There Is No Cat

A huge orangupoid, which no man can conquer

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Wir Sind Helden

In my constant search to hear "something I haven't heard before", which has led me into listening to a lot of music in languages I don't understand, one of my recent faves has been German indie-pop band Wir Sind Helden (We Are Heroes). I discovered them in an odd way; I was listening to an experimental digital shortwave station from Erlangen, Germany a couple of years ago. The station is intended for local coverage, so they use low power and aren't easy to hear here in the U.S., but I got lucky one day and heard them for about five minutes with lots of dropouts, not exactly an easy listening experience or anything, but enough to understand what was going on. One of the songs that was playing intrigued me, so I wrote the station asking what it was. They replied that it was Wir Sind Helden's "Denkmal". So off I went to my favorite online German record shop with an English language interface and bought their first album, Die Reklamation, and some singles. Insanely catchy stuff; I particularly liked their song "Guten Tag". Some time later I also ordered their second album, Von Hier an Blind, which perhaps wasn't as easy to get into, but one that I found I enjoyed just as much.

I was wandering around YouTube Saturday morning searching for bands I like who might have videos posted there (and finding a lot of them) when I stumbled across a Japanese language video of the title track from that second album. Japanese? Turns out they've recorded that song in Japanese, French, and English now, seemingly just as a goof. The video is a charming animated piece that works equally well in all the languages. You can see all of them on the MTV Deutschland web site.

I was also pleased to find that the band's web site has been translated into English! Lots of great stuff up there, including all their videos (except for the polyglot videos on the MTV site). I think my favorite (today at least) is the video for "Nur ein Vort", which is probably the coolest, cleverest rip off of the famous Bob Dylan flipping cards thing I've ever seen. It's subtle, but watch it once or twice and it becomes clear the amazing amount of thought and planning that went into the execution. Also check out the video for "Müssen nur Wollen" from the first album; I love that one.

And it appears I'm not their only English-speaking fan. One fan in the U.K. has set up a fan site for them in English, including an interview with singer/guitarist/lyricist Judith Holofernes. Sven-S Porst of Earthlingsoft is kind of a fan (maybe as a guilty pleasure?); he hosts a page on his blog containing translations of all their lyrics into English by one of his readers. I had heard that Holofernes' lyrics were quite clever, and now I see that that's true; the translations on the page have notes explaining some of the wordplay that doesn't translate well. And there are a couple of interesting audio interviews with the band in English, one as they appeared to make an early foray out of Germany into Holland (they've since played the U.K. as well), hosted by Dutch music site Toazted. Interesting stuff.

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Posted at 2:37 AM

Comments

Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Yes I agree, "Wir sind Helden" is a very popular indy band. Their songs are very fresh sounding. The lyrics are as fantastic as the quality of the albums. You have a good music taste.

Posted by Maria loves pictures at 4:05 PM, May 31, 2006 [Link]

I'm very much grooving on this now...and their vids are very cute. :) thanks for sharing!

Posted by Elaine at 8:51 PM, June 4, 2006 [Link]

Hey... I just searched for Wir sind Helden fans in foreign countries, especially for france, because Wir sind Helden released there a Mix-Album of their two albums, with three (?) special tracks... In some way I got to your page and I read your article about Wir sind Helden ;) You must know, that I'm a really big fan of the band and I also like the album "Kamikazefliege" which has been released by Judith Holofernes in 1999 ;) You can visit www.helden-forum.com... It's the biggest (perhaps the only active?) Wir sind Helden Forum in Germany... There are also some english-speaking people ;) Also the author of the UK page of the Helden ;) I think, it is great, that german musics becomes slow, but safe popular in foreig n countries :) yours sincerley (I learned that in english lessons ;) ) lars

(don't know why, but your "guestbook" does not like my email-adress oO)

Posted by Larso at 4:30 PM, July 12, 2006 [Link]

I've recently gotten into WSH as well. A few months ago I was watching a concert video of my favorite band, Bettie Serveert, on their MySpace, and between songs there were ads for other bands that had concerts coming up on fabchannel.com. One of them was a WSH song, and it was only ten seconds, but I liked it. I went to YouTube and checked out more of their stuff and really liked it. About two weeks later I found and bought Die Reklamation at an independent record store in Portland. I really love it and in fact it inspired me to learn German. (I still can't speak it very well, but I can read some.) I also want Von Hier an Blind, but haven't been able to find it yet.

Posted by Mystical Chicken at 2:46 AM, April 14, 2008 [Link]

You could order Von Hier an Blind and/or Soundso, their third album, from a store in Germany like cybercd.de, which has an English language interface option. I've been quite happy using them. Or, if you're comfortable buying music in less tangible form, the iTunes Music Store and Amazon's MP3 store both offer both albums in downloadable form, and a lot cheaper than importing them from Germany (check out the prices for the albums on Amazon US -- ridiculous....)

Posted by ralph at 6:25 AM, April 16, 2008 [Link]

I was once watching german mtv (i live in spain) and they were showing a ceremony for the comet awards in 2007 and then this awsomeness took the stage with some japanese guys dancing to their song Endlich ein Grund zur Panik and I completely flipped out! that was the shiit! ever since I got their soundso album, which is fantastic and like nothing I ever heard before and Im trying to get hold of a file of their comet performance, it si on youtube but Id love to have it as a file so I could carry it with me on my ipod. anyway that's how i got to know them and Im a little bit happier since I know their music.

Posted by patrick j at 6:20 PM, April 18, 2008 [Link]

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