Occasionally in the life of an entertainment journo, you find yourself talking with one of the greats.
Sergeant Pepper. Benny and The Jets. The Monkees. It helps to prepare you for when you’re deep in conversation with a band that has been storming the world with its chart-dodging catalogue for years now. From Berlin to Winnipeg, Die Roten Punkte have unleashed a rock’n’roll cavalcade that is once again set to descend on Sydney Festival, and the beating, bloody heart of the band – Otto & Astrid – agree to a super rare conversation about life in the spotlight.
“We are great!” the heavily accented Otto exclaims. “It’s a very exciting time at the moment. We launched our web series! It’s 15 episodes, a couple of minutes each. People are loving it! The strangest thing. I didn’t think this would happen, but the one that is getting the most hits is one calledLunchtime, and it’s really strange because it’s just me talking about food. Astrid is messing around and stuff, so I don’t know why this one is so popular.”
“I’m not messing around,” Astrid interjects sullenly. “I’m just eating lunch.”
Their web series is the latest facet in a career that has stretched the globe, and has seen them play alongside some of the most enviable names to take the stage (Amanda Palmer, anyone?). The German wunderkinds have built a devout following here in Australia, and although their gigs are inevitably a standing room only bacchanal, it seems their trajectory has not unfolded exactly as the gregarious pair anticipated.
“Well, I thought that maybe we would have played some bigger stadiums by now,” Otto confesses. “I thought that would just be a natural thing to happen. We have played some pretty big outdoor festivals, and playing with Amanda Palmer was incredible. We played in Sydney at the Enmore with her, that was good.”
“And we’ll be back in January! We’re having a late-night party show,” Astrid says. “Our last album,Kunst Rock, which we did at the Sydney Festival a few years ago, well… We’d had such commercial success and played with these super musicians, so we wantedKunst Rockto be more arty and experimental. But it didn’t sell many albums, because it is so obscure. There was one song which was Otto putting a guitar input cable into his head making weird farting noises.”
“Not a big seller,” Otto sighs.“So now we show peopleEurosmash!I want to make the Euro smash, you know? Sell lots of albums and have commercial success and have lots of hits.”
“It is a bit weird for us, though,” Otto suddenly muses, “because we’re a serious rock’n’roll band, but we have this manager who books us into comedy festivals and theatre festivals, cabaret and stuff.”
“And the Woodford Folk Festival,” says Astrid. “Amanda Palmer is going to be there too. The show is not a comedy at all, we just keep getting booked into them. And we find that for some reason people will laugh at us. Particularly in Australia.”
“People are laughing all the time!” Otto cries.“We don’t know what’s going on,” Astrid says. “We’ll just be having a discussion about how the show should go, and they start laughing! It’s an Australian thing I think. And New York.”
“Well, they laughed at us in Edinburgh too,” Otto reflects sadly, before suddenly perking up. “If people are having fun, we are bringing happiness into the world. And we have the best job in the world! We get to travel around the world making rock’n’roll music! Who doesn’t want to do that?”
Eurosmash!goes down at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent as part of Sydney Festival from Thursday January 26 – Saturday January 28.