Richard Z. Kruspe’s Emigrate project’s third full-length album A Million Degrees was released on November 30th via Spinefarm Records (order here). The Rammstein guitarist has expanded his creativity with his passion project as the new record includes eleven diversified tracks. Between working on Emigrate’s latest effort and the highly anticipated decade-long follow-up to 2009’s Liebe ist für alle da; Kruspe had a busy year. Despite his demanding schedule, Kruspe set some time aside to speak to us on A Million Degrees, Rammstein updates, plans for next year, our future looking ‘Black Mirror’ scary, and more.
The new album A Million Degrees, it has a lot of different influences, from alternative to dark wave, and more. It’s nostalgic and modern at the same time. How do you feel about the overall turnout?
Well, one of the reasons I do Emigrate is to have an output that’s beside my main band, that everything I cannot do in Rammstein, which is a very closed kind of environment there. I’m trying to exaggerate in a way where basically there’s no boundaries, there’s nothing — I want to be as open as possible, like try to go through boundaries, leave all those things that kind of describe what I want to do with Emigrate and therefore, there’s no such thing as a certain kind of style.
I grew up in a world that always liked heavy music because I was also a little punk child to get certain kind of energies out,. But I also like the melancholic, pop world of catchy melodies and I was trying to combine those things. So for me, a lot of people say, “Yeah, Emigrate is just too much — You’re changing it.” But I love that about it. It’s unpredictable. If you listen to a record and the next song should sound different than the other one, just part of my idea about that.
What are some of the lyrical themes?
The way that I write the lyrics is really based on what the music leads me to do, it’s a very intuitional creation where — First, I always write music and then the music leads me into certain words that I say out. And then words that come out of nowhere leads me into writing the lyrics. Which are all things in my life. That can be anything. That can be my life, it can be a movie that I just saw, or from anger, just like everything. I don’t really like to talk about the meaning of certain songs because that leads you into a certain situation to think with lyrics in general, they should be a dialogue between the one that creates and the people who listen to it. Often times, when I talk about lyrics, people have a different idea of what the song’s all about. I like that. I don’t really want to go into the lyric so much because I enjoy the idea about certain kinds of lyrics.
How would you compare the new album to your previous albums.
I mean, you always evolve. I guess. Evolution’s alright and it’s like, you stopped something and — I remember the first record, you know, especially starting to sing by myself was something that I was really kind of a beginner, you know, in the beginning, and I wasn’t confident about this, wasn’t confident at the beginning, and that kind of changed now that I don’t really feel as abnormal when I’m singing, so that’s why. On this record, I have much more duets, basically like having guest singers singing together. I’m more comfortable as a singer I would say, and obviously I think a lot of the interesting parts here on this record was that I started to write and recut because it got destroyed before, and I had to write out of memories of those records that haven’t actually been finished in 2015, and that was one of the biggest challenges I had and it was also something that made me angry, because I lost all the music and I realized life would give me a sign to produce new things and I lost all the sort of passion on the first record that I finished and now I got the passion back and — It’s a different way of writing.
The world seems to be changing, for better or worse — In a previous interview, you mentioned that hip hop has taken over and seeing a movement on people right now kind of getting offended nearly by everything to a point where we’re entering a world of selective censorship. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, yeah, I mean it’s crazy. It’s scary to be honest. Just watching those TV series Black Mirror, like one of those episodes makes me think like, “I don’t wanna be part of the world where everything is captured, everything is controllable, everything is like — If you think about if this is gonna be the future — I was thinking after watching that episode is like, what happened that all of a sudden people know what you think. Every thought you have is actually reality. People know about that. This is the kind of world we’re in.
So, in thinking about the future, I don’t wanna be someone who’s like, “Oh, everything was better in the past”, but the future and the way that we are right now, it scares me to be honest. I cannot attempt to think that I’m probably gonna be happy if I’m not a part that. It’s gonna take another 100 years — I don’t wanna be part of that way that we’re going through right now, so.
I agree. Speaking of what’s scary is bands such a KISS and Slayer, they’re retiring and you mentioned this in another interview as well, how we’ll always see the old dinosaurs in the rock scene stay alive, but once everybody ends up retiring, how do you think we can resurrect rock for the next generation?
It’s complicated because the rebellion that used to be in rock music is over. Kids right now listening to rock music, their parents come in and say, “Oh, make it louder” which used to be like, “Oh, can you turn down the music, the guitar is too loud.” Guitars had a certain kind of frequency that disturbed the parents, at least with my childhood, it was always the case.
