Even germans often mistake the phenomena known as „New German Wave“ for just an assortment of weird stuff. In reality, this cambrian explosion of new styles and bands paved the way for a variety of genres in Germany. Most bands went away quietly afterwards, some got (in)famous, and others stuck around for the next few decades.
Even americans probably know Trio and their „Da da da“, the stereotypical german nihilstic dadaism – after all, it featured in a Volkswagen ad.
What people didn’t quite know is that Trio basically did all the things that you would expect from avantgarde punk. And, because this is germany, they of course included axes in their performance, as well as Bommerlunder:
But the most iconic artist of this era was probably Nena, with all her 99 balloons…
Awesome, isn’t it? Alas, this takes us away from the punk I wanted to point out today, so I won’t go into the details of her (in my opinion) much better song. Listen to it anyway, I might have something to say about it at some other point…
Contemporaries of Nena, and probably as iconic were Extrabreit, and their gleeful song about a burning school hyped schoolkids of at least two generations:
And yes, we have guitars, plastic trousers and seditious lyrics – the people who were responsible for taping this didn’t realize it yet, but this is a true german punk band!
The lines between punk and wave were still pretty blurred at this point in time, so we should certainly not forget DAF and their „Dance the Mussolini“:
And then there’s KIZ, I actually have no idea where to put them:
But the point of this particular post is Punk, and I would fail you if I wouldn’t mention the two big fishes in the small pond of german punkrock: Die Ärzte (out of Berlin!) and Die Toten Hosen, hailing from Düsseldorf (Not Cologne!) Fans from either band tended to maintain some sort of snobbish rivalvry against the other band, firmly believing that „their“ punk gods were clearly superior.
In style, Die Ärzte were definitely a bit more silly, whereas Die Toten Hosen could get outright political and serious at times.
To illustrate, see this Toten Hosen song about daddy hanging himself in the attic, dressed up as santa claus:
And compare with Die Ärzte and their Peace Tank:
(the monologue at the beginning? The german dub of Leslie Nielsens speech in the second Naked Gun movie. I’ll get into the pecularities of dubbing a lot later…)
As you can probably guess by the toilet humour, Die Ärzte were afraid of nothing when it came to lyrics, so they had funny and life-affirming songs about
- the monster in the closet
- the german chancellor beating up his wife
- spontaneously exploding people
- people being literally scalped
and so on. Unsurprisingly their albums got banned quite often, to „protect the youth“. The only possible answer to that, of course, was a song explaining all the BDSM fetishes in clinical detail, set to a video of dystopian censors destroying their stuff:
Die Toten Hosen meanwhile recorded a song with britains Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs: