Again, there are no guarantees. The paths through the world of Tocotronic are full of surprising twists and intersections.
With their new album “Nie wieder Krieg”, the group around singer Dirk von Lowtzow takes you through the transitions from reality to dreams, from mundane everyday life to intense feelings. During twelve songs, the musicians show how their pieces can be both wonderfully inspiring and danceable.
After a four-year hiatus
It took four years between the last studio recording and this 13th album, also due to the pandemic. “So we were lucky enough to be able to leave songs that we had started,” von Lowtzow said in an interview with the German Press Agency in Berlin. “The album has more care and precision. A little more time for reflection, for upheavals and new beginnings.
The album has become a little journey, we can discover a dramaturgy there. Sloganeering approaches – called “Sloganeering” by the band – contain politically clear statements, for example in the already released singles “Never Again War” and “Youth without God against Fascism” or in “Come with me to my free world”.
It is more intimately linked to unity and feelings with “I’m going under”, which the album immediately follows with “I’m diving up”. Singer Anja Plaschg, who works for Soap&Skin, played a part in it.
Open door in the hermetic world
This is the first time that von Lowtzow, bassist Jan Müller, guitarist Rick McPhail and drummer Arne Zank have been involved with a guest musician. “As a band, we’re very self-sufficient, like a cell,” says von Lowtzow. “Sometimes it also carries the risk of appearing a bit closed to the outside world. We also talked a lot about how to open this core.”
The group did not allow this for a long time. “No one talks to you and we all do it to ourselves.” It is also important. “If you then allow it and open up to people, then it takes on a different color.”
Further into the lowlands of everyday life. “When love ends, it’s the middle of the night,” says the song, “I hate it here.” The pizza out of the freezer, difficult to refine, becomes synonymous with desolation. “Nachtflug” begins with a typical Tocotronic cryptic line “I don’t drink the penultimate glass” and becomes a wonderfully emotional journey through the city waking up from the night. The monster in the song of the same name is also more of a creature of nostalgia: “Monster, I’ll follow you through the closet door – forever.”
It became a rock album, focused on the guitar. This is also emphasized by the calm, ballad-like elements placed between the smooth pop tones. The melodies and texts stay in your head and stay in your head for a long time. The band also warns in “Slightly Damaged”: “You shouldn’t let lyrics speak inside you.”
Tocotronic has been involved in indie rock for almost three decades. Although it has largely moved to the capital, the group is still among the most important representatives of the intellectual “Hamburg school” along with Blumfeld and Die Sterne. The last eight records have all ranked in the top ten.
The new album is not a surefire success for von Lowtzow. “When you have a practice as old as ours, it’s not at all obvious that you make an album, that you feel like you have something to say.” The group operates largely without conflict. “You’re really happy with that. That’s why we exuberantly consider it one of our best albums.”
For him, it’s about inner turmoil, mental tipping points. “It’s the most personal album we’ve done,” says von Lowtzow. He doesn’t want to bother people with his emotional quark, but I’m very glad we did it that way.
As a songwriter, he listened to himself. “What do I really mean?” What are the moods, afflictions and demons one is exposed to?” Not only with the tour scheduled for March and April, Tocotronic fans can look forward to a sequel of feelings and introspection. In “I’m going down” , the group says: “It’s a call for help, we’re still here, we’re not finished yet.” (dpa)