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I am not alone in my fascination with Raymond Watts. There is some unhealthy magnetism to his sleazy stage personality of Pig. I once said that Raymond could write a song about having his nut sack torn off, the testicles getting dragged for 30 miles by the greasy undercarriage of a '64 Chevy truck before falling off and being chewed on for a couple of hours by feral dogs, all before a sweating, lesion-covered med school dropout whacked out on Methadone and GHB had a chance to sew the pair of goodies back on to his body. Raymond would make it all sound sexy. Dirty, but still sexy. I ask Sascha about the allure of Pig and he just smiles. "Covered in fleas," he quotes to me. "I screw best in two and threes."

And, like all objects of fascination, everyone has a Raymond Watts story. Mike -- one of the KMFDM interns -- told me about Raymond's fascination with Alaska and, when Raymond discovered that Mike was from Alaska, he spent an entire dinner conversation focused on polar bears, endlessly grilling Mike on whether or not the huge white beasts actually wander the streets of Alaskan communities.

I got to meet Raymond during the pre-show interview with Sascha. Well, that's not entirely accurate. Me and my tape recorder were in the same room as Raymond for about three minutes. He appears suddenly at my shoulder, a tall dark-haired figure with that molded cowboy hat and spider bolo tie. The fingernails of the hand which briefly flaps near my shoulder are painted white. He is soft-spoken and polite about breaking in on our conversation. "I've just been seen by the doctor," he says, "and I've got a fucking bag of fucking muscle relaxants."

Sascha can't resist. "You must be as happy as a pig in shit," he smiles.

"He basically said that it isn't going to pop and he's given me some calm me down type things," Raymond continues. His other hand --the nails painted black -- hovers near his waist and, at first, I think he's referring to his appendix, but I later find out they are discussing a hernia condition which developed during the last tour.

Sascha apologies for interrupting the interview, but he needs to be sure about Raymond. "But everything's fine?"

"Yeah," Raymond says. "He's a really cool doc. He's got refills around the country -- fucking hurts though, man -- for all these anti-inflamatories and Vicodin and shit."

"But there's nothing clinically wrong?" Sascha presses.

"No, no. Nothing, really," Raymond says. "Well, he did say that he could feel something going on in there, but that it isn't going to pop. 'Don't lift a fucking thing,' he said. 'Don't lift a fucking toothbrush.'" Which leads to the introduction of Kenny, the guy who is apparently in charge of Raymond's toothbrush and anything else that might require heavy lifting. Raymond points to a fresh injury on Kenny's leg. "He got taken out by my fucking bed. Look at this. Within two minutes of meeting me, he's already... look at this."

[ sascha k. on stage - photo by mark teppo ]
photo by mark teppo

"You guys are bonding pretty well then, aren't you?" Sascha quips.

"Within two minutes of meeting me, he's hopping around the hotel room, screaming his head off," Raymond says. Kenny smiles, the scratch on his leg a survival badge of the rock and roll lifestyle.

After Raymond's departure, Sascha leans forward and says, "Let me just say something about Raymond. I was asked recently if Raymond was an arachnaphobiac and my answer was, 'Nothing specific.' Everything causes him to become phobic. He's a guy who lives in a personal apocalypse on a daily basis."

A few minutes later Raymond wanders by the large window of the restaurant. The cameraman documenting the tour gets a shot of Sascha and I talking about protest songs in modern rock and roll while, on the street outside, Raymond Watts eyes the bar across the street and appears to be considering a drink to go along with his recently acquired medication. Apocalypses. Personal and political. Not all battles take place on a global scale.

"Cut these eyes and I will see
Kiss these lying lips for me
Stroke this skin and I will kneel
Brutalize me and I will heal."
["Brute" from 1995's Nihil]

[ kmfdm - nihil ]
[ give a listen! ] "Brute" MP3

After clawing my way out of the frenzied space at the front of the stage, I seek the refuge of the separate bar area. The show at the Catwalk has been oversold and the main floor is overflowing with bodies. The air circulation is near zero and everyone is covered with sweat. After two and a half songs, I've given up on trying to take pictures; there just isn't any way I can hold the camera steady enough to get a clean shot.

