Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Punk Rock Book Circle

Those musicians, eh? They all know each other, and once one of them starts off a trend, that's it. They're all at it.

I read in the latest Zitty magazine (don't you love that name?) that Bela B. of the big big German (pop-)punk band Die Ärzte likes nothing better after a gig than a good read. I was surprised. None of the punk bands I've ever seen live sat down with a book afterwards (unless it was a book of matches - boom, boom!). I was interested in what kind of books literate punk rockers read to wind down from a sweaty gig, so I looked into it. The result was a bizarre never-ending circle of collaborations between musicians who write.

Bela B. (actually Dirk) Felsenheimer wrote a couple of vampire books in the 1990s, which now seem to be out of print. But one of his first projects after Die Ärzte split was to produce an album for the great white hope Rocko Schamoni. And his book Dorfpunks was a pretty big hit in 2004. I haven't read it - but it's about punks in a West German village in the early 80s. He's written three other books but I suspect they're not as interesting.

Now Schamoni had already collaborated on the musical front with Christiane Rösinger's old band the Lassie Singers. And now she's written her own book, Das schöne Leben, with a recommendation by Rocko on the back. I haven't read it - but it's about a rural youth abandoned for life as a musician in 1980s West Berlin.

And who else was in the Lassie Singers, if only briefly? That's right, Funny van Dannen. And he's written an incredible seven books. I haven't read any of them - but they're mostly bizarre short stories and poems.

From Funny van Dannen we move on to Farin Urlaub and thus back to Die Ärzte. As that Wikipedia entry tells us in typical stilted English, "It is a never confired guess, but most people think, that he is the secret singer of the Funny van Dannen cover-song "Unbekanntes Pferd" (Unknown Horse) on the "Köpfer"-EP of the band Rantanplan." Farin Urlaub has only produced one book, a coffee-table photo book on India and Bhutan. Apparently it's sold out. I haven't read it.

Mr Urlaub made a guest appearence on the 1995 album Der Mettwurstpapst of a certain Heinz Strunk. And much, much later, Strunk wrote the "fairly autobiographical" novel Fleisch ist mein Gemüse. First published in 2004, it's just been made into a film. I haven't read it - but it's about a sad suburban kid who plays in bands in the 1980s.

In between those two points, Strunk worked for the German music channel VIVA. And gosh, so did Charlotte Roche. I don't have to tell you about her book. I have read it - and it's not about a kid who joins a band in the 1980s. Roche and Strunk even went on a reading tour together a couple of years ago, reading extracts from a dissertation on Penis Injuries Resulting from Masturbation with Vacuum Cleaners. Apparently, they made men in the audience faint.

And Charlotte completes our little circle for tonight. Because she recorded a single (1., 2., 3.) with none other than - Bela B. Watch the video - I hope you like it.

Incidentally, those six degrees of separation link to me, too. Because one of Die Ärzte walked into a pub in Berlin in 1993 and asked my (not fascist) young man and his (not fascist) mates to play Nazis in the video for their song Schrei nach Liebe. They refused - impolitely.


isabo said...

And Chief Lassie Singer/Songwriter Almut Klotz and her boyfriend Rev. Christian Dabeler, who used to tour with Rocko Schamoni and Robert Forster (Go Betweens), wrote "Aus dem Leben des Manuel Zorn" and published the album "Menschen an sich". Which isn't exactly punk, aber ich wollte es der Vollständigkeit halber doch erwähnt haben.

kjd said...

Gosh, how knowledgable you are. Actually not much of the actual music in this posting is exactly punk, is it?

But the books are genuine books.