German band tries to keep techno sounds fresh

En Esch, one of the percussionists and vocalists for the techno gurus KMFDM, said the group originally came together to make heavy dance beat music."Our biggest influences were anti-rock and pro punk and wave," Esch said during a phone call from Norfolk, Va. "Of course, since we came from Germany, we also had a lot of machine music in our minds."

KMFDM - Esch, vocalist and sequencer Sasha Konietzko, guitarist Gunter Schulz and vocalist Abby Travis - will play Saltair pavilion on Tuesday, Dec. 9. Sister Machine Gun and Rammstein will open the show at 7:30 p.m.

Esch said, however, non-mainstream music wasn't all KMFDM tapped into for electronic, progressive sound.

"We were also influenced by Frank Zappa if you can believe that," Esch said.

KMFDM - an acronym for Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid, which is loosely translated as "No Pity for the Majority" - currently has more than 11 albums in its cataloge. That's not including the other independent and rare releases.

"We have a certain history of making, to our standards, good music," Esch said. "But in order for us to do that, we can't settle for staying in one place. We are constantly thinking of ways to keep our music updated, but looking at what we first wanted to do. It all comes down to playing music."

Esch joined KMFDM in 1984. Konietzko and multi-media performer Udo Sturm had set the basis for the group and also worked with Peter Missing and Raymond "Pig" Watts.

As time went on, the group homed in on its current base line-up. This gave the group the freedom to allow many other artists to come and go as they pleased. This time around, Mark Skold from Skold and Shotgun Messiah and Ogre from Skinny Puppy have teamed with KMFDM for this tour.

"It's interesting how the band can put all these people together," Esch said.

KMFDM's new album is a four- symbol title (think "Led Zeppelin VI") that features an explosion, skull & crossbones, a bomb, a downward spiral and a hammering fist.

"I call it `The New Album,' " Esch said dryly. "We got the title from a comic book curse.

"The album was not suppose to be anything shocking," Esch said. "Everyone put stuff in and went to record the tracks. It was a mutual project, just like it needed to be."