Rammstein Drummer Was In ’80s East Germany Band With Two Spies
Drummer Christoph "Doom" Schneider's music history pre-dates Rammstein. Before the Berlin Wall came down in Germany, he was part of the underground music scene in the late '80s and even shared a band with two government spies.
Recollecting the major events in his life that led him down the path of music, Schneider told Metal Hammer about what it was like to perform music in East Germany. "In the East, we had professional bands which had all studied music and had official permission to play music. They were allowed to work as professionals and they had the right to charge money for their shows," he said, describing a hierarchy in place for live performance of music.
The drummer continued, "If you were an amateur, you had to be classified at a certain level. There were three levels, and I reached the first one! I had a certificate which allowed me to charge four Deutschmarks per hour when I played a concert. Without this certificate it was illegal to play gigs, and you weren’t allowed to make contact with promoters without one."
This wasn't a preferred system for aspiring musicians, but there was no alternative. "People accepted this because they had to," lamented Schneider.
Further describing the process, he went on, "To get your certificate you had to play in front of a commission, like a jury, who decided if you had the right songs: you were only allowed to play 40 percent cover versions in your set, the rest had to be your own music." That rule, however, had a benefit to bands as Schneider, explained "Actually it wasn’t that bad an idea, because bands had to come up with their own stuff, and so there were a lot of interesting bands at that time."
Speaking more specifically, Schneider looked back on his first proper band, Die Firma (translation: The Firm), who subverted laws with their lyrical aim. "Die Firma was like a new wave punk band," explained the drummer, who noted, "The style was a little dark, with gothic influences. We had lyrics that protested against the system. This was not permitted, of course – we were an underground band."
Schneider's future bandmates were circling the same scene and he elaborated, "All the other Rammstein guys were in underground bands too. We used to play in small clubs with all kinds of fans: freaks, goths, punks."
Even in the underground, government oversight was unavoidable. "The government had their people everywhere, though: Secret Service spies," the drummer recalled.
"What was funny was that I couldn’t imagine any harder band than mine at the time," Schneider confessed and then revealed, "and we had two people actually in the band who were spies – the singer and the keyboard player! Ha ha! Incredible."
He did go on to clarify that they were not part of the Secret Service, however, and stated, "They weren’t professionals: they were hired spies who received a little payment and every once in a while had to report about the music scene."
Rammstein were originally slated to embark on a North American stadium tour this summer, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced the band to postpone those dates. Their European tour was also impacted and that run has already been rescheduled for 2021. The tour is in support of last year's untitled album, which dominated charts worldwide.
See Rammstein in the 66 Best Metal Songs of 2019