"deutsch amerikanische freundschaft is sort of a german punk supergroup. they pulled members from the first-first-wave of german punk and shed members off into other first-wave bands.

the group formed in dusseldorf in '78 when gabi delgado and robert görl started practicing as a duo -- görl on drums and gabi on a cheap stylophone. gabi had been dancing for the group mittagspause (no joke -- that's what i've seen written, he was their dancer, but i think he may have been singing for some other groups), which is one of the first punk groups in germany. görl had been drumming for minus delta t's live shows.

soon after they began practicing, görl invited pyrolator (aka kurt dahlke, synths), wolfgang spelmans (guitar), and michael kemner (bass) to join in on the practices. they were practicing in the basement of the ratinger hof which seems to have been the center of dusseldorf (and german) punk. other local groups hung out there and played there -- s.y.p.h., mittagspause, minus delta t, der plan (who pyrolator had been playing in simultaneously), etc.

late '78 / early '79 they recorded their first album -- ein produkt der deutsch amerikanischen freundschaft -- which wasn't released until june '79 (on warning records). sometime in '78 they saw wire play at the ratinger hof and were very much influenced by their angularity and brevity. and you can really hear it on produkt -- which sounds like a developing of ideas for future writing more than an album in itself. most of the tracks on the record are between 30 and 60 seconds long. they all fade in and/or fade out. few have any discernible structure. they are all untitled instrumentals. and they are all very violent. while it's interesting stuff to hear, it's not worth the price you have to pay to hear it. i remember seeing the cd-rerelease in used bins quite frequently 5 years ago, but i haven't seen it at all since then. (at the time i looked at the sleeve, thought they would sound like einstürzende neubauten, and didn't pick it up, unfortunately.) this is probably the song with the most structure to it: untitled.

february 7, '79, they played their first show -- at the ratinger hof. supposedly they drew a thousand people, even though the record had yet to be released. i'm not exactly sure of the line up around this time. gabi had started singing and right off the bat had his fascist dance instructor style that daf is famous for. besides the members listed above, chrislo haas (one half of minus delta t) may have been playing synth at this time (he certainly was later) and franz bielmeier (of charlie's girls, mittagspause, ...) may have also been playing with them.

shortly after this pyrolator left the group because he didn't agree with the fascist pretending of gabi and the others. also, chrislo haas was a better fit and made pyrolator redundant in the line-up supposedly. from what i've read, it was a very unfriendly split.

the group as a quintet -- now delgado, görl, haas, kemner and spelmann -- relocated to london in the fall of 79. here they all lived in a basement studio apartment, practicing hour after hour and slowly starving to death. they brought a tape of demos to the roughtrade shop and goeff travis passed it along to daniel miller, who liked it and signed the band to his label mute records. they recorded some songs and chose 'kebab traume' / 'gewalt' for release as a single (mute 5, 1980) followed shortly by 'der rauber und der prinz' / 'tanz mit mir' (mute 11. 1980). the same recording session also produced 'ich und die wirklichkeit' which was released on fast product's earcom 3 compilation (fast 9c, 1979 -- befor the mute singles). their songs had become more in-line with what is conventionally called a song, but the noise is still there -- in fact it sounds like they're making pop music with just empty spaces and rough edges.

their lifestyle was really taking a toll on them though. gabi describes their lifestyle in military terms -- he actually refers to the core of himself, görl and haas as a paramilitary unit. at some point it became too much for kemner, who aside from really feeling the ill effects of never having anything to eat, had developed some sort of oral problem, and left to go back to germany (where he was promptly checked into a hospital).

with the mute singles they got some more attention though, and were finally playing shows. and they did a small tour of germany / austria with mania d. (pre-malaria deutsch fem-punk). but when they got back to london they lost chrislo haas to his other projects and his not being able to live the lifestyle anymore. just like with kemner, he went back to germany and was immediately checked into a hospital. (among his other projects post-daf is liasons dangereux.)

now a trio, they recorded their second lp die kleinen und die bosen (mute lp 1, 1980). the first side is all studio material recorded with famous krautrock producer conny plank, who sought out the band looking to record them. the studio tracks have a cold precision to them, but still have gabi singing his manic rants on top of them -- sounding like hitler telling the youth to go out and commit incest. the flipside is a live recording made in england. it shows that live they just went fucking nuts on stage. my favorite track from the record is 'nacht arbeit'.

hen spelmans left and the group as a duo became even more minimalist (as you should expect). here starts the phase of the band known as the sex machine. they start to rely heavily on synths, sequencers and loops; but always still with analog drums -- which makes a big difference. i just read a description of their live set from this time (during a tour of germany):
"they had a gigantic tower of 12 cassette decks sponsored by panasonic. in each one, a cassette. and on each cassette a song. that was nearly a sculpture. that was industry."

 

thomas fehlmann (palais schaumberg)