There’s no denying that, almost 40 years into their career, the Industrial juggernaut known as KMFDM is still a force to be reckoned with on the scene. They’ve survived a constantly changing music industry, line up changes, and most recently, a global pandemic to come back with what might be their greatest, and most “KMFDM”, release to date with HYENA which sees the light of day on September 9th through Metropolis Records. Recently we had the privilege of chatting with KMFDM singer/songwriter Lucia Cifarelli via email about the new record, the upcoming fall tour (Hitting Boston’s Paradise Rock Club on October 12th), her recent solo outing I Am Eye (Available via Bandcamp here) among other topics and it goes a little something like this:
To start, the new record is epic! How much of an influence did the global pandemic and events that have unraveled across the world and domestically affected the music and lyrical content of HYENA?
Thank you! So happy to hear you dig it! We had a lot of fun making it. Of course world events influence what we have to say, It’s KMFDM after all! Because there’s not a corner of the globe that hasn’t been effected by the absolute cluster fuck of issues plaguing the world, we wanted to contribute a bit of levity. Bring the fun, while mixing it up with important messaging. Art is after all the most impressionable way to reach people. It aims straight for the heart.
You’ve been an integral part/voice of KMFDM for some time now, has the way that new music is created for the band changed a lot over the years?
Although the process of how we record generally hasn’t changed much, as artists we’re always evolving, so in a way it feels like we’re in a constant state of transformation. With the addition of guitarist Andee Blacksugar in recent years, that’s brought in an added dynamic. Anytime you bring in a new band member, it ushers in the dawning of a new age. His influence on HYËNA is palpable. It’s a much more guitar driven album.
When you think of many an iconic Industrial outfit, a lot of the music created on record comes from one or two people (Ministry, NIN, Skinny Puppy come to mind) then expanded for the live performance. With the core of KMFDM consisting of you and Sascha (Konietzko), do you have a similar approach or do you utilize who is currently in the band on record as well as live? With that, and considering restrictions/adjustments over the past few years, was the recording of HYENA different than past album sessions?
The musicians on record and out there on stage have for the most part been the same for as long as I’ve been in the band, which is about 20 years now (with the exception of a few scattered European dates over the years). Although Sascha and I are a tight collaborative team, our fellow band mates, whoever they may be at the time, are as integral to the writing/recording process as either one of us and have full artistic freedom. Irrespective of restrictions, because we’re all based in different parts of the world (except for Sascha & I) The band records their parts remotely. Thats been the case for quite some time now and was no different for the recording of HYËNA. That said, I would absolutely LOVE the opportunity to record together in the future, at an iconic studio like Allaire in Woodstock, NY or Real World Studios in Bath, UK.
KMFDM has had a steady cast of characters throughout the years both in the studio and on the road with Andee Blacksugar and Andy Selway currently being two of the KMFDM regulars on record and on the road. With each new record and touring cycle, how do you choose who’ll be helping out on both the record and on the road?
Yes, there certainly have been a lot of characters over the years! But there’s something to be said for consistency. If there’s creative chemistry in the studio or on the road, we tend to pull those folks in with a vice grip lol. We’ve had the same band for a while now. Andy Selway has been in KMFDM for as long as I have (20 years), and Andee Blacksugar since 2017. Generally connections to musicians or tour personnel are made through friends or word of mouth. Although band members are more fixed than road crew, we do our best to keep the same folks (as much as possible) from tour to tour, because it’s not only more comfortable for the band, but over time you become family. If someone isn’t available for a particular tour they usual refer someone else to us. We don’t generally hire someone that hasn’t been recommended, because KMFDM tours are historically brutal. Our upcoming US fall tour is no different. With 22 shows in 24 days, we’re riding hard and fast from beginning to end. We need a team with a proven track record who can deliver on what they’ve been hired to do that we can count on.
That said, is there an artist that you’ve either yet to work with or already worked with that you’re eager to work with on an upcoming KMFDM or Lucia solo record?
I haven’t given much thought to who in particular I’d like to work with on my next solo album or with KMFDM, as much as I’ve thought about writing for someone else altogether. My dream scenario would be to connect with an artist on a major label or well-off indie, who has all the benefit a sizable label affords, who needs great material. Having a number #1 song on The Billboard charts has always been a dream of mine. Since it’s not looking likely to happen for me personally, I’d still love the opportunity to write one for someone else. It’s tricky though, because after being in the business as long as I have, without having had significant success on my own, I’m not exactly someone that comes to mind for an arrangement like that.
You’re about to head back out on the road for the first time in forever. Is the upcoming tour met with a sense of apprehension or excitement with the world the way it is?
A little of both! I’m doing everything I can to mentally and physically prepare myself but I’m not going to lie, the specter of Covid scares the shit out of me. Because our sets are dynamic, the shows are physically and vocally demanding on me. When I get sick that usually means a throat infection, so yes I’m nervous. Plus, with it being 5 years since our last tour I’m not sure who I am out there anymore. Will I have the same amount of stamina? More? Less? There’s no way to know until we get out there. I can’t wait to find out though! Counting down the days now.
Speaking of touring, with a 38-year lifespan so far and diving into your 22nd record, how do you pick a setlist nightly and is there a song you haven’t performed live yet that you’d love to add to the set at some point?
Yes! having a wealth of material to choose from can make it tough deciding on a set list, but its actually been easier this time around than ever before. Since we haven’t performed any songs from our last release “Paradise”, we’ll be including a couple of songs from that, the new album “HYËNA” of course, and a bunch of fan & band favorites/classics. I’d love to perform material from my solo release “I Am Eye”, but sadly thats not possible. Hopefully someday I’ll figure out a way to bring it to the stage.
Wrapping up, you released a new solo record (I Am Eye, released in July of 2021) last year after 18 years (From the Land of Volcanoes dropped in 2003). Why was now the right time to release your own new music and, after such a gap between records, do you have any plans to release more new music under your name in the near future?
18 years! Time flies. What can I say, KMFDM has kept me busy! I honestly hardly thought about it much over the years, until I did. Then it was all I could think about, so I started writing. When Covid hit, our European and US tours were canceled, and with the KMFDM album “In Dub” completed there was a window of time for us to record an album for me. After making “I Am Eye”, I absolutely want to make another. I’m already conceptualizing it in my head. I’m hoping to do some writing from the road. I’ve got a lot of lyrics, I just need to open garage band and get started. I promise not to make you wait 18 years for the next one lol.
KMFDM’s HYENA arrives on September 9th through Metropolis Records which you can pre-order here and you can check out Cifarelli’s I Am Eye NOW by heading to the stream below or by clicking here. For all things Lucia Cifarelli, including a full list of upcoming KMFDM live dates, follow the trail of socials by heading here, here, and here. Or just head here for the whole shebang and then some.