What was the first punk record anyway?

Youth cultures in Germany

No youth culture before had produced so many bands of its own, its own media (fanzines, free radios), creative fashion, etc. and at the same time withdrew from the usual commercial cycle as punk. "Do it yourself!" was a central motto of the punk scene.

The British group The Clash is a musical role model for many punk bands. Here is a recording from 1983. (& copy AP)

Within a few months, dozens of fanzines had been created in Germany, which networked the scene, provided information about new record labels and venues, presented new bands and encouraged their readers to become active themselves again and again: "Now don't sit around and stare stupidly, but also do something, fanzines, clubs, shops, bands! Don't buy newspapers with a circulation of more than 5000 copies, no records from superstars like stones, rollers, beatles, genesis etc. Don't put more money in the asses of rich wankers! don't buy clothes over 20 marks, preferably none at all! (you probably have a collection of old clothes too, there is bound to be something good!) design your clothes yourself! have your own ideas! do what YOU want, don't let yourself be ordered around !! SAY your opinion. Don't believe what the clash, chelsea, charley's girls, saints and the others can do, you can't do that. Make bands. Send tapes to small labels! Give free concerts! DON´ T BE THE PROBLEM - BE THE SOLUTION! " (quoted from a fanzine around 1980, in Ott / Skai 1983, p. 23)

It wasn't professionalism that was required, but energy. When the Toten Hosen started their band, they drew lots for the instruments without further ado.

According to the Hamburg punk label Weird System (CD compilation "Punk Rock BRD", Booklet 1, p. 2), "Certainly 5000 or more" punk bands have emerged in Germany alone since 1977.

Martina Weith (Östro 430): "1978 in Düsseldorf - that was such a primordial soup. Nobody knew an instrument. But everyone who ran around there played in at least two bands. The waiters and the beer deliverers and the guys at the pinball machine. In the courtyard could everyone everything. Because everyone has done everything. "

Ralf Dkörper (S.Y.P.H.): "The basic idea was: 'Anyone who is downstairs in the audience could just as easily be on stage.' And many who were in the audience - at some point they were also on stage. "

Moritz Reichelt (plan): "So far you were only a fan of English or American records - although you hadn't noticed the cultural development that had led to these records. That was all canned culture. And now something of your own happened Notice how the things you talked about with people in the courtyard reappeared as text on the stage a few days later. You noticed that this is exactly how cultural development happens. " (from: Teipel 2001, p. 130)

Punk had freed rock'n'roll - at least for a short time - from the clutches of the industrial giants and driven it back onto the streets. But the music industry had learned from its mistakes of earlier decades. As much as they despised these new bands, the big record companies began to eagerly buy up everything that only suggested punk proximity. Out of sheer fear of leaving a lucrative trend to the competition. The Clash, who had spent a lot of time and song lines berating the business, were now bullying on behalf of the CBS - for a guaranteed sum of £ 100,000, the headlines reported. The Buzzcocks, 999 and The Stranglers signed with United Artists (Ariola), the latter for DM 160,000.

"I think the best thing would be to stop buying records," warned Sniffin 'Glue, the island's first punkzine, full of premonitions. "Yeah, stop buying records. You'd better go and watch the bands live because I think that as soon as groups have a contract with a record company, they can no longer determine what goes on and what doesn't. With that Stopping buying means the fat managers can't get a penny out of us. Besides, with the whole record market we're full of armchair punks and all the little bands are going to fade in favor of some new supergroups. We need communication . When you have something to say, say it, don't wait for a record to say it for you. Go to the clubs, anywhere, dance, sing and yell while you're communicating. Don't be sold out! "

But the warning fizzled out unheard. Especially since not only the industry jumped on the bandwagon, but also the now flourishing independent scene made it possible for every band to release a record, no matter how bad and unoriginal. "Despite their determined enthusiasm, too many of the independent labels were guilty of overcrowding and saturating the market with tons of trash, from which the rewarding and the promising were often difficult to separate," complained Allan Jones in the summer of 1978 about the " endless stream of mediocrity that was washed up on the dozen independent labels, by punk bands who had cobbled together their identity from the image construction kit and rattled down their toilets again and again, which testified to such exquisite perceptual skills that Joe Strummer opposed it as one of the deepest political theorists in the western hemisphere excepted. The bands that had crept between the wall and the wallpaper, sure of their publicity if they only declared themselves punks, were mostly complete copycats. All these groups turned the basic pattern of punk Stereotype, they played the same crazy riffs at speed ity of a meteor and spit out second-hand slogans and hollow propaganda. The real anger found in the Pistols, for example, is largely absent in music today. He broke on the cliffs of fashion. "(Loc. Cit., P. 20ff.)

Unlike in Great Britain, the first generation of punk rock was initially not commercially successful in this country. "In Germany, punk doesn't even find a place at the show scene's cat table," scoffs the conservative business information service Rundy in January 1978. "In 1977, barely 100,000 records with punk and punk scraps were sold between Kiel and Konstanz - around 0.4 percent of total sales on the German music market. "

Just two years later the situation had changed radically. Punk had developed further, differentiated and in the process gave birth to half a dozen new youth cultures. From 1978/79, high school students, artists and high school students poured into the punk scene. This stimulated less the demarcation to the "philistine bourgeois" and the stylization of the underdog of society than the new possibilities of music to be able to be creative even without traditional training, knowledge of music etc. The "ingenious amateurs" formed, onomatopoeia of the urban industrial landscape, motto "hearing with pain": Einstürzende Neubauten, Die Tödliche Doris, The Plan.

The Goths (also called Gothics, New Romantics, Dark Waver, Dark Punks or simply "the Blacks") emerged, also children from better families, for whom the punk lifestyle had become too aggressive and nihilistic. The dark, melancholy side of punk. The "blacks" would not experience their peak - at least quantitatively - until the late 1990s. Almost inevitably, creative experimentation and the growing popularity of punk led away from three-chord minimalism and resulted in the Neue Deutsche Welle. The motto was: fun instead of doomsday slogans, irony instead of aggressiveness. "Back to concrete / Since the person is still human / disgust, disgust, disgust nature, nature / I only love pure concrete." (S.Y.P.H.) Synthesizers, sequencers, rhythm machines, affordable just in time, expanded the traditional guitar-bass-drums-vocals line-up. DAF, Fehlfarben, Wirtschaftswunder, Neonbabies and finally Nena, Extrabreit, Trio, Ideal. When Geier fell into the ZDF hit parade, the presenter Dieter Thomas Heck announced indignantly.


Ott, Paul / Skai, Hollow (ed.): We were heroes for a day. From German-language punk fanzines 1977-1981. Reinbek 1983.

Teipel, Jürgen: Waste your youth. A documentary novel about German punk and new wave. Frankfurt am Main 2001.