Die Ärzte ("The Doctors") is a punk band from Berlin. Die Ärzte are one of the best-known German punk rock bands and have released over 12 albums. The band consists of guitarist Farin Urlaub, drummer Bela B. and bass player Rodrigo González. All three write and perform their songs.
Die Ärzte were formed in Berlin in 1982 by Jan Vetter (alias Farin Urlaub, a pun on the expression "Fahr in Urlaub", meaning "Go on vacation"), Dirk Felsenheimer (alias Bela B.) and bassist Hans Runge (alias Sahnie (German) ). Bela and Farin had previously played together in the punk band Soilent Grün, established in 1979 and named after the film Soylent Green.
After Soilent Grün broke up in 1982, Bela and Farin decided to form another band. In the first two years (including Sahnie) they mostly played in clubs in their hometown, Berlin. Their first release was a contribution to the sampler 20 schäumende Stimmungshits (rough translation: "20 foamy party hits"), featuring a strong alcohol theme (for example, the chorus of "Vollmilch" translates as "you drink whiskey, he drinks beer, I drink milk"). In 1983 they won a rock contest in Berlin and with the prize money they recorded their debut EP Uns geht's prima... ("We're doing great..."). Finally CBS signed them, and they released their first LP Debil ("Moronic") in 1984 then their second Im Schatten der Ärzte ("In the shadow of Die Ärzte") a year later.
After the second album they parted ways with Sahnie due to internal problems. He was replaced by producer Manne Praeker on the third album. Later "The Incredible Hagen" played bass for them until their breakup, although he never became an official member of the band. The third album was also the first time that Farin used distorted guitar sounds on most of the album, moving the band's sound towards rock. In 1987 the German Federal Centre for Media Harmful to Young Persons put the songs "Geschwisterliebe" ("Sibling love", a song about incest, from the eponymous album Die Ärzte), "Claudia hat 'nen Schäferhund" ("Claudia has a German shepherd", about zoophilia, from Debil) and "Schlaflied" ("Lullaby", about a monster coming and eating you after falling asleep, also from Debil) on the German List of Media Harmful to Young People (often called "the Index"). This prohibited the band from performing the songs live or promoting the two albums and, more importantly, shops were prohibited from openly displaying these records on their shelves. At their concerts they circumvented the ban by playing only the music of the prohibited songs, while the audience sang the lyrics. After several trials against shops that still openly sold the records, a lot of shops completely removed Die Ärzte from their stock. The result was a drop in record sales and financial problems for the band. In response they released the best of album Ist das alles? ("Is that all?") with three new songs and the 10" compilation Ab 18 (Adults only) containing all indexed songs and some other songs with controversial, mainly sex-themed lyrics. Although advice not to sell the album to minors was printed on the cover, Ab 18 was also put on the index.
The inner sleeve was put on the index separately because it contained the lyrics. Some tour posters were considered misogynistic and were also put on the list. They contained a drawing of a tied up and gagged woman called Gwendoline that was inspired by bondage artist John Willie and is the mascot of the band. Since then, Die Ärzte have used a skeleton version of Gwendoline in the artwork of most of their albums. Since 2000, there are two oversized Gwendolines that confine the stage on both sides (especially at outdoor concerts). The commissioned artist had first colored the figures independently. However, after the Hard Pop Days were played with these colorful editions and a houseboat at Popkomm in Cologne was adorned with them, they were recolored into classic black and white design.
The following album Das ist nicht die ganze Wahrheit... ("That is not the whole truth...") was even more successful and got into the top 10 of the German album charts. Die Ärzte decided to go out on a high note and split up after doing one last tour and releasing a triple live album, Nach uns die Sintflut ("Devil may care", lit.: "After us the deluge"), later released as a double CD, that became their first number one in the album charts.
Neither Farin's new band King Køng nor Bela's Depp Jones were really successful, so in 1993 they decided to reform. They invited former Depp Jones guitarist Rodrigo González, to take over on bass duties. They released the comeback album Die Bestie in Menschengestalt (The beast in human form) and the single "Schrei nach Liebe" (Cry for love), their first song to have political lyrics. It was recorded as a statement against the increasing racism and right wing extremist violence in Germany at that time. The translation of the song's refrain is "Your violence is just a silent cry for love / Your combat boots are craving for tenderness / You never learned to express yourself / And your parents never had time for you / Oh oh oh asshole". The album was more varied than previous releases, including ballads, punk, rock and even a song resembling Volksmusik. Both the album and single became big hits in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The follow-up Planet Punk was also very successful.
