KMFDM are without question one of the most outrageous, explosive, top-selling Seattle bands of all time. Before you freak out and start huffing and puffing that the entire damn touring band is from Germany, England, and New York City (true), that you’ve never seen the pierced, scowling industrial icons pulling the Pike/Pine pub crawl (very likely), and that they sure as hell have probably never left the house in flannel or head-to-toe skintight denim (bingo), you should know that for half of the rotating collective’s nearly 20-year existence, co-founder Sascha Konietzko has hung his Docs in the Emerald City. Much of the touring band he assembled for 2001’s Attak tourvocalist Lucia Cifarelli, guitarist/ bassist Jules Hodgson, guitarist Steve White, and drummer Andy Selway reconvened in and around his Queen Anne home a year ago (favorite KMFDM S-Town pastime: not crucifying primates on makeshift altars, but . . . water skiing!) and are now preparing for a domestic tour in support of album No. 15, WWIII (Sanctuary). All of this unmistakably qualifies the sour Krautswell, truthfully, Konietzko’s the only Germanwho made their name in 1986 spitting What Do You Know, Deutschland? as a Seattle band. Nyeah-nyeah.
Heavily informed by the chaos and restlessness of the Dubya/Osama/Saddam cage match, WWIII is the group’s most rabble-rousing release since 1993’s Angst, finding Konietzko and Cifarelli howling bitter sociopolitical diatribes. KMFDM remain married to the Ritalin-spiked drum loops, ominous synth lines, and Ginsu guitars that are their genre’s bread and butter, but they freshen the formula via smarmy self-deprecation. Sure, WWIII‘s title track is all business: Launching with the curious deep country sounds of a rocking chair, howling dog, and forceful slide guitar, it quickly detonates into a full-on chug attak, during which Konietzko declares jihad on everything from CNN and the war against drugs to outer space and Eminem. In giddy contrast, he can’t resist deflating his bandmates and his own mystique in “Intro,” even sneering in a staggered German accent, “I am the father of industrial rock, and if you don’t believe me, you can suck my glock.”
KMFDM 2003’s fuck-all chemistry is evident when they pile into the Weekly‘s conference room in midmorning for this Jukebox Jury, bleary-eyed, coffee-starved, and bitching amicably about everything from nicotine withdrawal to White’s lost luggage.
A Perfect Circle: “Pet” (2003) from Thirteenth Step (Virgin)
Andy Selway: It’s OK. Pretty good.
Sascha Konietzko: Not bad.
Jules Hodgson: I know this. It’s a bit hollow. Decent, though. I know this.
Steve White: What is it?
Hodgson: It’s Tool, right?
Seattle Weekly: More or less. It’s the new Perfect Circle record.
Hodgson: Ah, see, there you go. I like it more now because I know who they are and I already like them.
SW: I presume the title of the new record was inspired by post-9/11 events. Has the music cycled back to reference KMFDM’s aggression from the last time America and Iraq were at war?
Konietzko: At the end of the Attak tour last summer, we were thinking, “What’s gonna be next?” We had an option pending with our label, and we started recording things. At the same time, the title WWIII was kind of sticking and things started happening [in Iraq]. It’s not really cycling back towards anything; it’s spiraling aimlessly into some kind of allotted space for loud, hard, and generally obnoxious music.
Evanescence: “Bring Me to Life” (2003) from Fallen (Wind-Up)
Lucia Cifarelli: This band is so lucky. So lucky.
Konietzko: Fucking awful.
Selway [buries head in hands]: Next.
Cifarelli: She does have a beautiful voice, though.
SW: I can imagine how distraught you were when it came out that Columbine High killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were KMFDM fans. Have you incorporated any thoughts on that into the new material?
Konietzko: Not really. I mean, what disturbed me about it was the fact that children would pick up guns and shoot one another. There was no balanced coverage from the media, nothing. And that’s fine. It’s not surprising. Those kids weren’t Marilyn Manson fans at all.
Cifarelli: If those people had really done their homework and listened to the body of work of KMFDM, they’d see that there’s nothing [in the lyrics] that would condone that kind of violence.
Konietzko: Every time I hear about a school shooting now, there’s one thought going through my mind: I hope they were not KMFDM fans.
Cifarelli: With [the political content of this record], it’s going to take someone with a pair of big balls to play it on the radio.
SW: Well, the landscape might be changing for mainstream artists to speak freely, although even an innocuous statement by someone like the Dixie Chicks was . . .
Konietzko: That’s a really naive statement that they made: “I’m ashamed that I come from the same state as the president.” How much more naive can you get? It’s not even a political statement, as in terms of “I, as an American, and I, as a member of the Dixie Chicks, condemn the illegal invasion of a sovereign country.” That would have been a political statement.
Depeche Mode: “Halo” (1988) from Violator (Warner Bros.)
Konietzko: Depeche Mode.
Selway: [laughing] Kill those motherfuckers!
Cifarelli: You wanted to see our reaction, huh?
SW: Yesit was long rumored that KMFDM was an acronym for “Kill Motherfucking Depeche Mode.” How did that theory come about?
Konietzko: It was a practical joke. I was tired of explaining it in interviews. “What does it stand for? What does it mean?” It’s incorrect German already, pidgin German. It really means “No pity for the majority.”
SW: Has Depeche Mode ever confronted you about it?
Konietzko: No. I heard one of those guys had a KMFDM shirt on at one of their shows.
Death Cab for Cutie: “The New Year” (2003) from Transatlanticism (Barsuk)
Cifarelli: What are people supposed to do at these shows? Stand around and drink coffee?
White: What’s the point? Honestly.
Selway: Turn it off.
SW: The KMFDM name has been on a prolific amount of remixes in the last decade. Who’s responsible for that?
Konietzko: It’s mostly me. There was a time in ’92 or ’93 when it was really fashionable for all these bands to have “industrial remixes,” all of these terrible bands like Living Colour and Korn. My White Zombie remix (of “Thunder Kiss ’65”) actually kind of “made” White Zombie.
SW: This band, Death Cab for Cutie, is from here. How did you settle down here and become part of the area?
Konietzko: I still haven’t become a part of the area. I was living in Chicago and I was thinking there must be a place with nicer weather in the United States. It’s not a bad place, besides the driving.
Hodgson: Well, the liquor stores shut at 9.
Konietzko: And the city is run by utter idiots. It’s quite obvious wherever you look. It’s just like whether it’s the traffic lights or the way they schedule construction or something. I like the weather, I like the surrounding area. You know? Good pot. Good beer.
Selway: Girls are a bit tubby.
Ministry: “Thieves” (1989) from The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (Warner Bros.)
Selway: Ministry. It’s great.
Hodgson: Like it.
Konietzko: I saw them play a while back. Al [Jourgensen, vocalist and former controlled-substance aficionado] actually formed complete sentences. He stood up and was conscious the entire set.
SW: What’s living in such close proximity like? Could there be a KMFDM reality show?
Hodgson: The reality of our life together would be so unairable, so unbroadcastable. It would be triple-X rated.
Konietzko: It would have to be constantly bleeped.
SW: So, what? It would make the Osbournes look like . . .
Konietzko: . . . the mainstream sellouts that they are. I think the best reality show would be to have a Web cam and just film yourself all day long. Don’t show it to anyone else except your friends. Just watch the cheese in the toilet.