Bonded by blood. A story that must be older than the bible. And sometimes it ends with even more blood sticking all over the place. Brothers. The boundless possibilities that come to mind. Brothers fuel heroic sagas, dramas, tragedies, comedies. Brothers fight and kiss, ... and if the story doesn’t end in the same way as that of Noel and Liam, or Cain and Abel, brothers may also use their very different natures to create something really great together. The DONOTS are such a godsend.
Launched in Ibbenbüren, Germany, in 1993 by the brothers Ingo and Guido Knollmann, bassist Jan-Dirk Poggemann and two collaborators, the DONOTS started from zero. Booking their own gigs by telephone and fax and releasing two self-financed demo albums, the band finally came to the attention of a number of record companies. The DONOTS spent the remainder of the first decade of their career with a major label. And weren’t always treated with love and affection. Mind you, the group and everything that they stand for and what’s important to them was basically at odds with a label policy directed purely at the maximisation of profits.
Relics of post-punk, singer & songwriter, independent and alternative rock, along with punk, a sprinkling of metal and lots of melodic hardcore make up the primeval soup which spawned the DONOTS. The soundtrack of resistance. Their first show took place in a barn, smelling of DIY spirit, horse manure and canned beer. The DONOTS had so little in common with the clearance sale attitude of many of their contemporaries that it almost hurt.
To cut a long story short: a lot of things happened during that first decade, not all of them good. But on the credit side, the DONOTS had six albums to their name, plus nine single releases, countless gigs throughout Europe, various headlining tours and unforgotten victories abroad, such as the sold-out Brixton Academy in London. In addition, the line-up had been stable since 1996, featuring Eike Herwig on drums and Alex Siedenbiedel on guitars, both being instrumental in developing the DONOTS’ typical characteristics.
2004 saw the final split with the label. As a consequence, the DONOTS’ universe threatened to fall apart at the seams. Lawyers, courtrooms, lawsuits took their strain on nerves and emotions. The musicians succumbed to a shock-induced paralysis. It took the band four years and a crucial encounter before they were back in operation again. They returned in 2008 – with the kind of bang that Germany hasn’t experienced often. Suddenly this band who’d been in business for some 15 years reappeared, acting as if they’d got together only yesterday. Somewhere back there, in a garage full of junk. Okay, so the new DONOTS came across a little too tight, punk ethics here, musician’s honour there. But even the most faithful fans attested them a new kind of enthusiasm for their music. As if they were just itching to play, prove something to the world … What had happened?
“It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” That’s the ever-handy formula of legendary American coach Vince Lombardi, familiar to all Ramones fans from the famous movie, “Rock’n’Roll Highschool.” And the DONOTS didn’t just get up that all-decisive one time, they downright resurrected themselves! And while the band have mainly themselves to thank for this resurrection, they feel they owe it first and foremost to Kurt Ebelhäuser (Blackmail). To the DONOTS, Kurt is more than simply a producer. He took them to the boot camp. Nothing is sacred, every routine called into question. Nothing is impossible, anything goes. The band felt challenged again at last and presented themselves, provoked in all the right respects, in undreamt-of top form. “Coma Chameleon” was launched on their own label Solitary Man Records (on which the DONOTS also release albums by Placebo, Beatsteaks etc. for the Japanese market), making the band totally independent. Everything goes through their own hands. Their lack of sleep is legendary. In return, the successful album spawned three single releases, one of which – namely “Stop The Clocks” – retrospectively seems remarkable in more than one respect: a number of radio channels in Germany and Austria played the song day in and day out and nominated it for a number of awards at the end of the year. The fans were ecstatic, YouTube counted millions of hits, the album sold like hotcakes.
The spectacularly unspectacular video clip features, along with the Knollmann brothers (yes, they’re back!), only three bearded tough guys as extras, all five running along a country road at night, bare-chested, white institutional garb and open handcuffs telling their own story. But the most important thing: they’re some sort of Animal Liberation Front members and carry young puppies on their tattooed arms. Got it? Puppies! Little doggies! …
“Wake the Dogs” is the title of the new DONOTS album. As a whole, it sounds and comes across as if the DONOTS decided to take up with this recording where they left off at the video shoot in 2008, somewhere in the Swedish backwoods. The band had just liberated itself, and with it the brothers, and with them their sound. The world was their oyster. And now there’s the first real payoff in “Wake The Dogs”! Okay, the predecessor, “The Long Way Home”, already proved back in 2010 that the DONOTS still had a few tricks up their sleeves. But these tricks didn’t fully manifest themselves before this new album, their ninth to date. By the way, the video to support the title song features mainly: … dogs!
Their second decade started with a hiatus for the DONOTS, perhaps that’s the reason why they are so busy making up for lost time. Their records sell better than ever, their tours have clocked up record ticket sales, they feel so much better – in every respect. And that’s something their music reflects.