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Culture

Punk, Pop and Politics: Die Ärzte

20 years on stage and still going strong: The German band "Die Ärzte".

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Striking a chord with old and new fans alike: "Die Ärzte"

According to "Die Ärzte", "men are pigs" - but the German band calls itself "the best band in the world". The group, famous for a song repertoire ranging from teddy bears to environmental conservation, has been on stage for almost a quarter of a century - and is still going strong.

But the "Ärzte"-saga was not always a success story. The group was founded in 1982 in Berlin. It was here that they won their first music prize. With the help of the prize money the band recorded and released their first mini LP called "We feel great". It didn't take long for music giant CBS to recognize their talent and put them under contract.

The band started off making fun music, mixing elements of traditional German pop with punk.

"When we started, the songs were along the lines of: the police are jerks, the state is crap, the system is crap, and beer is too expensive," singer Farin Urlaub says. But the band soon got fed up of singing about things - the band says -everyone knew already: "At concerts you were preaching to the converted anyway. So we thought, let's sing about lemon popsicles and teddy bears instead," Farin Urlaub says.

Singing about childish things seemed the start of "Die Ärzte"'s musical success story. But the band also soon become famous for its loud mouth.

Die Ärzte als Barbie Puppen

In 1987 the German department for the protection of young people recognized the group and their songs as dangerous for teenagers and took action: concerts, songs and suspect logos were banned. The band soon turned up on the front page of various newspapers and was up for discussion in German talk shows. But, as "Die Ärzte" say, "nothing could stop the best band in the world".

At the peak of their career in 1988, the band decided to split. "Die Ärzte" fans were devastated and refused to show the members the same respect in their various attempts at solo careers. More than a decade later, they decided to get together again and released their first LP in ten years: "The beast in human form". In 1998 they founded their own label, Hot Action Records.

Although starting off with childish, fun songs, the band has, in its own way, grown up. Topics such as right-wing extremism, discrimination and environmental conservation have become evident in their songs.

"When we made our comeback in 1993, we were confronted with a new phenomenon: a fascist and racist movement that wa parading their politics openly. We thought it was important," singer Farin Urlaub says.

20 years on and the group's mixture of humour, irony and sarcasm still strikes a chord with old – and new fans alike.