Die Ärzte: "The Doctors"

A German "pop punk" band that's been around since about 1985, and still producing stuff. Consists of Rodrigo Gonzalez on Bass, Farin Urlaub on Guitar and Bela B. on Drums.

They have some silly songs about things like Madona's Large Intestine (Madonas Dickdarm 1) and some really cruel songs, like "Without You2" (as in, 'the world would be such a nice place...') or Quark, about someone who talks way too much. They also have some quasi-political stuff, like "Ewige Blumenkraft" (Eternal Flowerpower) or "Schrei Nach Liebe" which is about neo nazis.

Acording to their website, http://www.bademeister.com/, 'the best band in the world'. They are good, and prolific, but obviously also given to hyperbole.

1. Die Ärtzte are very, very German. On the occasion they pronounce English words, you can hear this strong accent. I have translated or explained the titles above with an eye for making the paragraph readable. All titles are in German.

2. "Ohne Dich" see 1.

Die Ärzte

"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. (Dirk Felsenheimer). The horror movie freak Bela had been in another band called "Soilent Grün" before, 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 in Kreuzberg 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 well.

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 Shortly 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:

  • Hurra
  • Schunder-Song
  • Männer sind Schweine
  • 3-Tage-Bart
  • unrockbar


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