The 10 best German punk bands, as chosen by Beatsteaks
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Beatsteaks formed in Berlin back in 1995. Their mix of Californian punk rock and homegrown hardcore brought them to the attention of US punk label Epitaph, who released their second album (and international debut) 'Launched' in 2000.
Over the last two decades, they've released seven studio albums, a string of live recordings and EPs, as well as the compilation 23 Singles earlier this year.
We challenged Arnim Teutoburg-Weiß (guitar/lead vocals) and Peter Baumann (rhythm guitar/vocals) to pick the best 10 punk bands to come from Germany...
DIE ÄRZTE (Berlin)
Peter: “I was a huge fan of Die Ärzte and I would get every recording and every poster I could get my hands on – which wasn’t easy living in East Berlin at that time. They had explicit lyrics, they looked good, and they had great songs. After the Wall came down in 1989, I went to their concerts and I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing them in real life. Later, after we formed our own band and toured a lot, our paths crossed again and they asked us if we would open up for them on their next big tour. That was a dream come true for me. We learned a lot from them on those tours and we're very thankful for that. We still keep contact nowadays.”
DIE TOTEN HOSEN (Düsseldorf)
Arnim: “There are two really big punk bands in Germany. There's Die Ärzte, and then there’s Die Toten Hosen, which literally means 'The Dead Trousers'. Die Toten Hosen are huge – in every kind of way. It’s been fascinating to see them grow from this really punk band into more of a rock thing. We’ve also had the privilege to play with them on several occasions, and they’re an amazing gang! Another amazing thing about them is that they can play a club gig one night, and a stadium the next, and both shows will be great. We grew up in East Berlin, and I think they were the most influential West German punk band in the East. They were hugely influential. What was so special about them was that you could hear the influence of the English punk movement, but they were the first to sing those kinds of songs in German – that was unique back then.”
DIE GOLDENEN ZITRONEN (Hamburg)
Peter: “Die Goldenen Zitronen – or The Golden Lemons – have some similarities with Die Ärzte and that’s why I like them. Maybe they were a little more serious with their lyrics sometimes, but the sound and feel of the music was definitely up my alley. Somebody singing something forbidden in my own language had a big fascination for me. Back then, that was almost unheard of.”
FEELING B (East Berlin)
Arnim: “We also had some punk bands of our own in East Berlin, like Feeling B. I never actually saw them, but they had a reputation as being a really dangerous live band. They were like the NWA of East Germany. And they didn’t just play squats – they played beaches, streets, anywhere there was space and a power connection really, and that was so cool. Unfortunately, I was too young to see that though.”
Peter: “And the story goes on, because one of the guitar players [Paul Landers] and the keyboard player [Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz] went on to become the founding members of Rammstein.”
Arnim: “Turbostaat is a very special sounding punk rock band from Flensburg. All the Beatsteaks love them. They’re just great. Check out their record Flamingo, for a start! In 2004, we covered Fu Manchu’s Hell on Wheels and Turbostaat rewrote the lyrics in German. It was originally the B-side for one of our singles, and now Frieda und die Bomben is one of the biggest tracks when we play live.”
Peter: “They were heavily influenced by Oma Hans...”
OMA HANS (Hamburg)
**Arnim: **“Oma Hans were together from 2001 until 2006. I met the singer once, Jens Rachut – crazy guy! Great singer. Great lyrics. And great humour, too! Our drummer Thomas [Götz] is a big fan of this band.”
Peter: “Thomas made me a compilation of their music. After I listened to their music for the first time, I knew who had influenced Turbostaat heavily. I really like their sound and style of music because it combines many things that I like about punk rock. It’s kind of hard to describe, and I’m not sure if it has the same magic if you’re not a native German speaker. The same thing counts for Die Ärzte, by the way.”
Arnim: “Then there was the Hamburg squat scene, and there was this one really great band from there called Slime. A lot of punk rock fans in Germany will tell you that this is the band, and that they’re the best. They were very political, and they have lots of awesome records. But sadly they split up before I was old enough to go to their concerts.”
Arnim: “They're a really cool new band. I think they’ve only put out two albums so far. Our drummer Thomas is a punk expert and he always brings the really good stuff for us to listen to on tour. They remind me a bit of The Libertines, although they don’t look like them! But they do sound very chaotic so check them out. Their last record is called Jiles.”
Peter: “And finally there’s another really cool band from Berlin called Terrorgruppe – or Terror Group – and they’ve been around for a long time. They’re like an institution of German punk, and everybody who is involved in the scene knows them well. They were signed to Epitaph for a while…"
Arnim: “And their singer Archi [Alert] was very supportive of us when we first started out. He liked our band and he helped us out. He was the guy who introduced us to the greatest live sound engineer in the whole wide world: Tom Körbler! My favourite Terrorgruppe song is Neulich Nacht.”