People who grew up behind the Iron Curtain weren't allowed to immigrate to another country, so anyone who sought opportunities outside their native land literally had to escape. Such restraints were implemented in East and West Germany, where Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe was born and raised. But things have changed and, although Kruspe had the freedom a couple of years ago to relocate from his native Berlin to New York City, in a way he was still escaping — not so much from his country, but from his life.
The move to New York re-energized Kruspe and gave him the opportunity to attempt his first solo project, appropriately entitled Emigrate.
"I started the whole thing back in 2001, so basically almost seven years ago," says Kruspe. "I was basically changing certain things in my life and, arriving into a new world like New York City, obviously everything was new and I was impressed by how inspired I got here and I was starting to write music and didn't have any plan of where I would go with it.
"The only thing I knew is I had to distance myself from the other side, from Berlin, from my band, from my other life. I had this problem with drugs in Berlin. It became a big ecstasy and speed city when raves came, and the whole city was dancing and doing drugs. I had my share of problems with it, and it was basically time to leave the city."
With a fresh start in New York, Kruspe assembled a group of friends and created Emigrate, whose self-titled debut is set to be released in North America on Jan. 29. Since the record is inspired by Kruspe's move and newfound independence, Emigrate have more of an American rock influence than Rammstein's brand of European industrial metal. Everything is sung in English, unlike Rammstein, who sing in German. And, for the first time, Kruspe wrote and sang all the songs himself.
"In the beginning, it was kind of a frustrating process," says Kruspe about singing. "Basically, it was like teaching a grown-up to ride a bike.
"I started looking for someone else and my bandmates told me that I have to do it myself, otherwise I will never be happy. Then I realized singing is mostly about finding the right attitude and, when you want to say something, it's not about how your voice sounds."
For anyone who's worried about the future of Rammstein, considering their long hiatus and break-up rumours, fear not. Emigrate have only rekindled Kruspe's love for his band. Rammstein will resurface this year, and he promises they'll return to North America.
"For me, Emigrate is important to do. It was important that I find myself again because I was kind of lost over the last year with Rammstein and I wasn't happy just being the guitar player in Rammstein. For me, it was important to do it in the process of becoming an individual person, rather than just be a part of something which is still important. Creating Emigrate gives me the opportunity to go back to Rammstein and be with the band that I started with."