Saturday, January 15, 2011

Here are the boys from the Opel Gang!

rude t-shirtsThe first time I got consciously in touch with punk music was in a rather delicate time in my life. In the summer while my parents were going through their divorce I was sent to my grandparents in a little village in Germany. My uncle had just bought a double album by German altpunkers Die Toten Hosen and while I was going through his rather cool record collection I found it and practically claimed it as well. I'm not sure what went through my mind when I heard them for the first time but reality was that I went home with a couple of cassettes of Die Toten Hosen - and my uncle's CD. A young teenager with parents going through a divorce getting her hands on a punk record. It might be every parents' nightmare. For me it was an eye-opener, especially when they released 'Learning English, lesson one' only one year later which included only covers by their favourite punk bands, mainly with their favourite punk bands. Of course I already learnt about the Sex Pistols and the Ramones but there was so much more! It was like they sent out a mixtape with punk favourites. No such thing as youtube, wikipedia, google, spotify, lastfm and internet my friends, we kids had to learn about music in other ways.

times were good thenI spent the majority of the nineties listening to Die Toten Hosen. I also got to learn about another german punk band, Die Ärzte, who I've seen live a few times, met even (really nice guys, very laid back) but who I quickly fell out of love with because they started to somewhat annoy me by flirting with commercialism. With then releasing an album about a barber shop they lost me completely. I'm not sure why I stopped listening to Die Toten Hosen after a while as well because they didn't quite do that, even though they were fairly decent cover stars of German pop-bible Bravo. But I guess I got other interests and with me not being in Germany so frequently, that was a connection that somehow cooled down a lot as well.

I never stopped liking Die Toten Hosen and to be honest, these guys are still cool after all these years. They released their fun punk album 'Opel Gang' in 1983 (my cassette looks like it was purchased right then but I bought it 7 years later) and as the years went by they got more political but never lost their fun side either. Opium für's VolkFor instance, on their 1996 album 'Opium für's Volk' (my favourite album and the last one I was massively into) they had 'Viva la revolution' followed by 'Zehn kleine Jägermeister' which lists down what happens if you drown 10 Jägermeister, or something like that anyway. It's quite genius and they get away with it as it's their nature. They sing mainly in German as you might have guessed but started to sing more in English which personally I don't like that much. It's not that Campino's (the singer) English is bad, his mother after all is British, but his voice is very German in my ears. They're not only being political in songs, but also in campaigns such as posing naked for an anti-fur campaign. And they are big football fans and with their cash they have sponsored their favourite team Fortuna Düsseldorf which indeed resulted the players wearing a skull on their shirts.

I'll leave you with this classic clip from 1993 (hence the bad quality) of 'Wünsch Dir was' before diving into my archives and getting a Tote Hosen fix.