Die Skeptiker will go on tour at the end of October. The occasion is no less than Eugen Balanskat’s 60th birthday this year.
30.10.2019 (DE Zittau, EMIL
01.11.2019 (DE) Halle, GIG Kneipe
02.11.2019 (DE) Magdeburg, Knast
08.11.2019 (DE) Frankfurt, Ponyhof
09.11.2019 (DE) Karlsruhe, Alte Hackerei
15.11.2019 (DE) Hamburg, Monkey Music Club
16.11.2019 (DE) Osnabrück, Substanz
22.11.2019 (DE) Quedlinburg, KUZ Reichenstrasse
23.11.2019 (DE) Göttingen, Juzi
29.11.2019 (DE) Dresden, Chemiefabrik
30.11.2019 (DE) Rostock, JAZ
06.12.2019 (DE) Hof, Keller
07.12.2019 (DE) Nürnberg, Kunstverein
13.12.2019 (DE) Leipzig, Moritzbastei
21.12.2019 (DE) Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg
Torsten Groß has summarized it excellently:
On his 60th birthday, Eugen Balanskat goes on a special tour with his legendary punk band Die Skeptiker. Not least an occasion to take a look at one of the great German underground stories.
How do you measure a successful life? In car, home, career? Hardly, at least not only. But what are the things that really count in the end? Let’s take Eugen Balanskat. By social standards, the man is a loser: dishonorably dismissed from the People’s Army of the GDR, for 40 years a driver’s license holder without driving experience, trained maintenance mechanic and bookseller, he no longer works in either profession.
A commercially unsuccessful punk musician, left-wing troublemaker and casual jobber: that’s about how the vita of the singer of the legendary Ost-Punkband Die Skeptiker would probably be summed up according to bourgeois standards – and from this alone one can see how little these standards are suitable for penetrating the diversity and depth of an artistic life.
The truth is that the lyricist and singer Eugen Balanskat, who turned an amazing 60 years old in February of this year and whose voice, strength and energy could still be that of a young man, is, of course, a phenomenon. He has done hard physical work throughout his life and to this day in order to make a living. Music has remained a hobby to a certain extent, the success of former companions like Feeling B was not up to Balanskat. If you listen again to the catalogue of the skeptics: you don’t understand it … and yet immediately.
Because Eugen Balanskat is also a man who doesn’t fit into any stencil. He has always remained independent through trade fair and event construction. In the nineties he was smashed in by neo-Nazis, he still sings “Germany, shut up” today. He is a man who friends and band colleagues describe as absolutely reliable, loyal to the core, conscientious and modest, but who can also get off his chest from time to time. He has been writing poems since his earliest youth, because he would probably go mad if he didn’t write them. Who never got involved with the Stasi, who is interested in truth and justice.
Eugen Balanskat is more than anything else: one of the most concise and important figures in non-punk history, certainly not sung about enough. Let’s look back for a moment.
It was the middle eighties, the last days of the GDR. A musical underground had developed in East Berlin, whose influences still reach today. Groups like Sandow, Die Art, Feeling B, Tausend Tonnen Obst – and even the sceptics founded by Eugen Balanskat in 1986 – were the so-called other bands. At this point we have to quote Wikipedia as an exception: “The punk rock of the band”, it says there, “was hard to reconcile with socialist realism”. This could perhaps be expressed because the punk rock of the skeptics is not compatible with any political system, otherwise it would not be the skeptics.
The early line-up of the band dissolved successively in 1990, the year of change, but Balanskat continued with changing musicians until today. The musically most important time of the band was during this period: Especially with “Harte Zeiten” and “Sauerei” they succeeded in creating a somewhat different soundtrack for reunification. Albums on which Balanskat prophetically expressed concerns about a re-strengthening of German feelings of superiority. But not only did Balanskat not fit in with the GDR and the FRG, he also did not seem to fit into any other drawer. It is because of him that Die Skeptiker would always be described as a punk band, but again not as a typical Deutsch-Polit-Punkband. Brecht, Weil, the Schlager of the twenties and the Dadaists are probably at least as important to him as the Dead Kennedys or the Sex Pistols. Just listen to his interpretations of classical German chansons from the twenties and thirties, such as “Ein Lied geht um die Welt” from the album “Schwarze Boten” or the things he recorded with the band Rotorfon in a sceptical break around the turn of the millennium. All this and much more lies in the power of his voice, which is basically incomparable to anything else. Similar to Jello Biafra and Johnny Rotten, Balanskat is a master of the dramaturgically perfectly used tremor tremolo, similar to them Die Skeptiker are also characterized by a proven pop sensitivity, this band you get real hits over and over again.
In contrast to the punk cliché, however, Eugen Balanskat is not a no-future apologist, misanthropist or cynical. In addition to his point-typical rage and anger at the prevailing conditions, he has an almost tender longing for justice, which you won’t find a second time, at least in German punk. You have never heard this man bawl or scream, his voice always floats above things free of all gravity. Eugen Balanskat is not concerned with hatred, because he is actually a humanist. However one – a further break with expectations and clichés – that comes along optically in the mostly black robe of an existentialist dandy. Punk, as he once said, is for him not connected with outward appearances, but an attitude, an attitude to life – to which it then belongs to question power relations – in principle, always.
So Balanskat is an idealist, not an ideologist. Nevertheless – another contradiction – he is also a master of slogans and thus one one could think of when these days it is often said that left-wing populism is needed to oppose the right. Meanwhile: The skeptic is a sober observer. He needs the perspective from outside, to march along somewhere diminishes his ability to judge.
On February 15, 2019, this Eugene Balanskat turned sixty years old, but if you reprint the current sceptic album “Kein Weg zu weit” from 2018, it sounds fresh and absolutely anchored in the here and now. It is one of the best albums of this career, which for some unknown reason is permanently in the niche. And now comes the big autumn of Eugen Balanskat and his skeptics: From the end of October until the end of December the band will go on a special tour on the occasion of his birthday. At the same time, a volume with some of the poems that Balanskat always wrote and writes in addition to his lyrics will finally be released: “Innenfrost” – 60 poems about 60 years of Balanskat – will be released in November 2019, and there is also a new single for which Balanskat, together with Jerome from ROME, has recorded a new interpretation of the skeptic classic “Hinter den Mauern der Stadt”.
Eugen Balanskat and the Skeptics are thus not only a band with an impressive history, but also with an extremely inspiring present. And this is best seen on the street, where else? See you in late autumn!