Kettcar, on their fourth album "Between Rounds," excel at telling stories. The former punk band tackles love affairs, the social decline of their hometown and death through illness.
Kettcar, the Indie rock giants with a soft touch who have been around for a decade now, have, following a four year creative break, released their fourth studio album: "Zwischen den Runden," which translates to "between rounds" in German. The title is open to interpretation, and the band actually offers two explanations in information accompanying the album - kind of like instructions.
But first of all it is important to establish, that it does not refer to the halfway mark in life or even the notorious mid-life crisis that may have beset the 40-something-year-old band members. Guitarist Erik Langer instead talks of it as being like: "boxing, where you get a brief chance to catch your breath, to spit out the tooth that has been knocked out before you return to the fight."
He adds that "it is really important to let your head hang down, but to never throw in the towel." So, according to Kettcar life is a fight – or maybe they did just mean time spent in a pub – because then, being "Between Rounds" merely means waiting for the next beer to arrive, and with a bit of luck, according to Langer, maybe a tasty snack too.
Kettcar, who back in 2001 together with Tomte singer Thees Ulman founded their own record label called "Grand Hotel Cleef," love to tell stories and this is apparent on their latest album: the narratives cover every aspect of love affairs, current and past, but also venture into areas such as terminal illness. Kettcar's music has been, less than complimentary, described as "soft sentimental pop," but they have always stayed true to their musical roots: the band embraces emotionally, but always with a residual element of punk attitude.
Kettcar can also be critical: but compared with their preceding album release, "Sylt," there is less protesting and fewer loud guitars, but more use of a horn and string section – which does not however mean that the Hamburg band has turned into a bunch of milksops.
With the song "Landungsbrücken raus" or "Gangplanks out" they created a veritable Hamburg hymn; on their latest album they take a clear stance on social issues, such as the gentrification and commoditisation of the Hanseatic City. The lyrics in "Schrilles buntes Hamburg" or "Loud, colourful Hamburg" say: "Der Dichterfürst lässt leise wissen, ab jetzt kommen die Touristen" or "the poets' sovereign lets us quietly know that from now on the tourists are coming."
Love and vomit
The recurring theme on "Between Rounds" is a personal touch. Singer Marcus Wiebusch and bass player Reimer Bustorff take a long hard look at what love is, how it happens, why it dies, why it often hurts so badly and why we can't live without it.
Their lyrics provide answers – very reflective and distanced ones, but by no means cold. Love for Kettcar, for instance, means pulling bits of sick from your loved one's hair following a night of partying. "Love is not what you feel, but what you do," according to guitarist Erik Langer.
Ready for the charts
Kettcar is and will remain an exception on the German music scene. By now the band has become a role model for newcomer bands and for the third time in a row managed to enter in the German album charts at number five. This is not something a band that refuses to adjust to market pressure and has no intention of giving up its Indie rock image, can take for granted.
Author: Eva Gutensohn / sc
Editor: Jessie Wingard