I was recently introduced to a band by a friend, and I have to admit I’m rather impressed with Tokio Hotel. The name is pretty cool and I was confused momentarily by the picture of the band, but the few songs released in North America are pretty good. If you’re not familiar with the band, Tokio Hotel is a group out of Germany and are best known over here for their single, Ready, Set, Go! It was nominated for an MTV Music Award and the band itself won the prestigious title of Best New Artist during the award show in 2008.
The Skinny – Literally
I mentioned I was confused momentarily when I saw a picture of the band, and that makes sense only if you’ve seen them, too. Bill Kaulitz, the lead singer for the band, has a very European look with tight clothing on a trim body, but with huge punk hair and a very pretty-boy face, it took me a minute to determine his gender – sad, I know, considering he is quite the teen heartthrob here and abroad.
Bill, the lead singer is the twin brother of Tom Kaulitz, the lead guitarist. Tom is inspired by Aerosmith and uses Gibson guitars at the moment. The band’s bass guitarist is Georg Listing who started playing bass at the age of thirteen. He was heavily influenced by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Finally, Gustav Schäfer is the drummer of the band, and he’s been drumming since he was five years old. He credits Metallica, Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker as his inspiration – a very interesting mix.
Tokio Hotel Music
The band has been together since 2001 when they met in Germany and started playing together in small gigs under the name, Devilish. In 2003 the band changed their name to Tokio Hotel and signed with Sony and then Universal Music Group after the Sony deal fell through. Through all of this time, the band worked solely in Germany and their albums never made it outside of the German speaking areas.
Their first English album, Scream, was released throughout Europe in 2007, but it wasn’t until late 2007 that the band made it into the United States. Their first single called Tokio Hotel was released with two songs, "Scream" and "Ready, Set, Go!" It was sold only through Hot Topic stores. In early 2008 the band did a short tour of the United States and Canada and by then they were gaining in popularity.
Trouble Strikes the Band
In 2008, while on tour in Europe, Bill developed a throat infection that went untreated. The band did 43 shows without any vacation and the infection caused a cyst to develop on Bill’s vocal chords – very bad news for a lead singer. He had surgery in May 2008 to remove the cyst and was unable to speak for twelve days and then had to undergo vocal rehabilitation for four weeks following that. Finally his voice was repaired and the tour could continue.
In August 2008, the band headed out on another tour of the United States and their single was nominated for the VMA awards. While it didn’t win, the band did as the Best New Artist. I expect we’ll see plenty more from this group.