KMFDM delves deeper into metal-industrial

11-year-old band promotes newest release Wednesday

By Nisha Gopalan

When Freud discussed fixations, he evidently never considered
the abbreviation, KMFDM.

"Kill Mother-Fucking Depeche Mode" reigns as arguably the
most-recognized interpretation of KMFDM’s name. Actually, KMFDM
abbreviates the German, Kein Mitleid Fuer Die Mehrheit, meaning "No
Pity for the Majority."

Sasha Konietzko, the guy who always wears the round sunglasses,
and En Esch, the tall, bald guy with the affinity for skirts and
dresses, have been the two icons of KMFDM for over a decade. KMFDM
­ who now live in America ­ formed in 1984 when Konietzko
met En Esch in Hamburg, Germany. Their earliest performances evoked
the true spirit of industrial music (a la Throbbing Gristle) by
experimenting with sounds in the most surreal ways such as
manipulating the sounds of a vacuum cleaner by using a guitar
pedal. Fortunately, the band quickly chose a more conventional
manner of composing music that evolved into their present
intoxicating
"industrial-alternative-electro-crossover-rockin’-dancibilly …,"
as Konietzko offers in lieu of the simple "industrial."

Oddly enough, Konietzko does not use the word "metal" in his
description. Their new album, Nihil, is most strikingly different
from their last albums because it marks KMFDM’s deepest venture in
the world of metal-industrial. In fact, one could easily mistake
songs like "Search & Destroy" and "Flesh" for Ministry
songs.

Konietzko makes it no secret that he dislikes their last album,
Angst, saying that it sounded "like guitarists jacking off." With
Nihil , he made a concerted effort to perfect the songs.

"I was writing on Nihil for about eight or nine months. So it
was really a lot of work that went into that," says Konietzko, who
ended up writing 30 songs which he later weeded down to 10.

He considers Nihil KMFDM’s finest album to date. "And I think
I’m going to be saying that in a while, too," adds Konietzko.

While Konietzko may have altered the band’s sound a bit, he
likewise modified the band’s ever-changing roster. In addition to
Konietzko (vocals, percussion, bass and programming) and En Esch
(vocals, percussion and guitar), the band features Gunter Schulz
(guitar and bass), Mark Durantula (guitar), and marks the return of
former KMFDM member Raymond Watts (vocals, bass).

"We hadn’t spoken for about six years or so," says Konietzko of
Watts. After they had gotten back into touch in 1993, Watts asked
Konietzko to do a remix for his Pig project.

That eventually led to the collaboration, KMFDM Vs. Pig which
released Sin, Sex & Salvation (1994). Soon after, Konietzko
invited Watts to participate on the new KMFDM recording.

Another change that came with Nihil was its album cover.
Traditionally, each of KMFDM’s albums features a five-letter album
title and a striking German propaganda-style cover illustration
created by the English artist, Brute. To many people’s surprise,
although Konietzko preserved KMFDM’s tradition of a five-letter
album title, he asked instead, Seattle artist Francesca Sundsten
(wife of ex-Ministry drummer, Bill Reiflin ­ who plays drums
on "Flesh") to create artwork exclusively for Nihil.

But the changes increase, rather than hinder KMFDM’s success.
According to Konietzko, KROQ is "fidgeting around" with the idea of
editing one of KMFDM’s songs for airplay. "They (also) wanted us to
do a special show for them. We were just like, ‘Fuck that,’" says
Konietzko.

Despite their increasing popularity and the eagerness of
alternative radio and even MTV to integrate KMFDM into their play
lists, Konietzko assures his fans that KMFDM will not lose their
integrity. "I don’t want to compromise my work. I’ve been doing it
too long to just be easy about it and say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m just going
to take the money now and run,’" Konietzko says.

Konietzko and En Esch had the chance to run into the arms of a
major label when their label, Wax Trax, filed for bankruptcy.

"When they had to declare bankruptcy, it was just not a question
of what’s going to be our next record company. But the question was
how to get this thing back up. So I committed to them (the owners),
personally," Konietzko explains. (Wax Trax ultimately survived
after they made an agreement with TVT to distribute their bands’
records).

As serious as he seems, in a genre of musical acts that takes
itself way too seriously, Konietzko actually fronts one of the
industrial bands with the best sense of humor. Take their now
infamous song, "Sucks," for example: "Our music is simple, totally
fake/It’s done by machines ’cause they don’t make mistakes."

That brings us back to the anagrams. Even though Konietzko moans
an "Oh god …" when asked about his favorite anagram, he
discreetly enjoys them, as evidenced by the fact that less than two
seconds after that moan, he pleasantly lists some: "Kittens Meow
Frequently Drinking Milk," "Keep My Feet Dancing Madly," "Kylie
Minogue Fans Don’t Masturbate."

Ironically, his frank response ­ "No, not at all" ­ to
whether or not he really hates mother-fucking Depeche Mode does not
stop him from choosing that anagram as his favorite.

CONCERT: KMFDM plays Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Hollywood
American Legion Hall, 2035 N. Highland Ave. (just south of the
Hollywood Bowl). For info call (213) 960-2053.