In 1996 they wanted to make an EP just about hair, however, they wrote too many songs for an EP and it became their next album, Le Frisur. It was not as successful as its predecessors. Also during this year, as well as touring in their own right, they also supported Kiss — a dream came true for Bela and Rod. In 1998 their single "Männer sind Schweine" (Men are pigs) became their first number 1 single in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with the album 13 also being number 1 in Germany and Switzerland. After a lot of promotion and touring that year, they decided to take a break and also to never again play "Männer sind Schweine" during concerts, due in part to its huge chart success, which in turn attracted remakes, e.g. "Frauen sind Schweine" (Women are pigs).
In 2000 they came back with the album, Runter mit den Spendierhosen, Unsichtbarer! ("Stop feeling so generous, invisible one!", lit.: "Down with the generosity trousers, invisible one!"), and two top 10 singles. For the third single from the album they released the 30-second-song Yoko Ono, which, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is the shortest single ever released (with a videoclip)—another example of their sense of humour. During their tour in 2001 they sold the limited edition album 5, 6, 7, 8 - Bullenstaat! ("5,6,7,8 - Cop State!") consisting of short punk songs that were written and recorded with the previous years full-length album published a year before, and with some cover songs that were published in 1995 (another tour only EP).
After that they again took a break: Bela did some acting and Farin recorded his first solo album Endlich Urlaub! ("Urlaub at last!", or "Holiday at last!"). In late 2002 they did an MTV Unplugged session in a school auditorium with the school's band (Albert Schweitzer Gymnasium, Hamburg, Germany) which they released under the title Rock'n'Roll Realschule (in allusion to the Ramones' song and the film Rock 'n' Roll High School). The following year they released a new two-CD album, Geräusch ("Noise"). In December 2003 a live DVD was recorded and published the following year.
While the band was on another break, Farin released another solo album Am Ende der Sonne ("At the end of the Sun"). In 2005 a new version of the album Debil was released under the name Devil containing the original track listings plus some B-sides and previously unreleased bonus material. The album can now be sold legally, since all the tracks have been removed from the Index. In 2006, Bela B made a solo album, Bingo. On 2 November 2007, Die Ärzte released their latest album, Jazz ist anders ("Jazz is nothing like this", lit. "Jazz is different"), which was preceded by the single Junge ("Boy"). Junge was shown for the first time on MTV TRL Germany on 14 September 2007. The album was followed by two tours, in winter 2007 and summer 2008.
After they played a few concerts in 2009, they took the longest break since the reunion. In April 2011 they toured under the pseudonym „Laternen-Joe“.
Die Ärzte announced a new studio album, to be released on 13 April 2012 and a tour from May to August. The first single from the upcoming album was released (as an EP with 3 additional tracks) on March 2 and is called "zeiDverschwÄndung" ("wÄste of time").
The decision about the bandname fell on "Die Ärzte", because Farin and Bela noticed, that the folder with the umlaut "Ä" was empty in most of the record stores. Since their 2003 album Geräusch, they spell their name with three dots over the ä in ärzte, a diacritic which does not correspond to any real language construct, intended as a play on the heavy metal umlaut. Furthermore each dot is symbolic for one of the three members. "Die Ärzte", with two dots, is correct German orthography and not related to the heavy metal umlaut in any way. They also often call themselves "Die beste Band der Welt" ("The best band in the world") in jest due to them wondering why they have so many fans. They often change their band name for just a few days. For example they called themselves "Die Köche" ("The cooks") to promote their 2007 album "Jazz ist anders" ("Jazz is different"). By adopting new names, Die Ärzte are able to avoid attracting large crowds, allowing them to hold small concerts.
The band has been very popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, while also enjoying some success in other Northern European countries. Die Ärzte are largely unknown outside of these countries, aside from descendants of German nationals abroad as well as many students. The band considered releasing an album in English in the mid-1990s, but they dropped the idea. In 2002 they did a short tour in Japan and released a compilation of their last albums there, and in 2004 they did a short tour in South America. Today they are one of the highest grossing live acts in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Im Schatten der Ärzte (1985)
Die Ärzte (1986)
Das ist nicht die ganze Wahrheit... (1988)
Die Bestie in Menschengestalt (1993)
Planet Punk (1995)
Le Frisur (1996)
Runter mit den Spendierhosen, Unsichtbarer! (2000)
Jazz ist anders (2007)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
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|Songs by Die Arzte|