Let's get it out of the way up front: KMFDM stands for "Kein Mitleid Für Die Mehrheit," a German phrase that translates literally to "no pity for the majority."
But KMFDM founder Sascha Konietzko is perfectly okay with the popular theory that his industrial dance band's name stands for "Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode." The German-born singer and synth wizard says he started that rumor himself, when the band first came to America from Paris in the late '80s. A journalist couldn't get his mouth around all that Deutsch, so Konietzko improvised. "Sometimes, if you do something absurd, it's natural to take it a step further," he says. "They've had contests to come up with new meanings." (He says he's also fond of the "Kennels Make Friendly Dogs Mean" translation.)
KMFDM's latest releases, an LP titled Hau Ruck and an EP of remixes called Ruck Zuck (both on Metropolis Records), continue the group's legacy of weaving elements of EBM, industrial, techno, and metal into dark, danceable songs. Konietzko's always described KMFDM's sound as "ultra-heavy beat," but the band's been branded with the "industrial" label for years.
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Scheduled to perform on Monday, October 23
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"When we started , the only musical styles that were close to what we were doing were industrial which had a very different definition in Europe than in the U.S. and EBM, which started in Belgium. At the time, the music was a lot of clanging-banging on shopping carts and stuff like that," Konietzko explains. "[Our stuff] was very beat-oriented, like the beat feeling of the late '60s. A lot of head bobbing going around. And when we came over here, everybody was like, 'Oh, you're industrial.' We were like, 'What? Whatever.' Call it whatever you want. We know what we call it."
But more has changed for KMFDM over the years than just the definition of "industrial." After several lineup changes and a complete albeit temporary disbandment in 1999, Konietzko is now the sole original member. He invited former bandmates Günter Schulz and En Esch back into the band when he re-formed KMFDM in 2002, but they declined, choosing to form their own band, Slick Idiot, instead.
"I think it's a shame they couldn't find it in their hearts to return to KMFDM when I asked them a few years ago, and that they felt it necessary to go on a smear campaign and say untrue things about me," Konietzko says. "But I wish them luck."
Whatever his former bandmates might have said, one thing that is true about Konietzko is that he takes the time to interact with his fans, responding to e-mails, hanging out before and after shows, even launching a "FanKam" project on KMFDM's 2004 tour, where a member of the audience was selected each night to record the band both onstage and backstage. "The fans are the people that consume the music," Konietzko says. "If you feel you're too good to talk to the people who are paying your rent and buying your food, you're fucked."