Germany has had a thriving Punk scene through some very troubled times, they have had more than most to protest about since inspiration arrived from the UK in the shape of those 77 bands. The Dead Trousers have probably been the biggest name in the German Punk scene since it started, even being widely recognised throughout the rest of the world not only for their powerful songs but also because of their voice against Political and social injustice. The German translation Die Toten Hosen is definitely more familiar around music lovers; they have undoubtedly made an impact with many bands sighting them as influences over the years both in Germany and further collaborating with many of Punks figures who themselves inspired the band in the early days.
Germany was a different environment in 1982 when they first formed in Dusseldorf, and as with most Punk movements there was a very real need to find a vehicle to protest and this was found through music. From their debut single Wir sind bereit (We are ready) they gradually built a reputation for themselves that led to being snapped up by major record labels, the constraints of this were soon recognised which led to them forming their own label Jochens Kleine Plattenfirma (JKP) in 1995.
The band has many interests and have supported a number of causes including sport and politics, together with their passion for Ice Hockey and football they are a band that play more than music. They were quick in voicing their opposing views against the growing right-wing movement very loudly, making a stance that was clear to those that followed the band and the German public. They have also been active supporters of Greenpeace and at one point financing a compilation album in aid of Immigrants rights.
Not content with voicing their opinions they put their protest into action, by delivering forbidden western Punk Rock over the Berlin Wall to the East German youth. Disguising themselves as communist loving citizens they managed to set up a gig in a small church, to the delight of a handful of East German’s, they played what would be deemed as an unacceptable western influence in a dangerous defiant act welcomed by suppressed youths over the border. Campino, lead singer of Die Toten Hosen, remembers how the band disguised themselves to get through border controls between West and East Berlin. “We had to comb our hair, get proper clothes on.” He knew why the East German authorities would stop them if they recognised them. “Punk rock didn’t officially exist in the East, they didn’t want to spread the virus in any form.”Only around 25 could come to the secret concert in an East Berlin church. But “everyone in the room knows this was something very special and maybe would never happen again”.
With last years Die Toten Hosen – Laune Der Natur / Learning English Lesson 2 being another extension of Punk classics and album number 30, there seems to be no let up in the bands’ motivation to have something to say and say it loudly to the world.