Over 20 years after their inception, Rammstein have become elder statesmen of techno-metal, continuing to demolish arenas worldwide with (literally) explosive live performances. In 2019, the band is resurging with a vengeance; word of a new album was followed by an absolutely stunning, cinematic video for the single “Deutschland”, an ambitious effort that attempts to confront the entirety of German history.
“Deutschland” was soon followed by the aptly titled, radio-friendly video for “Radio”, a track that proves Rammstein still has a knack for creating infectious ear-worms like back in the “Du Hast” and “Engel” days.
But Ramstein weren’t always kings of pandemonium. There was a time when they were wet behind the ears, still making brash and short-sighted decisions not uncommon among young, up-and-coming musicians. In 1998, the band was selected to participate in For the Masses: An Album of Depeche Mode Songs and the track they selected to cover was “Stripped”
This meant new exposure for the band, still obscure even on their home continent. And while the “Stripped” was praised for its creativity and juxtapositions, the video produced to accompany it caused a huge controversy. Had it all gone down in the Internet Age, the band may not have survived the ruckus.
The problem is, the band was already suspected of having far-right leanings. It’s ridiculous, actually, since the Rammstein has always been extremely liberal in their politics, but their serious expressions and regimented performances (not to mention the fact that all of their songs before “Stripped” were sung in German) had the ignorant accusing the band of promoting racism and nationalism.
For this reason, the incorporation of footage culled from some of pre-World War II’s most infamous propaganda practitioners was extremely problematic. When the world saw a video that combined modern imagery with footage used by Hitler to promote his tyrannical agenda, it only reinforced the already-incorrect perception that the band was comprised of Nazi sympathizers.
In the video embedded at the top of the article, frontman Till Lindemann, guitarists Paul Landers and Richard Z. Kruspe, and drummer Christoph Schneider reflect on “Stripped” 20 years later. They’re joined by director Philipp Stolzl and the five discuss their intentions while creating the video for “Stripped” back in 1998. While they all defend their intentions, there is an admission of naivety in regards to the inclusion of Nazi propaganda.
Before pressing “Play”, make sure to turn on your subtitles and set them to English–unless you happen to be fluent in German!
It’s a fascinating window into what was actually a make-it-or-break-it moment for Rammstein. Thank goodness they made it!
Check out the video for “Stripped” below.