Listen: I spent most of my teenage years listening to German industrial music. I’m not sure exactly why it was so appealing to me at the time. I liked a lot of those bands but I liked KMFDM the most.
My brother gave me two CDs when I was 10: ‘Business as Usual’ by Men at Work (lol), and ‘Nihil’ by KMFDM. Man, I had such a good time with ‘Nihil.’ It sounded totally alien to me. Like, I couldn’t imagine how they were making those sounds. Or at any rate I had never heard anything like that.
I don’t think I actively tried to hide it from my parents, but I only listened to it at night after everyone had gone to sleep. I mean, it’s weird dark stuff. I didn’t have a CD player so I would put it in my Playstation and listen to it through my TV speakers. That sounds so romantic now, but keep in mind it looked like this:
I didn’t even have the actual jewel case, just the CD, so I only knew the songs as numbers. (My favorite numbers were 2 and 7. I thought those were great.) Though it’s a shame, because at the time I had no idea how sweet the actual cover art was:
In high school I actually ended up seeing KMFDM at the 9:30 Club in D.C. My brother took me! I also went with my friend Meg, who I thought I was in love with (lol). For weeks before the show I had been emailing their tour manager, a dude named Jeff. I’m not sure what I said to become an endearing figure to him, but he told me to find him before the show and he’d hook me up with all-access passes. I met up with Jeff and he gave me three passes (I still have it somewhere.) After the show we went up to the balcony and met the band. My brother got hammered with the drummer. Everyone was real cool and friendly. I have pictures of us posing with them somewhere. . . .
I saw them a few more times when I was in high school. I was alone at those shows. Afterwards I always hung out with the main dude Sasha K. I would say, “Do you remember me?” and he would say, “Of course I remember you, man.” Once, we were sitting in these chairs on the upper level, and this girl came over and asked him to sign her chest. Dude sighed and reluctantly did so. She hung around after that, trying to talk to him, and man this was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me at that point in my life. He said: “I’ll have to meet up with you later. I’m having a conversation with my friend Ryan.” He was talking about me!!!! He offered me a cigarette (I was 15!!!) and we sure did sit there and smoke that cigarette together.
Sasha and I used to email each other a lot. I was going to design the KMFDM website but their record company ended up hiring a dude to do it. I also gave him a pair of boots. I haven’t spoken to him in ten years. I think he moved back to Germany. Hell, I should get in touch with that dude. . . .
(I just remembered I have a picture of his wife Lucia kissing me on the cheek. At the time I guess that was the second-coolest thing that ever happened to me???)
I want to conclude this thing, whatever it is, by appreciating some of their best cover art. When I look at these now, I realize that my great love of white text on a black background and using negative space was probably solidified when I held these albums in my hand. They’re bold and pulpy, ain’t they? A guy name BRUTE makes them. We used to email each other back in the day toooooo. He’s a really cool dude and he does cool stuff.
I had T-shirts with a few of these designs on them. One or two of them got me in trouble at school. Hah!!
(‘SPLIT’ is definitely the coolest one, isn’t it?)