The band members in Rammstein were all living under the rules of the former GDR before finally meeting up in the ’90s and selling out concert tickets as Rammstein, under a unified Germany. It wasn’t easy being a musician then. The rules of the former GDR did not allow unemployment and refused to count being a musician as a job. While all the band members had some sort of experience with music, they also maintained part-time jobs to please the GDR.
Keyboardist Flake Lorenz, who was responsible for the band’s thematic contrasts, had taken on an internship to please the former GDR so he could practice music on the side. “I completed an apprenticeship as a toolmaker,” said Lorenz in a translated documentary on the band. “I went to rehearsals right after work, slept for a bit, and then went straight back to work.”
While Lorenz was studying as a toolmaker, guitarist Paul Landers was working part-time in East Germany. In the same documentary, Landers talks about the circumstances under which he worked. “In the East, work was compulsory. If you did not pay your rent, you could sometimes end up in prison. To avoid this, I got a job in the library as a boiler worker. I spent my time reading and heating. This is what most East German musicians did.” Lander goes on to call these part-time jobs “alibi jobs” for musicians.
Lorenz and Flanders have often talked about their alibi jobs, but lead guitarist Richard Kruspe likes to talk more about his time playing music before Rammstein. “I had a band before Rammstein,” he says in the documentary, “but I was always a little bit bored so I started side projects with other bands and this was the origins of Rammstein.” Kruspe was always playing the guitar ever since he met a girl who asked him to play for her. Kruspe noticed the girl’s rising excitement as he played. He describes this as the moment he realized girls like guys who play guitar. This was the impetus for Kruspe learning to play guitar professionally.
Before being able to focus completely on music like Kruspe, drummer Christoph Schneider had to fit his music playing in between his job and military career. Schneider often speaks fondly of his time as a telecommunications assistant. Afterwards, he joined the German army and became the only band member of Rammstein to have served in the army.