Now, I feel like the rebellion is all about, in hip hop, it’s all about the lyrics. The want to rebel, and they’re becoming so…unpoetic and so realistic in certain way.
Especially in Germany, if you listen to German hip hop or trap or some of the new music, it’s really based off a certain kind of macho culture what they sing about. And they can relate and it’s something that I wouldn’t put in, but I understand that the kids need something to rebel against, to the parents, they need to go through that. But it’s very hard for me to relate and I don’t know what’s gonna happen and I obviously don’t have a crystal ball here to look into that.
Oh, you don’t?
No, I don’t, do you have one?
I don’t know where we can buy that. So, it’s hard to say. I’ve realized that the only way that I do things to try to combine something and certain kinds of styles and try to be open enough. I don’t wanna be one of those guys who’s like, “Oh, everything was better in the old days, everything sucks.” It’s all about balance in life. I think right now we created something, we created this digital world and now we have to be careful. It’s almost like an evolution, almost too fast. And now we’re realizing, fuck, we’re going too fast. I think to digest the way that we are right now, we need more time. And I hope we have that and we can adjust in certain ways.
Hopefully. So far, looking back at Rammstein, when you guys wrote “Du Hast” years ago, did you ever think it would turn out to be such a major song? Was there ever a time when you guys wanted to scrap the piece during the recording process of it?
Well, no. First of all, yes, I think especially for a German band, singing in our native language, and to have that kind of success, it’s a miracle. But it always proves that you have to leave comfort zones, you have to do something different. And they have to be as authentic as possible. The funny thing is, these days, especially American company they asked us to do an English version of “Du Hast”. And we did it and then we were listening to the song and all of a sudden the whole song didn’t work anymore. So we pushed that away. We deleted it. But the song had always been something very special. The funny thing is that, especially this song was very huge in America. Not so much Germany, actually, Germany, the most popular song was “Engel.”
But I think that it’s always the same, I think that something we created was kind of new, and there was — It was interesting for people who hadn’t heard anything that basically is rock music with German language and it’s great.
Do you have any plans for a North American tour for either project?
Well, Emigrate I’ve decided at the moment we’re not touring, because I really liked the balance between both of the bands and if I would now go on tour with Emigrate, it would destroy the band. Rammstein, we just announced a couple of weeks ago our first European stadium tour already sold out in four hours, which was unbelievable. Never happened in history that fast and we’re thinking now, “What do we do?” We’re coming in January and February 2020 to America, somewhere in 2020, nothing is set in stone, but we’re definitely coming, for sure.
I read that Rammstein’s aiming for Spring 2019 release date, is there anything else that you can say to us that you haven’t said before?
Well, what I haven’t said before, right now, I’m in Los Angeles, I’m very tired. I feel like the last energy is getting sucked out. We’re at the moment of mixing the record and it’s just very, very, tiring at the moment and that’s something I haven’t said before. (laughs)
Okay, a tiring experience.
It’s just — I think there’s too much going on in my 2018, finishing Emigrate, work on Rammstein, it’s one of those years where I feel like I need a break. It’s been everything this year. So I’m looking forward to Christmas and some time off and not listening to music, except maybe some Christmas tunes.
We all need some breaks. For fun, you mentioned in another interview that you’ve considered once, leaving music and maybe have other jobs. If you could, which jobs would you have taken over the years?
I would definitely like — I love creating things, I just realized I’m just building a house, I was really interested in architecture, but I also like to create little stories, little movies. I’d have to be something creative. I just think when you reach a certain age, you think about how many years you still have in this life. And then you think about maybe what else is there, is there another — There must be something else. I always like challenge, I like to step into a territory in which I don’t know. I like to learn things and with music, I’ve been full on — And it’s great, doing music. It is part of my life, but I think there’s much more life maybe and I don’t know where it’s gonna be — Going back, I became a chef, that was my profession before I went to music. Maybe I’d become a chef again.
Interesting, what cuisine?
German, obviously. (laughs)
(laughs) Is there anything else you want to add or say to your fans?
To all my fans, I wish you a really great Christmas, Happy New Year, and have some time off. Try to make peace with your family, which is a big thing always for me too. And one thing, one of my key things I learned in life was one thing on one side, is also the other side’s. That is my motto for 2018.