Open Letter From Die Roten Punkte

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Die Roten Punkte – a brother-sister duo – have performed with Amanda Palmer, sold-out shows in Edinburgh, Montreal and Melbourne, and now, for Brisbane's Wonderland Festival.

This satirical comedy rock duo features Berlin twins Astrid and Otto Rot, whose shows are a multi-award winning combination of pop concert, sketch comedy and cabaret. Their latest show 'Kunst Rock' (Art Rock) is a new focus for the band as they perform songs from their album of the same name which was inspired by other art rockers such as David Bowie, Nina Hagen, The Pixies, Radiohead, Laurie Anderson and The Who.

Die Roten Puntke (The Red Dots) have toured the world with their unique brand of rock-pop comedy and have awards from (almost) every corner of the globe. Otto Rot pens an Open Letter about how the duo came to be:

On the 8tof April 1990, my sister Astrid and I saw David Bowie perform at the Deutschlandhalle in Berlin. The first words that he sang were, 'ground control to Major Tom', and the stadium went a wonderful kind of crazy. It felt like God was in our presence. Our lives were changed forever.

The next morning I woke up in our Kreuzberg squat. I just lay in bed, like I was in heaven; reliving the way Bowie had hypnotized the whole room and whipped us into a frenzy. I came back to earth when I heard some people yelling outside. It was Astrid and some boys in a van with graffiti all over it. Astrid looked like she hadn’t slept. Somehow, as if by magic, she (and her new boyfriends) had manifested a mini red Flying V electric guitar, an amplifier and a small drum kit. We played everyday and after a few months we started doing shows in the squat.

Our first album 'Die Roten Fahrten' (The Red Journeys) was all about honesty. Songs like 'I’m In A Band', 'I Like To Rock' and 'We Go On Tour' were a reflection of the things we were thinking about at the time. With our next album 'Super Musikant' (Super Musician) we were determined to write a truly great album. I thought of myself like a basketball coach, dividing every part of our act into departments; songwriting, performance, technique, appearance, and the ability for people to fall in love with someone while they are listening to one of our songs. I wanted to improve our level of performance in each department.

We were so pleased with the way people responded. We toured all around Europe, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. It’s such a wonderful surprise to be on tour in Winnipeg and see people singing along with tunes like 'Rock ‘n’ Roll Monster', 'Rock Bang!' or 'Ich Bin Nicht Ein Roboter' (I Am A Lion).

When we started to talk about recording our third album together, I was listening to Kraftwerk, Laurie Anderson and Radiohead. Astrid was listening to Nina Hagen, The Slits and B52s. It was clear that both of us wanted to challenge ourselves to make something experimental. We wanted to be taken seriously as artists and we wanted freedom of imagination. So we began working on an album we would call 'Kunst Rock' (Art Rock).

Sometimes Astrid and I write together and sometimes we have our own songs. We wrote 'Burger Store Dinosaur' together. We argued a lot about what our hero (the dinosaur) would do. We discussed. We debated. Astrid yelled a lot. Eventually we finished the song. Then we wrote 'It’s Bad, It’s Good' and 'Goodbye Grunwald'. They took a long time, but we got there in the end. I had liked the songs we recorded together, but they didn’t feel arty enough for me.

We needed more songs quickly, so Astrid showed me some songs that she had written on her own. I loved all of Astrid’s songs. Well, almost all. She wrote a song called 'Happiness'. It had lots of swearing and it was about taking lots of drugs and putting slippery objects inside your body. I didn’t like it at all and I didn’t think it was a good example for the kids – there was more yelling from Astrid.

I showed Astrid my songs. She didn’t mind my song 'Bananenhaus' (Banana House), a song about two of my favourite things; safety and fruit. She hated two songs in particular: 'Automatic Door' (a very short song with recorded samples of real automatic doors) and 'Trying Not To Die' (a very long song inspired by Depeche Mode when they were at their most artiest). These songs became 'unauthorized songs'. They were forbidden to be played or even talked about in public. She said, “There is a difference between art and sh*t. And your songs are sh*t.”

Toward the end of the 'Kunst Rock' recording sessions Astrid was either missing or passed out on the floor, sometimes smelling of sick. When the time came to decide which songs would go on the album, I tried to wake Astrid up, but I couldn’t. We were running out of time and we had to make a decision. I had to pick our best songs.

I decided that 'Automatic Door' and 'Trying Not To Die' should be on the album, because they were particularly arty. You can hear those songs on the album, but unfortunately my 'unauthorized songs' are never played live.
– Otto Rot

Die Roten Punkte perform Brisbane Powerhouse 3-6 December as part of Wonderland Festival which runs 3-20 December.


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