“… They are also the focus of the film You Only Live Once, which Cordula Kablitz-Post shot last year about Die Toten Hosen on tour. With this film, the Berlinale is heading towards its emotional climax. In any case, tickets for Friday’s premiere sold out within seconds.
It may not be the first film about the Tote Hosen, but it shows them at the height of their fame. The director followed the band through various German cities, over to Switzerland and all the way to Argentina, gleaning unlimited access and fathoming the ‘special relationship,’ in the words of Breiti, which links the Hosen and their entourage. By the end, she had 190 hours of material.
Initially, the Hosen weren’t exactly keen on the idea
One year beforehand, Kablitz-Post’s inquiry for a close-up portrait had been rebuffed. The award-winning film and television producer (Durch die Nacht mit…/Through the Night with…) knew Campino from an earlier portrait she had shot in 2009 as part of the ARD television series Deutschland, deine Künstler (Germany, Your Artists). But that didn’t help. Initially, the Hosen weren’t exactly keen on the idea. Only as they experienced how the tour was developing, according to Breiti, did they come to like the idea of letting the curtain fall a little and maybe ‘not always depicting themselves in the best light.’
The call reached Kablitz-Post a year ago during the Berlinale. The band’s management said, ‘we want to do it after all.’ When? ‘In four weeks.’
Impossible. A typical TV budget, which might’ve been raised in this short period, wouldn’t have covered the cost of a cinematic production. Kablitz-Post thought she’d need about 800,000 euros. In the end, it was a bit more. Although it usually takes three months to run something by film funding bodies, she succeeded.
They’d been thinking about ‘Some Kind of Monster,’ says Breiti about the band’s motives. He’s referring to the legendary documentary about Metallica, the world’s biggest metal band, who were in a seriously destructive phase in 2007 after the departure of their bassist. But nonetheless, the rock stars let a film team in the studio to watch them talk about their dysfunctional relationships in regular therapy sessions, and to witness them at each other’s throats as old grudges resurfaced. ‘Which certainly didn’t always make them come across positively,’ Breiti concedes, ‘but actually deepened my personal relationship to them. We hope as much for this film: that people who like our music will better understand what sets up apart.’
Die Toten Hosen, however, are not in a crisis. Nor are they a band with deep-seated conflicts. If there have ever been such things, they’ve been dealt with. They parcelled out their little empire of record company, concert agency and various political campaigns according to their respective abilities. They’re so much in cahoots with one another that strangers find it, on the one hand, very easy to gain access to the innermost circle of this ‘family,’ and on the other hand very hard because these are five men in their mid-fifties who never quite open up. They don’t have to, they understand each other as it is. This is even true for drummer Vom Ritchie, who, despite being a band member for over 20 years, senses a barrier preventing him from full membership.
‘We were met with great scepticism in the beginning,’ says Kablitz-Post, who chased the sweat-drenched ‘Opel Gang’ from the stage to the dressing room, capturing Campino’s moody character, bizarre vocal exercises, and wish to be left alone. ‘There were situations where we annoyed them with the constant presence of the camera,’ says Kablitz-Post. But nothing more than a towel ever flew in her direction, and even then Campino missed.
So it wasn’t possible to create a German version of ‘Some Kind of Monster.’ Die Toten Hosen are a clockwork mechanism, and the only problem they have is the time that remains to them.
‘How many years can this go on?
How many years, how much time is left for us?
We’ve been on the road half a lifetime already
Hasta La Muerte is what we etched into our skin’”