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Stumpen, Buzz Dee, Alf Ator (from left)
|Genres||Heavy metal, Neue Deutsche Härte, comedy rock|
|Years active||1994–2008; 2011–present|
|Labels||Tubareckorz, Nuclear Blast|
Knorkator is a German band from Berlin that combines heavy metal with comical elements. They proclaim themselves to be "Germany's most band in the world" (German: "Deutschlands meiste Band der Welt"), as the title "The best band in the world" was already taken by Die Ärzte. The name "Knorkator" is a personification of "knorke", a dated adjective used in Berlin and the Ruhr basin meaning "great" or "fabulous" (similar to the English slang word "swell"). The band was founded in 1994, but only played in the Berlin/Brandenburg area until 1998.
Knorkator gained further fame (and some notoriety) in 2000 with their performance of Ick wer zun Schwein (sic; literally, in Berlin dialect, "I'm turning into a pig") in the German national qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest. After the qualification show, German tabloid BILD notoriously headlined "Wer ließ diese Irren ins Fernsehen?" ("Who let these lunatics on TV?").
Knorkator announced the end of the band in a MySpace bulletin on June 14, 2008, the last concert was played on December 5 that year in Berlin. The official reason given for the band's breakup was that Alf Ator wanted to leave Germany to start a new life in Thailand. In autumn 2010 a bulletin by Stumpen announced the bands' reunion. A first "small" tour followed in April 2011 as well as some concerts at well-known festivals like Wacken Open Air. The tour was called the "77 minutes tour", as the setlist was planned to be exactly 77 minutes long. A digital clock that counted down the minutes was placed on stage to make sure the time limit was not exceeded. Their new album "Es werde Nicht" (translates to "Let there be Not" or "Let Not Be", a pun on "Es werde Licht" - "Let there be Light") has been released in September 2011, followed by a big tour with concerts of regular length.
Knorkator's music can be largely classified as industrial metal, somewhat akin to White Zombie and Ministry. Knorkator, however, strongly features a comedic element. Most songs escalate into falsetto vocals and bombastic, over-the-top anthemic choruses, with crushing guitars and subtle samplers. Due to the amusing message, however, the band's considerable technical and artistic merit is sometimes overlooked.
Knorkator's lyrics are somewhat explicit, but always very humorous:
- "Ich lass mich klonen" ("I'll have myself cloned") deals with the advantages of cloning oneself, hence sparing the effort of masturbation
- "VIVA Buzz Dee" is a worship-anthem towards guitarist Buzz Dee
- "Wie weit ist es bis zum Horizont" ("How far to the horizon") wonders about the metaphor of the distance to the horizon, but continues to calculate it with equations
- "Komm wieder her" ("Come back") begins as a lament to a lost love, but later it is hinted that the singer only abused this partner to do the chores.
- "Weg nach unten" ("The way down") describes a depressed person digging himself into the earth; what appears to be metaphorical at first is in the end revealed to be meant literally: "Dann kommt Licht und ein Känguruh, und ich weiß ich bin zu weit" ("Then there's light and a kangaroo, and I know I've gone too far")
- "Nur mal Angenommen" ("Just in case") is a monologue inside the singer's head, where he wonders what would happen if he was flexible enough to stick his head up into his anus. The main question he deals with is "Where would I come out?"
- The aptly named "A" only contains the lyrics "A / A / A / A", which are in fact four choruses of a lengthy distorted scream.
- "Aeger sum" ("I am ill") sounds like an ecclesiastic or gregorian choral in Latin, but if one translates the lyrics it is basically an enumeration of technical terms of illnesses, taken from a medical dictionary.
- [Buchstabe] ("Letter"; properly titled with a novel letter), in which a "doctor of [German] philology" presents the results of his 13 years of research: a letter for the bilabial trill to add to the German alphabet.
- "Absolution" is a song that sounds like a Latin anthem for church but is in fact a collection pseudolatin words that describe sexual acts, feces and genitals.
- "Schwanzlich willkommen" ("Dickfelt Greetings") is about a people in Peru which uses the penis as their symbol for feelings and emotions, rather than the heart. The UN agrees to adopt this metaphor.
Most of Knorkator's lyrics are in German; however, some songs also feature English ("beating around the bush", "Ma Baker", etc.), Thai ("Mai khao djai", "Khid tyng baan"), Latin ("Aeger sum"), or French ("Ma belle fêmme", "Franz Hose") lyrics. Their famous song "Wir werden alle sterben" ("We're all going to die") has also been translated into the Arabic language. The songs in English are often extreme covers of previously well-known hit songs.
The song "Buchstabe" is featured as a music video in the 3rd episode of Adult Swim's Off the Air (2011).
Knorkator's wild stage shows and appearance are analogously chaotic: half of Stumpen's body is tattooed black, and he usually performs in his goofy underpants; Buzz Dee's appearance is often cited as being a clone of Big Jim Martin.
Knorkator are (in)famous for their wild stage shows. Alf Ator has been known to hit the audience with a large foam club, throw toast slices and wet autumn foliage at the crowd. Sometimes a modified shredder was used to distribute shredded vegetables and fruit over the crowd, which was announced as "vegetarian airway-catering". Their live performances are also well known for extensive acts of instrument destruction where especially keyboarder Alf Ator used to deconstruct one or more electronic organs that he had been playing on with a toilet brush or similar before. Singer Stumpen is known for the frequent smashing of TV sets on stage, from which he suffered a glass splinter getting stuck in his thigh that had to be removed by surgery some years later and was then auctioned on the internet. In earlier shows, a lot of furniture pieces were placed on the stage which were then destroyed during the show by Alf or Stumpen, mostly with an axe or a baseball bat. Stumpen is also known for wearing almost nothing on stage except for a woman's bathing suit or underpants.
