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 – 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 today’s bands have been alive. But, Konietzko and his crew never grow old.
They don’t rest on their laurels — 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 “HELL YEAH” 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 “HELL YEAH,” the legendary pioneers of industrial rock once again redefine themselves while at the same time staying true to their roots.
KMFDM’s signature sound — a crossover between techno/dance and heavy metal — is combined with sometimes political, sometimes ironic lyrics and an underlying humorous edge.
“We started working on the album mid-summer 2015,” said Konietzko during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a gas station in Cleveland, Ohio.
“It was done in two stages and we finished it in February and March this year. In between, we did the ‘Rocks’ album which was all remixes and older material. After ‘Rocks,’ we went into the second round of ‘HELL YEAH.’”
KMFDM actually began in Hamburg, Germany as “Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid” (“No compassion for the majority”) 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).
“We recorded the new album in Hamburg (Germany) where Lucia and I live,” said Konietzko. “It started with just me and Lucia doing music and lyrics. Then, we got Andy in.
“With Lucia, we push each other — especially with vocal delivery. We bring out the best in each other. It’s been a long time that we’ve been doing this together.
“We also worked with a great guitarist from Hamburg – 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 couldn’t come.”
KMFDM has released 20 studio albums, 15 of which feature the band’s trademark one-word titles — “Opium,” “UAIOE,” “Naïve,” Money,” “Angst,” “Nihil,” “Xtort,” “Symbols,” “Adios,” “Attak,” “WWIII,” “Tohuvabohu,” “Blitz”, “WTF” and “Kunst.”
“As soon as a album is finished, new ideas pop in my head,” said Konietzko. “It was interesting to do this album in two rounds. After the first session, we had a four-month break.
“After 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.
“It’s a good way to do it. The song ‘Shock’ was written in one day and is a nice balance to all the angry stuff.”
The album continues KMFDM’s 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.
“The Hammond organ has a long-standing tradition in KMFDM music,” said Konietzko. “But, we don’t bring it on the road. It would disrespect the instrument.
“Out of the 19 songs in our set on this tour, eight are from ‘HELL YEAH.’ And, we play a couple evergreens – songs the fans really seem to like such as ‘WWIII,’ ‘Light,’ ‘Hau Rock,’ and ‘Godlike.’
“After this tour, I think I’ll take November off. I need it to put my house in order. But, I’ll be sitting in the studio before I know it.”
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.