My first time in Berlin was in 1982 or 83 with artists. At the time I’ve seen the Deutsche Neue Welle exhibition Zeitgeist. After that I became an artist. Penck, Immendorf, Baselitz, Kiefer etc. Then I also saw the band Einsturzende Neubauten live in a Berlin squat.
Blixa Bargeld went during that concert to demolish the entire building with a two-meter-long jackhammer. That was so intense that the organizers panicked and tried to stop him and turn off the generator. After that I continued quite successfully as a painter. That was purely because of the inspiration there. On the way to Berlin a GDR trap that you could not exceed thirty. You could pay for it immediately and continue your way 200 DM lighter.
In West Berlin I found all kinds of Hitler memorabilia at a flea market. Complete with letters from that time. Was fascinating to watch. Then with my then band Claw Boys Claw I drove to Poland via East Germany. With our fluorescent Claw Boys Claw posters. This immediately made us the only bringers of color there. Everything was grau. Barracks without windows with thousands of soldiers on bunk beds. Very surreal. Things we encountered because we had driven completely wrong. There all experienced Eastern Bloc scenes. An example were the water cannons that were used for the festival audience of the festival (Jarocin) where we played at the time. That was one of my very first performances, and immediately in front of 25,000 people!
We decided with CBC to record an album in Berlin. That was because of my friend, the Australian producer Victor van Vugt. He was also producer and resident mixer for Nick Cave. He was staying with me at the time. A very nice guy. He came up with the plan. Was very fascinating, we recorded our album Crack my Nut at the renowned Hansa Ton Studio. This is a former dance and party establishment, also during the Third Reich, and is almost next to the Führer bunker. David bowie recorded his famous trilogy there, consisting of Low, Heroes and Lodger.
I can still very well remember reading the book about Led Zeppelin in the windowsill of those very high windows in the Meistersaal. That high ballroom also gave extra beautiful acoustics to our recordings, with all kinds of different microphones near and far, for extra depth. The Ampeg Bass amp and box were placed in the bottom stairwell to prevent crosstalk, but also to add extra atmosphere and natural reverberation. Gorbachev was busy with Reagan at the time to drop the wall. We were busy with completely different things nearby. Nice time to be involved in that in one way or another. I do believe in that. Seen and experienced many fascinating, dystopian scenes in East Berlin.
After that I unfortunately I did’t return for about 30 years. It was only in 2017, that I was back in Berlin. That was with my new “band” Revival Rockstar. Been back to see the Hansa Studio, visited the site of the führer bunker, did a Third Reich tour, and went to the Stasi headquarters. Still those endless rows of the same gray flats that converge in a perspective vanishing point in East Berlin, I love it. Delicious! At the Stasi headquarters, I stepped over a cord and held the original red phone in my hand, with which Honecker spoke to Brezhnev. It was a strange moment. Just like Death Star seemed an impregnable fortress. Thus the Eastern Bloc seemed impossible ever to change. And then suddenly I find myself in the heart of that stronghold. I had a nice chat with owners of the Christmas market stalls that would open a day later. A month later, I was in Vienna at a Christmas market, and heard of the attack in Berlin. All those people I had spoken to….
Intense memories of beautiful Berlin, with all those beautiful handsome people there. A city of freedom par excellence with a great connection with Amsterdam.
Das war ja einmal …
Marius Schrader is a pop musician and visual artist from Amsterdam. In the second half of the 1970s he founded The Pilots, a mod band. After that he was a drummer and later also co-composer with Claw Boys Claw. From 1995 he was drummer and designer of visual effects with Shine, the first Dutch supergroup. This was followed by various solo projects such as WAT, Mars Rader and Revival Rockstar.