Thursday, August 23, 2007

DIE TOTEN HOSEN: Friss Oder Stirb (Single)

The members of Die Toten Hosen (literally "The Dead Trousers" in English although most closely translated to "The Dead Beats;" "tote Hose" is a German expression meaning "impotent", "lifeless", "boring", or "nothing going on") are Campino (Andreas Frege), Kuddel (Andreas von Holst), Vom (Stephen 'Vom' Ritchie), Andi (Andreas Meurer) and Breiti (Michael Breitkopf). Although most of the members are German, drummer Vom is actually from England and replaced Wölli as the drummer in 1999; Wölli's untimely departure from the band was due to injuries caused by a car accident. Wölli himself had replaced Trini in 1985, and is still an honorary member of the band; Trini became the band's manager when Wölli joined.The band has existed for over 20 years, and their songs' focus gradually shifted from funny and nonsensical to serious; the songs from their first LP were mostly about having fun, but by the end of the 1980s they were focusing more on political and social issues such as racism.
Part of the folklore surrounding the band is the story that in their early days they played for free at private birthday parties or similar events. However, this was only under the condition that the host provided an unlimited beer supply and paid for all damages caused by the band. The debut single "Wir sind bereit" ("We are ready") was released in 1982, and was followed by their first album, "Opel-Gang", the next year. In 1988, Die Toten Hosen released the LP "Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau", which featured the song "Hier Kommt Alex" (referring to the movie A Clockwork Orange based on the book by Anthony Burgess); in 1993, Frank Castorf produced a German theater version of the book, in which the band performed as actors and musicians. "Hier Kommt Alex" (here comes Alex) was later redone for the Unplugged show in 2005 with the opening piano of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Their 1000th concert was on 28 June 1997, in the Düsseldorfer Rheinstadium, and was attended by more than 60,000 fans. A Dutch girl, Rieke Lax, died in the crowd; after various talks with security and police, the band decided to play soft songs until the end, in order not to panic the crowd. Later the band produced the song "Alles ist Eins" in memoriam for the Dutch girl. Their first tour after this event was as part of the 1998 Warped Tour to New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Hawaii, and included hospital visits for Campino after two of the nine Australian dates (Byron Bay and Geelong). Die Toten Hosen have collaborated with numerous other musicians (like Bad Religion, AC/DC, U2, Rolling Stones); they are also one of the few German punk bands popular outside of Germany (esp. in South America, Australia, Eastern Europe) other notable bands being Die Ärzte and WIZO. As longtime fans of their local soccer team Fortuna Düsseldorf they sponsored the club from 2001 to 2003.
In August, 2006, Campino (Andreas Frege) starred as Mack the Knife in a new version of "The Threepenny Opera" staged at Berlin's Admiralspalast, a short distance down Friedrichstrasse from where the play received its premier in 1928. Staged by actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, the much-awaited production opened to mixed reviews, with cheers for German rock star Campino, but scattered boos for Brandauer's "conventional" staging.

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1 comment:

Highlander said...

I seem to recall hearing Die Toten Hosen in the late-80's singing something along the lines of "Ich will dich tragen, Ich will dich essen..." (roughly, "I will carry, I will eat you") - does that ring any bells? Have been looking for it ever since...