During a recent interview with Ultimate Guitar, Rammstein’s long-term pyro expert Nikolai Sabottka reflected on the band’s earlier use of explosives and revealed that their work attracted the attention of rock and metal icons such as KISS, Slipknot, Mötley Crüe, and Green Day.
Pyrotechnics are widely used in rock and metal live performances and have now become an inseparable part of live shows. While many have made a name with their stage shows featuring explosives, fire breathing, and other tricks, Rammstein is probably one of the most famous acts.
Nikolai Sabottka started his career as Rammstein’s tour manager, but his love for pyrotechnics led him to establish a company named FFP, working on the use of pyrotechnics during stage shows. He’s been working with Rammstein for a long time and several A-list bands.
During his conversation with Ultimate Guitar, the pyrotech said that before he intervened, Rammstein ‘had some fairly unorthodox ways of performing live with explosives.’ This affected their touring opportunities and live shows since some venues and fire authorities were uncomfortable with their work.
Thus, Nikolai Sabottka’s work with the band enabled Rammstein to increase the use of pyrotechnics in their shows and earn the trust of venue owners and other authorities. Nikolai’s work has been highly appreciated in the rock and metal scenes. His clientele now includes several world-renowned bands, including KISS, Slipknot, Genesis, Björk, Avenged Sevenfold, and many others more.
Here’s what Nikolai Sabottka said about Rammstein’s early work:
“Well, the band started off without professional pyrotechs other than Till Lindemann being one himself, and had some fairly unorthodox ways of performing live with explosives… while it increased their popularity pretty quickly, it also had left some venues and fire authorities not so happy. A good part of my work for several years was to reverse this while the show had to look even more spectacular, and we were and are continuously pushing the envelope.”
As for the widening clientele, Nikolai said:
“Meanwhile, we have been very fortunate to widen our clientele from Robbie Williams, over Genesis, KISS, Slipknot, Björk, The Weekend, Amon Amarth, Corey Taylor, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Die Toten Hosen, Kraftklub, Caspar, Mötley Crüe, Green Day, Volbeat to TV Award shows like the MTV EMA’s and the Brits, and many more. A very diverse spectrum.”
While pyrotechnics is a glamorous addition to a live show and has been appreciated by rock and metal fans, it is also quite dangerous. Several accidents have been caused by pyrotechnics, such as when Metallica’s James Hetfield suffered second-degree burns because of a pyrotechnics mistake.