"Die Beste Band der Welt"
Die Ärzte (the doctors) are a German punk rock band,
founded in Berlin in 1982 by Farin Urlaub (Jan Vetter) and Bela B.
The horror movie freak Bela had been in another band called "Soilent
and when they dissolved, Farin filled in. The two were a good
combination, the rebel and the potential teenie star. Later they were
joined by the drummer Sahnie (Hans Runge). In the beginning they insisted on
spelling their band name "Ärtzte" with an extra T. Allegedly they chose
that name because
so far there hadn't been any records filed under the letter a "Ä" in
the record stores ...
Die Ärzte were punks, but not really extreme. More on the funny side
with a feeling for
subversiveness. They soon had smaller appearances at festivals and in clubs
and started to earn
themselves a reputation in the Berlin underground scene. The hardcore punks
didn't like them, but nevertheless they made their way. They won a
competition sponsored by the Berlin senate in 1984 and used the prize
money to record their first Mini-LP "Uns gehts prima" (We're fine). The
mainstream media started to notice and they signed a record deal with CBS
(now Sony), rather revolutionary given their snotty attitude. But anyway,
soon after they released their breakthrough album "Debil", offering
cheerful punky music and lyrics ranging from funny to controversial.
Their next album "Im Schatten der Ärzte" from 1985 met with mixed
success, but the real
problems were within the band. Sahnie had other priorities and repeated clashes
forced Farin and Bela to find a way to get rid of him. So they finally payed
him 10.000 DM in compensation
and Sahnie was ex. Soon after they started to record their next album "Die
Ärzte" together with their
new drummer "The incredible Hagen" (Hagen Liebing). However, the BPjS
(Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften -
approximately "Federal Review Office for Youth-Endangering Literature") had
issues with the song "Geschwisterliebe" (which it saw as an invitation to
incest) and subsequently "indexed" the album. That meant no
advertisements, no posters, trouble when playing live and on and on. Even
the older album "Debil" got indexed retrospectively because of the song
"Claudia hat nen Schäferhund" (Claudia has a German shepard ... guess what
it's about?). All this was of course a kind of censorship and very hard
on the band. Nevertheless they released the best-of album "Ist das alles?"
(That's all?) and the compilation "Ab 18" - which promptly got indexed as
In the course of 1987 Farin hatched the idea to dissolve the band because
they had become uncreative.
However they recorded a last album "Das ist nicht die ganze Wahrheit" (This
is not the whole truth) and spent the whole of 1988 on a goodbye tour. The
following live album "Nach uns die Sintflut" (After us the Flood ... or
maybe better: Devil May Care) climbed to the top of the charts.
Bela and Farin both started solo projects (called Depp Jones and King Kong),
but were at least commercially not very successful. Their record label
satisfied the demand for Ärzte material by releasing
the aptly titled "Die Ärzte früher! Der Ausverkauf geht weiter!" (Die
Ärzte in former times ...
the sellout continues) in 1989.
In 1993 it was time for a reunion: Die Ärzte continued with a new
member, the bassist Rod (Rodrigo Gonzalez). Bela now played the drums,
Farin the guitar and they all take turns singing. Their comeback album
"Die Bestie in Menschengestalt"
(The Beast in Human Guise) became a great success. 1994 saw the
retrospective "Das Beste Von Kurz Nach Früher Bis Jetze" (The Best From
After Earlier Till Now). In 1995 they released the "Planet Punk" and in
the following year the concept album "Le Frisur" about hair in all
variations. 1998 saw the next album, named simply "13". They continued in
the same pace, the live record "Wir wollen nur deine Seele" (We just want
your soul) dates from 1999, the year 2000 brought a new album called
"Runter mit den Spendierhosen, Unsichtbarer!" (hard to translate ... Down
with the pants, invisible man!). In 2001 die Ärzte released a tour cd
called "5,6,7,8, Bullenstaat!", a return to their earlier punk days, and
Farin released his solo album "Endlich Urlaub". In 2002 they did an MTV
unplugged concert, the CD is called "Rock'n'Roll
Realschule", and finally in 2003 they released their last work so far, a
double album called "Geräusch". To quote from a review I read on
laut.de - 'Before us lie 26 Songs which do not ignore a single central
issue of our time: social criticism, disenchantment with politics,
rock'n'roll, piercing, excrement'. After more than 20 years on stage, die Ärzte still show no sign of weariness ...
Now there are certainly people who find Die Ärzte and their lyrics
crude, and some of the earlier stuff really was ... but who cares, it's damn funny! And sometimes it even has a deeper meaning :) I can't translate
it all, but if you know German, do give them a try!
A few tracks I can recommend:
- Männer sind Schweine