The ceiling of the room is so low that the crowd surfers can almost reach up and touch the pipes and beams as they bounce around on the hands of the audience. Through the doorway, I can see the writhing mass of the audience. I can't make out distinct people any more; it is just a sea of arms and heads and torsos. As Raymond howls the chorus of "Brute" from the stage and the audience erupts in a chaotic frenzy, I suddenly remember that one of the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos -- Shub-Niggurath or Nyarlothep, I can't remember which -- manifests itself as a sea of flesh. Raymond's insectoid glasses and his silver lamé jacket turn him into a foreign god, goading and extorting the mass of supplicants before him. On some primal level, the urge to run in terror is strong.

"Christ, we're old," the guy ahead of me in the drink line says. It's been a decade since he saw KMFDM last and, in that intervening decade, we've gotten haircuts, decent jobs, and, well, older. We aren't pierced, tattooed, or wearing leather bustiers (well, as least not any that we're willing to publicly display). The sight of a thousand kids bumping, thrusting, grinding, and moshing against one another drives us to drink.

But, for KMFDM, this is exactly why they do it.

Every KMFDM record has a track where the name of the band is featured in the lyric, a rousing "K-M-F-D-M" sing-along. "There is always one," Sascha tells me. When asked why, he explains: "It wouldn't have become a signature thing if so many people hadn't been pissed off about it. 'Why do they always do it?'" He smiles. "If it works this good, why fuck with it?" He laughs.

"Here's your voice from the underground
Get ready for another round
Nothing new it's the same old shit
If it works this good, why fuck with it?"
["Intro" from WWIII]

"It's a Marilyn Manson reference," he says. "It was originally meant as a spoof on 'This Is the New Shit' [from Manson's The Golden Age of Grotesque]." He gives me a big smile. "We don't have any new shit."

[ sascha konietzko ]

"It wasn't called 'Intro' until the last day of the mixing in Chicago," he explains. "In fact, I ended up not writing any lyrics for that song because I was side-tracked on some other things. I had a couple of ideas but nothing really struck me as fun. So, we were done with the record, we had ten tracks ready-mixed, and there was this one track floating around. What were we going to do with that? I think Joolz or Andy said, 'Let's make it an introduction to the band.' 'Okay,' I said, 'let's call it "Intro." Five letter title. Good.' And we'll put it as the last song on the record. It won't be as fully produced, not as honed or polished as the other ones. It's going to be a bit rough around the edges. We sat down with a big piece of paper and everyone came up with the lines."

Another re-occuring lyric in their oeuvre is "KMFDM doing it again," and, as I watch how fully Käpt'n K. and his Kommandoes throw themselves into the show, I have to admit the principle is working for them. "The live show serves two purposes really," Sascha says before the show, "And one of those is that it is for us. After ten months of blind flight, we need to go and see if we can still do it. It'll be interesting to see what happens tonight. It's totally on edge."

You would never know it from the audience. They are completely engaged in the music, thrilled by the selection of material from the band's catalogue (all the way back to "D.I.Y." and "Godlike."). As a congregation gathered for the first sermon of WWIII, they have been caught up in the rapture.

The assistant tour manager snaps a picture of Sascha after the show and posts it to the website of their tour diary. Sascha is grinning -- ear to ear -- like a man who is doing what he loves best. And, as I watch him during the meet and greet with the Horde members prior to the show, as I watch how he listens and talks and even shares his cigarettes with the fans, I can tell that regardless of the fiery polemic from behind the microphone, what Sascha finds most satisfying about being in KMFDM is putting music out there and seeing the effect it has on his fans.

"I am Käpt'n K.," he says in "Intro," "the Korruptor of youth / My word is gospel of the honest truth."

On the web:
KMFDM (official site)
WWIII tour diary
Pig (official site)

Inside Earpollution:
WWIII album review
Attak album review
Adios album review
MDFMK album review
Live review (31 May 2002, Seattle, WA)

[ raymond watts - photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young
[ give a listen! ] "Intro" MP3