Crowd surfing is another important element of Knorkator's shows, not only performed by the musicians themselves, but also directing the crowd to perform exceptional exercises, such as racing duels between spectators over the hands of the crowd, piggyback moshing, women throwing competitions, instructing the crowd to separate and then run into each other (known as the Wall of Death), or lifting and surfing the heavily overweight sound engineer from the mixing desk to the stage and back.
- Stumpen (Gero Ivers) - vocals
- Alf Ator (Alexander Thomas) - keyboards
- Buzz Dee (Sebastian Baur) (1996-)- guitars
- Rajko Gohlke (2010-) - bass
- Nick Aragua (Nicolaj Gogow) (2003–2012, 2014-) - drums
- J. Kirk Thiele (until 1997) - guitars
- Thomas Görsch (until 1998) - drums
- Chrish Chrash (Christian Gerlach) (1998-2003) - drums
- Tim Buktu (Tim Schallenberg) (2003-2008) - bass
- Sebhead Emm (Sebastian Meyer) (2012-2014) - drums
- Jen Majura (2016) - guitars
- 1998: The Schlechtst of Knorkator (The worst of Knorkator)
- 1999: Hasenchartbreaker (pun with Hasenscharte (harelip) and chartbreaker)
- 2000: Tribute to uns selbst (Tribute to ourselves)
- 2002: High Mud Leader (Heimatlieder - Songs of [our] home)
- 2003: Ich hasse Musik (I hate music)
- 2007: Das nächste Album aller Zeiten (The next album of all time)
- 2010: Knorkator – Mein Leben Als Single (3 CD-Box Ltd. Ed.) (My life as a single)
- 2011: Es werde Nicht (Let there be nothing)
- 2014: We Want Mohr
- 2016: Ich bin der Boss (I am the Boss)
- 2019: Widerstand ist zwecklos (Resistance [or: resistor] is futile)
- 2005: Zu alt (Too old)
- 2015: KnorkaTourette
- 2005: Zu alt (Too old)
- 2007: Gastspiel mit 143.425 Bildern (Guest performance with 143.425 images, Das nächste Album aller Zeiten bonus DVD)
- 2008: Weg nach unten (The Way down)
- 2011: Abschiedskonzert (Farewell Concert, Es werde Nicht bonus DVD)
- 2014: Zitadelle (Citadel, We want Mohr bonus DVD)
- 2015: KnorkaTourette
- 2016: Karaoke (Ich bin der Boss bonus DVD)
Singles / EP
- 1995: A
- 1998: Böse (Evil)
- 1999: Weg nach unten (Way down)
- 1999: Buchstabe (Letter)
- 2000: Ick wer zun Schwein (I turn into a pig)
- 2000: Ich lass mich klonen (I let myself be cloned)
- 2000: Komm wieder her (Come back)
- 2003: Der ultimative Mann (The ultimate man)
- 2006: Wir werden (We will)
- 2007: Alter Mann (Old Man)
- 2007: www.einliebeslied.com (www.alovesong.com)
- 2008: Kinderlied (Children's Song)
Accusations of racism about design of 2014 album We Want Mohr
Knorkator were planning to go on tour in spring 2014 to present their new album We Want Mohr, which was released on 2014-01-17. The album name is a pun, replacing “more” by the German word “Mohr”, which is a dated term for black people that today is only used in a historical or literary context. The tour was advertised with a poster showing the five (white) band members in a big pot on a fire and a black person with bones in their hair and a knife in their hand next to it. This is a reenactment of a scene in the 19th-century child’s book Struwwelpeter. The poster caused outrage in some German anti-racist blogs, and the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland, an organisation representing black people in Germany, published a statement calling the poster racist, unreflected and degrading. Knorkator singer Gero Ivers published a response in which he claims to be shocked and disappointed by the statement and argues that the intention of the poster had been misunderstood and not seen in context. Subsequently, the band stopped using the advertising poster but refused ISD's demand to change the album cover as they viewed the content of the reenacted scene as "profoundly anti-racist".
- Knorkator (June 2002). Des Wurzels Zweig. ISBN 978-3-359-01448-5.
- Knorkator (2004). Am Anfang war das Am. ISBN 978-3-359-01609-0.
- Alf Ator (2008-03-15). Die satanischen Achillesferse. ISBN 978-3-359-02200-8.
- Alf Ator (2011). The Best of fast allen Comics. ISBN 978-3-359-02316-6.
- Alf Ator (2015). The noch Besteren of Alf Ator, COMICS. ISBN 978-3-359-02460-6.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Knorkator.|
- Article in the newspaper "Berliner Zeitung", retrieved: November 21, 2016 (in German)
- Album “We Want Mohr” on www.fantotal.de (in German)
- "The Story of the Ink Boys," The Project Gutenberg EBook of Struwwelpeter.
- Statement of the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland about the poster advertising “We Want Mohr” (in German)
- Gero Ivers’s response to the statement of the ISD (in German), also on Facebook (Google Cache)
- Article in the newspaper "taz", retrieved: November 21, 2016 (in German)