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Culture

A German Rock Star Against His Will

Flake Lorenz, a trained toolmaker, sidelines as co-owner of a Berlin vintage car rental company. But his "day job" has proven to be much more profitable: as part of the internationally successful German band Rammstein.

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Rammstein is one of Germany's biggest musical exports

Born in 1966 in East Berlin, the capital of communist East Germany, Flake Lorenz viewed German unification, on Oct. 3, 1990, as surrender. Just short of his 25th birthday, Lorenz was a punk and a musician. He expressed his disagreement with unification by holding a protest concert.

Nonconformity has been Rammstein's trademark even as the East Germans punks have turned into global rock stars. Since the mid-1990s the heavy metal band has been one of Germany's best-known music exports. The six-member group -- in which Lorenz plays keyboard -- has sold around 10 million records worldwide.

"We were just hugely lucky that we found each other, especially as we all knew each other in East Germany and did a lot together," Lorenz said. "Even with the same music, nothing at all could have happened just as well. The music isn't any better than other music."

In East Germany, Lorenz experienced a degree of fame with his previous band, Feeling B, a sort of predecessor to Rammstein. Feeling B didn't have a political message. The stress was on being different, and that catapulted it to cult status in the East Bloc. The attention didn't bring the band money, but it did make them famous. Though Lorenz wasn't a dissident, he wasn't exactly a loyal citizen of East Germany either.

Passed the test


Nowadays, he neither feels nostalgic about the GDR nor does he regret his past there.

Ostdeutsche Band Rammstein

Rammstein in 2002: Lorenz is the one with glasses

"I grew up happily and protected," he said. "I didn't have any antipathy (towards East Germany). It was more of a form of amused disdain towards the government, but not antipathy in that sense."

His feelings were similar when it came to launching a global career.

"I would have remained a musician if East Germany remained as well," he said. "The enlargement of the world brought with it the danger that we would be compared to world bands."

In East Germany, a country of around 16 million people, the music scene -- and the competition -- was limited.

Richard Kruspe (guitar), Paul Landers (guitar), Till Lindemann (vocals), Oliver Riedel (bass), Christoph Schneider (drums) and Lorenz started Rammstein in 1993. Since then they've released four studio albums. Their fifth CD, "Rosenrot" will be released on Oct. 28.

And they've passed the test internationally. The band has caused Lorenz to tour the world. Though some would call him a star, he tries to keep his feet on the ground, a star against his will.


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