Lies, lies, lies
Remember those glorious early days of Stiff, 2-Tone, Postcard and the like?—
“The idea is to be very big commercially, but without the compromises of being big.”
So speaks rockin’ Ralf Dörper, on quarter (or maybe one fifth) of German pop group Propaganda.
“Propaganda is about secrets. The idea is much more important that the people, but at the moment it’s a group… a pop group with four characters like Abba. Two boys and two girls—
“Propaganda involves lies… and maybe we lie—
Who needs ‘em… but here goes…
Propaganda, the new Abba, come from Düsseldorf, Ralf Dörper and Andreas Thein, the noisy ones, wanted to make something Big. They wanted to spread themselves, they wanted to be international, they weren’t that concerned about the truth. Thus Propaganda. Claudia Bruchen and Suzanne Freytag, the Girly Ones, were half of an unserious, funny group called Topolinos. Own songs. Just four. Very short sets. They had a tune on a German sampler LP. Suzanne thinks John Peel played it… once.
Ralf had a solo disc out in the UK a while back. ‘Eraserhead’. Not very good, but enough reason to come to London in search of a future for his new music machine. Morley and Horn got wind and made them an offer. Propaganda ‘decided to risk it’.
And so Trevor set to work…
“Trevor Horn has a certain knowledge about a pop song that we still need to learn. His function is to put our ideas into a marketable end product and so what he does is to point out weaknesses where we have to make it stronger.” But he does like to have a finger in the pie…
“But the original idea is still the most important thing—
A value-for-money package that sets toes tapping, fingers clicking, eyebrows arching and people pondering. Mabuse is… melodic, but it’s not Barry Manilow—
“Mabuse is about a fascination with evil. The Doctor was initially a character in a simple criminal story but Fritz Lang took the character and made him into a symbol. He mixed him up with the idea of Faust (‘The man without shadow promises you the World’) and his view of the political situation in Germany—
“No. We’re not political—
DEUTSCHLAND UBER… ALLES ODER NICHTS?
“At the moment in Germany you have to be traditional—
Nena must have been a bitter, bitter blow…
“Yes. That is a problem. Now she’s done it it’s merely shown the German record companies how easy it is to succeed with old American and English style of music. Nena is so American. But it means that more German bands are signed—
Can the metal music break that stranglehold?
“In Germany no-one’s talking about that anymore. I’ve never worked with Einsturzende Neubauten but we were doing that kind of stuff two or three years ago in Die Krupps—
KEIN ZURÜCK FÜR DICH?
Is there really no going back?
“We were here as a tactic. We’re a German band and we still live and base ourselves there. We came here because we want wider success. When we started our direction was already fixed. Coming here merely means it has broadened—
BUT IS IT ART… OR MUSIC… OR FASHION… ?
“Sometimes we don’t consider ourselves to be musicians at all—
Propaganda are a fine addition to the slim ZTT roster. Propaganda know that in the pop war the first casualty must be truth, subjugating their fifth member (maybe their sixth) in order to do battle with their deadly rivals, the Swedish war machine ABBA.
Progaganda have sold their souls to that devil Morley. Don’t Be A Fool… do likewise.