JUST ADD GERMAN – One of Germany’s most popular young indie pop bands, Tonbandgerät is currently on a 4-week cross-country tour through the US.
The four band members from Hamburg, winners of the New Music Award as Newcomer Band 2012 just recently finished a highly successful concert tour through Germany and were happy to accept an invitation to introduce their music to American audiences. The concert tour was organized by Goethe Institut, Germany’s global Cultural Center, in cooperation with local US high school teachers as part of a campaign to promote German in American schools.
Says Peter Zygowski of Goethe-Institut San Francisco, – “The goal of the tour is three-fold … to boost the study of German through pop music instead of dull grammar skills, to challenge the most common stereotypes about Germany, and to offer a more diverse and authentic image of Germany today … This band from Hamburg will show young Americans that Germany is more than beer drinking Bavarians. They will spread the word, not just in their concerts but also in classroom visits, that German is cool and that Germany today is a colorful and happening country.” –
Tonbandgerät began their tour in San Francisco and Oakland this weekend to crowds of cheering, clapping and dancing students and were completely surprised that so many in their audience knew the lyrics to their songs and immediately started to sing along with them.
Said lead singer Ole Specht in our after-concert interview at the Oakland venue The New Parrish, “It made the concert so much more fun for us to have everyone sing along and really get into it. They don’t even know the (German) language. It’s amazing. They must have worked at it for some time to learn all our lyrics. American youths are so open and get into it so quickly.”
Asked whether they plan on continuing to perform their songs in the German language, Ole Specht told me that he much preferred to sing in his mother tongue versus singing in English because he felt more authentic. Added bass player Isa Poppensieker, “Singing in our mother tongue (German) allows us to express ourselves better, to play with the language, be more nuanced”. It is Isa’s sister Sophia Poppensieker who writes all the lyrics to their music. She also plays the guitar. On drums is friend and school mate Jakob Sudau who joind the trio in 2010.
Tonbandgerät continues on to Long Beach, California, then Salt Lake City, Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Baltimore, New York and Boston before returning home to Hamburg.
If San Francisco and Oakland are any indication of how the rest of their tour is going to go, Goethe-Institut’s mission will be accomplished. And Tonbandgerät will have found many new fans all across the US. I wish them the best of luck. Great music. Great performers. Great guys and girls. Great ambassadors of the German language.
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