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Weil du nur einmal lebst – die Toten Hosen auf Tour (You only Live Once)
by Becky Tan

Cordula Kablitz-Post, Germany

Die Toten Hosen is a punk rock band from Düsseldorf which first performed in 1982. Members are Campino (singer), Kuddel and Breiti (guitarists), Andi (bass guitarist) and Vom (drummer). All are German except Vom who joined from England in 1992 due to the death of the original drummer Wölli. Director Kablitz-Post accompanied the group on tour for seven months, collecting 180 hours of film. After just two concerts Cambino suffers acute hearing loss, which sets them back for five weeks and performances are cancelled.

In Germany they perform in Berlin, Chemnitz, Stuttgart, Gräfenhainichen, and Düsseldorf. They go to Lucerne, Switzerland, and even Buenes Aires, Argentina. It’s too bad there is no showing of them performing in Hamburg. We are treated to 21 songs and sit with them in their bus as they go on to the next city. All their performances, even in large stadiums, seem to be sold out. The enthusiastic fans are interesting in that there is a mix of 50-60-year olds who were there from the beginning 36 years ago, as well as the next generation of 20-30-year-olds, and even some grandchildren. During the performance they share political opinions as liberals who accept immigrants. They are definitely anti-far-right and anti-racism; they extract neo-Nazis’ and skinheads who cause trouble in performances. They believe that other musical groups with this kind of publicity should take the opportunity to share their beliefs. Rod, a bass guitarist from a parallel group which originated about the same time, Die Ärzte, also appears. They are loyal to their supporting team of producers, tour organizers, catering, security, etc.

Die Toten Hosen (which my American colleague tells me are called “Dead Pants” in the USA) came to the 2019 Berlinale where their film premiered in the setion Berlinale Special. They filed into a press conference, all looking like someone’s dad going to a parent-teacher’s meeting at school: nicely combed hair, wrinkles around the eyes, ordinary middle-class clothes. Perhaps the drummer Vom could pass as a punk musician with his longer black hair. He is at least a head shorter and much younger than all of the other band members.  In the film, they looked more like punk, than they do in real life, because their hair was messed up and they took off their clothes to reveal a huge collection of tattoos. In Berlin they discussed their decision to cooperate with Kablitz-Post in this film, saying that they weren’t getting any younger and perhaps they should grasp this opportunity before it is too late. On the other hand, long-years of experience lead them to believe that they no longer need to prove themselves. Campino seems to be the leading personality and answered most of the questions at the press conference. He was also the leading person in the film. They still love performing and feel “lucky to be able still to do this.” They said that 90% of their job consists of waiting around and they really couldn’t describe how they write songs. They consider themselves still “punk,” although there is question of the difference between punk and rock and how it would describe them.