With a succession of platinum albums, sold-out global tours, and headline festival appearances to his name, Rammstein's Richard Kruspe might choose to spend his off-duty hours re-booting his batteries and soothing the spirit. But 'resting on laurels', or the German equivalent, isn't within the guitarist's primary frame of reference. "What I've discovered about myself is that I like to create - be it making records or building a house. That's what drives me. With Rammstein, there are six strong personalities, and it's a closed situation, which is fine, but I think it's good for the balance of the group that any one of us can have another outlet..."
Whilst Richard remains firmly ensconced within the ranks of Germany's premier rockers, EMIGRATE - his other "outlet" - stands as a way of keeping workaholic instincts comprehensively tapped; it's not a side or a solo project, more a musical collective - a much-needed conduit for a body of fresh ideas, musical and visual.
For the new album, 'Silent So Long', he has written, recorded and mixed 11 songs, all brand new, no 'carry-overs' or numbers once tagged for the parent group, with near half the tracks featuring guest vocals from some of music's most iconic names, alternative and metal. "When music becomes re-creation rather than creation, it is no longer enjoyable," he continues. "Like having sex with the same person for 20 years. That's why I find it hard to believe in monogamy..."
As a relatively new frontman and singer, recording the vocals (in English!) could potentially have pushed Richard even closer to the edge than the guitars, but in the event it turned out to a liberating experience."Y'know, there were times when I was really surprised... where did THAT come from??! I almost felt like a child again, a free spirit. It just seemed easier for me to connect with my emotions - and I was surprised how much emotion was there! It's true that I like to be in control, but sometimes it's healthy for things to be a little unpredictable..."
'Silent So Long' was created along with the core EMIGRATE musicians: bassist/co-conspirator Arnaud Giroux, guitarist / producer Olson Involtini, new drummer Mikko Siran from Apocalyptica, and of course Richard himself to define the vision and set the tone, Margaux Bossieux - previously of New York punk band Dirty Mary - providing backing vocals, mixer Ben Grosse (Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Disturbed, etc.), who worked on the tracks in his Los Angeles studio, with Kruspe in attendance, and Tom Baker from Precision Mastering, also in L.A.
There's no question that each of the album's special guests leaves their own particular mark; Peaches, easily evokes the sensual nature of the strip club Richard had in mind when composing the track ('Get Down'), whilst Frank Della, from chart-topping German collective Seed, another Berlin resident, makes a hugely memorable contribution to "Eat You Alive", the first single and video from the album, directed by Rammstein regular Zoran Bihac. With Korn's Jonathan Davis, who delivered his parts (for the album's title track, "Silent So Long") right at the eleventh hour, the main point of debate was a certain high note in the chorus that Richard was keen for him to conquer..."I just sent an email saying, 'grab hold of your balls!' - and it worked!". As for Marilyn Manson, Richard felt that 'Hypothetical' had his name all over it. In lights. "You know, I had already recorded vocals for the track myself," he explains, "and I was pretty happy with it, but I knew he could deliver something special. He's an artist with a great deal of charisma. We actually performed "The Beautiful People" together at the Echo Awards in Berlin back in 2012, Rammstein and Manson, and I felt that we connected..."
Of course, the 'will they, won't they?' question continues to be raised when it comes to EMIGRATE's live activity. What is certain, however, is that Richard will face up to the challenge if and when the time is right - just another thing to add to his healthy and ever-growing 'to do' list.