShockâ was written in one day and is a nice balance to all the angry stuff.â
The album continues KMFDMâs tradition of aural assault and relies heavily on powerful guitar parts and intense synthesizer work. It also features traditional instruments such as the Hammond B-3 organ.
âThe Hammond organ has a long-standing tradition in KMFDM music,â said Konietzko. âBut, we donât bring it on the road. It would disrespect the instrument.
âOut of the 19 songs in our set on this tour, eight are from âHELL YEAH.â And, we play a couple evergreens â songs the fans really seem to like such as âWWIII,â âLight,â âHau Rock,â and âGodlike.â
âAfter this tour, I think Iâll take November off. I need it to put my house in order. But, Iâll be sitting in the studio before I know it.â
The opening act on the tour is equally intense.
ohGr is an industrial band formed by Nivek Ogre, of Skinny Puppy, and musician/engineer Mark Walk. In recent years, ohGr has been making abrasive electro-industrial music.