Today’s the day! Berlin synth punk band Mexican Radio hit us with Deconstruction/Reconstruction – the album set to define synth punk. Because what is synth punk after all? Well let’s see…
|Mexican Radio are one of those bands. Maybe it comes from them being a little older, a few more times around the block. They hung around White Trash when White Trash was cool; they’re part of the 8MM in-crowd; they spent a decade or more touring widely with their award-winning indie rock band The Blood Arm. They moved from their LA home because their label was in Berlin (the same label that launched Gurr, among others). That kind of thing.
Some bands, when they get older, they get a little slower: a little stuck in their ways. You know how it goes. Not so Nathanial, Dyan and Hannes. Nathaniel and Dyan, having watched their last indie band die, started casting around for something to do. It was apparently a late-night conversation with a scene drummer called Hannes Neupert (Mokkers) that led them to come up with the idea of doing a German-language cover band of The Fall. Yup, your original schnappsidee. What could go wrong?
Cover band was duly founded, gigs were duly played, guitarist and bassist duly left the band. So they decided to turn their limitations into strengths: they wanted to stay punk; but it would be synth punk. No guitars allowed.
And so their manifesto came together
They couldn’t afford an expensive studio. Hence: Synth punks record with basic eqipment onto analogue tape.
They didn’t have the money to stay in the studio once they got there. Easy: Synth punks don’t do overdubs. One take, that’s it.
Nathaniel decided there were other ways to write, and other things to write about, than your usual drugs/sex/relationship breakup fodder. Hm. What about a song about the 19th Century Russian nihilist movement and their world philosophy? Sounds just about right. How about a couple more songs about, say, a German artist who emerges shell-shocked from the First World War and finds peace sketching in the Swiss mountains? Yup, that’ll do. And then we’ll follow that up with, um, something about a Japanese abstract artist commiting suicide.
Yes, that’ll work.
And it’s all boiled down to a tight three-piece: frantic drums, two keyboards, and otherwise: nada. Just Nathaniel and Dyan’s vocals, terse choruses, shouted verses, a quick weird synth break or two.
And of course red jumpsuits. With white lightning bolts across the front. But, yeah, those are just for the live gigs. Rehearsals are conducted – religiously – in blue jumpsuits. Different colour lightning bolts, I forget which.
Ah, yeah. Mexican Radio. You gotta love ’em.
And you can!
Their album Deconstruction/Reconstruction is out today – everywhere online. 26th Sept see them holding a release party in Badehaus together with Beasts!
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.