Industrial Strength

Posted October 15, 2009 in Music

Contrary to what you might have heard, the name KMFDM is not a threat against Depeche Mode or even Dennis Miller for that matter. People theorized for years that the “K” stood for “Kill” (and surely you can extrapolate the rest), but according to the current consensus, it stems from a German phrase—Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid—that roughly translates to “No mercy for the masses.” The irony, of course, is that the masses helped keep KMFDM popular for decades. The band, which now centers on founding member Sascha Konietzko, even had its silver anniversary early this year. 


“Some people would probably treat their band’s 25th anniversary like this: Have a birthday cake, drink some alcoholic beverages and exchange tall tales about how it all began,” Sascha wrote on his blog earlier this year. “After all, a quarter of a century isn’t something one gets to celebrate often. Recently I was wondering how this was going to be for me, to say, ‘25 years ago to this day I started KMFDM,’ and what I would do on that day? I don’t feel it. I don’t feel 25 years older. I don’t feel that I have accomplished enough to rest on the proverbial laurels. What I do feel is that: This is just a number. Last year it was 24 years, next year it’ll be 26, then 27, and at some point I’ll stop counting again. Because it doesn’t really matter to me.”


That might not go down as the most endearing anniversary speech in history, but Sascha was certainly enthusiastic about his new album Blitz, which came out in March. 


“Anniversaries come and go, [and] the 25th is safely behind us now. Blitz only comes once, and today is the day!” Sascha exclaims. “I am proud to unleash the sonic barrage that is Blitz on y‘all today and hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as we did the process of making it. As with every KMFDM release, nobody will ever think of Blitz as mediocre, so go ahead and either hate it or love it.”


The new disc, if nothing else, brings the KMFDM live machine across the Atlantic for the Kein Mitleid Tour 2009, which hits Southern California this week. Sascha moved back to his German hometown of Hamburg in recent years, but his continued popularity throughout the U.S. and Europe certainly attests to his enduring legacy. 


KMFDM helped revolutionize the techno-metal industrial sound in the mid-’80s (or “Ultra-Heavy Beat” as the band calls it), and with each new album, the Sascha-led group strove to reinvent itself and the music. While they never landed a major hit like Ministry or Nine Inch Nails (though 1993’s “A Drug Against War” certainly got attention), KMFDM were a foundational pillar for industrial music’s evolution into metal. 


Where does Blitz fit into this legacy? It shows that Sascha & Co. are still making music without rules. The new disc features the Russian-language track “Davai” and the German-language “Potz-Blitz!” It goes Tony Manero-on-speed with the disco-amped “Strut,” it covers The Human League’s “Being Boiled” and the album even bites “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” for the catchy “Bait and Switch.” There’s also the college radio single “People of the Lie,” which topped the CMJ Loud Rock charts. Sascha does many of the album vocals, but “Blitz” also features lots of vocals from Lucia Cifarelli and Cheryl Wilson (with the former currently on tour with the group). The entire album is currently available for streaming on their MySpace page. 


A quarter-century may have passed, but KMFDM still loves making its music. They also remain one of the most accessible acts before and after shows as fans at the Glass House will see. It’s hard to imagine there won’t be a 30th anniversary as well. 


“I am having a blast with what I am doing,” says Sascha. “I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I love my ‘job,’ and as long as you want to hear KMFDM, I will continue to create.”


KMFDM with Legion Within and Angelspit at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802,, Sat, Oct. 17, Doors open 7PM. $23 advance, $25 door. All ages. 


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