According to their (rather rabid) fanbase, Tokio Hotel are: A) “Certainly the most interesting up-and-coming music act in recent years”; B) “The cutest Germans I’ve ever seen”; C) “F—ing amazing. … They showed me that music doesn’t have to be complex and full of technicalities for it to eat my f—ing heart alive”; D) “An amazingly talented group of young guys. And the twins are amazingly hot!”; or E) “sooooooooo HOTT!”
That’s pretty hot(t). Of course, that enthusiasm is not shared by the other 98.9 percent of the planet, who probably only know Tokio Hotel as “that German band with the weird lead-singer chick” (if they know them at all).
And therein lies the problem — or, more specifically, the challenge — facing Germany’s hottest pansexual pop-rockers: They are massively popular in their homeland (not to mention pretty much everywhere else in Europe), having sold more than 5 million albums, singles and DVDs in just more than three years, and they lord over a dedicated online army. Yet here in the States, they probably couldn’t get arrested, unless frontman (yeah, he’s a dude) Bill Kaulitz’s epically spiked mane violates some sort of zoning laws or something.
In short, Tokio Hotel have a legitimate shot at being the biggest rock act on the planet. All that’s standing in their way are the amber waves of grain and purple mountains majesty of the United States.
“It’s really hard to get fans in another country, especially here, because America is so, so big, so it’s really hard to get known in this country,” Kaulitz said in a heavy accent. “We are so excited we have fans here at all. In America, we see a fan and it is like, ’Oh, we are proud! We have a fan in America!’ ”
So with the hopes of increasing that fanbase here in the States, Tokio Hotel — including Kaulitz and his brother Tom on guitars, bassist Georg Listing and drummer Gustav Schäfer — have just released their first English-language album, Scream, which features re-recorded versions of tracks from their first-two German efforts, Schrei and Zimmer 483. Distributed here by Cherrytree (an Interscope imprint), the album is chock-full of crunchy riffs and self-flagellating lyrics, a cash cow clearly aimed at the Hot Topic set and their chain wallets.
And if it manages to score big, well, then the guys in Tokio Hotel will know that their hard work has paid off. After all, getting to be the biggest band on the planet isn’t easy.
“We had some help with [this album], because our English is not so good. For me, it was pretty hard to go into the studio and sing English for the first time, because I always sung in German, and we’ve been making music for seven years and it’s always been in German,” Kaulitz laughed. “So that took some time, and hopefully the fans will like it. It’s really important to us that everyone can understand our lyrics, so we said we’d try it. But also, the fans in America want to hear German songs … and last time we played here, we did two German songs [and] they sang the songs with us.”
Ah, yes, their fans here in America. They’re a small — but loyal (and vocal) — bunch, turning Times Square into a squealing mess Tuesday when the band appeared on “TRL” and packing Hollywood’s vaunted Roxy earlier this year for Tokio Hotel’s first U.S. show. Clearly, the seeds have been planted. And now, everyone involved with the band is hoping they’ll come into bloom.
“We expect great live shows here. We’ve played a few times here, and it was great. So now we want to play a tour,” Kaulitz said. “So we might come back and play a tour. I don’t know. We are going back to Europe to start writing a new record, and then we’ll do it in English. And then we want to come back.”