At the shows they play first, in our „RAMMSTEIN – Behind the Scenes of the Stadium Tour“ special they form the final: the DUO JÁTÉKOK from France. Adélaïde Panaget and Naïri Badal report on how the album and music book „Klavier“ was created, how they experience their performances in front of thousands of RAMMSTEIN fans, and what insights into the RAMMSTEN universe a support band actually gets.
You founded DUO JÁTÉKOK about ten years ago. What was your idea behind the project back then?
We decided after many years of soloist studies to specialize in piano duo (two pianos, four hands) because it was refreshing and very interesting to discover a new repertoire, to share the stage with an old friend, and to travel together. We participated in several international competitions which encouraged us in this way. By the way: It was during one of these competitions that we chose the name JÁTÉKOK, which means “games” in Hungarian. It fits because we wanted to have fun – together and with the audience. And it is also a piece written by György Kurtág.
In 2017 you supported RAMMSTEIN for the first time. Were you already RAMMSTEIN fans back then? And, hand on heart: are you today? Is this your kind of music? Does it give you anything?
Actually we hadn’t been fans because we hadn’t known them! It was a huge discovery. We knew some metal bands, such as System Of A Down or Metallica, but RAMMSTEIN was new for us. We listened a lot to their music to get into it – and yes, now we like it!
How did this come about – DUO JÁTÉKOK supporting RAMMSTEIN?
The French booker of Rammstein wanted to present a new type of opening act back then. He was looking for something “more classy”, not in the same mood of metal. He asked a friend of him working in a music shop in Nîmes, the city where we live, whether he knew professional pianists. And here we are! And it was a demand of RAMMSTEIN to play the “Klavier” album.
Did they select the songs you had do play live or was it your choice?
We picked the songs we wanted to transform for two pianos. It was our choice for the setlist. We chose them according to our taste and also to how much the song fits on piano. Some songs don’t sound well on piano. It’s very hard to transform the energy of electric guitars and drums into classical music played on the piano! But in metal there are also lots of ballads … and those sound great on the piano!
Which song did not work out?
”Du Hast”, because of the electro-touch.
And which song did you particularly well?
We think “Engel” and “Mein Herz brennt” are really good and we especially enjoy playing them! We also like “Seeman” because we can sing in it.
How much freedom did you have in rearranging the songs?
They’ve given us a lot of freedom. Actually there already was a piano score of „Klavier“, and it was a good basis for us. Then we listened to a lot their compositions and tried to implement their musical effects in our piano versions. For this tour, we got two Alpha pianos. So we worked with a friend to arrange all the scores for two pianos.
What was it like when you learned you’ve got the offer to open RAMMSTEIN on their stadium tour 2019?
We were so excited! It is unique! And it’s a great experience to see how it works in other musical worlds. But we were also worried because it’s a very long time for us be away from home and without our pianos. On tour we can’t practice as much as we do usually.
At least in Munich, it only worked out partially, I think. Sure, on „Ohne dich“ the entire stadium sang along, which sent shivers down one’s spine. But other songs were hardly recognized by the audience. What’s your résumé from the shows so far?
Actually it is working better and better! In Dresden and Berlin the audience was fantastic. They sang a lot, which created great moments. But actually the point was not to make them sing along throughout the entire set. We wanted to mix with the way we play the piano. Sometimes we don’t follow RAMMSTEIN’s songs exactly. And that is actually more interesting for the audience because it’s a new point of view on these songs. And we think it works because we have received lots of fan messages asking for the scores. In Paris it was even better because we played in the dark with lights on our stage, so everybody was looking and listening to us! That was a great moment in our hometown!
You’re two outstanding pianists – and now you play probably the biggest shows of your life because you cover simple rock songs for metalheads on two pianos. Isn’t that a bit frustrating in a way?
The most frustrating thing is to not play on real grand pianos. But it was very complicated to organize that because in stadiums it may rain, or it is too hot so the pianos don’t stay in tune … And the tour takes three months, so we can’t practice our instruments as much as we do usually.
Would you have also been attracted by a piece of the new RAMMSTEIN album?
Yes, „Deutschland“ – it’s very rhythmical and also political. And „Diamant“, of course.
How do you like the new RAMMSTEIN album?
We like it because they introduce new styles to their music! It is important for artists to not do the same thing all their lives! We know that old fans prefer other albums but musicians have to move on and have to have new inspirations!
How much contact to RAMMSTEIN do you as supporting band actually have, apart from the common songs in the RAMMSTEIN set? Do you party together or is it strictly separated?
We met them sometimes at the after-show party. One time we stayed in the same hotel, so we had breakfast with Till. It was great to talk to him. Paul, Richard and Schneider are also very kind and friendly with us! But we know that touring is hard and tiring, everybody asks for them all the time … so we try to not be sticky.
Is there a funny anecdote about the tour that you can tell us?
Once we went to Till’s dressing room to say hello and he was doing a photo shoot for an animal rights association, and so we saw him with a hedgehog in a bread, like a sandwich! That was really funny.
After you got to know the musicians behind RAMMSTEIN: As people, are they the way you imagined them to be?
We were really happy to see that they are humble and very classy with us. They don’t lose the sense of reality. And they are really professional.
The RAMMSTEIN tour has just been extended with new shows for 2020 – will you be part of it again?
We don’t know yet!
Thank you for the interview! The last words are yours!
We were very happy to see how nice and open-minded the audience was on this tour. Hopefully we also had some success with our attempt to get them excited about classical music. It’s so rewarding to leave your own comfort zone!