Till Lindemann, A Case Study in Trauma Driven Genius

I am one of those people that overanalyze everything and I’ve always seen things with a scientific mind because that’s just how my mind works. I love to know how everything works, especially the human psyche, and one subject in particular who has been a favorite to try and dissect is Till Lindemann, the lead singer of Rammstein.

I’ve been a fan for a long time, and I even learned quite a bit of German because of them, but I still haven’t wrapped my head around the complex character that is Herr Lindemann. He has a solo project, which is quite different than Rammstein’s heavy, industrial metal, and it’s not bad at all, it’s just…

Well, it’s a lot more perverted and violent, that’s for sure. 😄

Till has a reputation for being someone who loves to push boundaries and he uses this solo career as an outlet for that, as well as his poetry books, which gives someone like me plenty of material to pour over as I try to figure him out.

Not that R+’s lyrics aren’t darkly perverse, because they are, but in a Grimm’s fairy tale sort of way. I can handle them. In fact, I love them. Lindemann takes things to a whole different level that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, even for ardent Rammstein fans. He has a very dark sense of humor and is brilliant at this, um, art he’s making, but it is pretty extreme.

Here’s a good, somewhat tamer example of his work that is a sort of “rapist’s tango” when you translate and dissect the lyrics. The video is brilliant because as he’s describing how great he is in his ability to “seduce” all the ladies, he’s getting his ass kicked in a Russian prison and it’s actually quite funny.

What’s funny to me is seeing Rammstein fans assume that Till is being abused by the director here, who he’s worked with before, or that he’s in some sort of middle aged, spiraling-out-of-control phase now that he’s older, but I don’t really know what to think. I do know he’s a performance artist above all and this entire thing could be one giant performance art piece.

After all, he is a Berliner and they are known for their weird art.

It’s also intriguing as hell knowing that Till Lindemann grew up behind the Berlin wall, and surely had plenty of traumatic experiences. It’s well known among fans that he’s a cutter and his arms bear the deep scars to prove it. He pours his soul into his work, all of his work, and he’s really quite a popular entertainer in Germany and around the world.

Yet when it comes down to it, him and the other members of the band were all born prisoners of war. They are literally the bastard children of WW2. We can’t fathom what that’s like, nor do we probably want to, but we can empathize with them, especially if we, too, came from challenging childhoods.

Trauma affects us all differently, of course, but the members of Rammstein have all found a way to channel their childhood experiences into their music and it seems to have worked for them. After almost 30 years they are still together, all six of the original band members, and they are selling out stadium after stadium right now as we speak. In fact, they are more popular now than they’ve ever been, which is unheard of for a heavy metal band who have been around since the early 90s. Most bands peak and are playing Indian Casinos if they’re lucky about now.

Or, they never survived to see 30 years in the industry. So many of them never got over their demons and their own childhood trauma got the better of them and we lost them young. Too young at times. It’s mind boggling how many overdosed or committed suicide and left us with nothing but sadness and amazing catalogues of music that keep the rest of us hanging on.

Music, no matter what the type, can be so healing or therapeutic but when you get too attached to the artists themselves, you risk being pulled down into dark rabbit holes with them because as we all know, creativity is often driven by madness.

So perhaps we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get too emotionally attached to the creator, just the creation. Or, we allow ourselves to feel a human bond with our favorite musical geniuses because they, too, are just humans having a human experience, trying to stay afloat in the river of life.

We just can’t let them pull us down with them if that’s where they end up.