Tokio Hotel just won the Best New Artist VMA on the strength of their first English-language album, Scream, and their popularity in the U.S. continues to grow. But though they’ve been touring in the States and making plenty of public appearances in English all year, the four young Germans say the language barrier is still quite a challenge for them — one they plan to tackle again as they work on their next LP.
“You know it was really hard to do a set, or even to do interviews in English, because in Europe, we always had a translator with us,” 19-year-old lead singer Bill Kaulitz said. “I think it’s really hard for me … to sing in English, because it’s not my mother tongue. I really wanted it to sound natural [on the album], so it took some time in the studio, and we always wanted to do it this way: first in German, then translate everything into English. The English record is a part of us, and we really wanted to go ahead with that.”
Bill explained the difficulties of properly translating German slang. “We translate, or we want to, everything,” Kaulitz said. “Of course, our German phrases like, ’big cinema,’ it’s ’grosses Kino’ in German. This red carpet is grosses Kino. It’s like, ’beautiful,’ ’awesome.’ ”
But TH are determined to keep on honing their linguistic skills for their follow-up LP. “First, we write German songs, and we translate some to English,” guitarist Tom Kaulitz said. “We have always German records and English records. I think that’s the best way.”
Tom said he worries that because their grasp on the language is so unfamiliar, they come off sounding uncool, or “too grown-up.”
“Our vocabulary is just school English, so we have no slang, no cool words,” he lamented.
The guys aren’t going to let the language barrier get them down as they head back to the studio. “After America, we directly go back to the studio in Germany, and we are still in the creative process of our next record,” Bill said. “So we’re writing songs, and we’ll be recording some stuff. So we have a lot of work, and then we do the new record, yeah. No, we have no ideas [what we might call the album].”
“But it will be a great name and an amazing album,” Tom added confidently.