Even rock stars draw the line somewhere. Or, as is the case with Otto Rot, one half of Berlin art rock duo Die Roten Punkte, refuse to draw on certain things. At least he’ll be happy to sign their new CD,Eurosmash!, which they’ll be launching during the Sydney Comedy Festival.
“We can sign anything really, if you have a t-shirt or body part or something,” he says down the phone in his thick ‘German’ accent (Otto and Astrid Rot are actually Australian duo Daniel Tobias and Clare Bartholomew). “Astrid, one time in Scotland, this guy, he pulled down his pants and she signed his arse,” says Otto. “Actually, that also happened at the Woodford Folk Festival, too, she signed an arse there as well. But I encourage people to not show their nipples; that’s kind of getting to a point where maybe that’s a private space that maybe you shouldn’t use a Sharpie on. Like, if you want to do that at home, that’s OK, but I think if we’re doing that, it’s not a good example for the kids.”
Being a good example to their fans is something very dear to Rot’s heart. “I think more than a musician and more than a rock star and more than being a guy in a band, I am a role model. That is actually my number one job. So, like, it doesn’t matter what I do for now until the rest of my life.”
Die Roten Punkte’s narrative follows thus: Otto was orphaned at nine, when Astrid was 12, and together they lived in a squat in Berlin, discovering music that way.
Since then they have travelled the world, selling out venues in New York, Edinburgh, Montreal and Dublin. Most recently, they have been touring Australia and Europe with Amanda Palmer, after being nominated for a Time Out and Soho Theatre (TOST) Cabaret Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
“Which is cool,” says Otto. “It’s a little bit weird for us because people say, ‘Oh, you are best cabaret show,’ and it’s like, ‘But yeah, we are serious rock’n’roll band,’ so I don’t understand.”
While others may think the duo is merely joking, Rot takes his life as a role model and rock star seriously. Die Roten Punkte’s new album, which follows on from Kunst Rock, is full of songs with positive messages.
“With the last album it was amazing, because we could express ourselves and we didn’t have any limits, but Astrid said, ‘I want on the new album, I just want hits. I want pop hits and rock hits.’”
Otto reveals as well that during recording, Astrid was lying on the studio floor, smelling of sick, unable to be woken. “There’s a lot more dancing and electronic music and lots of hooks on this, and for me, I really want to spread the message of using music so that people can do things like recycling and like, one idea I had, just let homeless people sleep in your house.”
Rot sleeps with his guitar and computer, all plugged in, just in case inspiration should strike as he sleeps. One of his favourite songs on Eurosmash! is ‘Good Choices’, which contains other ideas like teaching orphans how to play guitar.
“[Astrid] doesn’t like the song at all, and she said that. We have to have two minutes of silence at the end of the album and then I can have my song.”